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Carpe Diem Education

About

Experiential education. Community. Intercultural exchange.

We connect deeply with our global communities and travel with purpose and intention. Our students redefine what it means to embark on a meaningful gap year abroad. Learn a new language, live with a host family, and participate in a volunteer project—all while earning college credit—on a gap year or three-month semester around the world.

Join our small groups in Hawai'i, Italy & Greece, India & Nepal, Southeast Asia, South America, Central America, and the South Pacific.

Ready to extend your learning journey? Our year-long Latitudes program allows you to choose one of our group semesters in the fall, followed by a three-month focused volunteer placement in the spring.

College credit and scholarships are available on both our semester and year-long programs.

Scholarships

Carpe Diem Education Scholarships

Carpe Diem Education awards $30,000 annually to support diversity and inclusion in its programs. The Access Scholarship provides up to $5,000 for a gap year semester or full-year experience. The Inclusion Scholarship offers up to $2,000 for a gap year semester. The Carpe Mundi Scholarship is for Portland-based students. Grants are mostly need-based, and applications open in January.

Reviews

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Jade
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

SoPac '22

Going on this amazing adventure with Carpe Diem was life changing! From the places we went to the people we met as contacts, this trip had a huge positive impact on me. From the moment I set foot in Australia, I learned so much about myself, the environment and the people around me. These past three months have opened my eyes to a different way of life, and helped me grow exponentially! Carpe Diem did an amazing job helping me prepare for the trip and my Oversea Educators were so welcoming from the start. All contacts that Carpe have are so insightful and you can make real connections with. From Claire and Marcus at Sheoak Ridge to Tiaki in Whangaroa you will learn about environmental conservation, but you will also learn things that you could never learn in a typical school environment. The Walkabout group and experiences we had will always stay with me, this trip wasn't just a vacation it was an immersive experience and I'm so happy I went with Carpe Diem!

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Ukiah
4/5
Yes, I recommend this program

A Semester of Self Reflection

While attending Carpe Diem’s Hawaii Gap Semester program, I learned about a lot of different topics. We learned about things from history to permaculture, but the most important/unexpected? I learned about myself! This program gave me space to reflect deeply about my values in life and gave me clarity about my future plans. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to travel to this beautiful place, be so immersed in the natural world, learn about the culture and history and make friends as I did it.

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Anne
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Italy/Greece Fall Semester

I loved my experience in Italy and Greece! I realized by the end of the trip that I had learned and grown so much every day, even in small ways. I loved experiencing it with a group of like-minded individuals and I loved meeting so many other people on the trip, from sustainable farmers to tour guides to volunteers. There were so many experiences I had that I would have never expected to have in my lifetime, and although there were good and bad personal days, getting to travel around Italy and Greece for two months brought daily joy into my life.

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Mats
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

The best decision I’ve ever made

I took the Central America program this Fall and
think it was the best decision, I've ever made.
had so much fun, laughed so much every day,
learned so much about Guatemalas history and
the United States' impact on the Guatemalan
politics. And really got to know the Guatemalan
culture in homestay and interactions with local
and sustainable organizations like farms and
green construction NGOs.
Being with the group was pure enjoyment, I
made so many (life long) friends.
If you are ready to Step out of your comfort
zone and explore so much new and strange
things, culture, language and life, take a Carpe
Diem program.

Pros
  • Group dynamics/making friends
  • Experience a new culture
  • Learn spanish
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Danica
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

The BEST Two Months of My Life!

Carpe Diem changed my life for the better. My semester in Southeast Asia truly was the best time of my life. I experienced so many things that I would have never been able to do had I not found Carpe. For instance building mud bricks, staying at a hill tribe, or eating lunch in a tiny hut on a mountain of rice fields. My expectations were exceeded and I learned so much about myself as a traveler. The friends I have made on this trip are amazing and truly some of the best people I have ever met. I couldn’t recommend it more highly.

Pros
  • Once in a lifetime experiences
  • Genuine connection with people

Programs

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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Why did you choose this program?

I chose Carpe Diem after looking at many different gap year programs because I could see that the goals of the program matched my own goals.

I wanted to be able to travel and see new incredible parts of the world while also learning and volunteering to help the communities around me. The goals of the Central America program specifically surrounding sustainability interested me a lot because I wanted to learn more about climate change and what we can do in our own lives to lessen our negative impact.

I also wanted to study Spanish in a more immersive environment and this program gave me excellent opportunities to do that.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

I was assisted in booking international flights and also we were all given helpful information such as packing lists and tips on what to expect. Almost all of the trip was planned for us except for the one week of student-directed travel which we all worked together to plan on our own.

