Bolivia Lifestyle and Culture

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Studying abroad can be a life-changing experience and, should you choose Bolivia, our RocApply tips and guides will enhance what will already be a wonderful trip. Bolivian culture is one of the most distinct and unique in the world.

An eclectic blend of the old and the new combined with the perfect mix of race and ethnicities work together to create a diversity that gives this country an extraordinary charm and a uniquely welcoming atmosphere.

Like the land itself, Bolivia’s culture is immensely diverse, and depending on which region you are in, it can vary substantially. In the Andes, you can see some of the customs that existed during Inca times, which are particularly evident in the indigenous population of the Altiplano areas.

In the southern part of Bolivia such as in Tarija, the cultures and customs are related with close proximity to Argentina. In many of the larger cities of Bolivia, many of the Spanish-speaking inhabitants follow western customs, dress, and music amongst other things.

Festivals are a big part of the Bolivian culture, and no matter where you are in the country, some kind of party is likely in blowing. In true Bolivian style, these events involve lots of drinking, dancing, and merriment. Look at these etiquettes about Bolavia for more insight!

Meeting Etiquette

  • The handshake is the most common form of greeting.
  • Direct eye contact is also usual.
  • When meeting people will use the most appropriate greeting for the time of day - these are "buenos dias" (good morning), "buenas tardes" (good day), or "buenas noches"(good evening).
  • People with an informal relationship will be warmer and embrace or pat each other on the shoulder. Women will kiss on the cheek.
  • Unlike Europeans, Bolivians use both their maternal and paternal surnames. The father's surname is listed first and is the one used in conversation.
  • When a woman gets married she usually adds her husband's first surname to her first surname with the connector "de", so if Jennifer Maria Lopez marries Manuel Sebastien Costa, she would be called Jennifer Maria de Costa.
  • If you know of someone's title always use it.

Gift Giving Etiquette

  • Take flowers, spirits, pastries, sweets/chocolates if invited to a house for food.
  • Do not give yellow or purple flowers as they have negative connotations.
  • Do not give scissors or knives as they indicate a desire to sever the relationship.
  • Gifts are not generally opened when received.

Dining Etiquette

  • Punctuality is not expected - arrive a good 20 to 30 minutes late.
  • It is not good form to discuss business at social functions -concentrate on getting to know people on a personal level.
  • At a table, the guest is served first.
  • The host generally says "buen provecho" ("enjoy" or "have a good meal") to invite guests to eat. .
  • Keep elbows off the table.
  • It is considered polite to refuse food the first time it is offered and wait for the host to insist before accepting.
  • Always use utensils - even fruit is eaten with a knife and fork.
  • Wait for a toast to be made before taking the first sip of your drink.
  • The host makes the first toast.
  • The most common toast is "Salud!"
  • When you lift your glass, look at the person being toasted.
  • Never leave straight after a meal - you should stay for at least half an hour.

" Its a place to be" - Martin from Canada

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