We read often of the benefits of gap years, how they are life-changing, prepare young adults for college, and often termed "the best year ever." While these claims hold much legitimacy, few programs can unequivocally fulfill all of them; that is, except Carpe Diem Education.
I was lucky enough to find Carpe Diem for the year after my high school graduation, 2010-2011, and can to this day stand by them as indisputably the best gap year program internationally. I could never imagine how my life would appear today had I not participated in the Latitudes Program, spending one full semester in Central America on a group trip and another semester on an independent internship in Ecuador. I gained essential skills in organization, writing, budgeting, and leadership; I tackled fears head-on while cultivating an insatiable curiosity; I grew more confident in my abilities scholastically and personally; I became completely fluent in another language equivalent to the level of my mother tongue; I created life-long friendships with other participants and locals to this day.
Carpe Diem stood by me, answering my plethora of questions before the trip, appeasing my nervous mother during the trip, and accommodating me to practice my religious observances as a modern-orthodox Jew throughout the program. The coordinators supported me in arranging my internship placement, while simultaneously giving me enough space to be independent too. My trip leaders on the group trip were inspiring, confronting, and were the catalysts toward driving the personal developments of participants as we all pushed our comfort zone together with volunteer work that included arduous physical labor, language school, teaching English, and working with wildlife. My independent internship at an Inca ruin Hacienda gave me ample opportunity to dabble into a variety of fields, including farming, local cooking, horseback riding, translating, writing, and being a tour guide to hone my interests for my future career and quench my diverse interests. Carpe Diem pushed me emotionally and physically every day to find comfort through discomfort, to understand and be proactive in my surroundings, and to cultivate empathy.
I was also able to earn college credit through Portland State University (PSU), which was an incredible opportunity considering that at the time of my gap year, I was unsure where I would attend school.
Today, I have finished a degree from an ivy-league institution, consider myself a world traveler (whatever that really means), and am confident in following where the wind blows for my next steps. And for my accomplishments, strengths, attitude, determination, courage, and drive, I will forever be indebted to Carpe Diem. If you want a program that will open you up and allow you to carve out who you hope to be, to gain inspiration for your future, to truly make a difference, to build life-long relationships, and to push your comfort zone, look no further, because you’ve arrived at the best possible place.