Global Exchange trip to South Africa

30 August 2023

Hear from Joline and Olivia about their time spent in South Africa where they attended Durban Girls’ College.

Our First Day

First, we travelled from London Heathrow to Dubai International airport, then transferred flights to arrive at Durban’s King Shaka International airport. Having arrived in Durban, we met our host families, who were so welcoming, and then we drove to their houses.  

Joline: For my first day at Durban, Alaya and her family brought me to her grandparent’s house. There, they did some prayers and I had lunch with their family. 

Olivia: For my first day in Durban, we went to the beach and then went to see some Zulu huts, and we also visited a reptilian centre. After this we went back to my host’s house, where we had a Braai, which is a South African barbeque. 

School Life

For our first two weeks at Durban, we boarded, and for the last week we stayed at our host families’ houses. The classes were similar to Downe, however, they were a lot more laid back. Luckily, we didn’t find the lessons too difficult so we had a great time. The school timetable was also much more relaxed, ending at 2.30pm, and on Fridays at 1pm, which allowed us to explore a wide range of extra-curriculars including chess, African drumming, water polo and more.

The boarding at DGC was different in many ways to the boarding life at Downe. There was one big boarding house, called College House. We had to study from 6-8pm, before getting ready to go to bed at 9.30pm. In the boarding house, we all slept in one big room, separated by cubicles, and in the mornings we were woken up with a song at 6.30am.  

On one of the school days, we were offered the opportunity to take part in a 4-hour Zulu beading class. The lady that came to teach us was very kind and guided us through each step. We also went on a harbour cruise trip with the other exchanges to see the coastline of Durban. 

Weekend Fun

On the weekends, we did a range of different activities, with our hosts.

Olivia: For my first weekend, we went to a farmers market, and after this, my host took me to a concert to see a famous South African singer. The day after, we went to the beach. The week after we went on Safari for two days. This was such an amazing experience, and I was able to see many wild animals. 

Joline: For my first weekend, my host family and I went to Natal Lion Park as well as the African Raptor Centre. On the second weekend, we went to the Valley of a Thousand Hills, and went into Zulu huts where we were taught about daily life and traditions before watching a performance of a Zulu dance. I also went on safari.


On the Monday of our second week, we were able to visit Makabongwe School, where we helped the teachers and all the young children.

Olivia: I worked with the adorable 4-5 year olds, by drawing with them and teaching them about different jobs, which was such an eye opening experience. 

Joline: Every Friday after school, my exchange Alaya and I drove to an informal settlement, called Bhambayi in Inanda. We helped out in a project which aims to improve the lives of those in disadvantaged communities. There, children were given food and we started teaching them at 2:30pm when they finished school. 

We made lots of friends in South Africa including with the other exchanges who were there at the same time as us. After our 3 weeks were over, we said goodbye to our lovely exchange buddies and returned back to London. 

We want to thank Ms Akhtar, Ms West and Mrs Adams for organising this amazing trip and ensuring that we were safe and had an incredible time.

Find out more about the Global Schools’ Exchange Programme here.

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