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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 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.

Currently offering semester programs in the US Borderlands, Hawai'i Italy & Greece, Spain & Morocco, India, 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.


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Yes, I recommend this program

Beautiful place, beautiful people, beautiful experience!!

Going into my Hawai'i semester with Carpe Diem I wasn't sure what to expect- it was a new program and many of my past plans this year had already been cancelled. What came of the semester was the most transformative and beautiful two months I ever could have asked for.
Learning from Hawaiian natives about Hawaiian sovereignty, practicing earth stewardship alongside my group, and getting to know the beautiful island of Maui are pieces of my experience I never want to forget along with so so many more. I am incredibly thankful to my OE's for being the warmest, most supportive, and caring people ever. My group truly became an 'Ohana throughout our semester and I feel so lucky to have learned from each one of them and call them all friends now.
The Carpe Diem Hawai'i semester was very intentionally planed and thought out. If you are passionate about the environment, social justice, or the outdoors it would be a mistake not to consider this program! :)

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Be open to every single opportunity that comes your way! You never know when digging a water trench is going to turn into a mud fight and the highlight of your week. Or when volunteering to harvest turmeric would lead to an atv ride though a bamboo forest. So many of my best memories came from having an open mind and saying yes!
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Yes, I recommend this program

The best out of the best

Omgggg literally life changing. The people the leaders the program structure everything about it was amazing.

At first it was scary. It was an unexpecting experience to take as a Muslimah but one that I’ll never forget. I found myself even more going on this trip. The food was amazing. The adventures were incomparable to the ones previously experienced prior to carpe.

I highly recommend this program to anyone. Great way to feel challenged (in a positive way of course), and develop growth in many levels

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Yes, I recommend this program

Enriching, Educational, and Authentic Hawaiian Experience

Wow! Where do I start. This trip was fantastic. Learning the importance of being a visitor instead of a tourist was a life lesson I would have never learned if I hadn’t travelled with Carpe Diem. You can tell how much effort the company puts into their programs. The leaders with this program make you feel safe and are people you can go to. They ended up being my favorite people on the trip too! 10/10 all around in my experience. Would recommend to anyone considering going on a gap semester trip.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
My advice to future travelers is to go into the trip with an enthusiastic attitude and you’ll get what you give to the experience.
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Yes, I recommend this program

10/10 Experience in Every Way!

My experience on Carpe’s Hawaii program during my gap year was nothing short of incredible. I can’t speak positively enough about my time on program. We had the opportunity to speak with many thoughtful and informative Maui natives and transplants to the island. Each of our work or learning experiences changed my perspective in a distinct way—from permaculture to land clearing to whales all of our programming was unique and engaging. My overseas educators were two of the most passionate, warm, and resourceful people I have been lucky enough to have as mentors. I miss the trip so much already!!

What was your funniest moment?
This trip held so much joy and I created countless happy and hilarious memories. A favorite was time spent in the vans driving to different locations on Maui. I loved dancing and singing with my peers with so much energy and having our overseas educators join in with us!
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Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing time in Hawaii with Carpe!

I left this trip completely changed. I was surrounded by people who were excited to learn and experience Hawaii with me. The trip was planned perfectly and we were constantly engaged with the land and people while having fun. Our leaders pushed us to adventure and try new things that have become some of my favorite memories. We farmed with an amazing community, surfed, swam in waterfalls, worked on conservation, and explored the island in meaningful ways. Being surrounded by love, I learned to see the positive in everything. There was never a moment that I wasn’t excited for our next task because I knew it was perfectly planned by Carpe for us to enjoy and learn. I completely shifted my mindset in Hawaii and am excited to take everything I learned about the environment, sustainability, and myself.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Be confident in yourself and who you are. You can be whoever makes you happy because everyone is there for the right reason. Everything is designed for your benefit and it will be amazing if you are ready to have fun. I learned it is impossible to complain while in Hawaii and it will be the happiest 2 months.


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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