Semester in Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia: a region accentuated by the colorful robes of Buddhist monks, the vivid greens of rice fields and jungle forests, and the cultural diversity of hill tribe communities. Each country offers a unique cultural experience unto itself; and each faces the challenge of reconciling urban expansion and industrialization with indigenous land rights, free movement of nomadic peoples, and equal access to resources.

From the peaceful temples and old walled city of Chiang Mai to the world-renowned temples of Angkor Wat; the mountainous jungles of northern Thailand to the clear ocean waters of the country’s famed islands and beaches, Carpe Diem brings you to Thailand and Cambodia to explore topics of tradition, globalization, and human rights while discovering the warmth and hospitality of these unique cultures.

Where We Travel

Program Details

Fall 2022 and Spring 2023 programs pending regional travel announcements, border restrictions, and risk factors for host communities. Contact us with any questions.



Program dates

Fall 2022
September 14 - November 21

Spring 2023
February 23 - May 3

Group Size

A maximum of 13 Students & 2 Overseas Educators


Our typical student is between 17-22, though we sometimes work with students slightly outside that range depending on circumstances.

College Credit & Financial Aid

Learn more about: College Credit and Financial Aid

Language Requirements




Program tuition includes all food, accommodations, scheduled program activities, and international travel insurance for the duration of the program. International airfare and spending money are extra. International airfare estimated at $1300 - $1500; internal flight estimated at $150-$250; visa fees estimated at $120.

Important Visa Information for Fall '22 students: All students will need to apply for a Thai visa in August 2022. We will provide detailed instructions and students will need to be available during the month of August to either mail in their passport and visa application or to visit a Thai consulate in person. The final date to apply for a Thai visa is August 10, 2022.

About Our Southeast Asia Semester

Occupying the extreme southern edge of the massive Asian continent, Southeast Asia is a land of ancient tradition, distinctive cultural expression, and tremendous complexity.

Defying European colonization, Thailand provides a unique opportunity to witness a culture uninterrupted by external authority, yet deeply impacted by globalization and tourism. We explore various aspects of this culture, enjoying the warmth and hospitality of Thai people while uncovering layers of social complexity, economic disparities, and the endangered way of life of the nomadic hill tribe communities.

We’ll explore traditional village life through homestays north of Chiang Rai, living with and engaging in the daily life of locals. We’ll witness the emphasis on close family systems inherent in Thai culture. We will learn mindfulness and meditation practices from local monks while exploring the role that Theravada Buddhism plays in the everyday lives of the people.

Traveling to the Nan Province, the group works with a local Thai family who is rehabilitating an old cashew plantation. Days here will be filled with learning, laughter, and hard work as we learn about traditional agriculture and permaculture principles, and experience the beauty and challenge of self-reliance. We learn about sustainable living, finding balance with nature, and the importance of reducing our consumptive footprint on planet Earth.


Continuing our emphasis on community, we trek through the beautiful forested hills of Northern Thailand. During this time, you’ll engage with local NGOs to discuss topics of human rights related to borders and national identity. Through homestays with a hill tribe community, we witness how traditional ways of life are being both challenged and revitalized in the face of globalization and modernization.

Crossing the border into Cambodia, the group goes to Phnom Penh to learn about the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot regime, while also witnessing how Cambodian society continues to heal from this era. 

And finally, the group will explore the mind-boggling temple complex of Angkor Wat. This nearly unbelievable site is home to some of the most iconic Buddhist art and architecture in the world!

Questions We'll Explore: 

  • What does the future hold for southeast Asia’s hill tribe communities?
  • Why are people leaving their homes and families only to arrive in an unknown land, and to an uncertain future?
  • What are the circumstances of neighboring countries, and how can they be improved?
  • How can atrocities such as the Khmer Rouge be avoided now, and in the future?

Carpe Diem Education’s Southeast Asia semester brings you face to face with the beauty and challenge of these three distinctive nations. Through living and engaging with local communities, the journey provides an enhanced perspective on issues of human rights and cultural preservation.  


"JUST DO IT! There'll definitely be some difficult moments, but you're strong enough to make it through! Go out there, have experiences, and HAVE FUN!"

CDE Student

"I have grown more than I thought possible, and I will never forget what I’ve learned on this trip."

CDE Student

Take Your Next Step