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Carpe Diem Education

COVID-19 Program Updates

Due to global health & safety concerns and travel restrictions related to the coronavirus, Carpe Diem Education has decided to offer flexible booking options for some of their upcoming programs. Learn more about COVID-19 updates to stay tuned regarding program information.


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 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 financial aid (FAFSA) are available on both our semester and year-long programs.

Expanded Refund Policy: Apply risk free until August 15th!

Now accepting applications for Fall 2020 semester programs and the 2020-2021 Latitudes Year.

If you apply for a Fall 2020 program, submit a deposit and decide on or before August 15th that you are not comfortable traveling for any reason, we will refund 100% of your deposit. There is no risk to you if you enroll in a program now and cancel by August 15th.

1529 N Killingsworth St
Portland, OR 97217
United States


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Yes, I recommend this program

I had an incredible semester with Carpe in India. My leaders were incredible- they met each one of us where we were at and helped us grow in our own ways. They showed us that they weren't necessarily that different than us, they just had developed their critical thinking, problem solving, and emotional inteligence and were ready to help us grow in those ways. The program not only employed leaders and staff that are more than competent, but their relations with members of the community is incredible. My leaders knew many of the people we were staying with from previous years which was very special. We were able to work with organizations that would otherwise be difficult to get in touch with and were very special grassroots organizations. Carpe gave me a very unique experience, one that was very far from being a tourist.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
A week long silent meditation and yoga retreat! I overcame it by letting myself let anything happen! I got really into meditation and went through a ton of pages in my journal :)
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Yes, I recommend this program

I recommend Carpe Diem to anyone interested in taking a Gap Year. The organization was so supportive my whole trip, and my time in India was amazing. The semester was fun and challenging in all the right ways, filled with volunteer work, a trek in the Himalayas, yoga, and a lot of learning about the culture. I felt safe every moment and would go back if I could and do the whole thing over again. If you are thinking about going abroad to India do it, and do it with Carpe Diem! You won’t regret it.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
My advice to any future travelers is try to have as little expectations as you can and have an open mind. It will make your trip so much smoother and enjoyable.
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Yes, I recommend this program

I chose India because it scared me. Traveling to a place that is so foreign for 3 months, without a phone, with a group of 11 other strangers, seems extremely daunting. However, I knew that taking the leap of faith would make me grow. And to say that it did is an understatement. If you want to learn the tools to live a more fulfilling life, develop a worldview, and be exposed to the inequalities that we are often sheltered from, then Carpe Diem is the program for you. The wisdom and lessons I gained have made me a more compassionate and open-minded individual. The way they organize the trip makes you feel like you are immersing yourself in the culture, rather than just being a tourist. We were lucky enough to learn about meditation and Buddhism from the Dalai Lama in his temple. We practiced our Hindi with vibrant kids living in slums. We ate our way through all of the samosa, thali, and chai shops. None of that would have happened without Carpe Diem's longlasting connections to the communities and people of India. The 11 other people in my group also became the most inspiring community I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. We laughed till our stomachs hurt, danced with locals, cried, loved, meditated, and grew together. After 3 years, we still keep in contact because the connections made will truly last a lifetime. I can't recommend this program enough! Take the leap of faith!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Carpe Diem asks you to bring a journal to write your day to day life during your trip. I put a lot of effort into describing my feelings, experiences, and people I have met along the way. I reread this journal to ground me when I feel overwhelmed, lost, or need to be transported back to the best time of my life. It is the most sentimental thing I own and if my house was on fire, it would be the one possession I save. PLEASE try to pour as much detail and emotions as you can onto those pages, you will thank yourself immensely.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Taking a gap year was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It gave me an opportunity to be constantly out of comfort zone, step away from my normal life, create connections, learn about things I never would have, and a lot more. The most important thing I learned was how to travel, and how to be safe. I recommend anyone looking at this to take a gap year, and I think anyone else who has taken a gap year would say the same. This applies especially if you are nervous or scared to take one. The best way to grow is to get out of your comfort zone. If you have the means, do it. You may never get another chance to do something like it again.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would probably pack a little differently. More socks and a really good pair of pants is what I needed. And I would do a better job eliminated anything that wasn’t a necessity.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Nothing brings a smile quicker to my face than when I recount the amazing time I had during my 3 months I spent in India. My overseas educators were incredibly fun and caring people who helped shape my experience more than I could ever thank them for. I immediately felt comfortable with the community of our group. Some of the memories that stick out the most are: visiting the Taj Mahal, eating lots and lots of thali and trekking at the foothills of the Himalayas. I am incredibly grateful for being able to go to India through Carpe Diem. Absolutely no regrets!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
The most surprising thing I did was decide to become a vegetarian after volunteering at the 8 day compassionate living workshop at Dharmalaya Institute during the last month. I never pictured myself doing that because I have loved meat my whole life. I believe it is important to keep an open mind because our beliefs can change even when we do not ever think it can happen.


Displaying 1 - 9 of 9
Carpe Diem Education
Carpe Diem Education | Central America Semester: Sustainability & Spanish Immersion
Multiple Countries
9.64 •22 reviews

Learn about Sustainability and immerse yourself in Spanish language...

Carpe Diem Education
Carpe Diem Education | South Pacific Semester: Environmental Conservation & Leadership
Multiple Countries
9.35 •20 reviews

Study environmental conservation and leadership all within the...

17 new reviews
Carpe Diem Education
Carpe Diem Education | India Semester: Spirituality & Service
9.94 •17 reviews

Discover the incredible depth and diversity of India. Witness how...

15 new reviews
Carpe Diem Education
Carpe Diem Education | East Africa Semester: Community Development and Education
Multiple Countries
9.8 •15 reviews

Practice community service and international development in the...

10 new reviews
Carpe Diem Education
Carpe Diem Education | South America Semester: Spanish Immersion & Conservation
Multiple Countries
9.8 •10 reviews

Trek to the sprawling Incan ruins at Machu Picchu and try your hand at...

9 new reviews
Carpe Diem Education
Carpe Diem Education | Southeast Asia Semester: Human Rights & Cultural Exchange
Multiple Countries
9.78 •9 reviews

Study Human Rights and Cultural Exchange with a community of students...

Carpe Diem Education
Carpe Diem Education | Spain & Morocco Semester: Human Migration & Language Study
Multiple Countries
8.8 •5 reviews

Learn about Human Migration, and immerse yourself in Spanish & Arabic...

Carpe Diem Education
Latitudes Gap Year: Group Semester & Focused Volunteer Placement
Multiple Countries
9.75 •4 reviews

Choose one of our 3-month group semesters during the fall (India...

Carpe Diem Education
Carpe Diem Education | Semester in the Borderlands
United States of America
New Program

The theme of the Semester in the Borderlands is "borderlands studies &...

Alumni Interviews

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

Annika Gregg

Annika graduated high school in 2019 and chose to take a gap year to travel, volunteer, and study Spanish. Her home state is Massachusetts.

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.

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.

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