South Africa,  includes many ethnic groups, each proud of its language, traditions, and religious beliefs. There’s a variety of local cuisines, so be prepared to try lots of new food.

Teens in South Africa mostly socialize in school and spend a lot of energy studying and reading. Free time is often spent with family and hanging out with friends talking about movies and sports. If you love sports, this is the place to be for soccer, rugby, cricket and netball.

People & Community

You may live with a family who speaks any one of the 11 languages of South Africa at home. Family members will hug you and openly express their feelings. Politeness is very important. Religion plays a significant role in most South African families and attendance at some form of religious gathering is very common on a weekly basis. Host host families tend to be protective.


Schools in South Africa are strict and challenging. Students wear uniforms and treat teachers with lots of respect. You probably be placed in public high school. However, depending upon the location of your host family, you may attend a private or semi-private school. The school day starts between 7.30 and 8 am and ends between 2 and 3 pm. English will be the language spoken in most schools. If you want to experience an Afrikaans language school, just let AFS know.


There are 11 official languages in South Africa and some people speak all 11 fluently: Zulu, Xhosa, Sotho, and Afrikaans are the four most common home languages for AFS host families, but English is widely spoken. Having a basic knowledge of English and some familiarity with Afrikaans will be helpful.

A photo posted by Karoliina Pajari (@karopajari) on Sep 18, 2016 at 11:23am PDT

A photo posted by Laura Tran (@tran.laura) on Aug 18, 2016 at 12:24am PDT


Meat is a staple of the South African diet, although cuisine varies widely according to ethnicity. South Africans love to barbecue, or braais, slowly grilling steaks, chops and spicy sausages (boerewors)over hot charcoal. Many South Africans also enjoy a dried meat snack called bilton or a corn porridge (pap) with meat or vegetables.

Let AFS guide your intercultural adventure

Go abroad with AFS to discover who you really are, make new lifetime friendships and immerse yourself in a fascinating intercultural experience.

Our learning program will prepare you for an amazing AFS intercultural experience. The program begins at your home country with a pre-departure orientation and continues with orientations and other supported learning activities and facilitated conversations will help you maximize your experience, cope the challenges of navigating a new culture and community and gain knowledge, skills, and a global understanding, throughout your time abroad, and as you return to you home country. AFS volunteers will be there to support and guide you and your host family through your learning journey abroad.


The Global Competence Certificate (GCC) program will support your intercultural learning experience. This state-of-the-art program prepares you to successfully navigate new cultural environments—during your AFSNext experience and long after you finish the program. Online intercultural learning modules combined with in-person sessions help you develop practical and global skills, knowledge and attitudes that employers need and mission-driven organizations believe will help achieve their social impact goals. You will receive your certification upon completion of the training program.