CAPE TOWN OVERVIEW
Rightly referred to as the Rainbow Nation, Cape Town is the multicultural metropolitas hub of South Africa.It’s automatically associated with all of nature’s glory including the Table Mountain that overlooks the entire city and the glorious beaches and wildlife reserves. The city is a nature lover’s paradise. It’s also acclaimed for its architectural heritage and in the year 2014, was designated the title of the World Design Capital as it reflected “heritage, innovation, diversity and creative talent”.
It’s also equally reputed for its universities. Students who choose Cape Town as their study destination to pursue a full term, exchange program or internship opportunity or for volunteer experience stay in various international student accommodations in the city and have the time of their lives.
CAPE TOWN UNIVERSITIES
Since the turn of the century, several efforts was implemented to overturn all the years of racial segregation in educational institutions. In today’s South Africa, significant improvement can be witnessed in making the country and it’s educational institutions celebrate diversity to such an extent that it is affectionately called the ‘Rainbow Nation’.
The South African system of education has 23 Public Universities under its banner. Amongst the 23, 6 Universities are technology based, offering students vocational courses, 11 are theoretical based and 6 offer either or a combination of both. Cape Town in particular, boasts of its University of Cape Town, that ranks 141 in the QS World University rankings of 2014-15. Apart from this, 2 other universities that are highly popular amongst internationals would include the University of the Western Cape in the city limits and the Stellenbosch Univeristy in the off limits of the city.
Most Universities do conduct programs in English and are welcoming to international students. They also offer several one semester courses for students on exchange. International student accommodation is also available on and off campus belts.
STUDENT LIFE IN CAPE TOWN
Cape Town buzzes with youth and cheer. It’s easy to find students from different walks of life making up the cosmopolitan nature of the city. If you live in an international student accommodation in Cape Town, nothing gets better. You get to meet like minded fellow internationals from all across the globe with the similar mindset of exploring the wonderful country. Cape Town has different experiences for different people: the party goers, the campers, the hikers, the wildlife photography enthusiastic, the music lovers, the surfers, the culture observers, the foodies and the list goes on. International students come to the city to make the best use of these experiences. They go back with nothing but sweet, good memories
INTERNATIONAL STUDENT ACCOMMODATION IN CAPE TOWN
Out of those multiple to do things on your to do list, the most essential of them all is to sort out your accommodation. Finding quality student housing in an affordable neighbourhood is not a heavy task if you start early and know the sources you can trust. You want to assure yourself that you’ve indeed arranged for a student housing in one of Cape Town’s most student friendly neighbourhood that attracts the attention of both international as well as local students and one that is safe. This is extremely crucial as your accommodation does not just mean a roof above your head, but it’s a real deal breaker. A great environment will boast your entire experience up. It won’t just help you find the right community to hang out with, but will also make you feel safe and secured and will provide you with easy access to surrounding neighbourhoods and nature getaways.
Student accommodation in budget friendly areas would include Observatory, Mowbray and Rondebosch. Student culture is also prominent in Claremont or Newlands, but it’s a little more on the pricey side.
If you’d like a more detailed report, we’ve done all the research for you! Check out our 3 Tips to Rent Out a Place in Cape Town and the Best Neighbourhoods for Students in South Africa and finally, the Ultimate Guide to Finding Accommodation in Cape Town. All your international student accommodation needs in Cape Town will be quenched 🙂
FEEL SAFE IN CAPE TOWN
The stereotype of the ‘crime-ridden city’ that you’ve probably heard, read or seen about Cape Town is probably what it is like: 50 people being victimized to murder on an average day to a woman being sexually assaulted every hour. But this hasn’t scared away the million people visiting the otherwise beautiful Cape Town. If you know your areas well enough and take some precautionary measures, the city of Cape Town is the most refreshing experience you could have as as international student. Out of the places that you would rather not visit includes Nyanga, a neighbourhood that witnesses over 200 murders on average every year or KwaZulu-Natal, one that beats Nyanga with 300. Compare this to the neighbourhood of Simon Town, for example, where no murders have ever been reported. It’s all about just knowing your area.
If you’re in the process of choosing your international student accommodation in Cape Town, please be sure to check out this map, to check for the level of safety in the neighbourhood of your choice.
A few tips that could come of help:
- If driving, make sure your doors are locked and don’t be overwhelmed with pity if you find another car broken down or if strangers ask for a life.
- Don’t look lost and confused. Just keep moving around and ask for help from a person you could trust.
