Bolivia’s rich culture derives from various indigenous groups, former Spanish rule and influences from five neighboring countries. The country is the perfect environment for a true Latin America experience. The diverse geographies of Bolivia provide you the opportunity to explore both Amazonian and Andean landscapes. With the highest capital city in the world, the largest salt flats in the world, the highest and deepest navigable lake in the world and much more, you will be left breathless.



Languages Spoken:

Spanish

Education System

HIGHER EDUCATION OVERVIEW 

Higher education is offered through two types of institutions: national and private universities.  

During recent and past years, the lack of alternatives for a good quality education, and rising costs of sending students to better universities overseas has led private investors, both Bolivian and foreign, to establish more private institutions in Bolivia. Contrary to many other countries, it is usually easier to get into a private university than a state university in Bolivia, though private universities may have their own difficult and competitive entrance exams and requirements. Most offer a good range of four-year degrees at the undergraduate level, a reduced list of post-graduate programs and other shorter programs for which certificates or diplomas are issued. 

In the first one to two years, students study basic subjects. The program of study lasts four to five years and leads to a licenciatura, or a professional title. The master’s degree is granted after two more years of study in certain universities. The doctorado, the highest degree, usually requires two to three years of additional studies after the licenciatura, and requires a submission of a thesis. 

Bolivian’s academic calendar is on the southern hemisphere schedule, with classes usually beginning in February and ending in December. 

 

STUDYING IN BOLIVIA 

Courses 

Most courses at the Universidad Privada Boliviana are taught in Spanish, with an increasing number of courses being offered in English. A high level of Spanish is recommended to take Spanish-language courses at UPB, particularly in the business faculty. UPB has two campuses: one in capital city La Paz, and another in Cochabamba, a city in an Andean valley in central Bolivia.  

Registration 

Certain courses may have prerequisite requirements. Check with the host institution for registration procedures.  

Course Load 

Universidad Privada Boliviana has a modular system. There are four modules in a semester, and a module has 24 sessions of two hours every day. Students take two classes per module (usually one month). 

International students should take two classes if no Spanish classes are needed, and a typical student will spend about 10 hours per course in class, or 20 class hours per week in total. A module has four weeks for three-credit courses and six weeks for four-credit courses. 

Classes in Bolivia tend to be lecture-based with less open discussion or group work. An end-of-term final exam will likely weigh heavily in your grade.  

Exams & Grading 

UPB works within the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS), a credit system widely used wherein credits are assigned corresponding to the amount of workload necessary to complete the course, the quantity of contact hours, and difficulty of examinations. The credits are awarded when a course is successfully completed. Please mind that for any final exams you do not pass or attend, you will not get credit points, though they will appear on your transcript. 

Transcripts 

Students should request their transcripts before they leave ensuring that they are sent directly to the ISEP Central Office.  

Visa and Residency

If you have yet to obtain a current passport, please do so immediately. For the purposes of the visa your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the end of your academic program. Your host may also request a copy of your passport by a certain deadline (for visa or admission purposes) and failure to meet this deadline could have serious consequences.

Students studying in Bolivia must obtain a visa in advance of departure from their local Bolivian embassy or consulate. Students should review the webpage for their local Bolivian embassy or consulate for specific visa requirements and call the embassy or consulate directly with any questions. Please note that students can only apply at their local embassy or consulate, and requirements and processes can vary widely Students should begin preparing their applications at least two months in advance. In most cases visa applications can be submitted via mail, but again it is very important to confirm details directly with your particular Bolivian embassy or consulate.

NOTE: Some counsulates and embassies require proof of yellow fever vaccination as part of the visa documentaiton if the individual is visiting endemic areas of Bolivia. For the purposes of the visa ISEP students do not need to submit this proof of yellow fever vaccination, as the UBP campuses are located in the cities of La Paz and Cochabamba. Both cities are not in areas of Bolivia with endemic Yellow Fever. However, students planning to travel during their time in Boliva should consult the CDC's Yellow fever vaccine recommendations for Bolivia and plan accordingly. 

Culture

COMMUNICATION STYLE


An indirect communication style is preferred over direct. Being polite and on the formal side is appropriate. While speaking, standing close to one another, less than one or two feet, is normal. It is considered rude to back away from someone while they are talking. There is a fair amount of touching while conversing. Direct eye contact is favored as it creates an atmosphere of trust and respect. Avoid overly direct contact during the initial meeting as it may be misinterpreted. It is also best to avoid confrontations and maintain composure at all times.

GREETINGS


Initial greetings are formal and follow a set protocol of greeting the eldest or most important person first. A standard handshake, with direct eye contact and a welcoming smile will suffice. Typically, Bolivian friends greet each other and say goodbye with a kiss on each cheek. Maintaining eye contact indicates interest. In general, Bolivians prefer third-party introductions, so you should wait for your host or hostess to introduce you to others at a small gathering. When leaving, say goodbye to each person individually.

FOOD


There is really no such thing as "typical" Bolivian food. Flavors, spices and cooking styles vary greatly from one region to the next and have been greatly influenced by Spanish, European and North American cuisine. In the Andean region foods tend to be very hot and spicy. In the tropics where Santa Cruz is located, there is a strong Brazilian influence and many European and Asian restaurants. The tropics are also the nation’s cattle ranching area, amd many steak-inspired meals are also available. Additionally, fruit and vegetables are abundant and are incorporated into most of the region’s cuisine, while western and central Bolivian recipes don't include as many.

