Multiple Locations +2
  • Guatemala
  • Costa Rica
4 - 12 weeks

Program Details

City Exploring Scuba Diving Trekking
Fall Spring
Guesthouse Host Family Hostel Tent
Primary Language
Age Min.


Starting Price
Price Details
Program tuition includes all food, accommodations, scheduled program activities, and international travel insurance for the duration of the program. Keep in mind you need to budget for international airfare and spending money. International airfare estimated at $1200 – $1500.
What's Included
Accommodation Activities Airport Transfers Meals Transportation Travel Insurance
What's Not Included
Airfare Some Equipment
Dec 20, 2022
Nov 20, 2022
64 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

Venture through Guatemala and Costa Rica, exploring lush tropical rainforests, towering volcanoes, steep-sided mountains, and extended coastlines. Embrace the spirit of pura vida and learn from the unique crossover of individuals who call these nations home. Living alongside indigenous communities and their contemporaries, delve into opportunities to explore social justice, sustainability, and the influence of colonization.

From the Sierra Madre mountains of interior Guatemala, to the sea turtle havens on the coast; from the tranquility and splendor of Lago Atitlán and her surrounding volcanoes, to the breathtaking coral reefs offshore, Carpe Diem Education explores the merging complexities of socio-political realities with the hope of a more sustainable future. Cap your new knowledge with improved Spanish, honed during your homestay experience, and outdoor skills learned from the many treks, hikes, and adventure activities available in the region.

Video and Photos

Program Highlights

  • Support sustainability efforts: Work with a small NGO on environmental justice, tree planting, and bringing back native species
  • Improve your Spanish: Engage in immersive Spanish classes and put your knowledge to the test during homestays within the community
  • Adventure outdoors: Hike, raft, trek, and even earn your Scuba Certification while exploring the natural beauty of the region
  • Live and learn: Stay on a family farm in Costa Rica, learning from your hosts about permaculture and traditional chocolate
  • Build it yourself: In a community-directed project, work with natural builders to support their efforts to construct with recycled materials


Carpe Diem Education Scholarships

Carpe Diem Education awards $30,000 annually to support diversity and inclusion in its programs. The Access Scholarship provides up to $5,000 for a gap year semester or full-year experience. The Inclusion Scholarship offers up to $2,000 for a gap year semester. The Carpe Mundi Scholarship is for Portland-based students. Grants are mostly need-based, and applications open in January.

Program Reviews

4.87 Rating
based on 30 reviews
  • 5 rating 86.67%
  • 4 rating 13.33%
  • 3 rating 0%
  • 2 rating 0%
  • 1 rating 0%
  • Housing 4.6
  • Support 4.85
  • Fun 4.85
  • Value 4.8
  • Safety 4.75
Showing 1 - 8 of 30 reviews
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

The best decision I’ve ever made

I took the Central America program this Fall and
think it was the best decision, I've ever made.
had so much fun, laughed so much every day,
learned so much about Guatemalas history and
the United States' impact on the Guatemalan
politics. And really got to know the Guatemalan
culture in homestay and interactions with local
and sustainable organizations like farms and
green construction NGOs.
Being with the group was pure enjoyment, I
made so many (life long) friends.
If you are ready to Step out of your comfort
zone and explore so much new and strange
things, culture, language and life, take a Carpe
Diem program.

  • Group dynamics/making friends
  • Experience a new culture
  • Learn spanish
22 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

CAM Semester

Throughout this program, I grew so much as a person. My group felt like a second family, and everyone we met along the way was so accommodating and knowledgable.

I highly recommend this program if you're looking for Spanish immersion and are interested in sustainability and hiking. Although prior Spanish knowledge is not required, it is definitely more difficult to jump into homestays having barely spoken Spanish before. We learned a lot about the culture and about different ways to live and travel sustainably. At our volunteer sites we did green building, reforestation, and permaculture work, with fun activities mixed in so it wasn't all work all the time. The 3 day trek to Lake Atitlan is a big challenge if you're not a big hiker, but doable. It is a very rewarding experience once you do finish, ending with the prettiest sunrise over the lake. The accommodations vary a lot, so be prepared for periods of rugged living and bucket showers. Our homestay families were all very happy to have us, so if that's a worry for you just know that you'll be in good hands. The food was a BIG highlight of the trip. We had amazing food for almost every meal, and learned how to cook authentic Guatemalan/Costa Rican dishes. And if you're vegetarian or vegan, there will be options for you. In terms of tech, we had very limited access to internet, even after the first 3 weeks of no wifi, so be prepared for limited contact to home. Most people didn't mind it though, as it helps you stay present with each other. We had a good balance of independence and group stability. During free time, we could do whatever we wanted (within reason) but we also had a good amount of structure with group activities. The end of the trip was also awesome: scuba diving, seeing cool wildlife, and staying in a hostel that was a 5minute walk from the beach! It felt like each week we did something completely different, which is such a unique opportunity.

