Nestled between the Pacific and the Atlantic and encompassing one of the most biodiverse regions in the world, Central America is the perfect destination for high school students who want to break free of routine and have an educational adventure in a Spanish speaking country. Embarking on a high school program in Central America is your ticket to exploring an environmentally beautiful and culturally rich region of the world that many will never get to experience. What are you waiting for!
Central America is a small region in the western hemisphere that encompasses seven countries in the heart of the Americas. It is bordered by Mexico to the north, Colombia to the south, the Caribbean Sea to the east, and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Central America is home to a total population of just over 42 million people.
The seven countries where you can embark on a high school program in Central America are, from north to south, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, and El Salvador. All of these are Spanish speaking countries except for Belize, where English is the national language.
Guatemala is by far the largest nation in Central America, with over 14 million citizens. It is also home to Central America’s largest city, Guatemala City. The rest of the Central American countries each have populations of several million, again Belize being the exception with only 300,000 citizens.
While you can choose any of these destinations for a high school program in Central America, recognize that each country has its own distinct political, economic, and cultural heritage. Spend some time researching all your different options to land on which country seems of the interest to you!
High School in Central America
There are several types of high school programs in Central America that you can enroll in. Language immersion programs, for example, are very popular. High school students who are learning Spanish can benefit greatly from taking classes on a daily basis while further developing their Spanish comprehension in everyday scenarios. Language courses can also be taken as part of a traditional study abroad high school program in Central America, where you can also earn academic credit in a variety of other subjects.
Adventure travel and cultural exploration programs in Central America are also very popular among high school students. Because it is such an environmentally and culturally diverse region, many students choose not to settle for one location, and instead embark on a program that will explore many destinations in Central America. Trekking, scuba diving, kayaking, and a bevy of culturally immersive activities are usually on the agenda for these types of programs.
Last but not least, many high school students choose to embark on volunteer service programs in Central America. As a developing region of the world, many Central Americans struggle from a shortage of necessary social services such as education and healthcare. High school students can make a positive impact in local development by helping out in these areas and more.
Scholarships & Costs
Central America is a very affordable region of the world for most international travellers, but the cost of a high school program in Central American can still be quite expensive because of tuition, transportation, housing, meals, and other such services provided. You can check out our Scholarship Directory for an idea of the different types of financial aid that can help make your dream trip a reality in Central America. Fundraising can also be helpful for high school students.
Accommodation & Visas
Homestays are usually the most popular form of accommodation for high school programs in Central America. This can be a great opportunity to fully immerse yourself in the local language, culture, and family life. Other accommodations such as dormitories or hostels may also be available for some high school programs in Central America. Whatever your living situation, remember that Central America is a developing region, so some luxuries such as AC, hot water, and internet connection may not always be accounted for.
The Central American countries differ in their visa policies for international visitors. In many cases you will only need to apply for a visa if you plan on staying your host country for longer than 90 days. You can check out our Embassy Directory for more information.
Benefits & Challenges
Spanish Immersion. Students who are learning Spanish as a second language will be amazed at how much their comprehension soars after returning from a high school program in Central America.
Biodiversity. Central America is infamous for being one of the most biodiverse regions of the world (it is home to 7% of the planet’s biodiversity while only encompassing about 0.1% of its land area). Adventurers and nature lovers will be enraptured by the scenery.
Cultural Shift. If you have never travelled to a Latin American country then you will likely experience a degree of culture shock while on a high school program in Central America. Soon enough though you will come to fall in love with the hospitality and kindness you encounter all across the region.