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Spend a year in vibrant Paraguay, el corazón de Sudamerica (the heart of South America)! During this unique dual program, you will attend one semester of high school and one semester of college, where you’ll get an inside look at Paraguay’s fascinating culture and warm, laid-back lifestyle. Participate in the fusion of Spanish and indigenous Guarani language and explore one of South America’s most natural, untouched gems! You’ll live with a host family and experience social customs like eating the asado (a traditional barbeque) or playing soccer with your new friends.

This program is ideal for students interested in exploring a specific area of study or looking to experience both high school and college courses in a new country! You can choose from a wide variety of majors at two different Paraguayan universities: Universidad Columbia or Universidad San Carlos. Program options include Psychology, Graphic Design, Accounting, Zootechnics, Environmental Studies, and much more! By living with a host family and attending a local school, you will foster relationships that will last a lifetime and develop essential skills to become a global citizen.

What's included in your experience

  • Airfare


Graduates Eligible? Participants must have graduated prior to the start of the program.
Minimum GPA 2.5
Age Range 17yrs, 6 months to
19yrs, 0 months at start of program
Language Skills Preferred, but not required
COVID-19 Vaccine Strongly recommended, not required*

*AFS cannot predict and is not responsible for changes to host school or government health requirements which may change from the time of application and could impact program eligibility.

Based on differences in culture, strict government regulation of medications, and other local customs, it has been our experience that not all of our international AFS partners are able to support students with certain diagnoses, including but not limited to, severe allergies, strict dietary restrictions, ADD/ADHD, and those currently taking or who have taken psychotropic medications and/or received counseling for mental/psychological issues within the past year. If this applies to you, please get in touch with an AFS Study Abroad Specialist early so that we can determine the right experience for you.

Your Journey to Paraguay

In the months before your departure, AFSers have the opportunity to participate in various preparatory activities, including an online Student Learning Journey, which is an interactive course that brings AFSers from around the world together to learn how to develop essential global skills, intercultural communication techniques, and practice social impact, maximizing the outcomes of the AFS learning experience.

AFS-USA will coordinate and share your international travel with you. You will need to coordinate your own travel to the point of international departure. From there, your journey in Paraguay will begin when you land, where you’ll be met by staff, and volunteers, and meet your fellow AFSers from around the world. Shortly after arrival, you will attend an arrival orientation and get a crash course on Paraguayan culture, living with a host family, safety, and support structures.

Soon you’ll be ready to head to your community. Along the way, you’ll see a striking contrast of modern and rural, with most neighborhoods remaining fairly untouched by modern technology. You may catch sight of Guaraní Indians selling feathered headdresses in city plazas or pass locals riding through the streets in horse- or ox-drawn carts. And as you get closer to your new home, you’ll probably find people relaxing and drinking yerba (herbal tea) on cozy front-yard patios.

Meeting Your Paraguayan Host Family

Paraguayan society centers on the extended family, and children often live with their parents until they marry. That means you could have host siblings of any age, ranging from small children to young adults in their twenties or thirties.

Paraguayans are very social with their neighbors. Friends often drop in for impromptu visits, announcing their presence by clapping their hands at the gate. Invited guests don’t need to be punctual since it’s common to arrive even hours late at a friend’s or relative’s house.


Settling into daily life

Teenage Life in Paraguay

Teenagers tend to get together in town plazas to relax, chat, and get something to eat. They like to listen to music with a strong beat, and a lot of what you’ll hear in Paraguay is heavily influenced by music from Spain or the United States. Dancing is popular, whether traditional or contemporary, especially the Danza Paraguaya (the Paraguayan Polka). Soccer is the country’s favorite sport, with passionate fans of all ages. Your Paraguayan friends may also enjoy volleyball, tennis, or basketball, and some of them might play on community teams.


Foods You’ll Encounter in Paraguay

In Paraguay, you can find vendors selling food on the street almost anywhere you go, and it’s common for people to eat and drink their meals in public squares. Popular dishes include mandioca (cassava), sopa Paraguaya (cornbread baked with cheese, onions, and sometimes meat), chipa (hard cheese bread), tortillas, and empanadas (deep-fried meat or vegetable turnovers). Paraguayans often relax by drinking tereré (cold herbal tea) and mate (hot herbal tea) with friends and family. It’s common to share tea from a guampa (a container made of wood, cattle horns, or gourds), taking a sip through the bombilla (metal straw) before passing it on to the next person. For breakfast you can try a hot drink called cocido, which contains mate, cooked sugar, and milk.


Your High School and University in Paraguay

Like in many South American countries, the school year in Paraguay begins in mid-February and ends in November, with a two-week winter break in July. You can expect to be enrolled in a private or public high school for one semester of Grade 12 and will experience the end of high school with your classmates! If you go to a public school, you’ll likely attend either morning (7 am to 12 pm) or afternoon (1 pm to 6 pm) classes, not both.

After your high school semester, you will attend one semester of university and focus on one of three areas of study: business/accounting/administration, social sciences, or biological sciences. There are morning or afternoon schedules, and your schedule will depend on your career choice, but students often attend class every weekday. As a university student, you are expected to attend all of your classes and maintain a good standing with grades. After classes are over, you can use your free time to participate in community activities or explore Paraguayan culture with your new friends.

Scholarships and Aid

We believe that studying abroad should not be contingent on personal finances. When you apply, we work with you to understand your family’s needs and match you with available scholarships and aid. 100% of accepted applicants with demonstrated need receive funds.

Learn More

What's Included

  • 70+ years of experience delivering high-quality programs through a worldwide network of 32,000 dedicated volunteers
  • Accommodations with a vetted host family
  • Round-trip international airfare for the designated program dates
  • School enrollment fees
  • Worldwide, 24-hour emergency assistance
  • Access to an in-country support team and network, as well as our Participant Support Department based here in the U.S.
  • Orientations and intercultural education before and during your program
  • International secondary medical travel coverage
  • Visa support and guidance
  • Inclusion in a worldwide returnee and alumni network of over 1,000,000 people

Visa Info

Do I need a visa/residence permit for Paraguay? YES. Visa + Residence Permit
How do I apply for the visa? (By mail, In-person, In host country) In host country
Visa/Residence Permit Process Difficulty Level (Easy, Average, Complex) Easy
Estimated Visa/Residence Permit Expenses
($ – $$$)
Frequently Asked Visa Questions Visit our general visa FAQ page for more information.

Returning Home

“Life-changing” is hard to describe, yet it’s nearly always the first thing that AFSers say when asked about their experience abroad. “Transformed” is another one.
When you return home, if you’re like most AFSers, you’ll bring with you a sense of accomplishment unlike any other. You’ll have gained maturity and independence, discovered new passions, and developed the confidence and resilience to accomplish anything you set out to do.
That transformation isn’t only visible to you, though – others see it as well. AFSers gain critical skills for college and careers. Second language fluency, intercultural competence, creativity, and critical reasoning will help you succeed, whatever path you take. “Life-changing” means it’s only the beginning.
It’s not just an adventure abroad; it’s a whole new reality. The perspectives and personal connections you gained will stay with you and likely draw you back to the second home you found while studying abroad in Paraguay.

In fact, our alumni reviews have made AFS one of the top-rated organizations in the study abroad industry.