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South Africa, “The Rainbow Nation,” has many strong ethnic groups, each proud of its language, traditions, and religious beliefs. Eighty percent of the population consider themselves Black African, while the remainder of the population consist of Asians and Europeans of various backgrounds. No matter their ethnic heritage, South Africans love sports, and the nation proudly hosted the World Cup in 2010. There’s also a variety of local cuisines, so be prepared to try lots of new food.

South Africa contains endless natural beauty: from safari preserves to the vast Karoo Desert and from the picturesque coastal towns of the Garden Route to the subtropical mangrove swamps and mountains of the KwaZulu-Natal province.

There is no typical South African, and a common definition of its inhabitants is non-existent. Though South Africans are generally conservative and place a high value on commitment to family, it is difficult to identify a single common lifestyle. The population diversity is reflected in the diversity of host families; families differ from one another in language, race, culture and religion. It’s possible to be placed with a family who speaks any one of the 11 languages of South Africa at home.

You will not be traveling to South Africa as a tourist, instead, you will be focusing on intercultural learning and being a part of the community. AFSers in South Africa live with a host family and attend a local high school. Mature students can expect a challenging and rewarding experience. A series of orientations will offer safety tips and other resources for making your experience abroad as safe as possible. Besides a supportive host family, you will also have local volunteer contact to help guide you and who will be available to answer questions and help you with any cultural adjustments you may have.