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While attending high school in Chile you can explore the cosmopolitan capital of Santiago, the majestic Andes Mountains, the world’s driest desert in the North, or the untamed wilderness of Patagonia in the South. But it’s also a haven for thinking and learning—as Nobel-prize Chilean poet Pablo Neruda said, the country is “made for poets.” This is your chance to discover beautiful natural landscapes in a place that’s also bound to educate and inspire. Experience all that Chile has to offer by living with a host family and attending a local high school for a year or semester. You’ll get to immerse yourself in everyday culture while enjoying the adventure of a lifetime!

Things to know about Chile

Chileans tend to be proud of their country’s achievements. They come from a culture that celebrates customs like La Minga in the island of Chiloé, when friends and neighbors help move wooden houses or churches from one location to another, and then celebrate afterward with food and drink. Since many Chileans like to linger with family and friends, punctuality isn’t especially important. In fact, it’s common to be around 30 minutes late to a social event. You can expect to be greeted with an abrazo; this includes a handshake and a hug, followed by a kiss on the right cheek for women and family.

What's included in your experience

  • Airfare


Graduates Eligible? No, participants cannot have graduated high school prior to the start of the program
Minimum GPA 2.5
Age Range
15yrs, 6 months
17yrs, 0 months at start of program
Language Skills Preferred, but not required
COVID-19 Vaccine Required

Your journey to Chile

Your journey to high school in Chile will begin in New York City or Miami where you’ll meet your fellow AFSers from the US. Together you’ll attend an overnight orientation and get a crash course on Chilean language and culture. Then you’ll travel as a group to Santiago where you’ll be met by AFS staff and volunteers.

Soon you’ll be ready to head to your new community. Along the way you’re bound to see brightly colored houses and a variety of landscapes, from rugged mountains to deserts, swamps, and beaches. You might even pass by Mapuche men (the indigenous people of Chile) playing chueca, an ancient game similar to hockey.


Meeting your Chilean Host Family

AFSers have lived all throughout Chile, but most host families are located in or near urban areas. Your host family will likely be friendly and warm, even if they’re a bit reserved when you first meet them – that’s pretty typical in Chilean culture.

Chilean families are some of the smallest in Latin America, with most parents having one or two children. Even so, family time is very important, and Sunday is usually set aside as a day for families to gather together and share a meal. Many families have nanas or empleadas who work aslive-in nannies or maids, but you can still expect to help your host parents around the house.


Settling into daily life

Teenage Life in Chile

Teenagers in Chile generally have plenty of time for friends and extracurricular activities. They like to hang out in the town square, go to parties, and drink coffee or maté in the local café. Your Chilean friends will probably follow the national soccer team closely, since futból is the country’s favorite sport. When La Roja (“the red one”) wins, often the entire town goes out into the streets to celebrate.  Besides soccer, basketball, swimming, tennis, and cycling are also popular. Many teenagers like to watch TV as well, especially Mexican, Argentine, Brazilian, and Chilean soap operas. You and your friends may have the opportunity to attend one of Chile’s famous fondas (fairs), where you can taste traditional food and dance to live music late into the night.


Food you’ll encounter

You’ll find that most Chilean food involves fish, chicken, beef, corn, potatoes, beans, and eggs. Some popular dishes are empanadas de horno (turnovers with beef, hard-boiled eggs, onions, olives, and raisins), pastel de choclo (a baked meal of beef, chicken, onions, corn, eggs, and spices), cazuela de ave (chicken soup), ensalada chilena (cold tomato-and-onion salad), and porotos granados (butter-bean soup). Manjar, which is made by boiling a can of sweet condensed milk for hours, is a favorite spread that’s often used for baking. For a special treat on a rainy day, you can try sopaipillas, which are made with deep-fried pumpkin dough and sugar. Along with breakfast, lunch, and dinner, another important Chilean meal is called onces, when you snack on tea and small sandwiches around 5 or 6 pm.

Your Host School

You’ll most likely attend a private high school. The academic year starts in early March and lasts until mid-December, with a two-week winter vacation in June or July. Most schools have classes Monday through Friday, though you may have some on Saturday morning as well. Your typical school day will begin around 8 am and end between 4 and 6 pm. Extracurricular activities are available in schools, and you are encouraged to participate in sports, art, and volunteer projects with your classmates.

Available Scholarships

AFS-USA scholarships are made possible by the generosity of numerous donors who all have a deep connection with AFS and value intercultural exchanges as necessary for the promotion of peace and justice in the world. Upon submission, applications will be reviewed and matched with the most applicable scholarship, if available. All scholarships are partial, and scholarship award amounts will be determined based on program length. For additional funding resources, check out our Fundraising page. You can view all available national and local scholarships on our Scholarships page. 

What's Included

  • 70+ years of experience delivering high-quality programs through a worldwide network of 50,000 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.
  • Free Language Proficiency Testing: after your immersive study abroad experience, take an AAPPL (ACTFL Assessment of Performance toward Proficiency in Languages) language proficiency test to be able to add your language skills to your resume or possibly your high school transcript!
  • 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 Chile? YES. Visa
How do I apply for the visa? (By mail, In-person, In host country) In-person
Visa/Residence Permit Process Difficulty Level (Easy, Average, Complex) Complex
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 from high school in Chile, 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 in Chile.

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