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 pause some of their upcoming programs temporarily. Learn more about COVID-19 updates and sign up for email notifications 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.


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!

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

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, we have expanded our refund policy

Now accepting applications for Fall 2020 semester programs and the 2020-2021 Latitudes Year.

If you apply for a Fall 2020 program, submit a deposit and decide on or before June 1st that you are not comfortable traveling for any reason, we will refund 100% of your deposit. There is no risk to you if you enroll in a program now and cancel by June 1st.

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...


based on 18 reviews
  • Housing 9
  • Support 9.4
  • Fun 9.6
  • Value 9.2
  • Safety 9.1
Showing 1 - 8 of 18
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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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Yes, I recommend this program


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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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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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!

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Yes, I recommend this program

great time

i had an amazing experience on my trip! i was very nervous at first but then towards the end realized how amazing it was and all the great people and memories i have and met over the course of 3 months. it was very eye opening and empowering! i recommend this trip or any other gap year program to everyone! I did wind up getting hurt on this trip and they brought me to every doctor i needed to understand my injury, then they sent me home and the leaders of the trip were able to let me come back on the trip and finish it out if i was cleared by a doctor! i went through many obsticles and through my trip i was able to face some fears and overcome some of th harder things in my life! Over all the greatest time of my life

What would you improve about this program?
I honestly don’t believe this program could be improved at all it was everything i’ve ever looked for and wanted in a program!
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Yes, I recommend this program

Probably my life peak

An amazing program!! Incredible balance between service, education (Spanish, sustainability, local history/culture), and adventure. Great group dynamics and leaders make sure everyone bonds and had a variety of workshops for us throughout the semester. Got to participate in a variety of leadership roles, and learned a bunch of Spanish after barely knowing any going in. Always felt safe, but you still have to be smart. From scuba diving to camping next to an active volcano, everyday on carpe was an adventure.

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Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing Experience

Carpe Diem had every aspect of a Gap Year I was looking for. The price is amazing. I was able to take up to 18 credits a semester that were able to be transferred to my university at almost half the cost of a semester in college. Carpe Diem takes their students experience very seriously and adjust the program based on our feedback. This past semester, my group rated one of our activities poorly, and adjusted the schedule accordingly. The basis of the program is that the first semester, students spend with a group of about 10-12 other students and two Overseas Educators, or OE’s. The OE’s were extremely supportive and clearly cared about every person in the group. They gave us freedom to explore cities and surrounding areas when we had time and made sure we were safe in doing so. They taught me so much about international travel and ways to do that safely and in a cost effective manner. They pushed me intellectually and opened my eyes to many perspectives I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. As for the group dynamic, it was great! My group was insanely lucky and we were all very close. I have seen 4 of my friends since then and still keep in close touch with them! The first semester is spent traveling around almost every week. I never felt bored or rushed when we left areas, and I was always excited for the next place we were going. We spent 4 weeks doing Spanish classes and homestays and I learned more in those 4 weeks than I ever did in 3 years of high school Spanish. It is easy to learn in that environment and you don’t have to have any Spanish language skills prior to the trip to go! The Central America trip does a great job tying in learning Spanish with learning about community development and environmental sustainability. The second semester is an independent semester spent volunteering with one organization. My placement was in Roatan, Honduras where I worked to get my divemaster. That experience taught me so much about myself and helped me with my confidence in ways I didn’t think it would. Overall, my year was amazing and worth every penny. I highly recommend this program to anyone looking to take a semester or year abroad.

What would you improve about this program?
It can’t be
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Yes, I recommend this program

Traveling through Nicaragua and Costa Rica

Traveling throughout Nicaragua and Costa Rica for two months changed my life. I traveled with an all female cohort. It definitely was stressful a lot of the time because of all the hormones but it was one f the best experiences I’ve had. I stayed with host families. One family which I’m still in contact with. Ate soooo many new and amazing foods. Traveled to places I would have never been able to go to if it wasn’t for Carpe Diem. I learned a lot about the Nicaraguan and Costa Rican cultural as well. Being there during Easter was an experience to remember for a life time. I went to church and walked in a procession. Before this trip I had traveled a little before, both in and out of the country. I did have a great time, most of the time that is. There were plenty of ups but also there were some downs. I twisted my ankle pretty bad the second day I was in Nicaragua. And broke my toe about 3 weeks before we left the country. These injuries didn’t stop me from doing much though. I still had lots of fun wether a few things had to be altered or not. This trip though changed my views on many things; other travelers, traveling to Spanish speaking countries, trying new foods, how to communicate better, and change with in myself. Because of the experience I got traveling in Nicaragua and Costa Rica makes me want to go back that much more. I’m already planning out my next adventures there. Thanks Carpe Diem for all that you offer.