Carpe Diem Education | South America Semester: Globalization & Spanish Immersion

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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.


Trek to the sprawling Incan ruins at Machu Picchu and try your hand at bartering in the indigenous markets of Otavalo. Discover traditional music, hike near the surrounding lakes and waterfalls, and visit the traditional market in Peguche. Study meditation, vedic astrology, and ayurveda with local elders.

Live with local families, experience traditional, rural Ecuadorian life, and learn about the political issues affecting communities in the cloud forest community of Pucara.

Learn about natural building, sustainable agriculture, and organic banana farming in small communities on the Ecuadorian coast. Participate in Spanish classes and help in the local schools of Baños with arts and English teaching.

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.
  • Small Group / One-on-One Spanish
  • Trek to Machu Picchu
  • Volunteer and Learn about Natural Building Techniques
  • Live with Indigenous Homestays
  • Study the Impacts of Globalization through Service Learning

Questions & Answers


based on 5 reviews
  • Housing 9
  • Support 10
  • Fun 10
  • Value 9.8
  • Safety 9.8
Showing 1 - 5 of 5
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I cannot stress enough how incredible this program is. Now that I am back home, the way I describe it to people is by saying "the time of my life" and a "lucky find" - as though Carpe is a gem everyone has yet to hear about. I stumbled upon it online and could not be happier that I did. The program is extremely well established and diverts away from the 'volon-tourism' that might be present in other programs. I truly felt like I discovered the authentic culture in Peru and Ecuador and that the long-lasting connections that Carpe had in the countries we visited was a singular and honest one. We met incredible people and shared unforgettable moments with each other. The group of 12 that we traveled with was led by 2 well-trained, inspiring and knowledgeable educators who maintained a perfect balance between mentor and friend with us throughout the entirety of the journey. Throughout the 3 months I lost the notion of a routine and time, for I was discovering, learning and growing all the while having - I must say it again, the time of my life. Embarking on this journey I had virtually no idea of what awaited in the upcoming months and my only tangible goal was to improve my Spanish. Not withstanding that my ability to have entire conversations and express myself in that language improved tremendously, it is probably the last thing that I talk about when I express how much this trip has taught me. The 12 of us grew emotionally, in independence and character, and made everlasting friends in the process. The work that we did was actually meaningful and we had the opportunity of forming real relationships with locals. I saw a side of Ecuador, Peru and traveling that I fear I may never have seen otherwise. I pat myself on the back for having instinctively signed up. The only downside, honestly, is how nostalgic you get when it's over.

How can this program be improved?
The programs could be longer! We also moved around a lot and I think some locations could be cut out to make the stay in others longer.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Absolutely amazing

I went on the Fall of 2018 Carpe Semester to Ecuador and Peru. There were twelve of us in the group and two Overseas Educators (OEs) who were incredible. I was very nervous to be spending three months with the same people, but I absolutely loved my group. I met so many incredible people and made so many new friends.

I was very nervous going into this trip for many reasons. I didn’t know any Spanish, I had never been particularly adventurous with food or activities, I had never been away from home for longer than two weeks, and so many other reasons. During orientation, the OEs did a really good job addressing potential fears for everyone and it helped me realize that we were all worried about the same things. Going from place to place with the same group of people helped me become more adventurous knowing that everyone in the group was very supportive. The Spanish schools we worked with were awesome and I definitely learned a lot. It was very nice to have a change from a typical classroom setting but still be learning a lot.

Some highlights of this trip for me would be tubing down a river in the Amazon, the Salkantay Trek, Machu Picchu, my homestay in Peguche, the Otavalo market, Rainbow mountain, and so many more. This trip was truly an incredible and transformative experience for me. I feel so much more independent, confident, and adventurous.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Incredible 11/10 experience

I went on the Carpe Diem Education South America trip in the fall 2016 semester and it was the best experience of my life. I met some of my closest friends from this trips who I still stay in close contact with and have had the opportunity to travel with them since the Carpe Diem semester ended. Through the South America semester, I was able to stay with host families and be truly immersed within the culture as well as get acquainted with the other students in my program and fellow travelers while staying in hostels or at community organizations. Since my gap experience, I have been at college and have seen how much I have truly grown from this program. I feel more confident in not only who I am as a person but also what I aspire to accomplish. I wish that everyone could be able to go on an extensive trip like I did that promoted growth in so many different aspects of my life. Not only was it a fun trip where I got to meet so many unique individuals but it also encouraged me to step outside of my comfort zone and do things I may never have if I stayed back home and jumped into college right away after high school. I am so glad I took advantage of this opportunity and I believe it is one of the best things that you possibly could do upon graduating high school. The staff at Carpe Diem Education were also extremely helpful throughout my entire year and were always willing to support me in whatever it was I needed - even after my gap year ended.

How can this program be improved?
Longer trips - 3 months was a great length but I would love for further opportunity to stay with the group to continue traveling.
Yes, I recommend this program
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More than I ever thought it would be

My experience in South America was literally life-changing. I had never been away from home longer than 2 weeks, so 3 months of traveling was a huge step. Through bouts of homesickness and illness, the Carpe leaders and administration in Portland were invaluable. More than that, the experiences I had and the growth I experienced has changed me, my priorities, and my perspective for the rest of my life. Carpe has shaped my life and impacted what I am studying and where I want to travel next, and gave me some of the best friends I have. It's rustic, sometimes dirty, there's no drinking and a lot of work, but you meet the best people and become a better person yourself. I can't recommend it enough.

How can this program be improved?
The living situations did get *very* rustic, where there wouldn't be a working shower. But again, in retrospect, that enhanced my experience.
Yes, I recommend this program
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You can do it, even if you think you can't

Not once have I wanted to travel, especially for 3 months. Yet, here I am, reflecting back on my 12 week adventure through Ecuador and Peru with Carpe Diem Education. It was a roller coaster of incredible life experiences.

I traveled with 11 other students, and 2 leaders. I absolutely loved the group environment. Every one of us were so incredibly different, and yet we all clicked. Our leaders, Ryan and Cheridyn, kept us all together. I could not have survived the whole three months away from my family if it were not for their constant love, support, and encouragement. They managed to balance being our leaders and our friends.

My favorite part about Carpe Diem was the freedom that we all had, but also the structure that the program provided. I never felt like a child just following other people's lead. While we had leaders and wonderful people back home making sure everything went smoothly, we were really in charge of our trip and making the most of all of our experiences. They worked hard to not just tell us what to do, but instead they taught us how to travel ourselves. Before the trip I would not have ever considered traveling by myself, but now I can't stop thinking about where I will go next.

The Peruvian Amazon was my favorite location, but Cusco was also incredible. I can think of amazing things from every location we visited, especially Machu Picchu (the 5 day hike was a little rough, but worth it).

I cannot say enough good things about Carpe Diem Education and the wonderful families we met throughout our trip.

How can this program be improved?
Homestays were not my favorite, especially since we were only with the families for 1-2 weeks. It was hard to really get to know them.
Yes, I recommend this program

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...