Carpe Diem Education | Central America Semester: Sustainability & Spanish Immersion

COVID-19 Program Updates

Due to global health & safety concerns and travel restrictions related to the coronavirus, Carpe Diem Education has decided to offer flexible booking options for some of their upcoming programs. Learn more about COVID-19 updates to stay tuned regarding program information.

Video and Photos

Our host families wanted to treat us to a traditional meal, so they dressed us up in traditional clothing and fed us the most amazing food. I felt like a princess when all the women in the village were trying to help me get dressed and doing my hair and laughing because I was too tall for the skirt.
The baby turtle I found in the sand in Costa Rica. I named him Beans and released him into the ocean once the sun went down and his instincts kicked in.

About

Learn about Sustainability and immerse yourself in Spanish language over the course of Carpe Diem's Central America semester. Students explore complex issues of sustainability through a variety of conservation projects and educational experiences. Learn about endangered marine life while getting an Open Water SCUBA certification, and help protect natural coastlines and turtle nesting sites while working with marine biologists. We strive to make sustainability projects real by partnering with communities and organizations that are pioneering responsible and innovative ways to approach sustainable development.

Students immerse themselves in Spanish language by living with host families and studying in one-on-on or small-group classes periodically throughout the program. Students will also use their Spanish to explore cross-cultural understanding with partner organizations during volunteer projects, as well as have opportunities to speak Spanish with local communities every day!

Highlights
  • Sustainability
  • Spanish Immersion
  • SCUBA Certification
  • Spiritual Retreat
  • Homestay Immersion

Limited Space Available on our Fall 2020 US Borderlands program!

Now accepting applications for our Fall 2020 domestic program: Semester in the Borderlands and Spring 2021 international programs!

Join us in the Borderlands this fall to learn more about the issues facing communities along the U.S.-Mexico border. Discover the role that climate change plays in current and future decision-making and the degree to which political boundaries impact the lives of people and communities on both sides of the border.

Questions & Answers

That's a great question, and one I definitely asked myself before signing up with Carpe Diem Education. But after going on the trip and learning more about Carpe, I don't believe there is any typical student. I could pick a few defining characteristics of the students that go on Carpe Diem adventures. These would be a sense of adventure, a drive to explore new places, and a passion to learn not...

Reviews

9.64 Rating
based on 22 reviews
  • Housing 9.2
  • Support 9.5
  • Fun 9.7
  • Value 9.3
  • Safety 9.3
Showing 1 - 8 of 22
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robert
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Carpe Diem Alumn 2011

Almost ten years later and not a week goes by that I don't recall memories from this program. I could write an essay sharing all of the incredible experiences: scuba diving, surfing in Costa Rica, walking bioluminescent beaches at night in search of leatherback turtles...the food, the friends, the education. It affects me every day.

Carpe Diem does an incredible job of organizing an experience that will change your life forever and set you on a path for self-discovery and global understanding.

Default avatar
Alissa
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Incredible, immersive experience!

Deciding to participate in a Carpe program during my gap year was probably one of the best decisions of my life. It was so amazing to travel in a country by truly getting to know the people who live there and the culture. An authentic, immersive experience is something Carpe prioritizes and everything we did felt very intentional. The home stays were a wonderful experience that helped me improve my Spanish and it was great to get to know locals on a personal level. There was a really well balanced mix of hiking, Spanish school, team-building, exploring, and independent time. Our Overseas Educators were incredibly supportive and helped create a positive, safe environment which I appreciated. I wouldn't trade the weeks I had with Carpe for anything--I gained new perspectives, met amazing people, and developed a greater sense of self confidence. I think that everyone would benefit from a gap year, and especially with a Carpe program!

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
This isn't necessarily an unfamiliar food, but I had never had it before going to Guatemala...platános fritos!! They have turned out to be one of my new favorite foods--I'm obsessed! The best one I had was from a street vendor in Xela and it was one large deep-fried platáno topped with crema and cinnamon...mmm!
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Rachel
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Do it do it dooo ittt!!!!

