This paper reports on a study visit to rural Zambia undertaken by groups of undergraduates studying education at a small university in the UK. The research conducted around the visit sought to answer the question: 'does first-hand experience of a developing country's education system challenge British students' preconceptions of 'the South' and help them to understand development issues?' In order to answer this question we employed a case-study methodology. Selected participants' written reflections upon the Zambian visit were analysed, comparing the insights gained with the group's preconceptions at the beginning of the module. These case-study students were also interviewed to probe issues arising from their written accounts. Initial findings suggest that the first-hand experience of education in a sub-Saharan African country had substantially augmented their learning from the taught module, deepening understanding and expanding the affective and skills dimensions. Each of the case study students had brought different preconceptions to the experience and these were challenged or – in some cases – reinforced. This paper reports findings from the case studies and discusses implications for the design of similar study visits.