Location
Multiple Locations +2
  • Guatemala
  • Costa Rica
Length
4 - 12 weeks
Need-based funding, General grants/scholarships, Payment plans
Health & Safety

Program Details

Activities
City Exploring Scuba Diving Trekking
Timeframe
Fall Spring
Housing
Guesthouse Host Family Hostel Tent
Primary Language
English
Age Min.
17
Age Max
22

Pricing

Starting Price
15900
Price Details
Fall 2024: $15,900

Spring 2025: $15,900

Program tuition includes all food, accommodations, scheduled program activities, and international travel insurance for the duration of the program. International airfare and spending money are extra. International airfare estimated at $1,200 - $1,500.
What's Included
Accommodation Activities Airport Transfers Meals Transportation Travel Insurance
What's Not Included
Airfare Some Equipment
May 30, 2024
May 02, 2023
79 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

Venture through Guatemala and Costa Rica, exploring lush tropical rainforests, towering volcanoes, steep-sided mountains, and extended coastlines. Embrace the spirit of pura vida and learn from the unique crossover of individuals who call these nations home. Living alongside Indigenous communities and their contemporaries, delve into opportunities to explore social justice, sustainability, and the influence of colonization.

From the Sierra Madre mountains of interior Guatemala, to the sea turtle havens on the coast; from the tranquility and splendor of Lago Atitlán and her surrounding volcanoes, to the breathtaking coral reefs offshore, Carpe Diem Education explores the merging complexities of socio-political realities with the hope of a more sustainable future. Cap your new knowledge with improved Spanish, honed during your homestay experience, and outdoor skills learned from the many treks, hikes, and adventure activities available in the region.

Video and Photos

Diversity & Inclusion

BIPOC Support

We recognize that we are a long way from the diversity we aim for within our students, staff, and partners. We want and need more diversity to truly become the organization we would like to be. We recognize that this will not happen overnight or without dedicating time, attention, and resources. To that end, we have created a strategic plan to address our current shortfalls and to make significant improvements, which you can see on our Diversity & Inclusion page.

LGBTQIA+ Support

Neurodivergent Support

At Carpe Diem, each applicant reads through our extensive Essential Eligibility Criteria prior to enrollment. This criteria allows applicants to determine if the organization is an appropriate fit for their gap semester/year goals and their individual needs. During the interview and application process, we have honest and direct conversations with students and families about the support that our staff is able to provide throughout the program experience. We are committed to creating a culture of acceptance and support. To that end, our Overseas Educators and local leaders are selected for their skill in group facilitation and promoting inclusive group dynamics.

Accessibility Support

At Carpe Diem, each applicant reads through our extensive Essential Eligibility Criteria prior to enrollment. This criteria allows applicants to determine if the organization is an appropriate fit for their gap semester/year goals and their individual needs. We have honest and open conversations with applicants about our ability to support individual needs on each program, with the ultimate goal of a healthy and successful experience for all students. In the past, we have worked with students with severe allergies, diabetes, chronic injuries, and mental health diagnoses. We know each student's journey is individual and we work with families to support these individual needs where possible to help determine if the program is a good fit for their gap semester goals.

Impact

Sustainability

We are committed to maximizing the net positive impact while minimizing the carbon footprint of every program. In our office, on our programs, and through our carbon offset match, our programs are geared toward environmental education to empower future leaders to move their communities to take action. During our programs, students learn more about their impact as individuals and a travel community - then take a solution-oriented lens to tackling key issues. We also contribute to and amplify the voices of organizations and partners who focus on permaculture, natural building, and sustainable solutions.

Ethical Impact

Our programs are designed to connect to our local communities and provide reciprocal exchange and engagement. Through engaging in experiential education, community engagement, and intercultural exchange, our students develop enhanced perspectives, deeper cultural understanding, and a profound sense of self-discovery and personal growth. We work with vetted local providers to build their businesses as they provide value to our students and programming. With our homestay families, we ensure we minimize our footprint by regularly rotating the communities we work with and evaluating our social impact alongside their community leaders.

Program Highlights

  • Support sustainability efforts: Work with a small NGO on environmental justice, tree planting, and bringing back native species
  • Improve your Spanish: Engage in immersive Spanish classes and put your knowledge to the test during homestays within the community
  • Adventure outdoors: Hike, raft, trek, and even earn your Scuba Certification while exploring the natural beauty of the region
  • Live and learn: Stay on a family farm in Costa Rica, learning from your hosts about permaculture and traditional chocolate
  • Build it yourself: In a community-directed project, work with natural builders to support their efforts to construct with recycled materials

Program Reviews

4.88 Rating
based on 33 reviews
  • 5 rating 87.88%
  • 4 rating 12.12%
  • 3 rating 0%
  • 2 rating 0%
  • 1 rating 0%
  • Housing 4.6
  • Support 4.85
  • Fun 4.85
  • Value 4.8
  • Safety 4.75
Showing 1 - 8 of 33 reviews
Default avatar
Léa
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Guatemala and Costa Rica semester

