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What kind of exchange experience do you want?
I want to spend a all program lengths  studying in South Africa, or maybe all regions. And I'm looking for something with a traditional exchange  and I definitely want to show off my need for  any language skills. Can I go whenever?
  • All around the world.

    all regions
    Africa & Middle East
    Asia & Pacific
    Eastern Europe
    Latin America
    Scandinavian Countries
    Western Europe
    North America
  • Pick a place, any place.

    Say what?

    Any language requirements?

     Any  Yes  No
  • What I'm into.

    a traditional exchange
    a gap year option
    college & university programs
    language classes
    a connection to the Arts
    sports & outdoors
    a volunteer program
  • How long I want to go.

    All program lengths

    When can I leave?

    May to September
    December to March
Show me my options >


Scholarships Available

385 - Holcomb & Farnell Foreign Stud...
368 - YFU Community Grant
384 - YFU Financial Aid Fund

Age Requirement

Academic Programs: 2019 Spring Semester: Jan. 1, 2002 - Jan. 1, 2004; 2019 Fall Semester/Year: Aug. 1, 2002 - Aug. 7, 2004. Students who will turn 18 within the first 6 months of their exchange or will graduate from high school before the start of their program will not be considered for admission. Gap Year Volunteer Program: 18-25 years old. Spring 2019: Jan. 1, 1994 - Dec. 31, 2000; Fall 2019: Aug. 1, 1994 - Aug. 1, 2001.


Zulu, Xhosa, Sothos, Afrikaans and English. These are only 5 of 11 official languages. There is no guarantee that students will be placed in an English-speaking family or school, so students should be open to learning a new language.

Host Family Placement

In urban or semi-urban areas such as Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, Gauteng, Western Cape, Bloemfontein, and Port Elizabeth. Students are occasionally placed in smaller towns, but not generally in in very rural areas or in Cape Town (except for the Gap Year Volunteer Program.) YFU South Africa host families and host communities reflect the country's diverse multi-cultural, multi-racial, and multi-lingual society.


Mid-January to early December, with a month-long summer break.


Culture Exchange Project in February. YFU South Africa has also worked with tour agencies to offer trips throughout the year.


Rugby and cricket are popular sports.

Explore a diverse environment as you get to know South African people whose cultures began in many different places around the world!
Learn more about South Africa.

Volunteer Gap Year Programs

YFU offers young adults the opportunity of a lifetime to serve as volunteers with an NGO and experience South Africa for 3 to 6 months. This program is open to students who have graduated from high school are are between the ages of 18 and 25.  


Service Project: 

Participants live and volunteer at a children’s home near Cape Town, working with children who are orphans or have been taken away from their homes.  Volunteers assist the children by helping with homework, playing sports, organizing fun activities, providing care and night duty, and walking children to school. An initial training session of 2-3 days is included, where you will work with a psychologist and professional counselors and receive on-the-job training.  Trained professionals will always be on site to help volunteers deal with any challenging situations that come up.  Participants should be responsible, emotionally mature and able to cope with difficult situations.  Volunteers may work with children with illnesses and/or emotional difficulties and the volunteer work can become emotionally and physically taxing.



Participants will live in separate dormitory type accommodations attached to the project site, which is a gated complex in safe surroundings.  They will share living space with two or three fellow volunteers.  Meals and laundry services will be provided, though there may be some additional costs related to accommodations. Volunteers can count on exactly the same support as regular academic exchange students enjoy, including airport pickup, pre-departure and post-arrival orientations, YFU-sponsored get-togethers and tours.  They will also be visited by YFU South Africa staff occasionally to check in on them and get monthly feedback from their volunteer manager. Outside of volunteering, participants will have plenty of free time to explore the Cape Town area and spend time with fellow volunteers from other organizations going to restaurants and shops or taking time off to travel, go diving, backpacking, or hiking. 


Note: Program offerings and details are subject to change and some volunteer project placements charge additional costs for accommodations and meals. Visas are specific to your volunteer project; therefore you are NOT allowed to change volunteer projects during your exchange program. 




Academic Year and Semester Programs

While in South Africa, you will live with a volunteer host family and attend a local high school. Part of your experience will be:


School: During your stay, you will attend a local public or private high school located near your host family. Students should be aware that nearly all high schools in South Africa require uniforms and school etiquette can be quite formal. You will take courses that are familiar to you in subjects like science, history, geography, English, math, and art. You can also embark on learning a language like Zulu or Afrikaans. Schools also welcome initiatives to start projects or after school activities.  Often, extra-curricular activities are integrated into the school day and students can try new activities like rugby, cricket, drama, or music.  Seniors should be aware that due to South African regulations, exchange students will be placed in the 11th grade.

Orientations: All students applying for the semester or year program must be available for a mandatory 3-day National Pre-Departure Orientation, which usually takes place in mid-July or November (for spring departures.) This orientation is a required part of the program aimed at preparing students for their experience overseas. All students will participate in a one-day local pre-departure orientation in May or June. After your arrival in South Africa, you will attend a post-arrival orientation in Johannesburg followed by another orientation a few weeks later in the region that you are placed to prepare you for your exchange year. You'll also have a regional mid-program orientation, and a re-entry orientation before you return home.  All orientation costs are included in program tuition.


Optional Excursions: Students have the opportunity to participate in the YFU South Africa Cultural Exchange Project in February, which allows them to stay for two weeks with a host family from a culture different from their permanent host family.  In the past, YFU South Africa has also offered optional trips along the East Coast, to Durban, and to Kruger National Park at various points throughtout the year.    


Tuition Includes

-Placement with a host family
-Enrollment in a local South African high school
-Airport transfers
-Domestic and international travel
-All pre-departure and post arrival orientations
-Pre-program support by trained YFU staff
-Support from a YFU South Africa Area Representative while on program
-Comprehensive Insurance

Additional Information

Visa Information: Information about visas will be provided upon enrollment.  Note: South African embassies/consulates may require health insurance issued by a South African-based insurance company.  Important: Visas for the Volunteer Program are specific to your volunteer project; therefore you are NOT allowed to change volunteer projects during your exchange program.   


Additional Costs: Students should be prepared to cover fees for school textbooks, uniforms or activities, and transportation to school if applicable. Program tuition does not include personal spending money. 


Important Information:  Students will need malaria prophylaxis and yellow fever vaccinations for their visit in addition to other recommended immunizations for travel.



Programs Code Departure Return Full Tuition
Fall Year


late August

late June

Fall Semester
Fall Semester Volunteer
Spring Semester
Spring Semester Volunteer

1175 *
1411 *

late August
late August
mid January
mid January

mid January
late February
late June
late July

Fall 3 Month Volunteer
Spring 3 Month Volunteer

1174 *
1433 *

late August
mid January

late November
late April


* Programs also available to graduates