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Studying Abroad in SA Jan-May

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Studying Abroad in SA Jan-May
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Hi all,

I’ll be studying abroad in SA for the next few months, traveling between Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban. I’m looking for any advice regarding load shedding and what I can expect during that. I’m living with a host family for 4-5 weeks, but will be living in AirBnbs and hostels the rest of the time (16wks total). I traveled to SA in early Feb 2020, right before Covid really began to spread, so I experienced mild load shedding then, only a couple of hours a day (level 1-2? Maybe?). Obviously things are different now and because I’ll largely be traveling around the country, I’m curious if any other travelers have any experiences and what you did to prepare. I’ll be bringing 4 portable chargers and a solar panel kit, since I’ll need my laptop and phone for studies. What kind of services are you seeing disrupted from the load shedding? I saw someone mention no cell service on MTN during power outages, which is where i am planning on getting my local SIM. If anyone has any advice or experiences, I’m eternally grateful!

4 replies to this topic
Gauteng, South...
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1. Re: Studying Abroad in SA Jan-May
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I'm not a traveller but perhaps I can make a few observations.

Ironically enough, I'm typing this in lamplight, my suburb being in its first two hours of load-shedding for the day.

Not to sugar-coat it, the outlook is not good. We've had load-shedding every day this month, between stage 6 and (occasionally) stage 2; stage 4 is probably the most frequent. It's hard to predict where we'll be in a few months' time, the situation being fluid, to say the least.

You've been here before so you know what the experience of load-shedding is like for middle-class individuals. It's much the same at higher stages, only for longer, and if it's necessary to ramp up to a higher stage, it tends to be with only an hour's notice. Mobile networks can be affected, although I haven't really noticed any disruptions myself. Download the excellent EskomSePush app: you could input the suburb/area where you'll be staying, and monitor it to get a real-world picture. Also monitor news sites: I use news24.com: https://www.news24.com/fin24/economy/live-eskom-all-the-latest-news-and-analysis-on-load-shedding-power-and-the-national-grid-20220622-2 , "analysis"-type pieces (generally depressing), and various domestic "How to survive " pieces.

Gauteng, South...
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2. Re: Studying Abroad in SA Jan-May
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A bit more re mobile networks. As mentioned, disruptions are possible (generally a somewhat degraded service rather than none at all), and by no means inevitable. I composed and submitted the entire essay in #1 using a mobile device during a session of load-shedding.

Which is another thing: higher stages mean more frequent periods of no power, not one very long stretch. Each local authority has its own schedule - one of the things that makes the ESP app so valuable.

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3. Re: Studying Abroad in SA Jan-May
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I’ve been following the news for my program and I can’t tell what is sensationalized vs. what the government puts out for messaging on the crisis vs. what the reality of the situation is. Is the outlook particularly grim, from a local perspective? My progr-m focuses on domestic politics, national development, and the intersectionality of those two with race, so I’ve had to pay particularly close attention to the load shedding issue in current events, but reading about it is only one side of the story.

Gauteng, South...
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4. Re: Studying Abroad in SA Jan-May
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It's my personal opinion (fear) that the outlook is more grim than not, but I say that as a member of the public: the bulk of my information comes from a reasonably critical reading of news sources and opinion pieces. The day-to-day lived reality is much as I've described, and of course the more in-depth academic thinking you'll be accessing elsewhere.

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