Southeast Asia Gap Semester:
Thailand, Cambodia & Vietnam
Human Rights and Cultural Exchange
How will you Carpe Diem?
Let the warm hospitality of Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam wash over you and experience first-hand what this intriguing part of the world has to offer. Trek through remote villages and exchange stories with the hill tribe people of Northern Thailand and explore the fascinating temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia—the opportunities to uncover ancient gems in Southeast Asia are endless.
While taking Thai language lessons, form meaningful relationships with welcoming homestay families. Learn about Southeast Asian culture through the lens of Zen Buddhism by attending a mindfulness retreat in this ancient tradition. The Carpe Diem Southeast Asia gap semester is the perfect opportunity to refresh, refocus, and tap into your deepest ambitions. What are you waiting for?
Travel to Phnom Penh to begin to understand Cambodia’s genocide and the ways the country is recovering. Learn about the coral and ocean ecosystems of the South China Sea while you earn your open-water SCUBA certification.
Stay in the homes of Thai families in a rural village, where you’ll study Thai language, customs, food, and dancing to immerse yourself in the local way of living.
Serve on community empowerment projects and work alongside local NGOs to support migrant workers and children in northern Thailand.
Accepting Applications For:
Taking a Gap Year was one of the best decisions I could have made. Before coming on this trip I thought I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to do in the future, but this trip has introduced newfound interests that I want to pursue. I have also learned so much about myself and it has made me such a stronger person; I would highly recommend a Carpe Diem semester to anyone thinking about doing a Gap Year.
This was a totally life-changing experience. I got everything that I sought out of this trip and more. I had some of the coolest experiences of my life and made very close friends. I learned so much about myself and about the world and have gained the inspiration that I craved to continue my education. I have learned how I can make an impact in the world and am determined to follow through. I have realized that the most important thing in life is happiness and finding what makes me happiest. I have gained such a great appreciation for my upbringing and being an American that has filled me with the utmost of gratitude. Leaving this trip, I am not the same person that walked in and am so much happier, more confident, and passionate.
This program allows you to gain independence, a better perspective on life, and first-hand knowledge of the world. We are 18 years old and expected to know what we want to do for the rest of our lives, but what's the rush? My motto is yes, a higher education is very important, but it will always be there. But, being a traveler and not a tourist in a developing country will teach you life skills that school doesn't have the ability to.
I learned more in the past three months than I have in 18 years of school. It is a new type of learning that most people just aren't accustomed to. We are used to sitting in classrooms and learning by memorizing, but nothing compares to going out into the field and experiencing it for yourself. I would highly recommend a Gap Year to anyone that is unsure of what they want to do, anyone who feels like they need a break from school or anyone who just wants to explore our beautiful world and create as many meaningful connections as possible.
I've learned more about myself and my personal values in the past three months than I had in my whole life. By being on my own and having to speak my mind, I reassured myself of everything I believed in. I stood up for what I believed in because people were asking. By saying what you want out of life and what you believe in to people who just met you, you are embedding your values. Being in a new country makes you feel invincible and as if all the possibilities you've imagined for yourself are obtainable realities.
This is the best decision I could've made. Carpe Diem became part of my life at a time when I wasn't confident in my ability to achieve because I was tied to an outdated timeline for my education. Through Carpe Diem, I was able to grasp the true meaning of lifelong learning; everything is a process, and if the only objective is the end goal, what happens to the focus on the lifetime in between? Life should be lived moment to moment, each day as an individual goal, else we'd lose the little experiences that enhance us as people.
My Carpe Diem trip in India was perhaps the most amazing three months of my life. I experienced things that I never thought were possible and learned more about myself and the world than I ever expected. India really blows expectations out of the water and challenged so much of what I thought I was sure of. I'm heading home with more questions than answers but that's a great thing and I feel so inspired by all the different ways I can choose to direct my life. In India anything is possible and I know now in life that's the case too.
This trip has been such a life-changing and mind-opening experience for me. Definitely three of the most fun and exciting months of my life.
Before Carpe Diem, I had a career path in mind but I still wasn't really sure who I was or what I loved to do. Taking a year off and experiencing so many things really helped me find myself.
I would recommend Carpe Diem to everyone. There are a few lessons that can only really be learned through traveling, and Carpe Diem does an amazing job of providing a safe but challenging platform for self-expansion and discovery. I really believe that I am a stronger person than I was three months ago, and I honestly owe all of that to this program.
Seize Your Journey
- Students will have about four days of orientation in which we’ll focus on group dynamics, the finer details of your program, and of course learning about relevant health and safety issues specific to our program. We’ll also launch you into a series of activities designed to familiarize yourself with the local customs and travel nuances of Southeast Asia.
- Spend ten days studying Thai with a teacher for two hours each morning while living with your own homestay family. Afternoons are free to spend with your new families, stumble and laugh your way through Thai, and to participate in optional cultural activities (traditional cooking, outdoor conservation work, etc.).
STUDENT DIRECTED TRAVEL
- It’s time to put your newfound travel skills to work to explore the wonders of Vietnam. Possibilities include trekking in the Central Highlands of Dalat, visiting the tunnels of Cu Chi, cruising Halong Bay, and staying with families in the Mekong Delta.
COMMUNITY BASED SERVICE LEARNING
- Near the Golden Triangle—in the province of Chiang Rai—we’ll volunteer with a well-established NGO that has been helping disempowered minority groups gain access to basic human rights.
The group will end the trip on the island of Phu Quoc, where we will achieve a PADI Basic Open Water SCUBA certification. Higher levels of certification are available for those with previous dive experience. When not diving, you’ll have time for relaxing on the beautiful beach.
TREKKING IN NORTHERN THAILAND
We’ll trek through the lush forests of Northern Thailand into remote hill tribe villages, as well as ride a bamboo raft down the Mae Taeng River.
- The group will travel to a Kep, a beachtown in the south of Cambodia. Here we’ll spend a week practicing yoga and meditating.
The Student Experience
Explore the following links to learn about the Carpe Diem Southeast Asia student experience.