Live with a host family and attend a local high school for a year to discover the Peru that lies beyond Machu Picchu. Appealing to anyone with a passion for history, archaeology, anthropology or Spanish language, Peru is the perfect destination for a year abroad. As an AFSer, you will have the opportunity to skyrocket your Spanish speaking skills while staying up on your academics.
You may be placed anywhere throughout the country, though most likely will live in an urban area. Whether you are closer to the peaks of the Andes or the tree canopies of the Amazon, there will be beautiful landscapes and Incan ruins nearby, and a friendly and welcoming community even closer.
Check out the Host Community Map to view where previous AFS-Peru students have been placed.
Host families in Peru, like all AFS host families worldwide, are not paid. They open their homes to students in order to share their community and culture as well as to enrich their own family lives.
Peru's people are amazingly diverse: Quechua Indians (descendants of the Incas), mestizos (a blend of Indian and European), and people of Spanish ancestry make up the majority. Because it is so diverse, Peruvian families have varied customs. Both cities and villages celebrate a wide variety of Christian holidays as well as traditional Inca celebrations, holding festivals and carnivals throughout the year.
Peruvian families are widely known for their hospitality and generous displays of affection. Peruvians' sense of privacy differs from some other cultures, and they relish spending time together, even if it's simply watching TV after dinner.
In their free time and on weekends, Peruvian teenagers will hang out in the town square or at a local café. Community sports and other activities are popular, especially soccer.
Peruvian cuisine is known for its rich variety and fusion of different cultures, including Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, African and indigenous Peruvian. Staples in the Peruvian diet are rice, potatoes, chicken, fish and vegetables. The food can often be spicy, with most meals including aji, a popular Peruvian hot pepper. Families in Peru eat a lot of meat (guinea pig is even occasionally available), and lunch and dinner are the largest meals.
Spanish is the official language of Peru. Quechua is officially acknowledged as a second language, and Aymara is recognized as a regional language.
You will most likely attend a private school. AFS students are usually enrolled in the 4th or 5th year of secondary school with students between the ages of 14 and 17. Most schools start around 8:00AM and end between 2pm and 3pm. Students take 3 or 4 classes per day.
Common core subjects include Spanish literature, Math, English, Peruvian history, Economics, Civics, Arts and Handicrafts, Social Sciences, Chemistry, Physics, and others. The school year begins in April and ends in December.
Check out the Host School FAQ (.pdf).
Orientations & Activities
In addition to the online and in-person orientations that you will participate in before you depart, you and your fellow AFSers will have several orientations while abroad. These are intended to help you maximize your AFS experience, prevent culture shock and gain knowledge, skills and a global understanding. Topics covered will include Peruvian society, culture, family, school, language, safety and health issues. Each orientation will be tailored to your group and your group's needs. All orientations are several days in length, and will occur immediately after arrival, two weeks after arrival, at roughly the mid-point of your stay, and prior to your return. They will likely be international, giving you a chance to make friends with AFSers from around the world who are also studying in Peru.
In addition to orientations, many local volunteer chapters organize activities for students and host families throughout the year. These will vary from chapter to chapter but may include get-togethers or trips to other cities or regions in Peru, including visits to ancient ruins. Unlike the orientations, these activities are optional and are not included in tuition.
Around the tenth month, AFS will provide two cultural activities that will give you the opportunity to learn more about the Peruvian culture, an "Intercultural Workshop" and a "Global Educational Trip"
Your program will begin in New York, where you will meet your fellow AFSers from the US, attend an overnight orientation, then travel together to Lima where you will be met by AFS Staff and Volunteers. International airfare is included as part of the tuition, but it will be your responsibility to arrange your travel from your hometown to New York. Details will be provided after you start your application.
To get more information about the visa requirements, view the Peru Year Program Visa Overview.
To participate in this program, you must:
- Be within the age range upon departure
- Have a minimum 2.8 cumulative GPA on a 4.0 scale
- Be mentally, physically, and emotionally healthy in accordance with AFS Medical Evaluation Policies
- Have a valid U.S. passport, or a U.S. Permanent Resident Card at least 4 months prior to the departure range
- Have an open mind, willingness to be flexible, and the ability to adapt to new a culture, school, and environment
Due to the high level of meat consumption in Peru, applicants who require a vegetarian diet will be difficult to place and may not be accepted.
Younger high school graduates who meet the eligibility requirements may be considered.
We encourage you to learn as much of the Spanish language as possible before your departure.