Carpe Diem Education | India Semester: Spirituality & Service

COVID-19 Program Updates

Due to global health & safety concerns and travel restrictions related to the coronavirus, Carpe Diem Education has decided to offer flexible booking options for some of their upcoming programs. Learn more about COVID-19 updates to stay tuned regarding program information.

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About

Discover the incredible depth and diversity of India. Witness how spirituality is infused in the daily lives of the people, whether visiting a Hindu temple or hearing the call to prayer; chatting with a Buddhist monk or volunteering in the kitchens at the holiest of Sikh pilgrimage sites, the Golden Temple. Spend a week in a yoga retreat along the banks of the Ganga River, learning the fundamentals of yogic philosophy and practice.

Embrace the opportunity to serve at Mother Teresa's Home for the Destitute and Dying; support efforts in offsetting climate change by working with Sadhana forest or Dharmalaya Institute for Compassionate Living; experience authentic India culture through homestays in different regions of this vast country. Be challenged and inspired with a 4-day trek in the Himalaya.

Here you will gain valuable insight into different systems of spirituality, learn about methods of addressing climate change, enhance self-awareness, and develop a deeper sense of purpose.

Highlights
  • Learn about different systems of Spirituality & Religion
  • Volunteer and serve with Mother Teresa house
  • Enjoy a meditation and Yoga retreat on the banks of the Ganga River
  • Experience authentic Indian life through immersive homestays
  • Trek in the Himalaya

Limited Space Available on our Fall 2020 US Borderlands program!

Now accepting applications for our Fall 2020 domestic program: Semester in the Borderlands and Spring 2021 international programs!

Join us in the Borderlands this fall to learn more about the issues facing communities along the U.S.-Mexico border. Discover the role that climate change plays in current and future decision-making and the degree to which political boundaries impact the lives of people and communities on both sides of the border.

Questions & Answers

Reviews

9.62 Rating
based on 21 reviews
  • Housing 9.1
  • Support 9.7
  • Fun 9.4
  • Value 9.6
  • Safety 9.4
  • Content 0
  • Engagement 0
  • Support 0
  • Platform 0
  • Value 0
  • Impact 0
  • Support 0
  • Fun 0
  • Value 0
  • Safety 0
Showing 1 - 8 of 21
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Jahmeil
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Great, Awesome sorry we had to leave

This trip was full of exciting experiences and unique places, which are way more impactful in person than reading about it. To not take this opportunity will be one your life’s regrets, everyday there is different from the other. Everyday we would learn something new about the Indian culture through our travels and the people we would meet along the way. All while learning new perspectives and outlooks on life, a truly transformative experience. I highly recommend this trip!

However I implore you that this trip is not for everyone. Firstly there is the no phone rule which is a part of the program. In order to get students to be constantly engaged they ask that you do not bring a phone. For me personally, I found this was a welcome break from my everyday technology bombardments. I was a little skeptical at first but found my experience much better without my phone to distract me. If I had my phone, I would have missed small moments like seeing monkeys and animals alongside roadways. But do not worry you are allowed to take your cameras, and a small device capable of playing music if you want.

On this program you will be engaging in numerous voluntary activities, which includes a lot of hard work, but you will be working with your group. That way you have support and can have fun working among friends. You will be paired with two leaders, unlike other organizations, your leaders will be giving you a lot of freedom to explore once you have built trust and shown maturity. Most of the trip will be planned ahead of time, however in one section your group will be given the opportunity to choose their next destination. For me personally this trip has taught me numerous life lessons. The one that stands out for me the most is to not overthink life but live life in the moment as everyday is completely different from the other. This trip is what you make of it, if you put an effort out to engage in the activities, I promise you it will be worth your time and money.

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Jahmeil
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Carpe review

This trip was full of exciting experiences and unique places, which are way more impactful in person than reading about it. To not take this opportunity will be one your life’s regrets, everyday there is different from the other. Everyday we would learn something new about the Indian culture through our travels and the people we would meet along the way. All while learning new perspectives and outlooks on life, a truly transformative experience. I highly recommend this trip!

However I implore you that this trip is not for everyone. Firstly there is the no phone rule which is a part of the program. In order to get students to be constantly engaged they ask that you do not bring a phone. For me personally, I found this was a welcome break from my everyday technology bombardments. I was a little skeptical at first but found my experience much better without my phone to distract me. If I had my phone, I would have missed small moments like seeing monkeys and animals alongside roadways. But do not worry you are allowed to take your cameras, and a small device capable of playing music if you want.

On this program you will be engaging in numerous voluntary activities, which includes a lot of hard work, but you will be working with your group. That way you have support and can have fun working among friends. You will be paired with two leaders, unlike other organizations, your leaders will be giving you a lot of freedom to explore once you have built trust and shown maturity. Most of the trip will be planned ahead of time, however in one section your group will be given the opportunity to choose their next destination. For me personally this trip has taught me numerous life lessons. The one that stands out for me the most is to not overthink life but live life in the moment as everyday is completely different from the other. This trip is what you make of it, if you put an effort out to engage in the activities, I promise you it will be worth your time and money.

