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International Cape Town – the city that has something for everyone, and shares its spellbinding beauty, history, culture and local flavours with people from all walks of life. But, a truly international and multicultural experience means meeting people from places you never would have thought of and learning so many new things. Leaving the UCT English Language Centre having not only learned or improved your English or passed that exam, but exchanging contact details and promises and intentions to stay in touch with people from different parts of the world is what a truly international experience is all about – right here in beautiful, sunny Cape Town.

In the last of this 3-part series on the nationalities you may encounter at the UCT English Language Centre, we would like to make a special mention of some students from these countries.


Turkey is a nation straddling eastern Europe and western Asia with only 3% lying on the European side. It is a popular tourist destination and home to more than ten world heritage sites. The Turkish people are considered to be exceptionally polite people. As part of a cultural taboo, it is considered rude and impolite if you pick your teeth or blow your nose at a restaurant or bar in Turkey. Apparently, it is advised you go to the bathroom to do this. But at the same time, it is also considered fairly common to smoke and eat at the same time, so asking someone to refrain from smoking while you eat may be met with a very confused and shocked expression. Bargaining is regarded as a polite gesture, and very much encouraged. However, once you start bargaining, you must buy the intended goods. The mere fact that you have started to bargain signals the start of a business transaction which must be followed through.

Turkish people are considered very nice and friendly. They are also exceptionally hospitable and it is considered an honour if you decide to visit or stay with them. Some of our wonderful Turkish students, Beyza, who is currently studying with us, and Thunahan, who recently left, are prime examples of the lively, open and warm nature of the Turks. They are exceptionally sociable and also up for weekend adventures of exploring new places and things. Both these lovely students are currently our most features faces on the UCT English Language Centre Facebook page, which is a testament to their outgoing and friendly natures.


The population of Germany is about 82 million (in 2010) with the capital city being Berlin. Germany has the largest economy in Europe with many large and famous car companies coming from there – think of Volkswagen, Audi and BMW. They also gave the world brands like Nivea, Adidas and Siemens and are very well known for their expertise in engineering. Their love of cars, and great engineering is also evident in the fact that 65% of their highways do not have a speed limit. So, if you own or plan to buy a super car, make sure you get to test it out on a German highway. And, in keeping with the topic, most taxis in Germany are Mercedes! The Germans love punctuality, so no matter what, German students will also be on time for class, and if you are meeting a German friend somewhere, make sure you get there on time.

The German people are very direct and will probably not have a problem with telling you how they feel about something. They also enjoy discussing (taboo) topics that many other cultures may not. They are genuinely interested in discussing politics, cultural differences and religion, etc. These students are hardworking and the best conversation partners in class. Simon joined us at the UCT English Language Centre about 2 months ago to improve his English before going on to do his Masters back in Germany. His feedback to us was this one word: “awesome”. But if you would like to get to know more about his story and how he ended up here in Cape Town, then you can watch our video here.


Italian is the main language in Italy, with Rome being the capital city of the country. Interestingly, Vatican City and San Marino are two independent states within the borders of Italy. Italy has made a name for itself with brand names such as Ferrari, Lamborghini, Alfa Romeo and Maserati, but we cannot forget that pasta, pizza, lasagne and bolognese come from Italy! It is also home to the only 3 active volcanoes in Europe and is the 4th most visited country in the world!

The Italians are known to be passionate, charming, generous, colourful, spontaneous, creative and sociable. This is most certainly true of our students. For example, a few weeks ago, Francesca left to return to Italy after her 3 month stay with us. Francesca made a wonderful group of friends here, and we loved her positive and happy presence in the school. To see how she genuinely felt about her stay with us, she wrote us a letter, which you can read here.

We hope to welcome not only many more people from all these countries we have talked about in the series, but look forward to learning much more about new cultures, nationalities and language groups in the world. We believe that the multicultural experience is an important part of your experience here in Cape Town and really goes a long way in helping you with your English studies.

Lastly, a huge thank you to all our wonderful students who make such a difference to our lives, and the work we do.
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