Carpe Diem Education | India Semester: Spirituality & Service

Video and Photos

Himalayas
Himalayas
Our group
Our group
Rishikesh
Rishikesh
Taj Mahal
Varanasi

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.

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.
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

Accepting Applications Now for Fall 2019 & Spring 2020 Semesters and the Latitudes Year!

How will you Carpe Diem? Explore our gap year and semester programs in eight global regions in 2019 - 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 11 reviews
  • Housing 9.4
  • Support 10
  • Fun 9.5
  • Value 9.8
  • Safety 9.7
Showing 1 - 11 of 11
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Tucker
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Mind-Blowing India!

My semester in India was the most incredible experience of my life! A few years ago I completed at NOLS course and during that trip I wrote in my journal that my next dream was to go to India. After completing two years of college I was ready to make that dream a reality. I considered another NOLS course but wanted a bigger experience that included being a part of another culture. After a ton of research the Carpe Diem program was the standout because it combined adventure travel with volunteerism and homestays. We traveled far and wide by plane, bus, train and tuk tuks; we saw everything from the craziness of the cities to the wide-open peace of the mountains; we ate every kind of Indian food imaginable and street food was our favorite; we volunteered for amazing organizations like Mother Theresa's Home in Kolkata, a school called SECMOL high in the Himalayas, and an organic farm; we traveled to the most amazing ancient places; and we worked as a group and learned to support and love each other. Every sense - sight, sound, touch and smell - was stimulated beyond belief. It was MIND BLOWING!!!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
I would tell anyone that this is not a cushy vacation type trip. You will be challenged in so many ways. You will have to learn to deal with other people, you will be in uncomfortable situations like trying to understand a different language and a different culture, you will be squished into buses, trains and tuk tuks, you will see some rough things, you will taste and smell some crazy things... But you will also have an experience that will be life changing! You will think about your time in India for the rest of your life! I would go back in a minute!!!
Read my full story
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Isabel
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A Semester of Bliss

Traveling to India with Carpe Diem Education was definitely one of the best decision I have made in my life so far. India was a dream of mine for awhile and to be able to have had such an amazing trip is a blessing. The group of people I traveled with became my lifelong friends and my overseas educators became my lifelong role models. I knew I would get along with the group because out of the 327.2 million people in the US, 7 of us ended up in the same spot wanting the same thing. Anyways, having amazing people in my group was just the icing on the cake, as for my experience in India is something I can never forget. The itinerary was beautifully thought out and we did so many enriching activities. We were always volunteering in multiple different cities and states, participating in challenging activities to push our limits to achieve a better you, such as an living ashram life on the Ganges river or trekking along the Himalayas. We ate the most amazing food in some of the highest quality restaurants and as well as at the best street vendors, we became best friends with the contacts Carpe had out there, and were just be able to be living in the moment everyday so easily. Carpe Diem made sure we were experiencing as much as we could while focusing on the importance of education. I loved India and everything about it. I think about the trip all the time and can not wait until I can make my way back out there. With that being said I highly recommend this trip and to those who have read this far I hope you choose this program and have the best time! :)

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
This food isn't super unfamiliar but it was the best thing I had on the trip. I was so obsessed with them, that for a week I ate them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They are called Momos, they are a Tibetan dish that are kind of similar to dumplings, but a million times better. The city they are most present at is, Mcleod Ganj. So if you are there make SURE to try them!
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Hannah
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The best way to educate!

I traveled to India with Carpe Diem Education the fall after I graduated high school. It was my first time out of the country, away from my family, volunteering abroad, etc. and I could not have asked for a better experience. The things you learn by just getting outside and getting out of your comfort zone are beyond anything I ever learned in a classroom. And by having this educational experience that was so hands on and beneficial to me, it helped my to grow a new outlook and mindset that prepared me to learn again in the more traditional settings. I learned how to make the most of my opportunities, how to be appreciative and learn from ever experience good and bad, and I learned the power of gratitude. If your looking for to take a gap year before you venture into college I would definitely recommend taking a trip with Carpe Diem. It will prepare you for your adult life in ways you didn’t think you needed to be prepared. As for the semester in India specifically; I couldn’t think of a better place to learn about culture and ways of life in places different from what we’re used to in the US. You will travel to endlessly diverse places that are beyond rich in culture.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Go into this opportunity with enthusiasm and an open mind. Be prepared to make friends you will value for a lifetime. Be prepared to get into u comfortable situations be that trying a new food, trying to speak to someone with a language barrier, or your first time using a squat toilet, and be prepared to come out of those situations stronger, wiser, and happier. Ask lots of questions and take lots of pictures. Be curious! This isn’t just an opportunity to go overseas or to take a trip somewhere pretty. This is a chance to grow and learn while being guided by incredibly knowledgeable, talented, and friendly educators. It’s really the opportunity of a lifetime and I’d encourage anyone interested in taking it to take it with a smile and an open mind. You’ll leave with a brighter brain and a fuller heart.
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Kari
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An unforgettable moment in life

