Going on an adventure to another country will expose you to many new challenges, but being prepared is a good place to start!

Although the NMMU Office for International Education will be by your side every step of the way, here are a few things to take note of when you are taking part in a short programme in South Africa.

Upon Arrival:

When you arrive at the Port Elizabeth International Airport you will be greeted by a Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University staff member. The staff member will then escort you to the transportation and transfer you from the airport to the accommodation. Here you will be checked in to the accommodation and given room allocations. Once you are checked in you be required to meet in the foyer of the accommodation and transported to the grocery and convenience store. You will have an NMMU staff present for this trip so any questions you may have on what to purchase can and will be answered on the trip to the grocery store. After the trip to the grocery store you taken back to the hotel to settle in.


The climate is temperate – never below freezing and rarely about 35C (95 degrees Fahrenheit). Port Elizabeth is elevated 60 meters above sea level and has the warm waters of the Indian Ocean at its shores. During winter the weather offers an average low temperature of about 8 to 14 degrees Celsius (46.4-57.2 degrees Fahrenheit) and daytime highs of approximately 18 degrees (64.4 degrees Fahrenheit). Port Elizabeth is also known as the “Windy City”. However, this refers mainly to the frequency of the wind, rather than to its force. So, every day at about lunchtime, a breeze or light wind will begin to blow, cooling the air. Strong, gale-force winds do occur, mainly in summer, but are not frequent occurrences. The weather is almost always suitable for a range of watersports and other outdoor activities.


You will need to pay close attention to your programme for these details. Transport pickup in the mornings will take place outside the accommodation. You will have the same driver for the majority of your stay. Please ensure that you are in the foyer of your accommodation approximately 10-15 minutes prior to the scheduled transport pickup times. DO NOT WAIT OUTSIDE YOUR ACCOMMODATION BUILDING. The driver will collect you and the rest of the group from the foyer of the accommodation.

What to pack:

Much can be bought in SA at a reasonable price - Port Elizabeth has wonderful malls and outlets so anything you forget, you can buy, however it is advised that you pack the following essentials:.

  • Warm winter clothes as it gets cold at night
  • Minimum summer clothes
  • Scarf, Woolen cap, boots, raincoat
  • Sun hat / Small Umbrella
  • Sunblock/sun lotion
  • Swim clothes & 1 x Towel for swimming
  • Running / walking shoes / sneakers
  • Sandals for "dressing up" and a light jacket

Girls: Your hair dryer won't work here without an adapter. Note: You will receive a small NMMU backpack at the welcome orientation - SO NO NEED TO PACK ONE

Day to day groceries:

You will make one trip to the grocery store on the day of your arrival. Here you will be able to buy toiletries, groceries, snacks and anything else you may need during your stay. Please prepare money and list of your essentials for this trip. Please note on the programme where you will need to prepare lunch for the days when meals are not provided. Meals are provided only on the days where stated on the programme.

falls adventure
beach walk

Geographical Diversity

South Africa, a country situated at the southern end of the African continent, is a quilt of landscapes, fauna and flora. Each of the country’s nine provinces offers visitors a unique view into some aspect of South African life, and that which Africa is so popular for, its natural wild side.

Each of South Africa’s provinces, the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Northern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, North West Province, Northern Province, Mpumalanga and Gauteng, is divided into one of the three identified geographical regions, namely, plateau, mountains and coastal belt.

Cultural Diversity

Probably the most diverse element in South Africa is its people and their cultures. As a country we have 11 official languages, namely Afrikaans, English, isiNdebele, isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, siSwati, tshiVenda, and Xitsonga.

South African cuisine has unusual variety, derived from the culinary traditions of its diverse population. Traditional foods include: bunny chow (curry in a half-loaf of bread), samp (corn) and beans, bobotie (a curried mince dish of Malay origin), milk tart, koeksusters (sweet syrupy deep-fried twisted pastries), and biltong (salty dried meat). South Africans are very fond of meat and enjoy a ‘braai’ (a barbecue which can include steaks, chicken, sosaties (marinated meat on a skewer), and boerewors (spicy sausage)). Potjiekos (meat & vegetable stew) and potbrood (baked bread), both cooked over coals in cast-iron pots, are also local favourites.

South African wines are among the best in the world, and there are also good local beers. There are a variety of restaurants in Port Elizabeth: including Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Italian, Greek and seafood restaurants, as well as numerous steak houses. There are also many coffee shops (which serve light meals) and fast food / take-away restaurants.

People who visit the country do not only take home a curio but also a little of the spirit of Africa. This spirit of Africa gets into your bones, into your soul and makes you remember this country of sweet sorrow, and amazement, which can leave you breathless at times.

Natural Diversity

South Africa is famous for its breathtaking scenery and abundance of wildlife. Wildlife does not roam free in cosmopolitan areas, but is confined to farms, uninhabited ‘veld’ fields, private game lodges and national parks.