If I could give this program an 11/10 I would. I've grown as a student, an independent traveler, and a person because of this experience. It's amazing how fast you can pick up a language when you're surrounded by it 24/7, and how fast you become friends with people you've never met when your traveling and living together. I learned so much Spanish and so much about sustainability, but also about the food, culture and history of Guatemala and my own privilege as someone with an American passport.
I only got to experience 5 weeks of my spring CA trip because of the Covid19 pandemic, but I still made friends (Carpe students, my OEs, and locals) and had experiences that I will treasure for the rest of my life. If anything my trip getting cut short made me value my time in Guatemala even more. The team at headquarters and my wonderful OEs handled the stressful and heartbreaking task of getting us on a flight out the country before the borders closed with grace and professionalism. I never felt unsafe and I'm so grateful for them.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
It's all in the name; seize the day! And pack shower shoes and lots of sunscreen!
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Kelly
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Central America: An amazing 4 month

It is hard to think it has been ten years since my Carpe Diem semester in Central America because I still remember it so vividly. I went into the program as a second semester freshman in college because I wanted to try something new and I wanted to challenge myself with a different experience. My semester changed my life. I learned a lot about myself and what I was truly capable of. I learned that I liked to be a leader and that is was okay to be uncomfortable in new situations, I learned that my homestays were one of the most unique experiences that I would ever get. At the end of my four months I had friends and experiences that would help me in any situation. The ability to receive college credit was extremely beneficial and was one of my deciding factors. This was one of the most rewarding experiences and I wish I could do it again.

What would you improve about this program?
I would not change anything about the program, I felt that Carpe Diem did an appropriate job preparing students and helping them thrive.
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Lucia
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Carpe Diem Central America: Best Decision Ever

Carpe Diem was incredible!! It was exactly what I needed after graduating high school and being tired of the traditional educational model. I went on the Central America program and I learned so much and had a fantastic time. I loved the home stays, the Spanish lessons, the trek, my instructors and my group. Each came with a few challenges but only the healthy kind and by the end of the trip I wasn’t ready to go home. Being home afterwards I am filled with a sense of gratitude that I got to go and of wonder because I really feel that I became a different, better, braver version of myself during the program. I bonded well with my group and connected to the curriculum and to the places we stayed. I am a little surprised to say that I am a big fan of the no cell phones policy because I felt that it gave me fewer opportunities to be homesick and more opportunities to connect with my group mates. Before the trip I considered myself an introvert and I was worried that I might not get enough time to myself. By the end I didn’t want to be alone because I loved my group so much: best possible outcome. I would highly recommend Carpe Diem to students who are interested in alternative education and in learning about other cultures. I would definitely recommend the Central America program to anyone who is interested in polishing their Spanish if you feel that your high school Spanish classes aren’t doing you justice. Choosing Carpe Diem is one of the best decisions I have ever made and I hope that if you choose Carpe that you’ll feel the same.

What would you improve about this program?
I think I would spent less time in Guatemala and more time in a different country, not more time in Costa Rica because it's very Americanized but more equal distribution of time throughout countries I think. It didn't matter that much, because I had a great time.
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Annika
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Unforgettable

I had an amazing time on this trip, from seeing so many new places and working with so many cool organizations to meeting people I know I will stay in contact with for life. This program taught me how to question the way I live my life by pushing myself out of my comfort zone and always being open to learning more. Learning Spanish throughout the trip also greatly helped with being able to feel like we were really working with the communities rather than just passing by like tourists. We were able to talk to so many interesting people along the way such as Guatemalan guerrilla fighters which gave us new perspectives on the history and culture we were learning. Homestays were my favorite because all of the families were very welcoming and patient with our many questions and difficulties speaking Spanish. This was a trip I will never forget and I would very highly recommend it to anyone who is thinking about joining!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
To any future travelers I would say make sure to journal or take lots of photos because the trip goes by so fast and when you are finished you are going to want to have a way to revisit all of the amazing memories!
Read my full story
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Natali
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Carpe Diem - Central America

This program is great, it gives people a lot of support when they are going through challenges. While I was in Central America, I stayed with two host families, attended Spanish school, did a lot of community service (including building a compost toilet), and immersed myself in the culture. I also explored the nature and wildlife there. I was in Nicaragua for two months, and it was my first time out of the country. Exploring Nicaragua was an experience I will never forget.

What would you improve about this program?
It was perfect.
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Magdalena
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Great contacts

All of Carpe Diem’s contacts were well established and fit perfectly together to form an altogether very well rounded, diverse, and unique travel experience. I loved getting to know the Carpe staff and hear about all of their previous trips. The program has some strict rules but they are all put in place for the safety of the students. Really loved my overseas educators, and met a lot of really great people. I would recommend this program to anyone looking to make some lifelong friends and experience some really special stuff.
Overall a really fantastic program!