Carp Diem Education Logo

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.

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 the US Borderlands, 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, scholarships, and financial aid (FAFSA) are available on both our semester and year-long programs.

Limited Space Available on our Fall 2020 US Borderlands program!

Now accepting applications for our Fall 2020 domestic program: Semester in the Borderlands and Spring 2021 international programs!

Join us in the Borderlands this fall to learn more about the issues facing communities along the U.S.-Mexico border. Discover the role that climate change plays in current and future decision-making and the degree to which political boundaries impact the lives of people and communities on both sides of the border.
Founded
2007
Headquarters

1529 N Killingsworth St
Portland, OR 97217
United States

Reviews

Default avatar
Jahmeil
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This trip was full of exciting experiences and unique places, which are way more impactful in person than reading about it. To not take this opportunity will be one your life’s regrets, everyday there is different from the other. Everyday we would learn something new about the Indian culture through our travels and the people we would meet along the way. All while learning new perspectives and outlooks on life, a truly transformative experience. I highly recommend this trip!

However I implore you that this trip is not for everyone. Firstly there is the no phone rule which is a part of the program. In order to get students to be constantly engaged they ask that you do not bring a phone. For me personally, I found this was a welcome break from my everyday technology bombardments. I was a little skeptical at first but found my experience much better without my phone to distract me. If I had my phone, I would have missed small moments like seeing monkeys and animals alongside roadways. But do not worry you are allowed to take your cameras, and a small device capable of playing music if you want.

On this program you will be engaging in numerous voluntary activities, which includes a lot of hard work, but you will be working with your group. That way you have support and can have fun working among friends. You will be paired with two leaders, unlike other organizations, your leaders will be giving you a lot of freedom to explore once you have built trust and shown maturity. Most of the trip will be planned ahead of time, however in one section your group will be given the opportunity to choose their next destination. For me personally this trip has taught me numerous life lessons. The one that stands out for me the most is to not overthink life but live life in the moment as everyday is completely different from the other. This trip is what you make of it, if you put an effort out to engage in the activities, I promise you it will be worth your time and money.

Default avatar
Jahmeil
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This trip was full of exciting experiences and unique places, which are way more impactful in person than reading about it. To not take this opportunity will be one your life’s regrets, everyday there is different from the other. Everyday we would learn something new about the Indian culture through our travels and the people we would meet along the way. All while learning new perspectives and outlooks on life, a truly transformative experience. I highly recommend this trip!

However I implore you that this trip is not for everyone. Firstly there is the no phone rule which is a part of the program. In order to get students to be constantly engaged they ask that you do not bring a phone. For me personally, I found this was a welcome break from my everyday technology bombardments. I was a little skeptical at first but found my experience much better without my phone to distract me. If I had my phone, I would have missed small moments like seeing monkeys and animals alongside roadways. But do not worry you are allowed to take your cameras, and a small device capable of playing music if you want.

On this program you will be engaging in numerous voluntary activities, which includes a lot of hard work, but you will be working with your group. That way you have support and can have fun working among friends. You will be paired with two leaders, unlike other organizations, your leaders will be giving you a lot of freedom to explore once you have built trust and shown maturity. Most of the trip will be planned ahead of time, however in one section your group will be given the opportunity to choose their next destination. For me personally this trip has taught me numerous life lessons. The one that stands out for me the most is to not overthink life but live life in the moment as everyday is completely different from the other. This trip is what you make of it, if you put an effort out to engage in the activities, I promise you it will be worth your time and money.

Default avatar
Grace
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Although our trip was cut short because of COVID19, I still had a blast. I made a lot of friends whom I still talk to even after we returned home. My overseas educators Rebecca and Adam were so kind. They made sure we all felt comfortable, safe and supported while we were pushing our limits to what we had done before. I would recommend this trip to anyone, and I urge anyone who hasn’t been to India to go. The food was amazing, and gave me a whole other perspective of cuisine(I’m a foodie). Loved this trip so much.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
1. Relax and enjoy all that India has to offer.
2. Bring sun protection
3. Bring electrolytes. Odd but useful!
Default avatar
Emma
3/10
No, I don't recommend this program

