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Spend a year or semester in el corazón de Sudamerica (the heart of South America) learning Spanish and immersing yourself in Paraguayan daily life. By living with a host family and attending a local high school, you’ll get an inside look at Paraguay’s fusion of Spanish and indigenous Guaraní cultures. This is your chance to participate in local customs like the asado (a traditional barbeque) and become an integral part of your community. Paraguay just might be South America’s most untouched, natural gem, so get ready for an adventure and learning experience that’s bound to change your life!

Experience first-hand the Paraguayan values, discover who you really are, make new friendships for life and be immersed in a fascinating intercultural experience.

Things to know

In Paraguay, you might be greeted in Spanish (“¿Cómo está?”) or the local indigenous dialect, Guaraní (“¿Mba’eichapa?”). Paraguayans are generally bilingual—they say that Spanish is the language of the head, while Guaraní is the language of the heart. Hand gestures are a common way to communicate; you can give a “thumbs up” when saying “Al pelo” (which means that everything is good) or “Iporã” (which means that everything is fine). To be respectful, Paraguayans often address adults as Don (for men) and Doña (for women).

What's included in your experience

  • Airfare

Eligibility

Graduates Eligible? Yes, high school graduates are eligible to participate.
Minimum GPA 2.5
Age Range 15yrs, 0 months to
18yrs, 6 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

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.

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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.

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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.

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Your High School 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. Then you’ll begin to focus on one of three areas of study: business/accounting/administration, social sciences, or biological sciences. 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 classes are over, you can use your free time to participate in community activities or explore Paraguayan culture with your new friends.

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.
  • 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.
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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.