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Bolivia is home to a unique variety of climates and landscapes: the majestic Andean peaks covered in snow, cold plateaus dotted with beautiful lakes and vast salt marshes, picturesque and fertile valleys bordered by mountains, arid plains and immense Amazonian jungles crossed by navigable rivers. But the beauty and diversity of Bolivia are not limited to this: the legacy of ancient and glorious populations, the many centuries-old cultures still find expression in languages, colors, dances and music.

The landing phase in La Paz certainly lasts less than usual: the city center of the administrative capital (the constitutional one is Sucre) rises in fact at 3,600 meters above sea level. Before meeting the host families, AFS students take part in a brief orientation meeting in La Paz, where Bolivian volunteers provide the first useful information on their experience and on the culture of the country. Most students then reach their host communities by plane or bus. AFS Bolivia plans two more orientation meetings during the year: one mid-stay for a moment of discussion on the experience in progress, and one immediately before the restart, to give students the opportunity to reflect on the lived and healthy experience travel companions.
To help students learn the language quickly, AFS Bolivia offers an online Spanish course.

SCHOOL

Despite the thousands of kilometers that separate Bolivia from Italy, the school systems of the two countries apparently are not so different. The big differences lie in the calendar, which varies according to the region: generally the school year starts in the first week of February and ends in mid-November, with a fifteen-day break between June and July for the winter holidays. The school week almost always ends on Friday (in few cases we go to school on Saturday). The summer months of December and January coincide with the school holidays.
AFS students can be placed in both private and public schools, where the bell rings at 8:00 to communicate the start of lessons and at 13:00 to send students home for lunch. Most schools have some compulsory disciplines such as math, physics, natural sciences, literature, art, religion, computer science, chemistry, social studies, philosophy, languages ​​and physical education. To change the classroom are the teachers, who expect to have a formal relationship and respect with their students, who remain in the classroom and share lessons with the same classmates throughout the year.
Some schools do not close at 13:00: in the afternoon they can offer extracurricular activities such as the choir, the band, music and dance courses, sports, in particular soccer and volleyball. Among the activities outside the lessons, optional end-of-year trips to other cities in or outside Bolivia are often offered, lasting from one to three weeks (the cost of this activity is borne by the student). Even in the Bolivian colegios the school uniform has a special importance for each member of the institute. Its cost, to be paid by the AFS student, is about 60 US dollars.

FAMILY AND FREE TIME

The cultural variety that distinguishes the many Bolivian communities makes it impossible to accurately describe the families of Bolivia and their habits. A big difference in lifestyles is represented by communities that live in big cities like La Paz compared to small towns in the Andes or less densely populated areas. Some elements common to almost all Bolivians exist and are the warmth, openness of people and the value of the family. Most of the Bolivian families are Catholic, go to church regularly and remain united for a long time. Grandparents, uncles and cousins ​​share the house and contribute together to the most important family decisions. Parents are reference figures for their children, who respect the rules and limits imposed on them. The importance of the family is manifested above all in the sharing of meals, which are opportunities for discussion and comparison on the day spent. Young people participate as protagonists in family activities, especially on weekends. On the other hand, when students go out with friends, they usually go to parties, disco, cinema or play sports (football, basketball and volleyball).
Whatever a person is doing in Bolivia, it is essential to always keep in mind the “magic words” of communication: never forget to say goodbye with “¡Hola!” And ask “¿Cómo estas?”. Never play savings with “gracias” which are never enough, and “por favor”.
Surely you will never hear a Bolivian complaining about latecomers: here the clock is not a concern, punctuality and efficiency always take second place compared to peace and a relaxed atmosphere!
Meat is a basic dish in Bolivian cuisine and this makes it difficult, but not impossible, to find families willing to host vegetarians.

It is very difficult to find a family willing to host smoking students.

RELIGION
The majority of the population is Catholic (95%), with a Protestant / Evangelical and animist minority. Freedom of worship is protected by the Bolivian Constitution.

CLIMATE

Given the morphology of the territory and the large latitudinal space occupied, Bolivia has one of the greatest climatic differences on Earth. In the Andean plateau, rainfall does not exceed 500 mm per year in the humid belt of the northern sector and the average annual temperature is below 10 ° C. The southern sector is drier and tending towards desert formation. The tropical lands of the Bolivian east have two main climates: in the north the climate is Amazonian, with a short dry season and temperatures varying between 22 and 26 ° C on average, in the south there is a milder and drier climate.

LANGUAGE

Bolivia has four official languages: Spanish, spoken by 61% of the population, Quechua (21.2%), Aymara and Guarani. Other languages ​​spoken include Italian, Portuguese, English.

Eligibility Requirements

The AFS Year programs offer you a great opportunity to live and study in another country for a period of up to 11 months. On the AFS Student Exchange program, you’ll be provided with an exceptional intercultural experience. This program will suit you if you really want to learn a new language and feel a part of a local community.

Year Program  is only open to Form 5 students.

The AFS Semester programs offer you a great opportunity to live and study in another country for a period of 6 months. On the AFS Student Exchange program, you will be provided with an exceptional intercultural experience. This program will suit you if you really want to learn a new language and feel a part of a local community.

Not keen on a year or semester abroad?  The AFS Intensive Program is the best option for you! Spend 8 weeks living with a host family, attending a local high school and getting involved in your host community. This program provides the perfect opportunity to experience another culture in a new country without compromising obligations back at home.

Inclusions: Placement with host family, Enrollment at a local high school for the duration of the program, International Airfare, Airfare Management, Visa guidance and advice (Visa application submission and cost is student’s responsibility), Domestic travel in your host country to your host family, Medical Insurance (Exclusions apply), 24/ 7 Worldwide support network, Arrival and departure orientations.

For more information on what’s included in the program, fee clicks here.

Visa Information: Please note that most year program destinations do require you to have a visa to participate in a school-based program. Visa costs and application timeframes vary by destination. Please make sure you budget up to an extra RM500-RM1000 for potential visa costs as this is not included in the program fee. AFS sends all visa information to participants upon acceptance to the program.

AFS programs are based on school and family life and note that tourist travel cannot be a priority.

Please note that for Austrian visa purposes you may be required to travel interstate to lodge your visa application. Associated costs with the visa are not included in the AFS program fee.

What's included in your experience

  • Airfare
  • Airport Pick-up
  • Host Family Placement
  • Meals
  • School Placement
  • Individual Contact Person
  • Medical Insurance
  • 24/7 Emergency Support
  • Domestic Transport
  • School Transport
  • Assistance with Application Process
  • Visa Application Assistance
  • Pre-Departure Orientation
  • Orientations during your time abroad
  • Re-entry Orientation
  • Teaching Materials
  • School Materials
  • Access to Alumni Network
  • Continuous Support

What you are responsible for

  • Vaccinations
  • Cultural Tours
  • Language Instruction
  • Visa and Passport Fees
  • Grade Transcripts
  • School Diploma
  • Project Materials
  • Stipend