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Grace
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing experiential learning program

Although our trip was cut short because of COVID19, I still had a blast. I made a lot of friends whom I still talk to even after we returned home. My overseas educators Rebecca and Adam were so kind. They made sure we all felt comfortable, safe and supported while we were pushing our limits to what we had done before. I would recommend this trip to anyone, and I urge anyone who hasn’t been to India to go. The food was amazing, and gave me a whole other perspective of cuisine(I’m a foodie). Loved this trip so much.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
1. Relax and enjoy all that India has to offer.
2. Bring sun protection
3. Bring electrolytes. Odd but useful!
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Emma
3/10
No, I don't recommend this program

Not What I Expected...

Hello. My name is Emma and I was on the Spring 2020 Gap-mester program to India with Carpe Diem.
Short and simple: this program was nothing like I expected. I wish I had known better what I was getting into before I went, and I hope this review can serve as that info for other students.
Cons:
1. Flights- the layovers were terribly long and extremely uncomfortable and inconvenient. There was 0 reason that the layovers should've been so horribly planned.
2. No devices- the program allows no WiFi-compatible devices, even just for music and pictures. Music is a coping mechanism for me, so this rule was extremely hard. They don't even allow the devices with the WiFi disabled, and that shows no trust to their students and no cares about their students' needs. When I spoke to the program director about this issue, he offered no compassion and assumed a "you're wrong, I'm right" attitude.
3. The program leaders and directors- On that note, all of the staff of Carpe assumed the "you're wrong, I'm right" attitude about every. single. thing. I constantly felt belittled, berated and wrong.
4. The communication- the itinerary was extremely vague, the communications between me, my family and the program before going was super misleading and vague, and when we were abroad, the communication between our program leaders and my parents was pretty much nonexistent. My parents were worried about me the whole time, never knew where I was, never knew what was happening, and when they asked, they were shut down by the HQ staff in Portland. My parents were not even made aware when my entire group got scabies and had to evacuate our camp.
5. Child labor- What the program called "volunteering" and "learning about sustainability" was actually just unpaid labor without food. I worked many mornings in the hot sun without breakfast. The labor was actually not necessary either... it was actually pointless and did nothing for the environment or forestation.
6. Probably the worst thing about my trip- The complete and utter imposing of ideals and morals onto me and the other students. We were "learning" about sustainability and climate change, but what that actually meant was our leaders telling us that basically everything we were doing was wrong. They said, "Screw the USA, screw Trump, screw capitalism, screw globalism, screw commercialism, screw gas cars, screw non-vegans, screw everything remotely right leaning." As leaders, they should've let us explore India and come up with our own opinions and views on the world. Instead, they told us theirs, and if we disagreed, we were treated differently. I was treated like an outcast in so many situations because I was not vegan, because I drove a gas car, because I shopped at the mall, etc etc. I went to India to learn about India... instead I learned about super left-leaning ideals that had nothing to do with where we were and could've been taught in the USA.
7. Stole our money- When our trip got cancelled due to Coronavirus and we had to come home 2 months early, the $13,000 program refunded us $1,000. Yep. $1,000. The money definitely did not go to our trip because we were all living on less than $7 USD a day in India. The money went straight into the pockets of the program leaders and directors, and they feel no remorse about it, even when many of our families became unemployed with Coronavirus business shut-downs and needed that money.
8. Oh yeah- and my host mom stole money from my roommate and I.
Pros:
1. My group- many members of my group were awesome and we were all committed to making it a drama-free environment, which made it super fun in most cases.
2. The freedom- in a lot of places, we had a lot of freedom to kinda do whatever we wanted until we had to meet, or go to dinner, or something like that. It was fun to try and meet up with my peers and just explore.
3. *Some* of the places- I emphasize some because a lot of the places were a phenomenal waste of time (Sadhana Forest, Madurai, Proto Village) but Kochi, Munnar and Bangalore were all super awesome.
In conclusion, I wish I would've been more informed about what I was getting into. If you want to go to India to learn about Indian culture, Indian ideals, Indian life... go with another company. If you want to rant about all the problems with the USA, feel belittled and like everything you do in your life is wrong, (and explore some of India), go with Carpe Diem.

What would you improve about this program?
Carpe Diem should focus on letting students develop their own ideas in the places they travel, having to do with the cultural and personal experiences they have. They also need better itineraries and more sophisticated group leaders.
Response from Carpe Diem Education

We are sorry to hear that this was your experience with Carpe Diem. We are committed to providing our students with meaningful experiences designed to challenge perspectives, foster personal growth and cultivate a sense of global citizenship. We welcome feedback in order to learn from challenging situations in order to continually improve our organization and practices for future students.

