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Bolivian culture has been shaped and influenced by over 30 native ethnic groups and numerous cultures, and each has contributed its own beliefs and lifestyles to the potpourri of Bolivian customs and traditions. This is precisely what makes Bolivia one of the most colourful nations in South America. From the sprawling capital city of La Paz, which at 3650m above sea level is the highest capital city in the world, to the ‘world’s most dangerous road’, the Yungas Road, to the 6500 square kilometres of salt flats known as the Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia is certainly not for the fainthearted – but you will find the people kind, relaxed and welcoming, with a strong sense of family.

What's included in your experience

  • Airfare
  • Airport Pick-up
  • Host Family Placement
  • Housing
  • Meals
  • School Placement
  • Medical Insurance
  • 24/7 Emergency Support
  • Assistance with Application Process
  • Visa Application Assistance
  • Pre-Departure Orientation
  • Orientations during your time abroad
  • Access to Alumni Network
  • Continuous Support
  • Worldwide Presence
  • 70 Years Experience

What you are responsible for

  • Vaccinations
  • Visa and Passport Fees
  • School Uniform

Host family and community

Bolivians tend to be relaxed about everything, especially time and punctuality. They are very open, friendly and welcoming so don’t be surprised if they express affection by hugging, kissing on the cheeks or saying hello to everyone they meet. Your friends will be your family’s friends since family is in the center of Bolivian life. Most Bolivian families and communities have strong religious ties, and can be considered conservative or traditionalist.

Family is the backbone of Bolivian society, and it is uncommon for children to leave home before they get married. For most Bolivian families. Sunday, (día de la familia) is family day, where members share experiences and stories over lunch or dinner. Teens are expected to follow their rules.

Food in Bolivia varies depending on the region. Food from the higher mountainous regions contain a lot of spices, whereas dishes in the lowlands and Amazonic region of Bolivia tend to be comprised of yucca, fish, vegetables and fruit. Typical Bolivian dishes include Papas Rellenas (deep fried balls of mashed potato stuffed with a boiled egg or cheese), salteñas (baked dough and filled with meat, vegetables, egg, olives and a slightly spicy sauce) and pique a lo macho (bite-sized pieces of beef, sausage, onions, spicy peppers, boiled egg and fries).

Language and school

While the primary language in Bolivia is Spanish, most of the rural locals also speak their native tongues: Quechua, Aymara or Guaraní. AFS will provide an intensive Spanish course when you start your program, but having prior basic knowledge of Spanish will be an asset.

The school year starts in February and ends in November, running from Monday to Friday (8 am to 1 pm). You will probably wear a school uniform, and can expect a very formal relationship between students and teachers.

Let AFS guide your intercultural adventure

Kick-start your future with AFS and discover who you really are, make new lifetime friendships and immerse yourself in a fascinating intercultural experience.

This programme begins at your home country with a pre-departure orientation and continues with orientations, other supported learning activities and facilitated conversations which will help you maximize your experience, cope with the challenges of navigating a new culture and community as well as gain knowledge, skills, and a global understanding throughout your time abroad, and as you return to your home country. AFS volunteers will be there to support and guide you and your host family the whole way through.

Find out more