I was not 100% wanting to do this program initially, which made the first month especially hard. I ended up loving my experience and being so happy I went, but it took some time to adjust. My best advice would be to take some time and think about what you really want to get out of your semester, and you should only do this program if you truly want to push yourself and experience a whole new way of living. If you go into this program open to whatever comes your way, you will thrive and have the time of your life!

  • Beautiful scenery
  • Improvement on Spanish language abilities
  • Personal growth
  • Traveler's sickness
  • Limited technology access
  • Rugged accommodations (only for a few stretches of time)
42 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Great Experience

These past three months were a great opportunity to get away from everything going on the world and just go out and live. You get to be with 11 other people for 10 weeks, some people you like, some aren’t your vibe and that’s okay - you learn how to work together and just put differences aside.

The accommodations were not the best at times but it was definitely a great experience and with that brought a lot of learning experiences and fun times.

I was very hesitant to go on this trip when I originally signed up but now after completing this trip - no regrets!

  • Community
  • Traveling
  • Food
  • Accommodations
  • Getting sick
40 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Carpe program review

This program was an incredibly unique and fun way for me to take a break from the everyday life I live back home and emirs myself in a variety of different cultures and countries. This program gives students a chance to get a feel for independence and what the life of traveling looks like. For me personally the semester abroad was a great opportunity to take some time away from the stresses of everyday life to thoroughly reflect on what I would like out of life in the future. This program also provides students with an large number of unique activities that include the perfect balance of education and fun. Happy

  • You get the opportunity to take time away from your normal everyday life
  • You get to see new places and really dive into the culture of the places you visit
  • Sometimes the people in your group might not be the best fit for you and you have to spend an extended period of time with them
39 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

CAM 2022

My semester with Carpe Diem was definitely one of the highlights of my life so far. I pushed my limits, physically and mentally, and grew into the person I want to be. The places we visited and the experiences I had challenged me deeply, but I never felt unsafe or unsupported. I always had my fellow students and OEs (leaders) close to me if I felt unsure or needed to take a step back. I learned a lot about culture, food, sustainability, and Spanish, but perhaps even more valuable was the way I was able to get to know myself and connect with the people and places around me. This is truly a life-changing program.

Thinking back to before this trip, I remember reading reviews trying to get a better idea of the way this program works. Now that I've gone through it, I'm going to try to answer a couple of my own questions in hopes that it can help you!

What are accommodations like?
Accommodations ranged from cold showers and concrete floors to comfy beds and an internet connection. We had 10 students in total and I ended up rooming with each of them at least once. The majority of my time was spent in dorm style rooms with 4-9 other students, but we also did 4 weeks of homestays with two students per household. At the beginning of the trip, there was the option to choose if we were comfortable sleeping in mixed gender rooms. The one person who said no was paired only with other girls for all except two weeks. This was during our trek and student directed travel where there was only one room for all of us.

How was the food?
The most consistent part of the trip was the mind blowing food. Almost every single meal hit so hard. Most of the time meals were relatively simple - eggs, beans, rice, fruit, veggies, and chicken - but something about the way they make it is SO amazing. The majority of the time meals were pre-ordered for us, provided by our host families or the places we stayed, but some weeks we were given money to order from restaurants or cook for ourselves. I did feel that the budgeting was done a little poorly at times - In Guatemala I would often would be confined to the cheapest option if I didn't supplement with my own money, and in Costa Rica I felt I had more than I needed - but ultimately, I only ended up spending a few dollars of my own money per meal, if anything, so I wouldn't worry about it too much.

Something I didn't expect is the lack of trouble I had with my food allergies. I'm gluten and dairy intolerant, and only eat white meat. To my surprise, I never had a problem or was faced with a meal I couldn't eat. We also had vegans and vegetarians and every location we visited was extremely accommodating of that as well.

