A great many mature travelers seem to be seeking something more than sightseeing in their travels abroad.
This was brought to our attention by the large number of requests for more information prompted by a column on Elderhostel, the program that provides older travelers with study opportunities at educational institutions in the United States and overseas.
An equally popular program is the National Registration Center for Study Abroad (NRCSA), made up of adult education colleges, foreign language institutes and activity centers.
Unlike Elderhostel, all NRCSA programs are abroad, in countries including Great Britain, Switzerland, Scandinavia, Germany, Austria, Italy, France, Spain and Portugal. Some programs are also offered in Costa Rica and Mexico.
A total of 85 institutions in 13 foreign countries participate in the programs on a year-round basis, offering more than 400 courses each year. Courses are divided into three categories: art, crafts and culture; foreign languages, and outdoor activities.
Foreign Language Programs
The foreign language programs are held in Mexico and Costa Rica as well as in Europe. Languages are either related to the country in which the college is, or in some instances, a language other than the local one is taught. For example, Russian is taught in Austria, and an optional trip to the Soviet Union is included.
A dazzling assortment of courses is offered under the heading of arts, crafts and culture. A partial cross section of those offered in England includes landscape history, birds, 17th-Century England, stained glass, traditional British cookery, singing for pleasure, jazz summer school, painting and sketching, wine tasting, antiques and folk dancing.
Crafts include calligraphy, pottery, needlework, spinning and weaving, woodworking and jewelry restoration.
Classes for most of these subjects are held at schools throughout England where students will have their living quarters and three meals each day. For some of the craft courses, students will be housed in the home of the craft tutor where they will enjoy meals family-style.
Tutors' homes are in the city or countryside, some near large cities and others some distance away. These homes may have up to four rooms for guests. Complete descriptions are provided of the interiors of the guest homes, their locations, nearby cities and attractions, a brief biography of the host craftsman-instructor and a description of how the subject is taught.
Courses in England average about $1,295 for one week including air transportation from the U.S. East Coast. Most of the packages include room and full board, tuition, social events at the school or college, excursions relating to the course of study and use of all college facilities.
En route while in London, overnight hotel and breakfast are included plus a London Explorer Pass permitting unlimited use of the subway and bus system, and London discount vouchers.
Craft programs are also available at schools in Mexico and Scandinavia. Courses in cooking are available in Britain and Mexico.
The cooking course in Mexico includes lodging with a Mexican family for seven days, during which 10 to 20 hours of cooking instruction are given. Three meals daily are provided. Shopping trips to markets and stores to observe the selection and purchase of food are part of a course.
Cooking courses in Mexico are held in either Morelia or Cuernavaca and the cost for one week including round-trip air fare from Los Angeles, tuition, family living quarters and all meals is $634.
An example of how varied the NRCSA programs are is illustrated by a program entitled "Hiking in the Swiss Alps," which requires that participants be in fairly good physical condition. A 45-mile hike over mountain trails takes six days and permits breathtaking views of mountain scenery, quaint villages, flowers and animals on "the roof of Europe."
Housing for Hikers
Hikers cover several miles daily, and are housed in modern lodges and hotels. The price of $495 includes bus service to and from the starting railway station in Switzerland, all hotels and full board, daily transportation of luggage and services of a qualified guide.
NRCSA study programs cover all age ranges; some are designed specifically for younger students, with college credits given.
Many programs can be taken on a family basis and a growing number of mature citizens are enrolling in these courses because of the large selection of subjects, the choice of country in which to study and the appeal of staying in one place for the duration of a study-visit.
NRCSA will furnish readers of The Mature Traveler a free copy of its quarterly publication, New Horizons, which contains updates on courses and information about many of the programs, including new programs that are being added almost daily. The publication includes an advertising section with a listing of opportunities for employment abroad.
In addition to a copy of New Horizons, NRCSA will provide its publication order form, which lists all of the courses in various countries. This form is used to order more detailed descriptions of the available courses, and there is a nominal charge.
For your free copy of the order form and the complimentary copy of New Horizons, write to NRCSA Dept. KV, 823 2nd St., Milwaukee, Wis. 53203.