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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 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.

Founded
2007
Headquarters

1529 N Killingsworth St
Portland, OR 97217
United States

Accepting Applications Now for Fall 2019 & Spring 2020 Semesters and the Latitudes Year!

How will you Carpe Diem? Explore our gap year and semester programs in eight global regions in 2019 - all while earning all while earning college credit!

Did you know we offer three different types of scholarships? Click the "Learn More" link below and discover how to make your gap year affordable.

Reviews

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Emily
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My gap year with Carpe Diem changed my life in more ways than I thought possible. My semester in India was definitely my favorite part and it impacted me the most. India is an amazing place with so much to offer. The program for the India semester really pushes you outside of your comfort zone, makes you content with the world around you, yourself, and others that are very different from you, and changes your perspective on just about everything. The volunteer work we did there was incredible, each location we went to was amazing, and all the activities we did will forever be memories I cherish. I miss my trip there so much!
My volunteer placement in Ollantaytambo, Peru was good too. It was not the best fit for me in terms of the work I was doing, but that was not Carpe Diem's fault. While I would definitely recommend going through Carpe Diem Education, I do not think I would recommend volunteering with Awamaki in Peru unless you are looking for computer work. My experience in Peru was still amazing, however. I got to work with indigenous Andean women, hiked and live in the Andes, make amazing friends, gain a lot of independence and confidence in myself, take weekend trips to the Amazon, Cusco, and other locations, and do a ten day trek in the most beautiful place on Earth. I don't think I would repeat my time in Peru with Awamaki, but Peru is definitely a great place to go.
Carpe Diem's programs are set up in an amazing way to get you the most cultural immersion, exposure to different views and lives, work toward your own personal goals, and allow you to grow as an individual separate from societal pressures. Their organization is designed to make you more independent, responsible, brave, and open-minded. Choosing Carpe Diem was the best decision I have ever made.

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

My semester in India was the most incredible experience of my life! A few years ago I completed at NOLS course and during that trip I wrote in my journal that my next dream was to go to India. After completing two years of college I was ready to make that dream a reality. I considered another NOLS course but wanted a bigger experience that included being a part of another culture. After a ton of research the Carpe Diem program was the standout because it combined adventure travel with volunteerism and homestays. We traveled far and wide by plane, bus, train and tuk tuks; we saw everything from the craziness of the cities to the wide-open peace of the mountains; we ate every kind of Indian food imaginable and street food was our favorite; we volunteered for amazing organizations like Mother Theresa's Home in Kolkata, a school called SECMOL high in the Himalayas, and an organic farm; we traveled to the most amazing ancient places; and we worked as a group and learned to support and love each other. Every sense - sight, sound, touch and smell - was stimulated beyond belief. It was MIND BLOWING!!!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
I would tell anyone that this is not a cushy vacation type trip. You will be challenged in so many ways. You will have to learn to deal with other people, you will be in uncomfortable situations like trying to understand a different language and a different culture, you will be squished into buses, trains and tuk tuks, you will see some rough things, you will taste and smell some crazy things... But you will also have an experience that will be life changing! You will think about your time in India for the rest of your life! I would go back in a minute!!!
Read my full story
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Isabel
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Traveling to India with Carpe Diem Education was definitely one of the best decision I have made in my life so far. India was a dream of mine for awhile and to be able to have had such an amazing trip is a blessing. The group of people I traveled with became my lifelong friends and my overseas educators became my lifelong role models. I knew I would get along with the group because out of the 327.2 million people in the US, 7 of us ended up in the same spot wanting the same thing. Anyways, having amazing people in my group was just the icing on the cake, as for my experience in India is something I can never forget. The itinerary was beautifully thought out and we did so many enriching activities. We were always volunteering in multiple different cities and states, participating in challenging activities to push our limits to achieve a better you, such as an living ashram life on the Ganges river or trekking along the Himalayas. We ate the most amazing food in some of the highest quality restaurants and as well as at the best street vendors, we became best friends with the contacts Carpe had out there, and were just be able to be living in the moment everyday so easily. Carpe Diem made sure we were experiencing as much as we could while focusing on the importance of education. I loved India and everything about it. I think about the trip all the time and can not wait until I can make my way back out there. With that being said I highly recommend this trip and to those who have read this far I hope you choose this program and have the best time! :)

