High School Programs in Guatemala

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A Guide to High School Programs Abroad in Guatemala

If you are feeling adventurous and ready to take on a challenge, then high school programs in Guatemala beckon you. Geographically beautiful, with a history extending all the way back to the reign of the Mayan empire, Guatemala is a fantastic destination for high school programs abroad for students who want to immerse themselves in a Latin American country. Improve your Spanish, explore ancient ruins, and meet peers from across the world while embarking on an adventure you will never forget in Guatemala.


With a metropolitan area that is home to over 4 million people, Guatemala City sits prominently as the capital of the country and largest city in all of Central America. Founded as a Spanish colony some 250 years ago, Guatemala City has endured a tumultuous path of insurrections and revolutions to today become one of the region’s most booming cities. Boasting an array of trendy restaurants, theaters, museums, and many other cultural offerings, Guatemala City can be a very enriching place for high school programs in Guatemala. 

Other popular places for high school programs in Guatemala include Quetzaltenango, Chichicastenango, and Antigua. Quetzaltenango is Guatemala’s second largest city, sitting at an elevation of nearly 8,000 feet amidst a beautiful mountain valley. Chichicastenango, also situated high in the mountains, is a smaller Guatemala city, that is widely known for retaining its indigenous and traditional influences. Antigua is a very popular travel destination, and has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, because of its beautifully preserved Spanish architecture.

Many high school programs in Guatemala will allow you to travel throughout several of these regions and cities, so you can get a good taste of the diversity of life across Guatemala. The country is fairly small, with only 15 million inhabitants, so you can cover a good amount of ground even during a short program!

High School Programs in Guatemala

There are a wide variety of high school programs in Guatemala. Some are academically oriented, and give students the opportunity to take classes in Spanish and other subjects and earn course credit doing so. Studying Spanish in Guatemala is an especially beneficial opportunity, as students will be able to immerse themselves in the language outside the classroom and practice their skills with native speakers. Other common courses offered by high school programs in Guatemala include those on the culture and history of Central America.

Service learning trips are also popular options for high school students who seeking programs in Guatemala. These sometimes feature opportunities for academic credit, but usually are focused more on the volunteering aspect of international experience. Guatemala is a developing nation and many of its citizens lack access to valuable resources, such as education and healthcare; participating in a service learning program in Guatemala can be a very impactful and eye opening experience for high school students. 

Adventure travel programs are an additional possibility for high school students interested in traveling to Guatemala. These can be very educational, and may or may not include the opportunity to take Spanish lessons, but are overall focused on the travel and cultural exploration side of the experience. Visiting rural villages, learning about traditional Guatemalan arts, and embarking on outings in nature are examples of some of the activities you might partake in during an adventure program in Guatemala.

Though there are many different types of high school programs in Guatemala, many will feature some component of each program type within set itineraries. Trips can last for one week or as long as a few months, depending on students’ preferences and availability.  

Scholarships & Costs

There are a variety of scholarship opportunities available for high school students who want to travel to Guatemala. Fundraising is also great way to help cover the costs of a high school program in Guatemala. While program fees themselves can be expensive, Guatemala is a very affordable country in terms of cost of living, so you will not have to worry too much about additional on-the-ground costs.

Accommodation & Visas

Guatemala is a developing country, so do not expect your accommodations to be as luxurious as in the industrialized world. Don’t worry too much though; while certain commodities like internet and air conditioning might not always be provided for, living with just the basics can be quite a refreshing and educational experience. Homestays are a popular housing option provided by high school programs in Guatemala, although students may be offered some sort of group living option as well.

Guatemala has a relaxed visa policy, so high school students coming from many countries around the world will not have to worry about obtaining a visa prior to arrival. However, there are a few exceptions, such as your length of stay and, of course, home country (there are restricted countries). Check out GoAbroad’s Guatemalan Embassy Directory for more information on visa policies and requirements.

Benefits & Challenges

Improve Your Spanish. For students who are eager to learn Spanish, there is nothing better for language comprehension than a high school program in Guatemala. Taking Spanish language classes while immersing yourself in a Spanish speaking country will improve your language fluency by leaps and bounds. 

Explore Latin America. Guatemala has a truly fascinating story; by living in Guatemala you will develop a deeper insight into both the country and the region.

Great Adventure Opportunities. Whether trekking, kayaking, or spelunking, Guatemala presents a tremendous amount of opportunity for outdoor exploration. From the modern cities to the ancient Mayan ruins, the countryside is teeming with things to do and see.

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A Guide To
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