A Guide To Gap Year in Paraguay
Known as the Corazón de Sudamérica (Heart of South America), Paraguay keeps your blood flowing and adrenaline pumping. Though not a tourist-heavy destination, Paraguay can offer an authentic and meaningful travel experience among its 6.5 million residents. There is environmental diversity, since it is landlocked among Brazil, Argentina, and Bolivia. It also fuses the Guarani and Spanish languages, making it a culturally rich nation. Whether you’re fresh out of high school, avoiding the “real world” after college, or simply looking for a change, there is a gap year in Paraguay for you!
Asúncion and Rural Areas. For the best gap year experience in Paraguay, the city of Asúncion and smaller, rural areas are your top choices. As the country’s capital, Asúncion is home to over 2 million people who value their agricultural mix of corn, sugarcane, cattle, and more. Gappers adore the variety of natural greenery and the Paraguay River, with the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, the Casa de Independencia, and high-rise buildings.
Pilar, Misiones, and Paraguarí. However, don’t count out the rural towns, including Pilar, Misiones, and Paraguarí. Living at a slower pace of life, with the flowing stream of Arroyo Ñeembucú and forests full of wildlife, they aren’t areas to miss during your stay abroad. There is time for outdoor adventure! The city of Pilar even hosts a beach party called “Fiesta Hawaiana” along the Ñeembucú every year. You can enjoy summer fun on January 2nd with 15,000 to 20,000 tourists, Argentinians, Brazilians, Uruguayans, and locals. If a night full of music, drinks, and bright lights isn’t your speed, Pilar also hosts a fishing tournament for people all over the world.
Wilderness. In addition to health education and legal services, gap year programs in Paraguay that focus on environmental awareness and protection are highly popular (and necessary). There are programs that center on conservation and community engagement to further enhance the local understanding of the land. With this hands-on approach, Paraguay gap years offer participants a chance to get to know the community and make a sustainable impact at the same time.
Volunteering. Those with a passion for law can spend their time counseling Paraguayans through free legal services. Others prefer dedicating their gap year in Paraguay to community health education through nutrition initiatives and community gardening. No matter your interest, all activities offer unique intercultural exchanges.
Costs. When analyzing the expenses of gap year programs in Paraguay, factor in the costs of flights and a visa. There will also be a fee for any program, which may or may not include housing during your stay. As a whole, Paraguay has a low cost of living due to being one of the least developed countries in South America. Thus, living and personal expenses are not steep for a gap year. This makes it a cheaper alternative than its neighbors, Brazil and Argentina. A good meal in Paraguay is only $5 USD, with fruits and vegetables costing well under 1 USD per pound. Though it’s always helpful to save, consider fundraising, and applying for scholarships, for more financial assistance.
Accommodations. For Paraguay gap years, shared apartments, dormitories, and host families are the most common ways to stay. Host families provide a cross-cultural exchange approach with the locals, and it’s also the perfect way to learn Spanish or Guarani. All citizens, in rural towns or the city-side of Paraguay, are bilingual! Apartments and dormitories can be shared with other gap year participants. When choosing a gap year program in Paraguay, ask the host organization for more information. Each program may have different options based on your preferences.
Visas. Visa requirements are different for everyone, across all countries and continents. Most countries do require, at the very least, a tourist visa to enter into Paraguay for up to 90 days. If you are unsure, double check the visa requirements with your designated Paraguayan embassy.
Safety. Throughout the years, Paraguay has experienced some challenges with safety. Street crime may occur, so make sure to check your belongings and keep valuables safe to avoid pickpocketing. If you are coming from Western culture, the poverty, and lack of traditional amenities and medical care (such as water and food variety) are evident. Pack a first-aid kit and get vaccinated before arriving. These changes present opportunities for personal growth and understanding daily life for locals. As always, use sensible precautions.
Enhanced cultural awareness, creativity, and adaptability, are gap year skills for your resume. Resourcefulness, passion, and personal growth are skills for your life. Taking a gap year is no longer looked down upon. From the average citizen to Malia Obama, its popularity has risen as people are becoming more marketable, global citizens. Why not invest in yourself through a gap year in Paraguay? Oh, and when you do, remember there are no doorbells in Paraguayan homes. Upon arrival, you can clap or yell “permiso”. It is so hot that someone will hear you through an open window!
Since it is so hot in Paraguay, many locals will invite you inside for a cold drink of tereré. Though similar to mate, an herbal drink served hot, tereré is not the same. This beverage is a cold mix of herbs, mate, and fruits such as lime, mango, peach, and grapefruit. Tereré is commonly served in glasses called guampas and enjoyed in social settings with friends, coworkers, and family.
If you are looking for a traditional and adventurous experience in Latin America, a gap year in Paraguay is exactly what you need. Off the path of tourists in the area, Paraguay is here and ready for some love. Don’t wait for everyone else to tell you how to experience its environmental beauty! Feel to the excitement of your own beating heart, and venture to the one that lies in South America.
Keep reading to choose the gap year program that’s right for you!
Take a Gap Year in Paraguay
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