Colombia’s diverse, vibrant lifestyle is influenced by its indigenous, African, and European heritage. On this two week Global Prep program, you and your group will explore the country’s dynamic culture, starting with the city of Popayan, which offers ornate churches, colorful markets, and fascinating archeological sites. You’ll also have the chance to venture into Colombia’s lush natural landscape and take part in activities like horseback riding and hiking. By living with a local host family, you’ll truly become a part of Colombian daily life as you share conversations and cultural insights around the dinner table.
Most Global Prep programs accept participants between the ages of 13 and 18 years old. However, 13 and 14 year old’s aren’t eligible to enroll for certain Global Prep destinations. If you wish to participate and will be 13 or 14 years old at the date of departure for the program, please contact AFS for more information about specific program eligibility. Please also keep in mind that due to regulations mandated by the airlines, 13 and 14 year old participants will be considered Unaccompanied Minors and additional charges will apply.
On this program you are likely to learn about these Sustainable Development Goals:
Sample Program Itinerary to Colombia
The below itinerary serves as an outline for the program, and each Global Prep experience will vary based on group size and opportunity. For this particular program, there is a higher degree of outdoor rigor.
Your journey to Colombia
Your journey will begin in Miami, where you’ll meet up with the rest of your group and travel together with your Group Leader to Colombia. When you arrive at the Cali airport you’ll be welcomed by AFS Staff or Volunteers. Before long you’ll head to Popayan, your home for the next two weeks. This small city is known for the chalk-white color of its buildings (giving it the nickname “La Ciudad Blanca” or “The White City”). In Popayan you’ll attend a welcome orientation, where you’ll learn some essential Colombian phrases and customs to help you navigate your adventures abroad.
After you settle in, you’ll take a tour of Popayan, exploring twisty, windy streets and visiting the amazing churches and museums that make the city unique. One of the highlights is sure to be El Morro del Tulcán, a Pre-Colombian pyramid built by the indigenous people of the area. Next you’ll head to the nearby town of Silvia to learn about the indigenous Guambiano people (who still live in the town today) and visit a local market. For one of many hands-on cultural experiences, you and your group will visit Santa Julia to learn how traditional foods like arepas and tortillas are made.
During your two week program, you’ll get an inside look at Colombian culture by living with a local host family. This is a great chance to learn about life in Latin America and maybe even practice some Spanish phrases! Together, you and your host family can visit nearby sites or go shopping for local crafts to bring home to your friends. Whether you eat at home with your host family or go out to local restaurants with your group, you’ll get to enjoy some delicious local foods like Ajiaco (chicken and potato soup) and tostones (fried plantain slices).
Exploring the Area
Round out your cultural experience with fun activities like dance lessons, nature walks, or city bike tours. To unwind, you’ll have the chance to go horseback riding in the mountains. You and your group will also spend a few days at the Puracé national park, where you can visit natural wonders like hot springs and hike towering volcanos. You might even spot a condor (a gigantic bird native to the Andes Mountains) soaring overhead! Hiking the volcano Puracé will take approximately 4 hours, so be prepared for an unforgettable experience!
When you get back to the city, you’ll have some time to see more of the highlights of Popayán’s city centers like Parque Caldas. This central plaza is a good place to relax while munching on a light snack and having a long chat with your friends. You’ll also have the chance to take a traditional Colombian Salsa dance class!
What's included in your program fee?
- Round trip international airfare chaperoned by an American staff member
- Accommodations, meals, and transportation
- Secondary Health Coverage Plan
- Access to a 24/7 Emergency Duty Officer
- Visa Support
- Please review the Terms and Conditions for complete guidelines.
What’s not included in the Program Fee?
“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 in Colombia.
In fact, our alumni reviews have made AFS one of the top-rated organizations in the study abroad industry.