Five famous inhabitants of the wild are especially popular, not only with tourists, but also with the locals. The ‘Big Five’, as they are known, are found mostly in the bigger national parks, however, in the last five years these animals can also be seen at some of the private game lodges. The Big Five includes: elephant, lion, rhino, leopard and buffalo. Other African icons like the hippo, giraffe, cheetah and whales can also be seen.

With over 200 mammal species it is hard to identify those that stand out, but the samango monkeys, baboons, dassies and meerkats are the most entertaining and interesting.

As a country that is bounded by the Indian Ocean in the east and the Atlantic Ocean to the west, it is no surprise that eight whale species can be viewed in South African waters. Another interesting fact about our waters is that 2000 other fish species, 16% of the world’s total, swim around in these waters.

Economical Diversity

South Africa’s economy is supported by a diverse variety of businesses. From big conglomerates and international companies to small, family businesses and street vendors, South Africa’s workforce is indeed as diverse as the country.


General Facts


The South African Standard Time is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). There are no ‘zone’ or seasonal variations.

Electricity Voltage & Measurements

220 / 230 Volts AC at 50Hz. Appliances with a lesser voltage will require a transformer. Three-pin round plugs are in use. Adaptors can be purchased at airports and major shopping centres.

Most international student accommodation has pre-paid electricity meters. You will be able to buy electricity at various selling points. Please keep in mind that you will be responsible for ‘topping-up’ these meters and thus you need to keep an eye on the electricity meter at all times.

In South Africa we use the Metric System of measurement. (eg. metre and kilogram)

Tap Water

High-quality tap (faucet) water is available almost everywhere in South Africa. It is treated to be free of harmful micro-organisms, and in any area other than informal or shack settlements, it is both palatable and safe to drink straight from the tap. In some areas, the water is mineral-rich, and you may experience a bit of gastric distress for a day or two until you get used to it. Bottled mineral water, both sparkling and still, is readily available in most places.

Currency, Credit Cards & Travel Cards

The currency in South Africa is the Rand. One Rand (R) = 100 cents (c). Bank notes currently available are R200, R100, R50, R20 and R10; and coins are R5, R2, R1, 50c, 20c and 10c. There is no restriction on the amount of foreign currency being brought into the country, as long as it is declared to the Customs Officers on arrival.

Most international credit cards such as Master Card and VISA are accepted, as well as travel cards. Money can be drawn from local ATM’s using most foreign bank cards, please check with your bank beforehand. Foreign currency is not accepted in South Africa and will have to be converted into South African Rands (see agencies below).

Exchange Agencies:

American Express Foreign Exchange
The Boardwalk
Tel: +27 (41) 583 2025

Rennies Foreign Office
Bidvest Bank, Greenacres
Tel: +27 (41) 363 1185

Please Note: A commission fee is charged every time you exchange currency.

VAT (Value Added Tax)

Currently, 14% is included in the price of most goods and services. Foreign visitors may claim back VAT paid on items taken out of the country when the total value exceeds R250. VAT is refunded at the point of departure (Oliver Thambo - Johannesburg & Cape Town International Airport) provided that receipts are produced.


Tipping is common practice in South Africa for a range of services. In restaurants, the accepted standard is around 10% of the bill, although sometimes a gratuity will be included (often in the case of a large party). Service station attendants will expect a tip of two or three Rand for filling up with petrol, checking oil, water and tyre pressure and cleaning windscreens. It is also appropriate to tip taxi drivers and tour guides. Uniformed parking attendants will offer to safeguard your car for a tip from two Rand and upwards.

Immunizations / Vaccinations

Travellers entering South Africa from countries where yellow fever is endemic are often required to present their yellow World Health Organization (WHO) vaccination record or other proof of inoculation, or they must be inoculated at the airport in order to be permitted entry. It is recommended that students planning to study nursing, social work or any other subject, which involves working with the underprivileged community, have a course of Hepatitis B inoculations starting, if possible, nine months prior to arrival in South Africa. It is recommended that you consult your personal physician in your home country for further advice and information on inoculations.

The Eastern Cape is a malaria-free area. Precautions should be taken if travelling to the Kruger National Park and other low altitude game parks and surrounding areas. Malaria prophylaxis should be taken before arriving in, during your stay in, and after departure from, these areas. Remember that to be effective, these anti-malaria drugs must be taken regularly and in strict accordance with the doctor’s instructions (

For more information on South Africa, visit:

Where is Nelson Mandela Bay & NMMU?

Port Elizabeth, Nelson Mandela Bay is the beautiful coastal town where the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University lays its foundation.

With a total of 6 campuses the NMMU is the largest international university in the Southern Cape with our main campus in the heart if a nature reserve.

Offering blazing orange sunsets, tranquil sandy-white beaches and thick, lush green forests where the ghosts of past inhabitants still linger, the Eastern Cape, South Africa is where people with friendly smiles greet you with a "good morning", "goeie more"’ or "molo"... we want you to experience this Africa!

Find out more about staying in South Africa