This experience showed me how difficult it can be to make travel plans but also gave me valuable skills for when I want to travel more on my own in the future.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

To anyone interested in this program, I would suggest that they start learning a bit of Spanish beforehand if they don't already know any. I had taken high school Spanish for a few years before this trip and personally I felt that it helped me to enjoy the program even more because I felt more immersed in the local culture. Along with that, take advantage of the Spanish classes that we have throughout the trip for the same reason.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

Every single week was quite different actually but in general, we had three different types of days/weeks: Spanish classes, working with projects/organizations, or group work (either teambuilding or adventure).

During Spanish classes, there would be four to five hours of classes a day and then free time with group activities. When we were working with projects every day varied, sometimes we had a lot more free time, other days we would have activities most of the day.

Group days were also widely varied with lots of different activities depending on our location, from yoga and meditation to kayaking or scuba diving.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear was about being so far away from everyone and everything that I knew. I was scared I would end up being really homesick, but in reality, there were only a few times where I missed home and even then the group started to feel like a second family so I could talk to my friends and I was never feeling down for long.

I think this was such a fear because I was worried I wouldn't bond with my group but I was so wrong about that. Everyone ended up bonding relatively quickly and we remained a close-knit group (with only a few normal problems or disagreements here and there) throughout the trip!

Do you think this experience was meaningful/worth it?

At first, another of my worries was that I would come back from the trip and feel like I had gone on a fun adventure but that I was falling behind all my classmates that had gone to college.

This could not be further from how it turned out. I am so glad that I chose to take a gap year and this program in particular because it helped me to see the world with a widened perspective. This is so valuable to me now that I am making decisions about where I want to go to college and what I want to study.

The trip also greatly enhanced my self-reliance and independence, which is something that has also already made an impact on how I live my day to day life.

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Doug Zaideman

Job Title
Latitudes Year Coordinator
Doug grew up with a great appreciation for the outdoors and experiential education. He liked it so much, he made it a career, and after several seasons working in the field as an Overseas Educator with Carpe Diem Education, Doug now serves as their Latitudes Year Coordinator, finding students internship and volunteer opportunities around the globe.
Doug Zaideman

What is your favorite travel memory?

On my 30th birthday, while leading a program in Mozambique, my group's boat stumbled upon a manta ray feeding frenzy. In we jumped! After about 20 minutes in the water with the rays, a big ol' whale shark cruised up and joined in on the fun. I had never seen such an enormous, yet calm and peaceful creature before in my life.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

Carpe Diem has taught me to be a more patient, compassionate and understanding person. The vast amount of cultures and communities I have been introduced to whilst working for Carpe Diem has given me inspiration unlike anything I've ever felt. I feel like I appreciate things more, and am quicker to vocalize that as well. Above all, the amazing friendships with people from all over the world that have come as a result from working for Carpe Diem have been the best icing on the cake.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

Whenever a former student reaches out to me, it usually makes my day. "Doug, thank for being a great role model."

Whoa! Did that student realize they just made me want to cry? Some of the kindest, most powerful things ever said to me have been from past students on how our trip together changed their lives for the better or that I somehow had a positive influence on their future. I don't even think they realize it when they say things like that, but it's the best feeling in the world and makes me want to keep making a positive difference in the world however I can.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

Carpe Diem's group semester to India. Maybe it's because it was the most recent trip I led in the field, or maybe it's because the program strikes such a great balance in exploring one of the richest, most diverse countries in the world. Learning and discovering about all of the different languages, religions, environments, sights, smells, and tastes India has to offer is an otherworldly experience. The warmth and hospitality that people showed us throughout our stay has me dreaming and scheming of how I can make it back there as soon as possible!

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

What stands out to me about Carpe Diem is COMMUNITY. Whether it be our HQ team in Portland, our groups out in the field, or the people and places our trips visit, when you are with Carpe Diem you are with family.

In addition, the way our programs transfer ownership to the students throughout the trip is unlike any organization I've worked with before. Our Student Directed Travel aspect of a group semester is always one of my favorite weeks on a group semester. When I see a group of students work together to make the most of their experience, it makes me proud of the work we are doing.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

When you are able to assemble a team of people that are all passionate and excited to fulfill a company's mission, you are on the right track. What has always stood out to me about the Carpe Diem team is that there is always so much support for all of the employees, students and their families. It feels great to be part of an organization that strives to create the best experience possible for every person affiliated with the program.

Professional Associations

Gap Year Association Logo
USA Gap Year Fairs Logo