Family Life in South Africa

In South Africa, most households consist of parents, or a parent, and their children. Sometimes grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins live in the same house, and even extended relatives may come to stay if the financial situation requires it. It is important to always be respectful, even though some South African teenagers interact informally with their younger family members.

It is common in South Africa for the father to be the primary financial provider of the family, however this is changing in modern families where many mothers work as well. In most cultures within South Africa the mother is the main authoritative figure when it comes to household decisions.

In South Africa, meals may be eaten all together as a family, or separately depending on family members’ schedules. Boys and girls may have to cook for themselves when they get home from school. It is also common for middle-class families to have a domestic helper to assist with cleaning, cooking and other household chores.

Most South African families have pets, often cats or dogs. However, pets are not always thought of as members of the family, and are often not allowed inside the house.

Host family expectations and realities

South Africa is a multi-cultural, multi-lingual and multi-racial country – much more than most other countries in the world. Exchange students who come to South Africa with YFU should expect to be placed in any one of our country’s cultural and/or racial communities.

We do not discriminate in this respect. As a YFU exchange student to South Africa, you should therefore have absolutely NO expectations with regards to the type of community you will be living in.

Your future host family has an equal chance of being white as it has of being black, coloured, Indian or of any other cultural or ethnic background.

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