Bolivians typically eat no fewer than five meals a day. Breakfast in the Andean region is normally coffee, hot chocolate or api, a hot drink made of corn accompanied with a marraqueta (a Bolivian French bread) or a pastel (a puffy cheese pastry). In the lowlands, Bolivians have a meal for breakfast and the mid-morning snack usually occurs around 10:30 a.m.

Lunch is the primary meal in Bolivian culture and daily life has shaped around its importance. Many people return to their homes for lunch, including school children and working parents. Lunch starts with a warm soup followed by the main course (usually a meal with meat, rice and sometimes a side). Lunch is eaten at a leisurely pace. In the afternoon it is common to have tea time, with pastries coffee or tea.

FAMILY



Generally Bolivians are family oriented people and often very close-knit, with all generations living together under one roof. Strong family ties have not been as weakened by individualism as in Europe and the United States. Children usually live with their parents well into adulthood (usually until they get married, and sometimes even after getting married), particularly for financial reasons. There is no stigma attached to this as in other parts of the world. A family is not only a father, a mother and their children, but includes other relatives such as grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. This traditional extended family is the main social support system in Bolivia. Due to such a close-knit family culture, it is normal for three or more generations to live together in the same house. Although this is changing, Bolivian families have traditionally been quite large.

Daily Life

COMMUNICATION STYLE


An indirect communication style is preferred over direct. Being polite and on the formal side is appropriate. While speaking, standing close to one another, less than one or two feet, is normal. It is considered rude to back away from someone while they are talking. There is a fair amount of touching while conversing. Direct eye contact is favored as it creates an atmosphere of trust and respect. Avoid overly direct contact during the initial meeting as it may be misinterpreted. It is also best to avoid confrontations and maintain composure at all times.

GREETINGS


Initial greetings are formal and follow a set protocol of greeting the eldest or most important person first. A standard handshake, with direct eye contact and a welcoming smile will suffice. Typically, Bolivian friends greet each other and say goodbye with a kiss on each cheek. Maintaining eye contact indicates interest. In general, Bolivians prefer third-party introductions, so you should wait for your host or hostess to introduce you to others at a small gathering. When leaving, say goodbye to each person individually.

FOOD


There is really no such thing as "typical" Bolivian food. Flavors, spices and cooking styles vary greatly from one region to the next and have been greatly influenced by Spanish, European and North American cuisine. In the Andean region foods tend to be very hot and spicy. In the tropics where Santa Cruz is located, there is a strong Brazilian influence and many European and Asian restaurants. The tropics are also the nation’s cattle ranching area, amd many steak-inspired meals are also available. Additionally, fruit and vegetables are abundant and are incorporated into most of the region’s cuisine, while western and central Bolivian recipes don't include as many.

Bolivians typically eat no fewer than five meals a day. Breakfast in the Andean region is normally coffee, hot chocolate or api, a hot drink made of corn accompanied with a marraqueta (a Bolivian French bread) or a pastel (a puffy cheese pastry). In the lowlands, Bolivians have a meal for breakfast and the mid-morning snack usually occurs around 10:30 a.m.

Lunch is the primary meal in Bolivian culture and daily life has shaped around its importance. Many people return to their homes for lunch, including school children and working parents. Lunch starts with a warm soup followed by the main course (usually a meal with meat, rice and sometimes a side). Lunch is eaten at a leisurely pace. In the afternoon it is common to have tea time, with pastries coffee or tea.

FAMILY



Generally Bolivians are family oriented people and often very close-knit, with all generations living together under one roof. Strong family ties have not been as weakened by individualism as in Europe and the United States. Children usually live with their parents well into adulthood (usually until they get married, and sometimes even after getting married), particularly for financial reasons. There is no stigma attached to this as in other parts of the world. A family is not only a father, a mother and their children, but includes other relatives such as grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. This traditional extended family is the main social support system in Bolivia. Due to such a close-knit family culture, it is normal for three or more generations to live together in the same house. Although this is changing, Bolivian families have traditionally been quite large.

Health and Safety

Your health and safety is our number one priority. Please read and reference the Health and Safety section of the ISEP website for general information regarding health and safety abroad. 

Detailed information about Bolivia can be found here. Please pay special attention to the Safety and Security, Local Laws and Special Circumstances and Health sections. 

Note: Information sourced on this page is provided by the U.S. Department of State. Non-U.S nationals should disregard the Embassies and Consulates and Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements sections. 

Currency

MONEY MATTERS

The Bolivian currency is the Boliviano, and its symbol is Bs. Bills come in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 bolivianos; in coins of 1, 2 and 5 bolivianos, and in 10, 20 and 50 bolivian cents.

There are banks and exchange booths in the airport where you can exchange your currency for Bolivianos. When you receive your exchanged money, make sure that the transaction was done correctly.

The dollar is welcomed within Bolivia, but you should be careful with the variations of the dollar value throughout the country.

When you receive cash, dollars or Bolivianos, be sure that the bills you have are in a good condition, in their entirety, and without any writing on them. Be careful with counterfeit money that could be circulating within Bolivia.

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