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Carpe Diem Education

Why choose Carpe Diem Education?

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, UK & the Netherlands, 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.


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.

Diversity & Inclusion

BIPOC Support

We recognize that we are a long way from the diversity we aim for within our students, staff, and partners. We want and need more diversity to truly become the organization we would like to be. We recognize that this will not happen overnight or without dedicating time, attention, and resources. To that end, we have created a strategic plan to address our current shortfalls and to make significant improvements, which you can see on our Diversity & Inclusion page.

LGBTQIA+ Support

Neurodivergent Support

At Carpe Diem, each applicant reads through our extensive Essential Eligibility Criteria prior to enrollment. This criteria allows applicants to determine if the organization is an appropriate fit for their gap semester/year goals and their individual needs. During the interview and application process, we have honest and direct conversations with students and families about the support that our staff is able to provide throughout the program experience. We are committed to creating a culture of acceptance and support. To that end, our Overseas Educators and local leaders are selected for their skill in group facilitation and promoting inclusive group dynamics.

Accessibility Support

At Carpe Diem, each applicant reads through our extensive Essential Eligibility Criteria prior to enrollment. This criteria allows applicants to determine if the organization is an appropriate fit for their gap semester/year goals and their individual needs. We have honest and open conversations with applicants about our ability to support individual needs on each program, with the ultimate goal of a healthy and successful experience for all students. In the past, we have worked with students with severe allergies, diabetes, chronic injuries, and mental health diagnoses. We know each student's journey is individual and we work with families to support these individual needs where possible to help determine if the program is a good fit for their gap semester goals.



We are committed to maximizing the net positive impact while minimizing the carbon footprint of every program. In our office, on our programs, and through our carbon offset match, our programs are geared toward environmental education to empower future leaders to move their communities to take action. During our programs, students learn more about their impact as individuals and a travel community - then take a solution-oriented lens to tackling key issues. We also contribute to and amplify the voices of organizations and partners who focus on permaculture, natural building, and sustainable solutions.

Ethical Impact

Our programs are designed to connect to our local communities and provide reciprocal exchange and engagement. Through engaging in experiential education, community engagement, and intercultural exchange, our students develop enhanced perspectives, deeper cultural understanding, and a profound sense of self-discovery and personal growth. We work with vetted local providers to build their businesses as they provide value to our students and programming. With our homestay families, we ensure we minimize our footprint by regularly rotating the communities we work with and evaluating our social impact alongside their community leaders.


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Yes, I recommend this program

The Best Two Months of my Life!!!!

The eight weeks I spent with Carpe Diem in Italy and Greece was the best experience of my life and the best decision I have ever made. Our program leaders (shoutout Megan and Ariana) were the absolute greatest people ever and made our trip as easy and enjoyable as it could have been. All the places we went, from Rome and Athens to rural Tuscany and the Peloponnese, were so amazing and fun. However, my favorite part of traveling with Carpe Diem was the people we met. Carpe Diem has partners located across both countries in every place we stayed. They are such incredible, interesting people with different backgrounds and inspiring stories. Overall, in every aspect, my semester with Carpe Diem was everything I could've hoped for and more. I would strongly recommend this program, as it will teach you many valuable lessons, have you coming out as a better version of yourself, and give you experiences you would never have otherwise.

What was your funniest moment?
As a group, we had so many hilarious moments that had my stomach hurting from all the laughter. A general funny moment that stands out is the second-hand embarrassment I felt from seeing all the tourists taking pictures of themselves "holding up" the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
  • Immense opportunities/causes for self-growth and eye-opening new perspectives
  • Some of the funniest times you will ever have
  • Incredible, inspiring, interesting people from all over the world you meet along the way
  • Three weeks without technology can be tough at times, but it is actually very rewarding/enjoyable and facilitates group bonding
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Yes, I recommend this program

Hawai’i Spring 2023

I just came back from the hawai’i aloha spring semester 2023. Fricking amazing. I wanted a program that I would be able to camp, learn about the environment, learn some sustainable solutions for the planet, go to a cool place, and make friends. I did all of that and more. I grew so much on this program (emotionally). We had a rough start because of weather, however I felt the instructors did a great job with keeping us safe, happy, and having a good time. We got to work with so many contacts carrying in race, philosophy, goal, gender,…. I learned life lessons, made some of the best memories of my life, snorkeled in some of the clearest waters of my life (saw 2 sharks!), did an awesome hike, visited multiple national parks, and grew to absolutely love working with dirt even though I wasn’t a fan before. Even though I definitely had my struggles on the program, went through rough patches and struggled, I came through to be a new person with a new perspective on the world. Thank you carpe diem for helping me figure out a little bit of what I want to do and who I want to be! Recommend!!!!

  • Learning so much about yourself
  • Spending a lot of time under water
  • Educating yourself on the planet
  • OE’s only meet each other like 2 weeks before program
  • Living communally can be hard sometimes
  • Food isn’t great
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Yes, I recommend this program

Guatemala and Costa Rica semester

This is an unforgettable experience that promotes education, adventure, immersion, and more. You get to experience the world through a whole different lens. You connect with nature, the community, and your teachers in school. The scuba certification was one of the greatest experiences I’ve had. The different species of fish, the many turtles, and the sharks were breathtaking. Costa Rica was really the sight for wildlife we got to see a number of sloths, monkeys, and anteaters! I 100% recommend carpe diem

  • Leadership skills
  • Social skills
  • Friendships
  • Bugs
  • Illness
  • Sunburns
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Yes, I recommend this program

My time in Guatemala and Costa Rica with Carpe Diem Education

This was an amazing program for me as I wanted to get more accustomed to traveling on my own. The student directed travel week was great and allowed me to do that in making plans with a group within a specific budget. The weeks were planned out well, we had an amazing balance of fun activities, volunteer work, and Spanish classes. I loved this program because it took me to parts of the country I might not have visited as a traditional tourist and really allowed me to experience these cultures in an enriching safe and educational way.

  • Learn how to travel while young
  • Group dynamic having people always there to hang out with
  • Diversity in itinerary, getting to experience lots of different environments and living situations
  • Very scheduled, not lots of free time or down time
  • Costly, could travel myself for cheaper but good price when compared to other programs
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Yes, I recommend this program

Carpe Diem

I am very thankful to have been on this trip. Everything about it was amazing. Every step that our group took on this trip has been unforgettable. From going all around Guatemala and then spending two weeks in Costa Rica was truly a once in a lifetime experience. On this trip I have changed so much and I saw things that I didn’t know was there. I am very grateful to Carpe Diem for having a trip of this magnitude and I recommend this trip to anyone that loves nature and someone that wants to grow a different perspective on the world and seeing a different side than what you are currently in. It has impacted me forever.

  • You will grow a lot
  • You will have lots of fun
  • You will meet new people
  • You will be sleeping outside
  • You won’t have internet for some weeks
  • weather is on and off


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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

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