- Avoid hanging a camera around your neck and walking, especially during the night.
- Try walking in groups as much as possible
- Have secret wallets inside your jacket with some cash and all your documents. Don’t ever keep your wallet in your back pocket. Also, avoid flashing jewellry.
- If you’re the adventurous kind and insist on visiting areas that are infamous for crime, make sure you do it only with a local guide who knows the ins and outs.
- In terms of transport at night, avoid the buses and metros as crime rates are high during dark hours. Instead, opt for a metered taxi even if it costs you an extra bit.
- Contacts that can come in handy during emergencies:
- Emergencies from a mobile: 112
- Police: 10111
- Ambulance: 10177
- Ask your warden/owner/contact person in your international student accommodation in Cape Town for numbers of taxi drivers as well as local tour guides. They would know the best.
COST OF LIVING IN CAPE TOWN
For starters, South Africa is not as cheap as people would normally assume it to be. Although a few cities may still be comparably cheap, Cape Town isn’t one of them.In fact, Cape Town is said to be 22% more expensive than Johannesburg owing to the soaring real estate market. Apart from the costs you incur on your student accommodation every month, here are a few links to refer to in order to create a rough budget:
Apart from the basic expenditure as cited in the above links, keep aside a separate budget for your travels!You cannot just come to a beautiful country like South Africa and go back without adventurous memories.
TRAVELLING AROUND CAPE TOWN CITY
As much as people complain about the delay or cancel of trains or the bus strikes, one cannot deny that Cape Town’s transport system is fairly well spread and efficient. When used wisely, it could favour your time and wallet. When you choose your student accommodation, make sure you choose one either close to your University to avoid intra city travel or one that is well connected not just to your University but also other spots you would frequently visit. Nonetheless, here are all the options of public transport you have in Cape Town.
Although the Golden Arrow Bus Services aren’t a tourist’s’ best friend as it primarily connects Point A to Point B without deviating into the exotic locations, it has been an efficient mobility option for Cape Town inhabitants for the last 150 years. With over 1300 routes being covered by 1046 buses during peak hours, its network spreads across 2460 Km² , making it the largest fleet of buses in the country. For commuters who travel regularly, the transport system also offers money saving options on the weekly and monthly clip-card. Want to know more?
The MyCiTi Buses, on the other hand, although does not boast of a vast network like the Golden Arrow, takes you to a number of nearby landmarks. You could reach the Hout Bay on the Atlantic Seaboard, the International Airport and also Table View. Your first step would however be to purchase a MyConnect Card, which can be found at the station and transfer money on it. Depending on the kilometers you travel, costs get deducted from it.
Be sure to check the route maps to see if there is a bus stop near your student accommodation.
Metrorail is a government subsidised transport system and has an extensive cover of the city including Gauteng, Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape. It however doesn’t take you to the Atlantic Seaboard or the Table Mountains or the Waterfront. Costs for riding the Metro depend on the kilometers you travel as well as the seat you choose: MetroPlus or Metro. Here again, regular travellers can opt for a weekly or monthly ticket to save some pennies.
Regarding the disadvantages, Metrorail is often associated with a concerning rate of crimes, especially theft. Many such cases have been reported especially in the Bonteheuwel line. As international students going to Cape Town, you could take a few precautions in the first few days before you figure your way out in the city. Avoid boarding the train during peak hours as well as after dark, opt for the 1st class even though it may cost you a bit more and the more obvious tip, travel in a compartment boarded by other people. Also, be sure to keep some buffer time for your travels as experiencing delays and cancels will become a frequent deal.
Other than these 3 options, you could also opt for a MiniBus Taxi, Metered Taxis or even hire cars depending on your budget and time flexibility.
As an international student moving to Cape Town to pursue your studies or internships, you would need to fulfil certain visa procedures. These procedures vary from country to country and depending on the country of your origin, you would need to react accordingly. Please get in touch with the South African consulate in your home country to discuss this in detail. Apart from the specific requirements needed for your country, here are few general documents to take care of if you are an international student visiting Cape Town for a volunteering opportunity (This is not a comprehensive list. As mentioned, get in touch with the South African Embassy to get a detailed version).
- The B1-84 form
- Valid Passport
- Visa fee and sufficient funds
- To and fro travel ticket
- Medical clearance
- A yellow fever certificate if you intend to travel across the yellow fever belt of Africa or South America
- Recently taken passport size photographs
As in international student moving to Cape Town to volunteer, study or intern, to check if your country is included in the list that does not require a South African Visa, click here.