India has overall impacted me so much in so many different ways. I got to travel in an unfamiliar place and manage to connect with the locals in India more than I do in the States. I always felt welcomed in every city that I visited and made a lot of new friends. The locals were all so nice and I didn't have to deal with as much of a language barrier than I expected. I was lucky enough to have two leaders that supported me the whole entire way. My leader Adam was amazing with his Hindi and really enjoyed conversating with the locals, whereas Rebecca is a foodie and showed everyone all the best food in India. I easily adapted to the food that I was unfamiliar with and completely fell in love with it. While traveling to the different cities in India, I got to learn a lot about the history of India and be able to adapt to different environments such as the village life, and living with homestays. I also go to visit one of the seven wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal and I got to go trekking up the Himalayas! Every moment of the trip was amazing and I hope to go back to India on my own one day.

What would you improve about this program?
I would've loved to experience a bit of South India as well.
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Paulo
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My Semester in India

My three months in India with Carpe turned out to be one of the most impactful experiences of my life, in every positive aspect. The decision to embark in this journey proved to be the right one. When the trip started and as we traveled along this expansive country, the level of organization and preparation the Carpe Diem Team had in place was truly professional and most of all: creative. The wide range and diverse assortment of activities we went through made every single day a whole different experience.

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to learn from two very experienced group leaders that had been through all corners of the world. Their wisdom guided me and all my team members through the wonderful country of India. Having these two teachers was beyond a blessing and their openness to share their knowledge of the world makes them to this day the best teachers I've ever had.

The reality is that traveling is not the easiest of tasks, and sometimes there will be moments where you will be tested and things could get difficult to manage, but it is in these moments that true growth happens. India was filled with character building experiences that allowed for the opportunity of growth. By the time our stay in this country finished I was very proud who me and my group members had become. What started out as a group of strangers quickly turned into a beautiful supportive family.

Carpe Diem did a wonderful job in teaching us students the ins and outs of traveling and how to make the most out of our travels. India taught us the beauty of spirituality and the extremes of life, from poverty to riches. All in all I couldn't of dreamed of a better experience.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Come with an open heart ready to learn and be surprised. And most importantly take advantage of every moment, because good times like these pass by really fast.
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Haley
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My Journey

So my Carpe Diem experience was truly remarkable. To say that my leaders were supportive would be a huge understatement. I had a lot of emotions to work through between the culture shock and terribly missing my long term boyfriend and they were constantly there for me through it all. Along with that on our huge hike into the Himalayas I struggled quite a bit as I’m over weight and not much of a hiker. My leaders had no problem staying back with me as I stopped and rested and took my sweet time. Through all the tears and frustration they were always there for me with a small and the best of advice. On top of it all they gave us all the tips and tricks to be able to travel independetly, safely and on a budget. This program was absolutely life changing and I wouldn’t change a single thing about it :)

What would you improve about this program?
I can’t think of anything. The only thing I didn’t like were a couple of my group members and in the end we all learned how to deal with one another
Willow
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

India

I have just returned from Carpe Diems India program and it was such a fulfilling experience. We traveled to so many places and in each place Carpe had set up wonderful programs to do and interesting people to meet. I felt very supported by the group and the overseas educators, and even when we faced challenges we were able to discuss and navigate them in a productive way. Also throughout the application process and then through the visa process the staff in Portland were very helpful and easy to reach.

Photo of Zoe McLeod
Zoe
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Very possibly the best three months of my life

My trip to India with Carpe Diem was easily one of the best decisions I have ever made. India is the most wonderful, confronting, crazy, fascinating and beautiful country I have ever been to, and I've been home for a week but I'm already missing it so much. I'm so glad I got to experience it with Carpe Diem. I don't believe I would have been able to have the same amazing opportunities and experiences if I was travelling on my own or with a tour group. For me it was a perfect balance between a community and independent experience, and I felt much more like a traveller than I did a tourist. I couldn't have asked for a better group or leaders and they truly became like family to me. I was able to grow and push myself so much as a person while feeling completely supported and safe, and the things i have learnt about myself and about the world I hope I never forget. Whether it was learning about Buddhism, Sikhism or Hinduism directly from people who practised them, trekking in the incredible Himalayas, dancing and having broken Hindi/English conversations with locals, volunteering, just exploring and so much more, every experience was impactful and rewarding in its own way. If you are thinking about applying, I honestly can't recommend it enough.