This is an unforgettable experience that promotes education, adventure, immersion, and more. You get to experience the world through a whole different lens. You connect with nature, the community, and your teachers in school. The scuba certification was one of the greatest experiences I’ve had. The different species of fish, the many turtles, and the sharks were breathtaking. Costa Rica was really the sight for wildlife we got to see a number of sloths, monkeys, and anteaters! I 100% recommend carpe diem

Pros
  • Leadership skills
  • Social skills
  • Friendships
Cons
  • Bugs
  • Illness
  • Sunburns
161 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Addie
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

My time in Guatemala and Costa Rica with Carpe Diem Education

This was an amazing program for me as I wanted to get more accustomed to traveling on my own. The student directed travel week was great and allowed me to do that in making plans with a group within a specific budget. The weeks were planned out well, we had an amazing balance of fun activities, volunteer work, and Spanish classes. I loved this program because it took me to parts of the country I might not have visited as a traditional tourist and really allowed me to experience these cultures in an enriching safe and educational way.

Pros
  • Learn how to travel while young
  • Group dynamic having people always there to hang out with
  • Diversity in itinerary, getting to experience lots of different environments and living situations
Cons
  • Very scheduled, not lots of free time or down time
  • Costly, could travel myself for cheaper but good price when compared to other programs
167 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Dylan
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Carpe Diem

I am very thankful to have been on this trip. Everything about it was amazing. Every step that our group took on this trip has been unforgettable. From going all around Guatemala and then spending two weeks in Costa Rica was truly a once in a lifetime experience. On this trip I have changed so much and I saw things that I didn’t know was there. I am very grateful to Carpe Diem for having a trip of this magnitude and I recommend this trip to anyone that loves nature and someone that wants to grow a different perspective on the world and seeing a different side than what you are currently in. It has impacted me forever.

Pros
  • You will grow a lot
  • You will have lots of fun
  • You will meet new people
Cons
  • You will be sleeping outside
  • You won’t have internet for some weeks
  • weather is on and off
175 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Mats
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

The best decision I’ve ever made

I took the Central America program this Fall and
think it was the best decision, I've ever made.
had so much fun, laughed so much every day,
learned so much about Guatemalas history and
the United States' impact on the Guatemalan
politics. And really got to know the Guatemalan
culture in homestay and interactions with local
and sustainable organizations like farms and
green construction NGOs.
Being with the group was pure enjoyment, I
made so many (life long) friends.
If you are ready to Step out of your comfort
zone and explore so much new and strange
things, culture, language and life, take a Carpe
Diem program.

Pros
  • Group dynamics/making friends
  • Experience a new culture
  • Learn spanish
184 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Maddie
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

CAM Semester

Throughout this program, I grew so much as a person. My group felt like a second family, and everyone we met along the way was so accommodating and knowledgable.

I highly recommend this program if you're looking for Spanish immersion and are interested in sustainability and hiking. Although prior Spanish knowledge is not required, it is definitely more difficult to jump into homestays having barely spoken Spanish before. We learned a lot about the culture and about different ways to live and travel sustainably. At our volunteer sites we did green building, reforestation, and permaculture work, with fun activities mixed in so it wasn't all work all the time. The 3 day trek to Lake Atitlan is a big challenge if you're not a big hiker, but doable. It is a very rewarding experience once you do finish, ending with the prettiest sunrise over the lake. The accommodations vary a lot, so be prepared for periods of rugged living and bucket showers. Our homestay families were all very happy to have us, so if that's a worry for you just know that you'll be in good hands. The food was a BIG highlight of the trip. We had amazing food for almost every meal, and learned how to cook authentic Guatemalan/Costa Rican dishes. And if you're vegetarian or vegan, there will be options for you. In terms of tech, we had very limited access to internet, even after the first 3 weeks of no wifi, so be prepared for limited contact to home. Most people didn't mind it though, as it helps you stay present with each other. We had a good balance of independence and group stability. During free time, we could do whatever we wanted (within reason) but we also had a good amount of structure with group activities. The end of the trip was also awesome: scuba diving, seeing cool wildlife, and staying in a hostel that was a 5minute walk from the beach! It felt like each week we did something completely different, which is such a unique opportunity.

I was not 100% wanting to do this program initially, which made the first month especially hard. I ended up loving my experience and being so happy I went, but it took some time to adjust. My best advice would be to take some time and think about what you really want to get out of your semester, and you should only do this program if you truly want to push yourself and experience a whole new way of living. If you go into this program open to whatever comes your way, you will thrive and have the time of your life!

Pros
  • Beautiful scenery
  • Improvement on Spanish language abilities
  • Personal growth
Cons
  • Traveler's sickness
  • Limited technology access
  • Rugged accommodations (only for a few stretches of time)
209 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Saul
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Great Experience

These past three months were a great opportunity to get away from everything going on the world and just go out and live. You get to be with 11 other people for 10 weeks, some people you like, some aren’t your vibe and that’s okay - you learn how to work together and just put differences aside.

The accommodations were not the best at times but it was definitely a great experience and with that brought a lot of learning experiences and fun times.