Throughout the enrollment process we provide students with information about what to expect while traveling with Carpe Diem, a tentative itinerary (subject to change) and guidance on how to best prepare and pack for a semester with us. Our cell phone and wifi device policy is communicated to students on our application, during the interview process, in pre-semester materials and through a phone call with our Overseas Educators in the days leading up to departure. This policy is designed to empower students to be present while traveling and to foster a stronger sense of community within the program. 

The theme of the India program was Spirituality & Climate Change so the Spring 2020 group was involved in hands-on projects directly related to sustainability. During a portion of the program, students participated in physical tasks designed to bring the community together in a common goal and to foster a sense of teamwork and group/community cohesion through shared effort and experience. Students typically participate in hands-on work for 4.5-6 hours per day, with ample time for breaks to ensure access to rest, food, proper hydration, application of sunscreen, etc.

The Spring 2020 semester was cut short due to Coronavirus and while our paperwork states that program tuition is non-refundable, we chose to provide a partial refund to all families. The refund amount was calculated based on pre-paid program expenses such as payments to host organizations, salaries for our field staff, and other pre-paid operating costs. 

We are committed to the health and safety of our students and to provide the best international experience possible. We are open to scheduling a time to discuss your experience with Carpe Diem further. If you would like to schedule a conversation, please contact Anne Koenning, Executive Director of Enrollment & Operations.

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Kippie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

AWESOME GAP SEMESTER!

I had an incredible semester with Carpe in India. My leaders were incredible- they met each one of us where we were at and helped us grow in our own ways. They showed us that they weren't necessarily that different than us, they just had developed their critical thinking, problem solving, and emotional inteligence and were ready to help us grow in those ways. The program not only employed leaders and staff that are more than competent, but their relations with members of the community is incredible. My leaders knew many of the people we were staying with from previous years which was very special. We were able to work with organizations that would otherwise be difficult to get in touch with and were very special grassroots organizations. Carpe gave me a very unique experience, one that was very far from being a tourist.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
A week long silent meditation and yoga retreat! I overcame it by letting myself let anything happen! I got really into meditation and went through a ton of pages in my journal :)
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Charlotte
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Wonderful Semester Abroad

I recommend Carpe Diem to anyone interested in taking a Gap Year. The organization was so supportive my whole trip, and my time in India was amazing. The semester was fun and challenging in all the right ways, filled with volunteer work, a trek in the Himalayas, yoga, and a lot of learning about the culture. I felt safe every moment and would go back if I could and do the whole thing over again. If you are thinking about going abroad to India do it, and do it with Carpe Diem! You won’t regret it.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
My advice to any future travelers is try to have as little expectations as you can and have an open mind. It will make your trip so much smoother and enjoyable.
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Isadora
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

One of the best decisions you'll make

I chose India because it scared me. Traveling to a place that is so foreign for 3 months, without a phone, with a group of 11 other strangers, seems extremely daunting. However, I knew that taking the leap of faith would make me grow. And to say that it did is an understatement. If you want to learn the tools to live a more fulfilling life, develop a worldview, and be exposed to the inequalities that we are often sheltered from, then Carpe Diem is the program for you. The wisdom and lessons I gained have made me a more compassionate and open-minded individual. The way they organize the trip makes you feel like you are immersing yourself in the culture, rather than just being a tourist. We were lucky enough to learn about meditation and Buddhism from the Dalai Lama in his temple. We practiced our Hindi with vibrant kids living in slums. We ate our way through all of the samosa, thali, and chai shops. None of that would have happened without Carpe Diem's longlasting connections to the communities and people of India. The 11 other people in my group also became the most inspiring community I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. We laughed till our stomachs hurt, danced with locals, cried, loved, meditated, and grew together. After 3 years, we still keep in contact because the connections made will truly last a lifetime. I can't recommend this program enough! Take the leap of faith!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Carpe Diem asks you to bring a journal to write your day to day life during your trip. I put a lot of effort into describing my feelings, experiences, and people I have met along the way. I reread this journal to ground me when I feel overwhelmed, lost, or need to be transported back to the best time of my life. It is the most sentimental thing I own and if my house was on fire, it would be the one possession I save. PLEASE try to pour as much detail and emotions as you can onto those pages, you will thank yourself immensely.
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Zevi
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best 3 months of my life!

Nothing brings a smile quicker to my face than when I recount the amazing time I had during my 3 months I spent in India. My overseas educators were incredibly fun and caring people who helped shape my experience more than I could ever thank them for. I immediately felt comfortable with the community of our group. Some of the memories that stick out the most are: visiting the Taj Mahal, eating lots and lots of thali and trekking at the foothills of the Himalayas. I am incredibly grateful for being able to go to India through Carpe Diem. Absolutely no regrets!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
The most surprising thing I did was decide to become a vegetarian after volunteering at the 8 day compassionate living workshop at Dharmalaya Institute during the last month. I never pictured myself doing that because I have loved meat my whole life. I believe it is important to keep an open mind because our beliefs can change even when we do not ever think it can happen.