Bolivia’s rich culture, which derives from various indigenous groups, former Spanish rule and influences from five neighboring countries, 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


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 other countries, it is usually easier to get into a private university than a state university in Bolivia. 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.

Visa and Residency

VISAS AND RESIDENCY

If you have yet to obtain a current passport, please do so immediately. Your host may 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.

Travelers studying in Bolivia must contact their local consulate for appropriate visa requirements and type of visa for which you qualify. The student visa requirements for Bolivia are extensive, and students should begin preparing their applications several weeks in advance. For an example, please see the Bolivian Consulate of Washington, D.C. visa page.

Note that all student visa applications will require the following documents and may also need further documentation depending on your local consulate.

  • Passport valid for at least six months.
  • Police Record including a translation in Spanish.
  • Address in Bolivia
  • Two recent color photos without glasses. (3x4 cm).
  • Explanatory acceptance letter, from the school, institution or university in which the apprenticeship will be done in Bolivia, stating the kind of study that will be taken and academic grade
  • Studies Certificate (original with approved subjects and grades of the passed school or college or university year)
  • Certificate of good economic status, which may be presented in account statements, securities or a letter from the bank stating good credit standing

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

https://www.isepstudyabroad.org/guides-and-tips/health-safety

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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