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Living In South Africa As An LLM Student

Living in South AfricaThe vast majority of South Africa's 74,000 international students come from Africa and only a small proportion
of around 8% of these international students come from Europe or North America.

The ratio of domestic students to international students is high, whith International students being rather diluted by their fellow South African students. There are almost one million students in total in higher education in South Africa, with just 74,000 of these being from other countries. 

Students in Higher Education In South Africa

Wherever you are from in the world, be it South Africa, elsewhere in the African continent, or from further afield – living in South Africa as an LLM student will take some careful planning and adjustments. But as long as you’re properly prepared for your new life as an LLM student in South Africa, it is guaranteed to be an excellent and very fulfilling experience.

This table shows the increase in students in higher education in South Africa from 2008 onwards*. 

South African Students

Now, let's we take a look at five ways to make your life in South Africa easier to adjust to, and ultimately more rewarding and enjoyable.

Living Away From Home 

It doesn't matter if you are moving away to the other side of the world or the other side of the country, moving away from home is always difficult and you need to be ready. Be prepared for cultural differences, no matter how far you are moving, and spend a little time preparing for the change. Speak to other LLM students who have recently returned from the law school you're attending. Try to meet – even if it’s only online – recent alumni from your chosen South African law school so you know what to expect and also know a familiar face or two. Ask them if they would have done anything differently while they were settling in or if they would have brought different items from home with them. It is also important to bring a few things to remind you of home and to help you relax in your new surroundings. 

Preparing for South African Culture 

If you are coming to South Africa from overseas it’s important to prepare for the South African culture, Start by connecting with your law school's international office or student association – you most likely will of received information about their activities when you were in the application stages. Social media will really help you out with this as you will be able to chat with students who are currently studying at the law school to find out what you might need to know. If you are coming from Europe or North America, then you might want to keep in mind that the exchange rate is often very favourable and that you might have a little more spending money than you're expecting. Keep this in mind when you are organising activities with your new local friends and fellow LLM classmates. 

What To Expect From LLM Classes 

All universities in South Africa conduct their education in English, however you might find, depending on the area that your law school is in, that many of the local students, professors and staff will converse in another language as well. This can make life a little tricky for international students, as most of them have not learnt Afrikaans, Zulu or Xhosa or one of the other 11 official languages of South Africa. And don't forget that the administration in both private and public institutions in South Africa may not run as quickly as many international students may like, but remember, you're not at home so don't compare it – and try not to get frustrated. Instead set your internal clock to South African time and stay calm. 

Climate Control

The weather in South Africa varies quite a bit across the country. The west coast tends to be around 6C warmer than the east coast, and temperatures in the far north can reach up to 38C during the summer months. The mountainous regions are colder during the winter compared to the rest of the country, but the coldest average temperature in these areas is around -6C. In the popular student city of Cape Town the average summer high temperature is 25C and the average winter low is 12C, whilst in Pretoria the average high temperature is 28C and the average low temperature is 5C. 

Interesting Lifestyle 

Studying and living in South Africa is a great deal of fun and visiting local townships, that are a reminder of the political history of South Africa, are on the must-do list for most visiting students. It's important to get away from your studies to relax, but before setting off from your university for a trip somewhere new to check with fellow local students or with your international office about safety. Crime is quite high in some parts of South Africa compared with other countries. Most South Africans are quite religious and conservative, so keep this in mind when you are out and about. Chatting with former LLM students is a great way to prepare yourself for studying in South Africa and adjusting to the lifestyle there. 



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