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

Video and Photos

After 4 days of hiking, we finally made it to Machu Picchu, and then we hiked Huanay Picchu. I love all of these people... family.
A beautiful sunset at the Sillustani ruins outside of Puno, Peru
The Tree House in Banos, Ecuador
Personal Growth
Personal Growth
South America Machu Picchu
South America Machu Picchu
South America Volcano Hike
South America Volcano Hike
Exploring Waterfalls
Exploring Waterfalls
South America Spiritual Retreat
South America Spiritual Retreat

About

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. Spend time in Peru's Sacred Valley studying yoga, meditation, and ayurveda from local teachers.

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

Learn about natural building, sustainable agriculture, and organic coffee 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.

Highlights
  • Small Group / One-on-One Spanish
  • Trek to Machu Picchu
  • Volunteer and learn about sustainable agriculture and biodiversity in the Amazon
  • Live with Indigenous Homestays
  • Study the Impacts of Globalization through Service Learning

Accepting Applications Now for Fall 2020 Semesters and the 2020-2021 Latitudes Year!

How will you Carpe Diem? Explore our gap year and semester programs in eight global regions in 2020-2021 - all while earning 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.

Questions & Answers

Reviews

99%
based on 9 reviews
  • Housing 9.1
  • Support 10
  • Fun 9.9
  • Value 9.9
  • Safety 9.9
Showing 1 - 9 of 9
Patrick
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

What has surprised you the most about this experience?

The first thing that comes to mind is how much fun I have had. To be honest I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I signed up and showed up to the airport to go on this adventure. I thought it would be hard and a learning experience. Which it was. It's not easy at times to travel in in a group or in a third world country etc. but they are far outweighed by how much fun it is. The people I talked to, the life long friendships I made my group, the games, the laughs, learning a new language, the places we visited and all the other little things.These are things I things I didn't account for and had no idea the immense effect this trip would have on the rest of my life and the amount of joy they would give me.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
Nothing. This is the best thing you can do in life. It changed my life in the best ways possible.
Ava
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Ready for more!

My experience in this South America Carpe Diem program was incredible. My Spanish language skills improved drastically, and so did the skills of everyone in the group. We had students who had never spoken Spanish before and by the end of the trip they were conversational! Some themes continue throughout the program such as permaculture, coffee production, and the government, so it’s easy to learn about the subjects from many different perspectives. Our contacts were amazing and I still keep in touch with a few of them. Although this was not the case for everyone in my group, my homestay experiences were not very personal, and at times felt more like a bed and breakfast. I was hoping to build strong connections with my homestay families as I have done in the past, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case. Again, other members of my group had different experiences with host families. I am a Latitudes student, and am so excited to begin my volunteer placement soon! I believe that my experiences on this group semester have definitely prepared me to travel more independently.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Don’t bring so much stuff!! The lighter you pack, the better. But it is good to have one or two “unnecessary/luxury” items that you’ll feel good to have while on program.
Desiree
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Desi Casanova's Experience

My experience traveling with Carpe Diem's South America program was everything I could have wished it to be and so much more. As someone who has never traveled out of my home state before my experience, I left my semester abroad feeling confident in my abilities to navigate an unknown world and be a successful traveler. With every day came a new learning experience and room to grow as a person. With Carpe Diem, every day is a new adventure. I felt safe, cared for, and accommodated throughout my entire three months abroad. While abroad we took 4 weeks of Spanish classes, did many community service projects, visited cities and indigenous communities, and of course had a ton of fun. Through Carpe Diem I was given the space to grow, learn, and feel every experience to the fullest extent without judgement. If I could go back and do it again, I would not change a single thing about my experience. I will forever be grateful for Carpe Diem for providing me an experience of a life time and giving me memories, tools, and life long learning through my trip to South America.

What would you improve about this program?
From my point of view there is not much that I can think of that I personally did not approve of on my trip. Maybe just to throw in a couple days along the way where students have completely free days to do nothing and relax.
marco
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

South America Semester

Taking this semester abroad was one of the best decisions I have ever made. During my time in South America, my life was changed forever. I experienced things that are now motivating me to discover what truly makes me happy in life. On this trip, our cohort managed to learn and do so much. We took classes on history, social economics and Spanish immersion and it was amazing. We got to see so many cool and globally known places such as Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, Rainbow Mountain, The Sacred Valley, Cotopaxi and many other cool places. We stayed in many villages where we lived among the indigenous communities in the Andes mountains. This semester was a semester that has impacted me and changed my life forever. Since my trip, I have developed new educational interests. I am now pursuing a bachelors in international studies and plan to work for a nonprofit in the U.S. or abroad. I want to help these marginalized and discounted indigenous communities that I lived with and learned from on my trip. My view of travel and seeing the world has changed. I use to think I would never be able to see the world. Now I plan trips to explore the world and gain new experiences.

What would you improve about this program?
I really enjoyed this program and how it is structure to make you succeed in school and in life. This program helps many young students travel abroad to gain many powerful life experiences.
Daphné
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

SPEECHLESS, VIRTUALLY FLAWLESS

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.

What would you improve about this program?
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.
Audrey
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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.

Madison
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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.

What would you improve about this program?
Longer trips - 3 months was a great length but I would love for further opportunity to stay with the group to continue traveling.
Betsy
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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.

What would you improve about this program?
The living situations did get *very* rustic, where there wouldn't be a working shower. But again, in retrospect, that enhanced my experience.
Madeleine
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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.

What would you improve about this program?
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.