Central America Gap Semester:
Guatemala, Costa Rica & Roatan
Sustainability and Spanish Immersion
How will you Carpe Diem?
Dive deep into the culture of tropical Central America through Spanish language immersion! Your journey will take you through vibrant towns with welcoming host families, to small communities where you’ll help with needed construction projects, and end on the Caribbean island of Roatan, where you’ll have the chance to obtain your SCUBA diving certification.
Throughout your travels, you’ll also work alongside Costa Rican researchers to support turtle conservation efforts, learn about permaculture and sustainable living by volunteering on an organic farm, and experience fair trade and sustainable economics on the Guatemalan coast—while also learning to surf with local instructors!
Conduct service learning with a turtle conservation non-profit in Costa Rica; help patrol the beach so that baby turtles make their way back to the ocean.
Live communally as a group and eat your meals with host families on a lush Guatemalan property that was once a coffee plantation.
Learn about sustainable living and organic agriculture while staying on a farm near Lake Atitlan in Guatemala.
Accepting Applications For:
There's a lot to truly traveling, even if you think you have it down. If you want to understand a country deeply, with its people, culture, spirituality, hopes, and fears, I recommend Carpe Diem.
Carpe Diem has helped me grow in many ways and become the person I always wanted to be. I have found out a lot about myself and the importance of relationships, community, culture, leadership, and much more. Before my Gap Year semester, I was not sure what I was going to study or even if I wanted to go to school. I was exposed to so much new knowledge throughout this trip; I cant wait to further my studies in college focusing on environmental sustainability.
Deciding to join Carpe Diem is the best thing I have ever done. It has improved my independence and has allowed me to mature much more than I would have had I gone directly into school. The experiences that I have had here will last a lifetime.
This experience has changed my life. I have new perspectives on things I never knew I would have. I have learned how to fully be myself around everyone. I have never been as constantly happy as I have on this trip.
Seize Your Journey
- The first three days of your semester will be spent in a comfy backpacker retreat in the city of Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. You’ll learn more about the program, bond with your fellow group mates, and learn strategies for staying safe and healthy while traveling.
Quetzaltenango is Guatemala’s second largest city, and also has one of the largest Mayan populations with an incredibly unique culture. Here, you’ll live with a host family, spend the morning in 1:1 Spanish class, and spend the afternoons participating in activities like cooking classes, dance classes, or perhaps a local soccer game.
Spend a week in the rural coffee growing region of Guatemala. Here, the group will live all together but have meals with local families, while studying Spanish and participating in community projects and activities.
In the highland town of Matagalpa, known for the delicious coffee grown in the surrounding areas, you’ll live with host families, study Spanish in small groups and participate in various cultural exchange activities while learning about some of the current events and issues facing Nicaragua.
San Juan la Concepcion, Nicaragua
Experience life in small town Nicaragua. Live with host families, continue your study of Spanish and volunteer with community projects such as the after school program or in the community gardens.
STUDIES IN SUSTAINABILITY
- Learn about sustainable living, natural building, and organic agriculture. You’ll live and work on an organic farm and, in addition to helping with farm chores, you’ll participate in local cultural and craft activities.
COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICE LEARNING
- Work with an NGO on sustainable development projects in a small coastal community in Southern Guatemala. Past projects here have included working at local schools, helping with beach clean-ups, learning about small business development, and working with youth groups. In addition to volunteer work, you’ll have the opportunity to surf some of the best waves in Guatemala.
STUDENT DIRECTED TRAVEL
- During the student directed travel excursion, the group will work together to design, plan, budget, and implement their own itinerary. Examples of past activities include: visiting the beautiful blue pools of Semuc Champey in Guatemala, exploring the colonial city of Granada, catching some waves on the coast, visiting the indigenous markets in Chichicastenango, or climbing volcanoes outside of Antigua.
- Volunteer alongside Costa Rican scientists to patrol the beach for sea turtles that come ashore to lay eggs. You might help to tag and take measurements of the turtles, to move eggs to protected nesting areas, or monitor nests as baby turtles hatch and make their way to the ocean.
Treks in Central America vary depending on the time of year. Examples of past treks groups have done include: hike to waterfalls through the cloud forest in Nicaragua and hiking up dormant volcanoes with views to the coast in Guatemala.
Fly to the island of Roatan off the Caribbean coast of Honduras for a week of rest, relaxation, and some of the best SCUBA diving in the world. Take a course leading to your PADI Open Water SCUBA certification.
- Spend time on the shores of Lake Atitlan in Guatemala learning about yoga and meditation, health and wellness. Explore local communities and reflect on goals and accomplishments of the trip thus far.
The Student Experience
Explore the following links to learn about the Carpe Diem Central America student experience.