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
This food isn't super unfamiliar but it was the best thing I had on the trip. I was so obsessed with them, that for a week I ate them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They are called Momos, they are a Tibetan dish that are kind of similar to dumplings, but a million times better. The city they are most present at is, Mcleod Ganj. So if you are there make SURE to try them!
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Hannah
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I traveled to India with Carpe Diem Education the fall after I graduated high school. It was my first time out of the country, away from my family, volunteering abroad, etc. and I could not have asked for a better experience. The things you learn by just getting outside and getting out of your comfort zone are beyond anything I ever learned in a classroom. And by having this educational experience that was so hands on and beneficial to me, it helped my to grow a new outlook and mindset that prepared me to learn again in the more traditional settings. I learned how to make the most of my opportunities, how to be appreciative and learn from ever experience good and bad, and I learned the power of gratitude. If your looking for to take a gap year before you venture into college I would definitely recommend taking a trip with Carpe Diem. It will prepare you for your adult life in ways you didn’t think you needed to be prepared. As for the semester in India specifically; I couldn’t think of a better place to learn about culture and ways of life in places different from what we’re used to in the US. You will travel to endlessly diverse places that are beyond rich in culture.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Go into this opportunity with enthusiasm and an open mind. Be prepared to make friends you will value for a lifetime. Be prepared to get into u comfortable situations be that trying a new food, trying to speak to someone with a language barrier, or your first time using a squat toilet, and be prepared to come out of those situations stronger, wiser, and happier. Ask lots of questions and take lots of pictures. Be curious! This isn’t just an opportunity to go overseas or to take a trip somewhere pretty. This is a chance to grow and learn while being guided by incredibly knowledgeable, talented, and friendly educators. It’s really the opportunity of a lifetime and I’d encourage anyone interested in taking it to take it with a smile and an open mind. You’ll leave with a brighter brain and a fuller heart.
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Kari
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

India has overall impacted me so much in so many different ways. I got to travel in an unfamiliar place and manage to connect with the locals in India more than I do in the States. I always felt welcomed in every city that I visited and made a lot of new friends. The locals were all so nice and I didn't have to deal with as much of a language barrier than I expected. I was lucky enough to have two leaders that supported me the whole entire way. My leader Adam was amazing with his Hindi and really enjoyed conversating with the locals, whereas Rebecca is a foodie and showed everyone all the best food in India. I easily adapted to the food that I was unfamiliar with and completely fell in love with it. While traveling to the different cities in India, I got to learn a lot about the history of India and be able to adapt to different environments such as the village life, and living with homestays. I also go to visit one of the seven wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal and I got to go trekking up the Himalayas! Every moment of the trip was amazing and I hope to go back to India on my own one day.

What would you improve about this program?
I would've loved to experience a bit of South India as well.

Programs

Displaying 1 - 8 of 8

Alumni Interviews

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

Tucker Peterson

Having completed a NOLS course and two years of college, Tucker was looking for an experience that involved adventure travel, but also a chance to connect with a totally different culture. With the help of the Go Overseas website, he was able to find the Carpe Diem program, which gave him the one of the most amazing experiences of his life!

Why did you choose this program?

The Carpe Diem program promised a semester filled experiences that would open my eyes to the world, take me out of my comfort zone, introduce me to a totally different culture, give me a chance to connect with my fellow travelers, expand my horizons, and challenge my body and soul... And Carpe Diem delivered!!!

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

Everything needed to apply for the program and then prepare for the semester was spelled out, making it a pretty simple process. And the staff at Carpe Diem could not have been more supportive and informative. It was extremely important for my parents to feel that they were placing me in good hands. Because everything was so detailed and organized, and the staff was so helpful, my parents felt good about my decision.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Everyone talks about how, in order to grow as a person, you need to step out of your comfort zone and have an open mind. Without a doubt this is true. If you are willing to open your mind and your heart you will have an amazing experience. Your mind will be blown and you will have the most memorable experience of your life! Your mind will be blown! And bring a camera!!!!

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

We had so many different experiences that I don't think you could give an "average" account. There were some days or weeks that were filled with volunteer work and connecting with the people of India. Before the trip, I would have thought that I would be most excited about the adventures - trekking, rafting, yoga retreat, etc., but now I would tell you that it was our time volunteering at Mother Theresa's organization in Kalkutta or working with kids at the SECMOL school in the Himalayas was the most memorable and rewarding. Every week was different!

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

I guess the language barrier was my biggest fear, but it really never was a problem. Our awesome program leaders, Doug and Kate, made us feel like we could manage.

Probably my other fear was the possibility of getting sick from the food and water. But I loved the food and our favorite came from the street vendors! There was no way to avoid stomach issues, you just learn to deal!

What is your favorite memory of this trip?

I'm sure anyone considering a program like this already had a bigger picture of what they want to include in their world. I was worried about who my fellow travelers would be and whether we would all get along. But you are already put together with people who are wanting a big experience in the same place. And I was so lucky to be with an amazing group who have become life-long friends! We also had leaders who created a culture of patience, acceptance, and support. They were awesome!

There were so many memorable experiences that it's impossible to pick a favorite. I wouldn't change a thing about my experience. Even the rough times - having stomach distress, being crammed into trains and buses, etc. - just were part of the whole experience.

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.

More Interviews

US visitors, meet us in person!

  1. 6 January
    Scarsdale, NY Gap Year Fair
    Scarsdale High School
    Fair:
    6:00 PM - 8:30 PM
    Presentation:
    6:00 PM - 6:45 PM
  2. 7 January
    Brooklyn, NY Gap Year Fair
    Brooklyn Friends School - Upper School
    Fair:
    6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
    Presentation:
    6:00 PM - 6:45 PM
  3. 8 January
    Fairfield, CT Gap Year Fair
    Fairfield Ludlowe High School
    Fair:
    6:00 PM - 8:30 PM
    Presentation:
    6:00 PM - 6:45 PM

Professional Associations

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