Multiple Locations +2
  • Guatemala
  • Costa Rica
4 - 12 weeks

Program Details

City Exploring Scuba Diving Trekking
Fall Spring
Guesthouse Host Family Hostel Tent
Primary Language
Age Min.


Starting Price
Price Details
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 $1400 – $1600.

Earn up to $5000 per year in scholarship funding from Carpe Diem Education. Through our partnership with Portland State University, students are eligible to complete up to 18 quarter credits during their semester.
What's Included
Accommodation Activities Airport Transfers Meals Transportation Travel Insurance
What's Not Included
Airfare Some Equipment
Oct 13, 2021
May 12, 2022
49 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

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!

Video and Photos

Program Highlights

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


Carpe Diem Education Scholarships

Carpe Diem Education awards $30,000 annually to support diversity and inclusion in its programs. The Access Scholarship provides up to $5,000 for a gap year semester or full-year experience. The Inclusion Scholarship offers up to $2,000 for a gap year semester. The Carpe Mundi Scholarship is for Portland-based students. Grants are mostly need-based, and applications open in January.

Program Reviews

9.59 Rating
based on 27 reviews
  • 9-10 rating 85.19%
  • 7-8 rating 14.81%
  • 5-6 rating 0%
  • 3-4 rating 0%
  • 1-2 rating 0%
  • Housing 9.1
  • Support 9.5
  • Fun 9.5
  • Value 9.4
  • Safety 9.3
Showing 1 - 8 of 27 reviews
Default avatar
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

  • 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
  • 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
Default avatar
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.

  • Learning opportunities
  • Scenic locations
  • Community
  • Rugged accommodations
  • Bugs (so many bugs)
  • Illness
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Great experience!

This was a well-organized trip and I loved our Oversees Educators Ryan and Soumya! They were super fun to be around but also facilitated lots of important discussions. They always encouraged us to learn more about the community and place we were in, and on that front I think Carpe did very very well. I do wish Carpe was a bit more transparent with the way budgeting works and where our money goes.

Sometimes the program felt super busy and I wish I had had more time in the day to make sure I always had time to reflect take time for myself but also make the most out of the opportunities we had.

I would recommend going on this trip if you’ve read about it and genuinely want to go. Don’t go because your parents want you to or any other reason. It‘a really a great opportunity, but whether your experience is positive or not is mostly dependent on if your goals align with the programs goals, and how much you make out of it.

What the program offers you that is unique from traveling alone is this - a group of students (hopefully a community), two supportive and knowledgeable adults, a pre-planned and researched itinerary (I think Carpe also tries to ensure that the places we support are as environmentally and socially responsible as possible), a guarantee that you won’t ever have a day with nothing to do, more built in learning opportunities, security.

I’d recommend checking out the blog page on the carpe website for more info! Also students are mostly 18-19 years old, at least on my trip.

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

The best out of the best

Omgggg literally life changing. The people the leaders the program structure everything about it was amazing.

At first it was scary. It was an unexpecting experience to take as a Muslimah but one that I’ll never forget. I found myself even more going on this trip. The food was amazing. The adventures were incomparable to the ones previously experienced prior to carpe.

I highly recommend this program to anyone. Great way to feel challenged (in a positive way of course), and develop growth in many levels

31 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

An amazingly fun trip, and an important part of my personal growth

Carpe Diem really has their stuff together as an organization.
My trip leaders were real pros and really amazing people, my group-mates were hilarious and fun, every place we stayed had a lot to teach us, and the food was for real fantastic. You definitely won't regret going on a Carpe trip.
I've been on a program or two, and I know what a bad program looks like. Carpe Diem staff are really on the ball, they know how to care for students, and my two months in Costa Rica gave me a better outlook at life.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
Probably a soursop. It was tasty, but quite snotty.
36 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
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.

32 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
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!
35 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
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!
38 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...