I was very hesitant to go on this trip when I originally signed up but now after completing this trip - no regrets!

Pros
  • Community
  • Traveling
  • Food
Cons
  • Accommodations
  • Getting sick
206 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Elliot
4/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Carpe program review

This program was an incredibly unique and fun way for me to take a break from the everyday life I live back home and emirs myself in a variety of different cultures and countries. This program gives students a chance to get a feel for independence and what the life of traveling looks like. For me personally the semester abroad was a great opportunity to take some time away from the stresses of everyday life to thoroughly reflect on what I would like out of life in the future. This program also provides students with an large number of unique activities that include the perfect balance of education and fun. Happy

Pros
  • You get the opportunity to take time away from your normal everyday life
  • You get to see new places and really dive into the culture of the places you visit
Cons
  • Sometimes the people in your group might not be the best fit for you and you have to spend an extended period of time with them
211 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Jane
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

CAM 2022

My semester with Carpe Diem was definitely one of the highlights of my life so far. I pushed my limits, physically and mentally, and grew into the person I want to be. The places we visited and the experiences I had challenged me deeply, but I never felt unsafe or unsupported. I always had my fellow students and OEs (leaders) close to me if I felt unsure or needed to take a step back. I learned a lot about culture, food, sustainability, and Spanish, but perhaps even more valuable was the way I was able to get to know myself and connect with the people and places around me. This is truly a life-changing program.

Thinking back to before this trip, I remember reading reviews trying to get a better idea of the way this program works. Now that I've gone through it, I'm going to try to answer a couple of my own questions in hopes that it can help you!

What are accommodations like?
Accommodations ranged from cold showers and concrete floors to comfy beds and an internet connection. We had 10 students in total and I ended up rooming with each of them at least once. The majority of my time was spent in dorm style rooms with 4-9 other students, but we also did 4 weeks of homestays with two students per household. At the beginning of the trip, there was the option to choose if we were comfortable sleeping in mixed gender rooms. The one person who said no was paired only with other girls for all except two weeks. This was during our trek and student directed travel where there was only one room for all of us.

How was the food?
The most consistent part of the trip was the mind blowing food. Almost every single meal hit so hard. Most of the time meals were relatively simple - eggs, beans, rice, fruit, veggies, and chicken - but something about the way they make it is SO amazing. The majority of the time meals were pre-ordered for us, provided by our host families or the places we stayed, but some weeks we were given money to order from restaurants or cook for ourselves. I did feel that the budgeting was done a little poorly at times - In Guatemala I would often would be confined to the cheapest option if I didn't supplement with my own money, and in Costa Rica I felt I had more than I needed - but ultimately, I only ended up spending a few dollars of my own money per meal, if anything, so I wouldn't worry about it too much.

Something I didn't expect is the lack of trouble I had with my food allergies. I'm gluten and dairy intolerant, and only eat white meat. To my surprise, I never had a problem or was faced with a meal I couldn't eat. We also had vegans and vegetarians and every location we visited was extremely accommodating of that as well.

How is the pacing?
My semester was very action packed. We had multiple activities each day, usually eating breakfast at around 7AM and having classes, volunteer work, hikes, tours, ect. until much later in the day. Activities weren't always mandatory, but much of what we did was. That being said, whenever I needed a break or had a health issue my OE's were supportive and listened to what I and/or the group wanted/needed. I think there is a certain level of physical fitness needed to keep up with the pace, especially if you want to do all of the activities, but I was able to build this throughout the trip. We moved locations about every week, sometimes less and sometimes more.

What did you learn?
I learned a lot of Spanish, through excellent teachers, loving homestay moms, and the practice that naturally comes with living in a Spanish-speaking country. I also learned a lot about green building and sustainability. We had two weeks of classes on green/sustainable building with the ability to apply our knowledge after class by building eco friendly structures and dreaming up potential green building expeditions with the help of our teacher. We had cooking classes and farm tours where I learned a lot about the plants and food in the area. We did volunteer work with conservation, planting trees and learning about nature and preservation efforts. I joke that Carpe should advertise their programs as a great chance to move dirt around for 3 months but really... there's a lot of truth to it.

We were also challenged to be reflective and think deeply about ourselves. The program gave us a structured way to think about concepts like what is love, what goals or values to I have, how can I function in a community and in new and different cultures, ect.

I hope this helps! Everyone I on my semester had moments that really challenged them or were uncomfortable, but we were never unsafe. If you're looking to learn and grow, and have the drive to make it a reality, I truly cannot recommend this program enough.

Pros
  • Learning opportunities
  • Scenic locations
  • Community
Cons
  • Rugged accommodations
  • Bugs (so many bugs)
  • Illness
208 people found this review helpful.

Questions & Answers

Hi Annalisa, Thank you for your question! Our Essential Eligibility Criteria says that all applicants must "have a high level of English language fluency and comprehension." We welcome students of all nationalities and backgrounds on our programs but international students are responsible for obtaining any necessary visas to travel with us. Please email me directly if you have any other questions...

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...