Bolivia is the perfect spot to study abroad if you’re looking for complete immersion in South American culture. This country is considered one of the most remote in the world, and over half of its population is indigenous. The will give you the perfect opportunity to learn about and experience all aspects of the unique culture and traditions of Bolivia.
Bolivian culture is shaped in many ways by Spanish and traditional Incan influences. You’ll find incredible colonial-style architecture, unique folk music, and entertaining sporting events. Bolivia is also full of natural wonders that will enliven your study abroad experience.
Keep reading for more information that will help you plan your trip to Bolivia!
Photo credits: Matthew Straubmuller.
La Paz is the administrative capital of Bolivia. It is located in a canyon high in the Andes mountains. The city is also a cultural capital, with colonial cathedrals, many street festivals, and the country’s top-rated sports teams. It also has 22 universities, making it an excellent study abroad destination.
Sucre, in the south of Bolivia, is filled with grand houses and monuments that reflect Spanish architectural traditions. It is a great study abroad destination if you’re interested in immersing yourself in the Spanish language.
Santa Cruz is the most affluent city in Bolivia. It is at a relatively low altitude and has a pleasant tropical climate. Santa Cruz also has a well developed economy and is a great place to study if you’re interested in business, government, or economics.
Students visiting Bolivia should be sure to visit these important destinations!
- Yungas Road: This road runs through the Amazon rainforest. It climbs 15,000 feet of mountain and is often called the most dangerous road in the world, but it’s a great destination for adventurous hikers and bikers.
- Madidi National Park: This park covers 7,000 square miles and is home to thousands of interesting animal species. It is one of the most biologically diverse spots on Earth. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot a jaguar!
- Oruro Carnival: This is one of the most renowned festivals in South America. Featuring over 28,000 ethnic and folkloric dancers, it is the perfect spot to get lost in Bolivian culture.
- Salar de Uyuni: This is one of the most stunning landscapes in the world. Salt flats that have existed since prehistoric times stretch over a 4,000 square mile expanse.
Planning Your Trip
How to Choose a Program
Before choosing your study abroad program, consider your personal, academic, and social goals. Are you hoping to learn Spanish while in Bolivia? Do you want to live with a local family and experience their culture and traditions? Consider each of the following factors before making your decision.
Bolivia has many public and private universities, the first of which was founded in 1694. Some international students studying abroad there choose to participate in a high-intensity Spanish immersion program, where classes revolve around learning the Spanish language. You can also study a wide variety of other disciplines alongside Bolivian students.
Don't let yourself get distracted from your studies; you'll be missing out on a once in a lifetime experience!
The official languages of Bolivia include Spanish and 36 indigenous languages. It will be easier to communicate and bond with local people if you speak some Spanish, but many programs offer courses taught in English. You will also have the opportunity to learn some indigenous words, especially if you live with a family.
Many students studying in Bolivia choose to live in a homestay with a local family. This will expose you to many aspects of the country’s culture, including traditional home-cooked food. Another great choice is to live in a dormitory with other students because it will be very easy to make friends.
Students studying in Bolivia must acquire a visa from the Bolivian embassy before arriving. This visa is valid for 60 days but can be extended if you plan to stay in the country for longer.
Social Life and Student Culture
Bolivia has a rich history and you will be able to experience many aspects of the culture while you are studying there. You will see many important historical monuments. There is also a lot of interesting indigenous art, including weaving and ceramics. Students in Bolivia enjoying going out to penas, bars that offer food, drinks, and dancing. This is a great weekend activity and a fantastic way to meet other students!