High School Abroad in South America

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South America is a massive continent with twelve amazing countries for high school students to explore. It's popular for those wanting to learn Spanish, spend time in nature, and live the laid back life. From Ecuador to Chile to Argentina, there's no shortage of destinations for students to uncover.

As a high school student abroad in South America, you’ll have the opportunity to live with a host family, learn a new language, and even earn college credit. It all depends on where you go and what you do.

South America is great for students who are interested in learning a new language, volunteering, experiencing unique cultures, eating phenomenal food, and making new friends.

Students interested in doing a high school abroad program in South America can choose from:

  • A semester or full year exchange
  • A summer study abroad program
  • A study / travel program over spring, winter, or summer break
High School Exchange

Semester or year-long high school exchanges in South America provide the time to make lasting friendships. You will meet other study abroad students and local high schoolers. These new relationships will broaden your understanding of the world at large.

ch high school has different opportunities for students interested in studying abroad, but a semester or a year is not uncommon. You may even be able to arrange for a direct exchange of credits when you return home.

Youth Travel Tours

High school students with a brief amount of time to spend abroad can benefit from youth travel tours. Through these well-organized trips, students get the benefit of learning about a new culture while having a blast. Tours focus on various themes like community service, environmental conservation or adventure, while including educational elements like language or history.

Summer Study Program

Students who are only free during their summer break can find numerous summer programs in South America. Spanning from several weeks to two months, many of these summer programs partner with universities, so students are able to receive college credit. Starting college with credits is a great way for high school students to think ahead and jump-start their education!

Volunteer Programs

If you're more interested in completing a few service hours, rather than studying, South America is also a great destination for high schoolers to learn more about communities abroad while helping out on a volunteer project. The types of programs offered are pretty diverse, but as a high schooler your options may be slightly limited (since you have fewer skills and qualifications as an older volunteer).

For that reason, it's ideal to choose a program that has experience working with high schoolers. They'll be able to point you in the right direction.

Spanish / Portuguese Immersion Programs

Forget period one Spanish class, get out there and speak it with a Spanish immersion program. Or, challenge yourself to learn a new language and head over to Brazil for a Portuguese immersion program. Spend your days studying the language, exploring nearby areas, and getting to know your host community by living with a local host family.

Visa

Visa requirements differ depending on what country you’re from and which South American country you’re visiting. If you’re from the United States, Canada, Australia, or the UK and are staying less than 90 days in a South American country you can usually obtain a tourist visa upon entry. Brazil is an exception, requiring a visa in advance for countries that demand a visa of their residents.

Students planning to stay longer than 90 days in South America will need to look into a student visa. Students traveling with a program can get help with visa applications and requirements from the program.

Housing

The type of high school abroad program will determine your housing options in South America. Homestays are commonplace in yearlong or semester exchanges and language immersion programs, allowing students to immerse themselves in the local culture. Family units are an important part of most cultures in South America and you’ll be taken in a new son or daughter.

Those participating in teen travel programs will typically share a hotel room with fellow travelers, an easy way to make new friends! High school students enrolling in intensive summer programs often live in university dorms with other students.

Costs

If you’re flying from North America, flights to hubs like Quito, Ecuador; Buenos Aires, Argentina; and Santiago, Chile can run in the $500 - $1,000 USD range, while those coming from Europe can expect to pay $850 to $1,200.

The cost of transportation, food, additional expenses, and evenings out will vary depending on your study abroad country and how much is included in your program fees. Cheaper destinations like Ecuador and Peru will see you spending $15+ USD a day, while Argentina and Chile can cost $30+ USD daily.

Your program price will also fluctuate based on country, type of housing, length of stay and included amenities. It can range from $3,000 for a two-week trip in Peru to $5,000 for a semester program in Buenos Aires to $14,000 for a year-long exchange in Ecuador.

Packing Tips

More tropical South American destinations like Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia have temperate weather year-round, requiring you to pack fewer layers and more shorts (yay!). Countries farther from the equator like Chile and Argentina are more likely to have seasons, so you’ll want to check the weather for the time of year you’re visiting. Regardless, it's always good to have a warm coat / jacket just in case.

  • Breathable and UPF (sun resistant) clothing
  • Layers
  • Swimsuit
  • Solid walking shoes for outdoor explorations
  • Sunscreen and bug repellent
  • A power and voltage converter

Staying Healthy in South America

It's recommended travelers receive hepatitis, yellow fever, typhoid, tetanus, and rabies vaccinations before traveling in South America’s developing countries. Mosquitos in South America can transmit diseases like Dengue Fever, Chikungunya Fever and Malaria. Students are encouraged to take proper precautions by researching high-risk areas before traveling, covering the skin, using insect repellant and taking preventative medication. Be especially vigilant of mosquito born diseases in rural areas of most South American countries and especially in Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, and Bolivia.

Stay away from animals you don’t know and only drink bottled or boiled water in South America. Check that your food is properly and carefully cooked. Traveler’s diarrhea is common, especially when first arriving to a new country, so stay hydrated and see a health care professional if symptoms don’t subside after a week.

Safety Considerations

High school students traveling in South America should follow general safety guidelines to have a happy and safe experience. As with anywhere in the world, being aware of your surroundings is an important way to stay out of trouble. Avoid local demonstrations, as they occasionally turn violent.

Petty theft and pickpocketing is known to happen in crowded, touristy areas of larger cities and on public transportation.

Male and female students should refrain from walking alone at night as theft and assault have been reported in South American countries. Always follow local government laws and stay away from illegal drugs and underage consumption.

Contributed by Alecia Weaver

Showing 13 Programs

Peru

Global Leadership Adventures (GLA)
Discover Peru and learn all about life and culture from the Sacred Valley to the Spanish language while making a difference i...

Peru

Rustic Pathways
Rustic Pathways offers one-of-a-kind experiences throughout the breathtaking landscapes of Peru. Our staff has cultivated str...

Bolivia

Projects Abroad
Volunteer abroad while in High School with Projects Abroad in Bolivia. During your time in Bolivia, you will have the chance...

Peru

Cross-Cultural Solutions
As a High School Volunteer Abroad in Peru, you’ll be welcomed warmly into the vibrant city of Lima to join your team of globa...

Ecuador

Global Leadership Adventures (GLA)
Come experience one of the most pristine natural environments where conservationists are working to protect this unique ecosy...

Peru

Carpe Diem Education
Travel throughout Ecuador and Peru with 12 other students as you share meals, live among different peoples, and build meaning...

Argentina

Sol Abroad
Learn Spanish in the most fascinating city in South America…Buenos Aires. Wander the bustling streets and grand avenues of th...

Peru

Global Works
On this Peru adventure, we whitewater raft the Rio Urubamba, visit the majestic, lost Inca city of Machu Picchu, barter for a...

Paraguay

Amigos de las Americas
AMIGOS participants live in the the departments of Paraguari and Misiones. Participants working with the Paraguayan Ministry...

Peru

Wilderness Adventures
Travel to the ancient lands of Peru and uncover its many secrets! Explore historic Cusco, navigate the whitewater of the Urub...

Argentina

Projects Abroad
Projects Abroad offers High School Specials for teens who are interested in getting a taste of what it's like to volunteer ab...

Brazil

Greenheart Travel
Greenheart Travel's high school abroad program in Brazil offers a great opportunity for students to spend a semester or year...

Chile

CIEE Global Navigator High School Study Abroad
Get a taste of Chile’s vibrant culture by immersing yourself in the daily traditions of the Chilean people. The city of Valpa...