June 21, 2010

Catching World Cup Fever: Work Abroad Spotlight on South Africa

With all of this soccer fever (who isn’t constantly checking World Cup results and standings?) the world’s eyes appear to be on South Africa. And the country on Africa’s cape has plenty to be proud of!

In addition to hosting the world’s most popular sports championship, South Africa is growing in popularity for those who want to travel abroad, for work, volunteering, study or leisure.  Have you thought about working or volunteering abroad in South Africa? If so, read on!

South Africa has seen a lot of changes in recent years, and these changes have created a stronger economy, and safer place to live and work both for its citizens, and for expats traveling abroad. The population of South Africa speaks more than 11 languages, and represents a wide variety of racial and ethnic groups.

What attracts many people to work and volunteer opportunities in South Africa is the aide variety of wildlife. African elephants, lion, buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros (also known as the “Big Five”) are plentiful in both national parks and private game reserves.  If you are interested in getting closer to these majestic animals, you might consider volunteering at a wildlife park, like the program Wildlife ACT that places conservation volunteers in Zululand South Africa to help protect endangered species.

Another great thing about working abroad in South Africa is participation in the BUNAC program. If you live in the USA, BUNAC (British Universities North America Club) is a work and volunteer placement organization, popular for current students and recent graduates in the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States. BUNAC supports volunteer abroad programs in South Africa through placements at orphanages, schools, even a wildlife sanctuary. Placements last for a minimum of five weeks (many are longer) and by volunteering with BUNAC, you have the advantage of on-the-ground staff support, and an opening orientation session.

In addition to community and environmental work, many can take advantage of  Africa’s gorgeous southern coastline through diving jobs in South Africa. The Emperor Scuba Schools offer work and internship experiences for divers who are looking to become certified instructors. What better place to earn essential diving experience than off the coast of Cape Town?

As with any volunteer or work abroad job, it is important to get to know a lot about the logistics involved in traveling abroad. A few things that you should know about South Africa before you go abroad:

1)   A South African tourist visa last 90 days for US citizens, but if you are planning to work, study of volunteer full time, you might need to get a visa in advance. Visit the South African Embassy website for more information about your situation before booking any travel abroad.

2)   Be careful at night, especially in city centers and business districts. While South Africa has become much more safe for tourists, the same rules or foreign travel apply to South Africa as any other country. This is especially true if you are planning a trip outside of major cities – make sure that you are with a reputable tour group or someone you trust.

3)   When you are traveling, don’t carry big expensive purses, watches or jewelry. But do always keep your cell phone handy, programmed with numbers for nearby health centers and the embassy.

South Africa can be a wonderful place to visit, and an even better place to live. If visions of footballers and stadiums are dancing in your head, you might want to consider taking a trip abroad to work or volunteer in South Africa.

Sign up for our newsletter!