Let’s talk about your Safety as an Intern in South Africa

It is a topic often discussed by friends and family when you’re going to South Africa for your internship: are you going to be safe? There are plenty of posts and ideas going around online about what you should or shouldn’t do when going to South Africa. I’m Laura, the current Communications intern of Roots Interns, and in this post, I’ll let you in on my experiences. I’ll also give you some tips and advice for safely doing your internship in South Africa.

My Experiences with Safety in South Africa

I’ve been in Cape Town for six weeks now, so first I’ll just let you in on my experiences so far. Disclaimer: they’re actually pretty good! The thing I had to get used to the most is not being able to walk the streets at night. Well, you could, of course, it’s just not recommended. Coming from the Netherlands, this took me a while to get used to! However, taking an Uber here is really cheap. Besides, it is a great mind challenge to figure out how fast you should walk to get home before it is dark. 😉

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Gender equality Internship Cape Town    Two interns with South African Flag

Tips & Advice about Safety in South Africa

If you’re concerned about safety in South Africa, this might not be the first blog you’ve read about the topic. There are many different posts and blogs out there. Some of them are very relaxed about it and say you shouldn’t worry, others say you should avoid a lot of things because it would not be safe. I’ll just play it safe (ha, get it?) this time and say my experience is somewhere in the middle. While my experiences so far have been pretty good, I’ll let you in on a few tips to always keep in mind:

  1. Be mindful of the culture you’re in now! You may be used to certain standards of safety in your home country (like I was in the Netherlands). Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean the same standards would apply here. We’re here to learn and explore a new culture. For your own safety, I would recommend to just accept that this is the new ‘normal’ while you’re here.
  2. Be aware of what is going on around you. That doesn’t mean memorizing all the street signs and shops near you (although, bravo if you can!). I would say, be aware of your approximate location, of who is around you, etc. It’s also a good idea not to walk around with your headphones in (sorry if you like to walk and talk!). Headphones limit what you hear going on around you and also distract you.
  3. Uber has a great option to share your ride with someone at home. I would highly recommend this! Even when you don’t always keep someone updated, at least they know that you’re doing well and kind of know where you’re located in case something does happen.
  4. It might sound obvious but just as a reminder: use your common sense. Don’t flash your valuables when you don’t need to, try not to carry too much cash at once. And just as a refresher: avoid walking around at night.
  5. Most of all: have fun! South Africa is a beautiful country with so much to explore, so enjoy seeing and learning about it and put your worries aside.

Quick disclaimer: the tips and experiences as described in this post are based on my own experiences. This means your experiences may differ and your safety is still your own responsibility. Safe travels!

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