Why Students Choose to Study Abroad in Malawi

Malawi is a beautiful country nicknamed “The Warm Heart of Africa”. The people of Malawi are known to be kind, generous, and warm to fellow Malawians and visitors alike. Living and studying in Malawi will allow you to submerse yourself in a friendly and welcoming country. Malawi is also a culturally, politically, and economically dynamic country, providing an interesting context in which sociologists, political scientists, anthropologists, and historians alike can engage in an interesting exploration of humanities. Students looking to study abroad in Malawi will find many wonderful aspects of living and studying in this country. 

Geography of Malawi

A beautiful country to study abroad in Malawi, officially known as the Republic of Malawi, is a relatively small country located in Sub-Saharan Africa toward the southeastern edge. It is landlocked and bordered by Zambia, Tanzania, and Mozambique. The capital and largest city in Malawi is Lilongwe, which is located in the central region of the country. Running through Malawi is the Great Rift Valley which is surrounded by high plateaus and mountains. Malawi is also home to the Shire River, the Zambezi River, and the gorgeous Lake Malawi. There are many wonderful towns to choose when you study abroad in Malawi. 

Language in Malawi

The official language of Malawi is English. English is taught in schools, and many people in the country speak it. The national language of Malawi, however, is Chichewa, which most Malawians speak. Other indigenous languages are spoken throughout the country, but visitors will most commonly hear Chichewa and English. Also, even though the majority of people in the country speak Chichewa, it is not always taught in international and private schools, and some younger generations are less facile with the language. Learning and understanding Chichewa will help you better understand the culture and traditions of Malawi.

Cost of Living in Malawi

The national currency of Malawi is the Kwacha. As of March 2014, one U.S. dollar was equivalent to 419.7 Malawi Kwachas (MWKs). Malawi’s currency comes in papers and coins, and is brightly colored and decorated with important people and landmarks.

The cost of living in Malawi is relatively affordable compared to many places in the United States. In Lilongwe, the capital, one can rent a one-bedroom apartment in the city-center for $420 on average. If one is willing to live outside the city-center, an apartment will cost an average of $150. Three bedroom apartments in the city-center cost about $200 more than a one-bedroom apartment, so students might benefit from studying abroad with friends or rooming with Malawians. Utilities (electricity, heating, water, and garbage) cost an average of $40/month for a one-bedroom apartment. Internet may be available depending on the area, but prices vary widely.

On average, groceries in Malawi are slightly less expensive than groceries in the United States, so long as one purchases common foods widely available to the majority of people. Cheese, meat, and wine tend to be just as expensive if not more expensive than those same items in the United States. Many people eat at restaurants in Malawi, and many restaurants offer meals for less than $3. Some restaurants, however, charge as much as $15-$25 per meal.

Malawi has buses and taxis available for public use. Because Malawi is one of the less developed countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, it is safe to assume that its buses and taxis will not be as fancy and well-equipped as they are in capital cities in the U.S. Taxi and bus service, however, is commonly used by the local community. A one-way ticket for local transport on a bus costs just under a dollar, and local taxis charge a base price of about $6 and approximately $1.50/mile. Taxis in Malawi also charge “wait” fees.  

Malawian Culture

­People in Malawi are known to be kind, generous, and friendly. Malawians commonly invite guests to share meals, conversation, and other activities and events.

Much of Malawian culture is built around Malawians’ reverence for dance. The government formed a National Dance Troupe, and traditional and spirited dances commonly bless weddings, initiations, traditional rituals, celebrations, and other events throughout the country. Much of the dance in Malawi, and in fact much of the culture in Malawi, is derived from various ethnic groups that eventually came together to form a Malawian nationality. People in Malawi also commonly play soccer and basketball.

Many people in Malawi create art by weaving baskets, carving masks and wood, painting, and otherwise creating art that artisans commonly sell to tourists. In addition, many internationally recognized authors and literacy figures are from and/or live in Malawi. Singing is also quite common whether in official capacities (as part of choirs, church services, etc.) or casual capacities (walking down the street or during gatherings with friends). In all, Malawi’s artistic climate is bright and vibrant.

Study Abroad in Malawi for Some Amazing Food

Staple foods in Malawi include corn (maiz), fish (caught fresh in Lake Malawi), and meat (where it’s affordable and readily available). One of Malawi’s most popular and common dishes is called “Nsima” and consists of ground corn (mealie-meal) and two side dishes (one of meat, and one of vegetables—usually cabbage, pumpkin, or kale). Nsima is commonly served with hot peppers or hot pepper sauce. Nsima is typically served on a regular basis and often times as a side dish to multiple meals in a day. People in Malawi also drink a lot of tea which is one of the primary crops in Malawi. Fresh fruits and vegetables are also available in most parts of Malawi. People in Malawi commonly eat around a table or on the floor in which case they sit in a circle around the food. Many meals in Malawi are eaten by hand, without the use of utensils.

The majority of people in Malawi self-identify as Christian, and many Malawians self-identify as Muslim. These are the two most commonly practiced religions in Malawi.

  • University of Rochester