What would you improve about this program?
Everything was amazing and I don't have any complaints, but if I could say one thing it would be a little more time in places like Kolkata, Varanasi and Amritsar, in order to explore a bit more.
Colleen
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The Language of the World

As my group and I toured the grounds of the site where the Buddha attained enlightenment, I wandered off in search of something stimulating. Before I could get very far, a man grabbed me by the hand and started to pull me with him. In America, if a random man started pulling me with him, I'd probably freak out. But India is different. I had no concern for this man, but rather enjoyed his bold confrontation. He spoke no words to me as he led me to a bench and sat down. He gestured that I sit next to him. I did, and it became clear that he spoke no English and I spoke no Hindi. He calmly opened his book, started to read, and placed a croissant on my lap. I ate the croissant and sat next to him in silence. We sat there for maybe 20 minutes, saying and doing nothing. Every once in a while he would look at me a grin a toothless smile. I was having a blast. There was a mutual understanding between me and this man that could be felt and experienced without words. If you've ever read the alchemist, this is what I believe to be the language of the world. It's a feeling, an emotion, and an understanding in your soul. I have continued to carry on conversations in this language in my travels across India, to Tanzania, Europe, and even in the United States.
My gap year experience with Carpe Diem has solidified loose ends in my life. I am becoming the person I want to be from this experience. If you're looking for a sign to tell you to take a gap year then these words are for you; do it.

What would you improve about this program?
I wouldn't change a things, flaws are never really flaws
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Daphne
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Experience of a lifetime!

I learned so much from this program, my favorite parts were when we were close to Tibet where I learned all about Tibet and stayed with a wonderful host family. I also got blessed by the Dalai Lama and hiked the Himalayas. If you have the opportunity to do this program, why not? India is a beautiful place and a wonderful country where you get chances to take turns with responsibilities and learn what it is like to travel for future experience. This is not a normal study abroad where you go to class in France, Italy or the U.K. This is a program that will stretch you to the limits of what you thought was possible and leave you feeling confident. The leaders are great and very supportive and you get to bond with a group of people so closely its amazing. I urge anyone interested in this program to just do it, whats really holding you back?

What would you improve about this program?
I think if I had to change one thing it would be to stay in one place just a little bit longer. We weren't in one place for more than a week and that's a ton of time just traveling from one place to the next. I would have liked to get to know people in one spot for longer. But this is personal preference and it was nice to be able to see so many places in just 3 short months.
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Payton
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

If you're thinking India… GO.

I can't speak highly enough about my India experience with Carpe Diem Education. The program offered the perfect amount of independence and structure to where I felt completely supported at all times by my overseas educators and peers. The itinerary was incredible, allowing me to gain new perspectives and experience a lot of what India has to offer. From early morning temple visits with my host family in McLeod Ganj, to volunteering with disabled girls in Calcutta, my time in India was incredibly meaningful. The relationships I built with those in India as well as the members within my group are ones that will last a lifetime. Needless to say, I had so much fun as well. The energy was contagious and my OE's did a wonderful job of providing enough bonding initiatives to where we became family. India is beautiful, intense, overwhelming, exciting, thrilling, sad, inspiring, and everything in between. It is a phenomenal place that will push you outside your comfort zone, allowing you to develop and grow as an individual. I highly recommend this program to anyone looking for a challenging, engaging, and thrilling adventure.

Location

Location:
India
Currency:
Indian Rupee
Weather:
Jan-Mar
59 F / 50 F
Apr-Jun
104 F / 90 F
Jul-Sep
100 F / 86 F
Oct-Dec
93 F / 82 F
Airports:
Indira Gandhi International Airport
( DEL )
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport
( BOM )
Kempegowda International Airport
( BLR )

India is well known for the rapid growth that they have been experiencing. The economic growth and substantial changes to the infrastructure have made it possible for many cities to grow as travel destinations. Exploring India is inexpensive but rich in culture with big ticket attractions like the Taj Mahal to the taken-for-granted geography of the mountains, deserts, and beaches.

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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...