Hello. My name is Emma and I was on the Spring 2020 Gap-mester program to India with Carpe Diem.
Short and simple: this program was nothing like I expected. I wish I had known better what I was getting into before I went, and I hope this review can serve as that info for other students.
Cons:
1. Flights- the layovers were terribly long and extremely uncomfortable and inconvenient. There was 0 reason that the layovers should've been so horribly planned.
2. No devices- the program allows no WiFi-compatible devices, even just for music and pictures. Music is a coping mechanism for me, so this rule was extremely hard. They don't even allow the devices with the WiFi disabled, and that shows no trust to their students and no cares about their students' needs. When I spoke to the program director about this issue, he offered no compassion and assumed a "you're wrong, I'm right" attitude.
3. The program leaders and directors- On that note, all of the staff of Carpe assumed the "you're wrong, I'm right" attitude about every. single. thing. I constantly felt belittled, berated and wrong.
4. The communication- the itinerary was extremely vague, the communications between me, my family and the program before going was super misleading and vague, and when we were abroad, the communication between our program leaders and my parents was pretty much nonexistent. My parents were worried about me the whole time, never knew where I was, never knew what was happening, and when they asked, they were shut down by the HQ staff in Portland. My parents were not even made aware when my entire group got scabies and had to evacuate our camp.
5. Child labor- What the program called "volunteering" and "learning about sustainability" was actually just unpaid labor without food. I worked many mornings in the hot sun without breakfast. The labor was actually not necessary either... it was actually pointless and did nothing for the environment or forestation.
6. Probably the worst thing about my trip- The complete and utter imposing of ideals and morals onto me and the other students. We were "learning" about sustainability and climate change, but what that actually meant was our leaders telling us that basically everything we were doing was wrong. They said, "Screw the USA, screw Trump, screw capitalism, screw globalism, screw commercialism, screw gas cars, screw non-vegans, screw everything remotely right leaning." As leaders, they should've let us explore India and come up with our own opinions and views on the world. Instead, they told us theirs, and if we disagreed, we were treated differently. I was treated like an outcast in so many situations because I was not vegan, because I drove a gas car, because I shopped at the mall, etc etc. I went to India to learn about India... instead I learned about super left-leaning ideals that had nothing to do with where we were and could've been taught in the USA.
7. Stole our money- When our trip got cancelled due to Coronavirus and we had to come home 2 months early, the $13,000 program refunded us $1,000. Yep. $1,000. The money definitely did not go to our trip because we were all living on less than $7 USD a day in India. The money went straight into the pockets of the program leaders and directors, and they feel no remorse about it, even when many of our families became unemployed with Coronavirus business shut-downs and needed that money.
8. Oh yeah- and my host mom stole money from my roommate and I.
Pros:
1. My group- many members of my group were awesome and we were all committed to making it a drama-free environment, which made it super fun in most cases.
2. The freedom- in a lot of places, we had a lot of freedom to kinda do whatever we wanted until we had to meet, or go to dinner, or something like that. It was fun to try and meet up with my peers and just explore.
3. *Some* of the places- I emphasize some because a lot of the places were a phenomenal waste of time (Sadhana Forest, Madurai, Proto Village) but Kochi, Munnar and Bangalore were all super awesome.
In conclusion, I wish I would've been more informed about what I was getting into. If you want to go to India to learn about Indian culture, Indian ideals, Indian life... go with another company. If you want to rant about all the problems with the USA, feel belittled and like everything you do in your life is wrong, (and explore some of India), go with Carpe Diem.

What would you improve about this program?
Carpe Diem should focus on letting students develop their own ideas in the places they travel, having to do with the cultural and personal experiences they have. They also need better itineraries and more sophisticated group leaders.
Response from Carpe Diem Education

We are sorry to hear that this was your experience with Carpe Diem. We are committed to providing our students with meaningful experiences designed to challenge perspectives, foster personal growth and cultivate a sense of global citizenship. We welcome feedback in order to learn from challenging situations in order to continually improve our organization and practices for future students.

Throughout the enrollment process we provide students with information about what to expect while traveling with Carpe Diem, a tentative itinerary (subject to change) and guidance on how to best prepare and pack for a semester with us. Our cell phone and wifi device policy is communicated to students on our application, during the interview process, in pre-semester materials and through a phone call with our Overseas Educators in the days leading up to departure. This policy is designed to empower students to be present while traveling and to foster a stronger sense of community within the program. 

The theme of the India program was Spirituality & Climate Change so the Spring 2020 group was involved in hands-on projects directly related to sustainability. During a portion of the program, students participated in physical tasks designed to bring the community together in a common goal and to foster a sense of teamwork and group/community cohesion through shared effort and experience. Students typically participate in hands-on work for 4.5-6 hours per day, with ample time for breaks to ensure access to rest, food, proper hydration, application of sunscreen, etc.

The Spring 2020 semester was cut short due to Coronavirus and while our paperwork states that program tuition is non-refundable, we chose to provide a partial refund to all families. The refund amount was calculated based on pre-paid program expenses such as payments to host organizations, salaries for our field staff, and other pre-paid operating costs. 

We are committed to the health and safety of our students and to provide the best international experience possible. We are open to scheduling a time to discuss your experience with Carpe Diem further. If you would like to schedule a conversation, please contact Anne Koenning, Executive Director of Enrollment & Operations.

Default avatar
Kippie
10/10
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 :)

Programs

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 | India Semester: Spirituality & Service
India
9.62 •21 reviews

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

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...

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...

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...

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

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

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.

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