Because of its beautiful island landscapes and warm tropical climate, many people think of the Caribbean as a dream travel destination to get away from it all. Embarking on a Caribbean high school program abroad however, you will come to see this oft misunderstood region through a different light; one which encompasses complex national histories, a diversity of local languages and cultures, and the continuous challenges of economic development faced by the region at large. Get ready for the educational adventure of a lifetime.
The Caribbean Sea encompasses over 700 islands amidst what is generally regarded as a sub-region of North America. There are 30 recognized territories in the region, some of which are independent nations and some of which are dependencies of larger countries such as the United States or United Kingdom. The population of the entire Caribbean region is just over 40 million people, similar to the size of Central America in this regard.
Some of the most popular destinations for Caribbean high school programs abroad include Jamaica, Cuba, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. Spanish is most commonly spoken throughout the Caribbean region, although a wide variety of other languages are used such as English, French, Dutch, and Creole.
Also known as the West Indies, the Caribbean region has been largely influenced throughout history by a melting pot of cultures from around the world. Today the various territories all have their own unique cultural heritage and thrive under different political and economic circumstances. It is important to research factors such as these when deciding where you think will be the most enriching destination for your Caribbean high school program abroad.
Caribbean High School Programs
Caribbean high school programs abroad fall into several categories. First are traditional study abroad programs. It is possible to earn academic credit in a variety of subjects while enrolled in a Caribbean high school program abroad, ranging from history to environmental studies to language immersion. Study abroad programs usually last between two to eight weeks, and will offer the opportunity to either study at a local high school or international school.
Because many nations in the Caribbean qualify as Less Developed Countries (LDC’s), volunteer programs are also very popular for high school students in the region. Many citizens of the Caribbean nations lack dependable access to valuable services such as healthcare, education, and sound infrastructure. By embarking on a volunteer high school program in the Caribbean, you can devote your time to helping locals overcome many of these development obstacles.
Lastly, adventure travel and cultural exploration programs are also very popular choices for high school students in the region. By choosing this type of Caribbean high school program abroad, you can look forward to a wide range of activities ranging all the way from scuba diving and snorkeling to culturally immersive activities such as music or dance lessons. These types of programs also often move around between destinations, so you will not have to settle on just one location for your Caribbean high school program abroad.
Scholarships & Costs
While it is overall an affordable region to travel to, a high school program in the Caribbean can still often prove expensive because of fees for tuition, housing, transportation, and more. Fundraising is one great way to help cover the costs of your dream trip; there are also a wide array of scholarships available for high school students in the region.
Accommodation & Visas
Homestays are usually the most popular type of housing for high school students who are staying in one location in the Caribbean. If your program travels throughout different destinations then you will likely be staying in hotels, dormitories, and other various accommodations. Remember that the Caribbean is a developing region, so you may not always have access to commodities such as internet, air conditioning, or hot water while abroad.
Visa policies vary throughout the Caribbean region, so consult your program provider about what type of documentation you may need to obtain before your program begins. Often you will not need to apply for a visa unless your high school program in the Caribbean exceeds three months. You can check out our Embassy Directory for more information about your destination’s visa policy.
Benefits & Challenges
Island Experience. High school students from everywhere will benefit from the laid back lifestyle that many countries in the Caribbean take pride in. A healthy balance of work and play is important, after all.
Personal Development. If you have never travelled to a developing region, then be prepared for a perception-altering experience. Among other important life lessons, you might just learn that you don’t need a lot of stuff to be happy.
Localized Education. Home to some 40 million people, the Caribbean does not hold a very large section in most history books from the English speaking world. Embarking on a Caribbean high school program abroad is your chance to learn all about this fascinating region firsthand.