How will you Carpe Diem?

Ready to extend your learning journey on a Carpe Diem gap year? Choose one of our three-month group semesters during the Fall—followed by a three-day orientation in Portland, Oregon—before embarking on a three-month Focused Volunteer Placement (FVP) in the Spring.

Commit to a local community through extensive service—independently or with a 2-3 student cohort. Get SCUBA certified while protecting coral reefs in Southern Thailand. Support children in Tanzania through HIV prevention education. Learn about permaculture while working on an organic farm in Nicaragua.

With reputable partner contacts in over 20 countries, the world is your oyster. Choose from a range of lodging offerings, including homestays and volunteer houses in breathtaking, remote locations. Join a “naturally nomadic” student community that brings diverse international experiences from their Carpe Diem group semester programs.

Receive one-on-one mentorship from your Latitudes Director to help you select an FVP that inspires you. Prior to your departure, meet with your larger Latitudes Year cohort during a comprehensive, three-day orientation for added group support.

Complete courses to earn up to 36 quarter credits—all while connecting with communities across the globe and participating in meaningful volunteering, adventure, and cultural exchange.


Program Details

Accepting Applications For:
Latitudes Year 2019/2020

Latitudes Year 2019/2020
Group Semester
September 11 – December 4, 2019
Winter Break
December – January
Pre-FVP Orientation
January 22 – 25, 2020
(In Portland, OR)
Focused Volunteer Placement
January – April 2020

A maximum of 12 Students &
2 Overseas Educators

Ages 17 and Up


Learn more about:
College Credit
Financial Aid



Central America
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East Africa
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South America
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South Pacific
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Southeast Asia
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Spain & Morocco
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I was truly fortunate to get my first taste of the world at large before going off to college. If the year itself was incredible, its long-term impact is utterly astonishing: academic burnout is a distant memory and I’m more self-aware than ever before. My Carpe Diem trip was a force multiplier, a yearlong dose of unadulterated perspective that will shape every event for the rest of my life. This was among the greatest opportunities I've ever been given and is definitely, to date, the greatest decision I've made.

- Jack, Latitudes Spring '16

My advice to anyone considering a gap year would be: do Carpe Diem. When I considered all the cool things I could do the next year—from hiking to Machu Picchu to scuba diving in Australia, while earning college credit—it became a pretty clear choice. I feel more prepared to go to college now that I’ve completed my year abroad.

- Harvey, Latitudes Spring '17

I have had experiences that I will look back on and build from for the rest of my life, and met people that have inspired me and lifted me up every day. I honestly don't know who I would even be anymore if I had not chosen Carpe Diem. I was able to enter an inimitable world full of unconditional kindness and culture, and allowed myself to remember what it is to truly live.

- Anika, Latitudes Spring '16

Seize Your Journey

You’ll meet your Overseas Educators and the other students at the airport and depart for your group semester in Central America, South America, India, Southeast Asia, East Africa, the South Pacific or Spain & Morocco.

Dive into adventure through community-based volunteering, environmental conservation, outdoor adventure, language study, and a reflection retreat. Travel the local way, taking local transportation, living with host families and in hostels and guesthouses, and eating local cuisines. This is not a vacation or a mission trip, but rather a chance to authentically immerse yourself in a new region of the world along with a community of like-minded travelers.

Choosing a Focused Volunteer Placement
While on your Fall group semester you will be in contact with your Latitudes Advisor every few weeks looking into different FVP options. You will finalize your FVP by November 15th (early decision) or December 15th (late decision). For more information on the process of choosing a placement click here!

Once the Fall group semester is over you will either return home or continue traveling. Students typically use this time to catch their breath, complete their college credit courses, rest, and take time to integrate all of the experiences from their Fall group semester. This is also the time to get needed immunizations, re-pack bags for the solo FVP, and make any other necessary preparations.

After your group semester and the Winter Break, pack your bag for your FVP and return to Portland for a final Pre-FVP Orientation! Reunite with your Latitudes cohort and the advisor team! Prepare for being an independent community-based volunteer working in a community while learning and sharing specific regional information with peers and experts. Receive a refresher on First Aid, health, and safety, set expectations for PSU coursework while on your FVP, and create intentions for applying the skills learned in your group semesters to the upcoming FVP.
Departing from the Pre-FVP Orientation, students will travel on their own to a region of the world that interests them to participate in a volunteer project they are passionate about. Carpe Diem Education partners with hundreds of nonprofits, NGOs, and independent organizations to customize a Focused Volunteer Placement for each individual student.

The Focused Volunteer Placement builds and expands upon program objectives from your group semester.

This is a time for students to:

  • Gain hands-on independent experience in a community living without parents, group leaders, or a Carpe Diem group.
  • Understand and practice self-accountability and responsibility by working on a specific project.
  • Advocate for yourself and develop personal leadership skills through full participation in a volunteer placement.
  • Further develop your understanding of your impact by spending an extended period of time in a community.
  • Continue in the process of self-discovery by stepping out of your comfort zone.

    Previous FVP Location Examples:
    USA, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, Honduras, Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Argentina, Chile, Spain, Morocco, Ghana, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, South Africa, Kenya, Thailand, Cambodia, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji…to name a few!

    Previous FVP Category Examples:
    Working with kids, teaching English, Women’s Empowerment, Agriculture/Permaculture, Natural/Eco Building, Animal Conservation, Marine Conservation, Environmental Conservation, Art/Music, Photography/Filmmaking, Writing, Human Rights, Yoga Teaching, Outdoor Leadership, Health/Medicine, etc.

    Students have taught English in the Himalayas of Nepal, worked as a marine conservation intern in Thailand, volunteered with victims of human trafficking, mentored at-risk youth in South Africa, and taken courses in permaculture design to help start a biodynamic farm. The opportunities are endless! We also encourage you to take a look at the Latitudes Year blog to get an idea of what our previous students have done on their FVPs.

  • The Student Experience

    Explore the following links to learn about the Carpe Diem Latitudes Year student experience.