Carpe Diem Education | Southeast Asia Semester: Human Rights & Cultural Exchange

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Spring '19 and Fall '19 Programs Now Open!

How will you carpe diem? Explore our gap year and semester programs in eight global regions this Spring '19 and Fall '19—all while earning college credit! Did you know we offer three different types of scholarships? Click the "Learn More" link below and discover how to make your gap year affordable.


Study Human Rights and Cultural Exchange with a community of students through the lens of experiential education. Our students learn by trekking through remote villages and exchanging stories with hill tribes in Northern Thailand. By dropping into some of the deep spiritual traditions of Theravada Buddhism vis-a-vis the lived experience of meals, housing, study and reflection, students will find new perspectives and deepen their understanding of Self.

Students live in the homes of Thai families in a Northern Thai village, studying Thai language, customs, food, and dancing. Travel to Phnom Penh to study Human Rights under the backdrop of Cambodia’s tragic genocide, juxtaposed against the ways the country and its people are recovering.
Students will volunteer through community empowerment projects to learn and support issues of global and child poverty

Through small groups of no more than 12 students, you will experiment with leadership roles, self-awareness, and purpose.

As a Carpe Diem participant, you'll not only have access to our immersive, service-based programming and stellar staff -- but you can opt to also receive up to 18 college credits (an official transcript from Portland State University) and may be eligible for financial aid. We're one of the only Gap Year providers on the market that offers these options for a nominal fee.
  • Study Human Rights
  • Study Cultural Exchange
  • Study Theravada Buddhism
  • Thai Homestays
  • Service Learning

Questions & Answers


based on 4 reviews
  • Housing 8.5
  • Support 10
  • Fun 10
  • Value 9.5
  • Safety 10
Showing 1 - 4 of 4
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A life changing semester

My three months traveling as a student with Carpe Diem education were the happiest, most challenging, and most rewarding in my life. I discovered a profound love for international travel and gained the skills to travel the world alone or with friends. Carpe Diem's practice of education through independence promotes self-reliant young travelers and open-minded adults. They combine cultural immersion, service projects, and foreign sightseeing into a comprehensive immersive experience. I highly recommend this program for young adventurers looking to break out of the mainstream college experience.

How can this program be improved?
Improved communication and assistance for students looking to do the Latitudes program. I was planning on participating in their Focused Volunteer Placement semester but rescinded my plans due to lack of support.
Yes, I recommend this program
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An Incredible Experience

Carpe Diem's Southeast Asia semester was an incredible, life changing experience. We did so many things that I never imagined I'd get to experience, like living on an organic farm for a week and learning how to build bricks out of clay, to living in a Buddhist monastery, to scuba diving on an island in Vietnam, and so much more. This semester completely changed my perception of the world and helped me grow and learn so much. It created a love for travel that will never go away, and I now feel very confident as a savvy traveler. The group was amazing and I made some of my best friends. If you're considering a gap year, this is an opportunity that you don't want to pass up. It will truly change your life and you will make so many incredible memories.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Best decision I ever made!

This trip was exactly what I was looking for in a gap year program. It gave me an incredible intro into how to travel in a foreign third world country and how plan and execute travel plans. After this trip I feel so much more confident in my ability to travel without a group, something which I am about to go off and do. I took the Carpe Diem trip to South East Asia. I had an incredible experience, and while the places we visited were absolutely incredible, the people and connections I made are what I value the most. Carpe has amazing connections and the homestay I did for ten days was the most memorable part of the trip for me. The group I had and the two leaders were also a big part of what made this trip so amazing. My group was nothing like I expected and everyone was for the most part very different, but we all got along and I have made incredible strong friendships that I will keep forever. Having the support of this group made traveling that much more fun and was a great learning experience on its own. Our group leaders were the most incredible human beings I have ver met. They both have amazing experience, great stories, so much love for what they do and for the group. They were so awesome at getting us to be excited and to smoothing things over when they became rocky. I owe so much of my growth and learning to their facilitation and support.

How can this program be improved?
I think this program needs to have a week of time for the group to be back in the US and reflect together before going home. I know other programs have this and i think it would be really helpful for student to get more support as they reintegrate back home.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Carpe Diem is the best decision I have ever made

I learned invaluable perspective and really felt immersed into SE Asian culture. I did other programs, none of which measured up to the experience I had with Carpe. I changed so much over the program and i wouldn't trade my experience for anything. My leaders were some of the most intelligent and thoughtful people I have ever met. They taught me so much of what it means to be a traveler and a world citizen. I would recommend this program highly for anyone looking for a meaningful experience. My gap year was no contest the most transformative year i have ever had.

A message to those thinking about choosing Carpe Diem,

This program is one of a kind, you will have an amazing time, make amazing friends and will never be the same. Do not hesitate to take a gap year, college will always be waiting for you when you return from your experience.

Safe travels!

How can this program be improved?
If I could change one thing, I would have done two Carpe trips back to back. For the program itself, I wouldn't change a thing.
Yes, I recommend this program


Meet the Alumni

About Carpe Diem Education

Experiential education. Community. Intercultural exchange.

This is how we connect with and learn from the global communities we engage with—and how we are redefining what it means to embark on a meaningful gap year abroad. Learn a new language, live...