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Carpe Diem Education

About

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 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.

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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Cooper
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Aloha experience

I came into this trip very hesitant because I wanted to just be in college like my friends. After the first two days, I knew I was going to enjoy it. I became really good friends with certain people and as the semester went on, that bond expanded to the whole group. I have a deep love for the ocean and being on this trip just helped support it. There is a good chunk of surfing which was amazing. Living in a group can be stressful at times but I felt as if I learned so much more with that aspect. I wish I could do it again.

What would you improve about this program?
One of the rules was no cliff jumping and that really stunk. We saw a lot of fantastic spots and we were not allowed to do it. It’s a very small and irrelevant thing but it would’ve been a ton of fun.
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Vivienne
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Incredible Trip!

I’m so thankful for this experience because the collection of local contacts allowed me to experience and interact with a variety of unique perspectives and lifestyles that I otherwise would have never been able to encounter. I feel that in particular this experience was perfect for the transition between high school and college and adulthood because it opened my eyes to a plethora of different future paths and highlighted my values in a profound way. I loved all of the group members and leaders, and I felt that it was such a supportive community where I could try new things and challenge myself without judgment. The OEs did a fantastic job supporting us and I felt like I learned so much about travel from both of them.

What would you improve about this program?
If I were to change anything about the program, I would have us spend more time on the farms and in rural areas. While our time in the cities was wonderful and we were able to see and do incredible things, I loved getting to be immersed in the communities on the farms and connecting with people there because it was a great way to hear different perspectives and get an authentic experience with the local culture. I would’ve loved more time to really integrate into the pace in those communities and deepen those connections.
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David
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An unforgettable experience

This truly is a once in a lifetime opportunity. It’s difficult to really put into words how greatly this trip impacted me. When I found out I wasn’t starting college until January, I was really anxious about what I was going to do until then. This trip exceeded all of my expectations and completely changed my perspective on life. Both of my OE’s were very supportive of me and structured the program very well. It was the first time I felt like I was surrounded by people with the same mindset as me. It was such a refreshing and enlightening experience. The highlight of the itinerary was easily the time spent in local communities in the countryside. This is where we learned the most and got to meet the most people. If you’re thinking of doing this trip next semester, GO FOR IT!!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
At a farm in Matera, Italy, we had the opportunity to interact with a lot of volunteers from around Europe. At the end of our stay, we ended up cooking a huge Thanksgiving feast for all of them. It was their first time participating in a Thanksgiving celebration and it was just a beautiful moment watching all of us from around the world eat delicious food and share our gratitudes with each other.
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Chloe
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

10/10

I wasn’t sure exactly sure what I was getting myself into I kinda just picked Greece and Italy cause it looked dope but Boy howdy was I impressed! You do so much on this trip it’s nonstop you’ll be hiking in the beautiful mountains of Italy, swimming in the good-looking Mediterranean Sea, and getting hands on real farm experiences. And some days you might just be hanging w local contacts/new friends. Choosing to go on this trip was one of the best decisions of my life! Take a chance do it Kaliméra

What was your funniest moment?
Funnest moment when we were in Greece we decided to make up a Greek tragedy/performance and showed it off to people we meet how to b there haahha
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Clementine
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing Experience !

I loved my gap year semester trip. I was definitely not expecting to make so many deep connections with the other American students let alone all the wonderful local contacts we met. Everyone was so welcoming and enthusiastic about being where we were. I particularly enjoyed the farms and natural landscapes we got to live on. Whoever was hosting us made us feel like part of the community. My group OE leaders made me feel supported and heard, plus we had loads of fun with them. Greece, the island of Crete, felt like a dream. We stayed in a beautiful mountain village overlooking the sea. There is so much more I could say-If you’re not looking for a traditional school experience, this is for YOU.

What would you improve about this program?
To improve this program I would have more time out of the cities and stay places for longer periods of time to get adjusted.

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