How is the pacing?
My semester was very action packed. We had multiple activities each day, usually eating breakfast at around 7AM and having classes, volunteer work, hikes, tours, ect. until much later in the day. Activities weren't always mandatory, but much of what we did was. That being said, whenever I needed a break or had a health issue my OE's were supportive and listened to what I and/or the group wanted/needed. I think there is a certain level of physical fitness needed to keep up with the pace, especially if you want to do all of the activities, but I was able to build this throughout the trip. We moved locations about every week, sometimes less and sometimes more.

What did you learn?
I learned a lot of Spanish, through excellent teachers, loving homestay moms, and the practice that naturally comes with living in a Spanish-speaking country. I also learned a lot about green building and sustainability. We had two weeks of classes on green/sustainable building with the ability to apply our knowledge after class by building eco friendly structures and dreaming up potential green building expeditions with the help of our teacher. We had cooking classes and farm tours where I learned a lot about the plants and food in the area. We did volunteer work with conservation, planting trees and learning about nature and preservation efforts. I joke that Carpe should advertise their programs as a great chance to move dirt around for 3 months but really... there's a lot of truth to it.

We were also challenged to be reflective and think deeply about ourselves. The program gave us a structured way to think about concepts like what is love, what goals or values to I have, how can I function in a community and in new and different cultures, ect.

I hope this helps! Everyone I on my semester had moments that really challenged them or were uncomfortable, but we were never unsafe. If you're looking to learn and grow, and have the drive to make it a reality, I truly cannot recommend this program enough.

  • Learning opportunities
  • Scenic locations
  • Community
  • Rugged accommodations
  • Bugs (so many bugs)
  • Illness
43 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Great experience!

This was a well-organized trip and I loved our Oversees Educators Ryan and Soumya! They were super fun to be around but also facilitated lots of important discussions. They always encouraged us to learn more about the community and place we were in, and on that front I think Carpe did very very well. I do wish Carpe was a bit more transparent with the way budgeting works and where our money goes.

Sometimes the program felt super busy and I wish I had had more time in the day to make sure I always had time to reflect take time for myself but also make the most out of the opportunities we had.

I would recommend going on this trip if you’ve read about it and genuinely want to go. Don’t go because your parents want you to or any other reason. It‘a really a great opportunity, but whether your experience is positive or not is mostly dependent on if your goals align with the programs goals, and how much you make out of it.

What the program offers you that is unique from traveling alone is this - a group of students (hopefully a community), two supportive and knowledgeable adults, a pre-planned and researched itinerary (I think Carpe also tries to ensure that the places we support are as environmentally and socially responsible as possible), a guarantee that you won’t ever have a day with nothing to do, more built in learning opportunities, security.

I’d recommend checking out the blog page on the carpe website for more info! Also students are mostly 18-19 years old, at least on my trip.

41 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

The best out of the best

Omgggg literally life changing. The people the leaders the program structure everything about it was amazing.

At first it was scary. It was an unexpecting experience to take as a Muslimah but one that I’ll never forget. I found myself even more going on this trip. The food was amazing. The adventures were incomparable to the ones previously experienced prior to carpe.

I highly recommend this program to anyone. Great way to feel challenged (in a positive way of course), and develop growth in many levels

72 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

An amazingly fun trip, and an important part of my personal growth

Carpe Diem really has their stuff together as an organization.
My trip leaders were real pros and really amazing people, my group-mates were hilarious and fun, every place we stayed had a lot to teach us, and the food was for real fantastic. You definitely won't regret going on a Carpe trip.
I've been on a program or two, and I know what a bad program looks like. Carpe Diem staff are really on the ball, they know how to care for students, and my two months in Costa Rica gave me a better outlook at life.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
Probably a soursop. It was tasty, but quite snotty.
80 people found this review helpful.

Questions & Answers

Hi Annalisa, Thank you for your question! Our Essential Eligibility Criteria says that all applicants must "have a high level of English language fluency and comprehension." We welcome students of all nationalities and backgrounds on our programs but international students are responsible for obtaining any necessary visas to travel with us. Please email me directly if you have any other questions...

That's a great question, and one I definitely asked myself before signing up with Carpe Diem Education. But after going on the trip and learning more about Carpe, I don't believe there is any typical student. I could pick a few defining characteristics of the students that go on Carpe Diem adventures. These would be a sense of adventure, a drive to explore new places, and a passion to learn not...