Language 

The predominant languages in the city – depending on ethnicity – are Afrikaans, English, and Sesotho. The vast majority of citizens do, however, understand all of these languages even if it’s not their first language. 

Weather 

Typical of inland South Africa, Bloemfontein is known for soaring temperatures during the summer months, reaching highs of 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit). Although the winter days are clear and sunny with temperatures in the mid-teens (approximately 15 degrees Celsius or 59 degrees Fahrenheit), the night and early morning temperatures can plummet to below freezing (approximately -2 degrees Celsius or 28 degrees Fahrenheit) and frost is common. It is good to keep in mind that central heating is not standard in South African guesthouses or homes. It is therefore wise to ensure that you pack sufficient warm clothing if your visit to Bloemfontein takes place during the middle of winter. Qwaqwa’s winters are bitterly cold, with icy mountain winds, frost, and snow. The temperatures in Qwaqwa are even colder than Bloemfontein, so make sure that you have warm clothing. 

Electricity 

  • Electricity supply is constant throughout Bloemfontein. It is, however, good to be aware that electricity supply is sometimes under pressure, with the whole country undergoing load-shedding, which may result in daily power outages. Therefore, it might be a good idea to keep a torch, battery-powered lights or a couple of candles in your room at night, just in case. 
    A few pointers regarding electricity in South Africa: The South African electricity supply is 220/230 volts AC 50 Hz. 
  •  Most plugs are 15 amp 3-prong or 5 amp 2-prong, with round pins. If an adaptor is called for, consider bringing one with you, although they can be purchased locally. 
  • US-made appliances may need a transformer. 
  • Most hotel rooms have 110-volt outlets for electric shavers and appliances. 

Banking facilities 

The University of the Free State deals with ABSA Bank, Nelson Mandela Drive, Brandwag. There is also a small branch on campus. In South Africa, most major credit cards are accepted, e.g. Master Card, Visa Card, Diners Club, and American Express. All the major banks are situated within walking distance from the campus and there are automated teller machines (ATMs) on campus. 

Please take note of the following safety hints when using an ATM:

  • If possible, use ATMs that you are familiar with or choose well-lit, well-situated ATMs. 
  • Scan the area before you approach the ATM and avoid using an ATM if there are suspicious-looking people in the vicinity or if it is isolated or appears unsafe. 
  • To open a bank account, take the following along: 
  • Two photocopies of your passport and your original passport document. 
  • Two copies of a letter stating that you are a student at the UFS (obtainable from the Office for International Affairs), as well as proof of registration. 
  • Proof of accommodation. 
  • A letter from your sponsor, if applicable. 
  • You will need to have your passport with you when you exchange traveller’s cheques or foreign currency. 
  • You cannot exchange foreign currency and traveller’s cheques at the campus branch, only at the Main Branch in Nelson Mandela Drive, opposite Mimosa Mall. 

TRANSPORT 

If you wish to venture out of campus for a meal or a shopping excursion, consider the restaurants and shopping centres mentioned earlier, which are within walking distance from the campus. Public-transport systems are not as well developed in Bloemfontein as in other parts of the world. However, there are also a number of taxi services available, of which some telephone numbers are provided below: 

  • Bloem Taxi’s: +27 72 349 9738
  • Happy Cabbies: +27 76 291 5555
  • Rooikat Taxi’s: +27 51 522 5446 

If you wish to venture outside of Bloemfontein, you can make use of the following transport: 

Travel by Bus: 
Greyhound +27 51 447 1558 
24-hour customer service: +27 83 915 9000 
enquiries@greyhound.co.za 
www.greyhound.co.za 

Intercape +27 86 128 7287 (toll free number) 
info@intercape.co.za 
www.intercape.co.za 

Translux +27 51 444 4000 
+27 86 158 9282 (toll-free number) 
info@intercape.co.za 
www.intercape.co.za 

South African Airways 
Flights +27 86 160 6606 
www.flysaa.com 

Airport arrivals: 
The Bram Fischer International Airport

We strongly recommend that our international students make their final destination the Bram Fischer International Airport, which is a short 30-45 minutes’ drive by car from the University of the Free State. The airport is small, but very convenient.

Other airports
There are also other airports in nearby provinces that you might select for your arrival. The OR Tambo International Airport is approximately five hours’ drive or one and a half hours’ flight from Bloemfontein. The Cape Town International Airport is approximately 11 hours’ drive or one and a half hours’ flight from Bloemfontein. The King Shaka International Airport is approximately six and a half hours’ drive or one hour ten minutes’ flight from Bloemfontein. If you would like to do some sightseeing before your arrival in Bloemfontein, selecting one of these airports as your final arrival destinations may be a good option, but this is generally too far from Bloemfontein for most of our students. 

Getting from the airport to the UFS:
Public-transport systems are not as well developed in Bloemfontein as in other parts of the world. There are, however, a number of taxi and shuttle services available, some for which the numbers are provided below:

  • Bloem Taxi’s: +27 72 349 9738
  • Sedibeng Meter taxi: +27 73 219 6184
  • Rooikat Taxi’s: +27 51 522 5446
  • Happy Cabbies: +27 76 291 5555
  • Executive Shuttles: +27 82 568 6288
  • Winona Transport: +27 73 178 1800
  • Thabile Tours + Shuttle: +27 84 412 0845

*Cash is the most accepted method of payment.