The best 3 months of my 21 years of life has to be the most to the point way to describe my time in Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam with Carpe Diem Education. I am 21 and finishing up my college sociology degree this year. For fall term of my senior year, I wanted to do something different, and experience true hands on learning outside of the traditional classroom lecture setting. This trip to South East Asia truly went above and beyond what I could have ever expected to get out of my time abroad.
From week one in Thailand when we each got placed in our own homestay with the most amazing and sweet host moms, to the last week of the trip directing our own student travel through vietnam, each experience I look back on with so much gratiude, knowlege, insight, and a smile.
Carpe Diem truly does give you the ability to have such unique and amazing experience, and there is also such a good balance of volunteer work, weeks in homestays, and life off the beaten path, to city days for self care and relaxation.
One of my fondest memories from the whole trip that I think about daily was out treck in Thailand. We went on a 3 day treck in Thailand led by 3 amazing locals who know the area and land so well. They led us through dense bamboo forests, that would open to the most amazing views on the hillside of a rice patty field. We stayed the night in village leaders home in a small Lahu village. The full day we were there was my favorite day of the trip.
We got up and walked 30 mins through the village and into a rice patty field where to the left of the path was vegetables growing, ahead was a bamboo forest, and down the hill was a stream. We brought 2 chickens, a sack of rice and some eggs. We collected water form the stream, picked vegetables from the field, made a fire with bamboo and cooked the rice, chicken, and eggs in the bamboo logs over the fire. We also learned to carve spoons, chop sticks, bowls, and cups. We ate the meal we made on the beautiful hillside in Thailand. Something about that day was so special, peaceful, and such an amazing learning experience.
Carpe Diem allows you to get to experience and connect with others so different from you. Each homestay family I stayed with showed me such kindness, love, and were so welcoming despite language barriers. I have shared so many laughs, hugs, and amazing homecooked meals with my host famalies. Most homestays are with at least two others in the group which is nice and comfortable.
A quick trip recap of everything amazing Thailand: A week learning Thai, and homestays with sweet host moms. 10 days volunteering and staying off the beaten path in an amazing Akka village. 4 days of trecking through beautiful Thailand rice/ pineapple field hillside. Some amazing hostels and city days to explore beautiful tempels. A week on an organic permaculture farm learning about sustainability. 5 days of silent meditation with monks learning about buddhism, and mindfullness.
A quick trip recap of everything amazing Cambodia: Days in Phnom Phen learning about the genocide, killing fields, and the Cambodian Center for Human Rights. Angkor Watt of course. A week on a village off the Mekong river working on a clean water project homestay living. A quick trip recap of everything amazing Vietnam: Days to explore the amazing city of Ho Chi Minh. A week with very funny Tan Tao University students staying in homestays, english teaching at primary schools, and a school for the deaf and disabled, picking pineapples, cooking, and singing a lot of karaoke. 5 days on the beautiful beach in Nha Trang getting suba certified, and tanning on the beach. Days in the city to go to museams and learn about the Vietnam War. And lastly student directed travel. Student directed travel is where we got to plan how to get from Nha Tang to Hanoi which was 800 miles in 1 week. We got to plan where we wanted to go, stay, forms of transportaiton, activites, and had to stay within a budget. It was so amazing.
So there you have it, the best 3 months of my life by far! The guides for Carpe Diem are also amazing, and really made the trip flow well. They handled the tough situations with ease and are such wonderful, and positive people. Having 10 students and 2 guides total was also great! All Carpe Diem trips have 15 people or less.
I would highly reccomend going abroad with Carpe Diem whether you have just graduated high school or are about to graduate college. I feel refreshed, and have a new motivation, and goals for my life becuase of my time abroad with Carpe Diem Education!!