Will I get the courses that I initially requested?

There is no guarantee you will get the specific courses that you requested. Because every program is different, course approval and registration processes vary. Please see your program page details.

What should I pack?

Whatever you bring, you carry in two checked luggage bags and one carry-on bag. Be prepared to move your luggage through airports, on and off busses during orientation, and up several flights of stairs to your room.  Here are some tips:

  • The Leave Half Behind Rule – Select what you think you’ll need and leave half of it behind. Nobody ever complains about having too little luggage.
  • Layering – with such a changeable climate layer your clothes from warm to cold so you can change them up easily. Include a rain jacket.
  • Use Duffel Bags - with wheels or an internal framed backpack. Closet space will not be as generous as what you are used to, so even if you can get it there, you won't necessarily know where to put it.
  • Be versatile - Student rooms are normally equipped with only a foot and a half of hanging space and two, three-foot bureau drawers or the equivalent shelf space, and emptied luggage is usually stored under beds. Go for multi-purpose clothing.

When will I receive my Arcadia University transcript?

We will send an official copy of your transcript to your home school and an unofficial copy to you. Program transcripts are usually issued:

  • Fall: mid-March;
  • Academic year and spring: late September.
  • Summer: early September.

Your transcript will be withheld by Arcadia University if you have an outstanding balance on your account resulting from nonpayment of the program fee (in whole or in part) or special course surcharges, any late fees or returned check fees, damage charges, library fines, or other unmet financial obligations as deemed appropriate by Arcadia University.

What's the weather like?

As South Africa is located in the Southern Hemisphere; its seasons are reversed from the Northern Hemisphere. Summer will last from December through March and winter lasts from June through August. South Africa is a large country with a variable climate; however regardless of location the summers tend to be quite hot and winters are mild. In Cape Town the daytime is warm and the temperature drops in the evening. You should be prepared to carry a sweater or jacket in the evenings and during the cooler months of May-July, a waterproof coat is recommended.

How much money will I need initially?

About $50 already exchanged to South African Rand (ZAR) for meals and basic expenses during the orientation. Take an ATM card that's linked to your U.S. primary checking account.

Should I make copies of my papers?

Yes. Many home colleges want to review the work you completed overseas before final credit is awarded. Unless you make specific arrangements with your tutors prior to departure, final exams and/or papers will not be returned to you. It is important to keep copies, therefore, of your papers, reading lists and syllabi from all of your courses.

Can I still vote while abroad?

Before you leave home, check with the Board of Elections at your County Court House about procedures for voting by absentee ballot. You may want to arrange for a member of your family to pick up the ballot and mail it to you. Visit the Federal Voting Assitance Program for more details.

What is the LGBT scene like?

South Africa's post-apartheid constitution was the first in the world to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation, and South Africa was the fifth country in the world, and the first in Africa, to legalize same-sex marriage. Nevertheless, LGBT South Africans continue to face considerable challenges, including social stigma, homophobic violence and high rates of HIV/AIDS infection. For more information on study abroad for LGBT students please see NAFSA: Association of International Educators Rainbow Special Interest Group.

Do I have to send my actual passport with my study permit application?

YES! Your study permit will be affixed inside your passport, so the South African immigration officials need it to award you a study permit. This is why it is so important that you send your application in a package with a tracking number.  

I've received my passport back from the Embassy/Consulate. Where is the study permit?

The study permit is affixed inside the passport, on one of the pages behind the identity page. If you have thoroughly searched your passport and there is no South African study permit (or the information is incorrect), please contact the Embassy/Consulate immediately.

When will I receive my Arcadia University transcript?

We will send an official copy of your transcript to your home school and an unofficial copy to you, once we have received your official transcript from your South African university. Most transcripts are issued within three months of the end date of the program.

Your transcript will be withheld by Arcadia University if you have an outstanding balance on your account resulting from nonpayment of the program fee (in whole or in part) or special course surcharges, any late fees or returned check fees, damage charges, library fines, or other unmet financial obligations as deemed appropriate by Arcadia University.

Should I take my computer?

Some students choose to bring personal laptops for convenience, although you will have access to your institutions' computing facilities. The majority of modern laptops are dual voltage and will work in South Africa with only an adapter plug. Internet access will vary depending upon your housing. In some venues you will be responsible for costs to establish and maintain internet and telephone service. It is helpful to bring a small portable USB drive to transfer files to the computer lab for printing, and a Cat 5 or Ethernet cable in case you need to connect to a wired network port. Make sure that your laptop is insured.

What happens when I arrive overseas?

Once you have provided your flight details to your program manager, Arcadia arranges to have you met at Cape Town International Airport. You will have orientation put on by Arcadia staff in South Africa, which will include excursions, activities, and lively discussions, then go on to a location-specific campus orientation hosted by your school in South Africa.

Do I need a visa?

It depends on your length of stay and your country of origin. Find out more.

How can I phone home?

There are several options you may wish to consider for keeping in touch with friends and family back home.

  • Host-country mobile—Arcadia provides South African cell phones to all participants in its South Africa programs to aid in safety and good program communication. The phones receive calls and text messages from the U.S. as well as South Africa at no cost to you. You can buy phone time at a reasonable cost on a pay-as-you-go basis. It is important to keep in mind that while these phones should help you connect with others in-country, they may not be the most cost efficient option for long conversations back to the United States.
  • International cell phone—many US cellular phone companies provide international roaming options, so you can keep your same number and contact your friends and family just as if you were home. However this is expensive for your calls and texts to/from South African phones so contact your provider for full details.
  • Skype, FaceTime or VOiP— Teach your mom to Skype! Sign-up online for free internet communication tools before you leave and plan ahead about when to connect. Please remember that internet access, reliability, and strength may be different to what you are used to.
  • International calling card—often the most inexpensive and manageable way to call home – purchase either before departing or in-country.

Do I need a passport?

YES! Please visit the U.S. State Department travel pages for the most up-to-date information regarding passport application and fees. Make sure that your passport is valid at least six months beyond your program end date.

What time zone is South Africa?

South Africa is six hours ahead of our Eastern Standard Time for most of the year. South Africa does not observe daylight savings time. An excellent resource for determining the time in different areas of the world is The Time Now.

What about insurance?

Arcadia University enrolls all participants in a comprehensive health and accident insurance plan. Details of this coverage are outlined in the health and accident insurance section of our website. Please note that Arcadia University does not provide insurance for your possessions. We encourage you to purchase coverage for them or to leave irreplaceable valuables at home.