Life in Panamá

The people are very friendly. They say "Hi" to you everywhere and people are happy that you're there.Yongyu from CA, Summer Community Service Program
Have a very open relationship with your host family, seek advice before going certain places and making friends. If your host family asks you not to be with certain people, listen. They only have your best interest in mind, and you don't want to cause any problems for them.Destiny from GA, Semester Program
Dress up! People in Panama wear American clothes, but are always more dressed up than Americans. They prefer pants and sometimes require that people wear pants to places like churches and museums. Shorts are not allowed outside of the house, and skirts are not as formal as pants in most places. Brooke from TX, Semester Program
Panama has a very social culture and you need to be prepared to be in a full time mix of food, conversation and friends. Van from DE, Year Program
Families in Panama are very close and expect the students to be open and outgoing and talkative with them. It can be hard, but the best way to get along is to just put yourself out there and talk, talk, talk. That’s the best way to communicate with them.Brooke from TX, Semester Program
Panama is a busy country filled with people who like to take it slow, which gets confusing and sometimes frustrating. On the other hand, it's a beautiful country and the people are, too!Anastasia from OR, Semester Program
Be ready to dance and eat a lot. Bring lots of jeans. Enjoy every second of the experience because it's going to go by way too fast.Kendra from NY, Semester Program
The people in Panama are not big on personal space. When someone comes into a room, they will likely kiss you on the cheek or hug you, and then while talking, have a hand on your leg or arm. Enjoy it, because once you return home, you will miss all the physical love. Brooke from TX, Semester Program
Rice is served with almost every meal in Panama, along with a source of protein (eggs, chicken, sardines, other fish, or beans. Maize and plantains are also staples. Dinner is usually the main meal in urban areas; the entire family gathers in the early evening to share the meal. Brooke from TX, Semester Program

Digging Deeper

Language Resources
Cultural Resources
News and Media
Movies and Documentaries
  • Caja 25 (2015)
  • Panama Canal Stories (2014)
  • Invasion (2014)
  • Paraiso for Sale (2011)
  • The Panama Deception (2007)
  • The Colors of the Mountain (2010)
  • One Dollar (el Preio de  la Vida) (2002)
  • Chance (2009)
  • Breaking the Wave (2014)
Books
  • Welcome to Panama (Welcome to My Country) (2005)
  • Panama Girl (2011)
  • The Path Between Seas (1977)
  • The Tailor of Panama (1996)
  • Conejito (2006)
  • Postcards from Panama (2014)
  • Memories Of A Future Home (2005)
  • The World in Half (2009)
  • Silver People: Voices from the Panama Canal (2014)
  • The Book of Unknown Americans (2014)
  • The Darien Gap: Travels in the Rainforest of Panama (2008)
LGBTQ Resources (Diversity) Heritage and Ethnicity Resources (Diversity)
Note: The links and resources listed in "Digging Deeper" have been provided to AFS by people involved with our organization, including alumni members, volunteers, etc. AFS has not reviewed the resources in their entirety and presents them "as is" for your own information. As such, the sites, publications, films, etc. do not necessarily reflect the approval of nor the views, opinions, and/or values of AFS.