culture corner

Cape Town, a city of about 3,400,000 people, has a history dating as far back as the late 1400s, lies at the African continent's southern-most point. This marvelously unique city is a cultural melting pot, with a diverse and vibrant population influenced by Zulu, Xhosa, and other African tribes, as well as Dutch, British, German, French, and Indonesian settlers. Due to its natural topography, Cape Town boasts a variety of breathtaking landscapes in which distinct neighborhoods and districts of the city have developed. From the beach houses of Camps Bay to the Bo Kaap Muslim neighborhood at the foot of Lion's Head Peak, to the high-rise apartments of downtown, something new is always just around the corner. The diverse people, exotic landscapes, and exciting cultural history make Cape Town an ideal place to study abroad.



The University of Cape Town (UCT) is South Africa's oldest university and one of the continent's leading teaching and research institutions. The main teaching campus, known as Upper Campus is centered on UCT's iconic Jameson Hall. This breathtaking location looks out onto the city and up at Devil's Peak. Upper Campus is home to the majority of academic buildings and the Veritas Cape Town office. Stop in between classes to check your email, print a paper, chat with our friendly South African staff.






Cape Town has warm, dry (and sometimes very windy) summers and chilly, wet winters. The summer season is from November to March.

Average highs and lows (degrees Fahrenheit) and rainfall (inches) in Cape Town:

Type      Jan         Feb        Mar        Apr         May       June      Jul           Aug        Sept       Oct         Nov        Dec

Highs     79           79           77           72           66           64           63           64           64           70           73           75

Lows      61           61           57           53           48           46           45           46           48           52           55           57

Avg. Rainfall       0.6          0.3          0.7          1.9          3.1          3.3          3.5          2.6          1.7          1.2          0.7          0.4



(Minibus) taxis vs. cabs

Americans typically use "cab" and "taxi" interchangeably. However, in South Africa the two terms are distinct. "Cab" in South Africa refers to a metered and company-owned car you can either call for pickup in advance or hail on the street, whereas "taxi" refers to an unlicensed and privately-owned van that operates more like a public bus which has a designated stop every few blocks where people get on and off. Cabs are more expensive and generally safer than Taxis. During the day the taxis are full of people and are relatively safe and extremely cheap. A taxi ride from the University of Cape Town to downtown Cape Town costs about 5R, while a cab ride costs around 20R. You should try to avoid using taxis late at night for safety reasons as they are un-regulated.


Mainly in the center of town, Rikkis are small, brightly-colored vans that operate like taxis.


Cape Town has a public bus system, which is fairly cheap to ride, but the buses are not always on time.


Commuter trains run between Cape Town's suburbs and the central downtown area of the city.



The cost of living is surprisingly modest: meat costs about the same as in the United States, fruit is cheap, and most other food items are about the same or a little cheaper than in the U.S. (though much of the American preprocessed food is outrageously expensive).

Student personal spending is estimated at between $40 and $110 per week depending on your spending habits. You can manage well within this budget if you are prepared to live a bit frugally. The sums quoted are for semester living expenses, so you will need to increase this during vacations.

Below are some typical prices for items and services in South Africa. In Cape Town, you might need to pay a bit more. On the other hand, at discount stores and street markets, you may find many of these things for less:

Food R300-400 per week (remember that if you are exclusively cooking, this cost will be lower)
Restaurant meal R60 per person minimum; R150 per person average (drinks extra)
Haircut R5 - R200
T-shirts, underwear, etc. R150 and under
Shirts and tops, lightweight sweaters R200 and under
Jeans, casual trousers, skirts, heavier sweaters and shoes R300 and under
Rain coats R200 and under
Laundry R100-200 per month
Small electrical appliances (e.g. hair dryer, kettle) R150 and under
Textbooks R500-R1500 and under
Theater ticket R40-R300
Concert ticket R20-R400



City of Cape Town - information, attractions, and events
Unesco World Center