100s of Fascinating Cooking, Art, Culture and Sports Classes Exist Worldwide

“All the world is a laboratory to the inquiring mind.”
Martin Fisher

This post is a companion blog to finding the Best Small Language Schools.

Why I Love Fun Short-Term Classes for Long-Term Travelers

Short-Term Classes for Travelers (also known as educational travel or learning vacations) are my favorite travel experience. These experiences have given me a one-of-a-kind, insider’s view of daily life in many worldwide destinations. While participating in these experiences, I have met numerous long-standing friends, including a girlfriend. Also, thanks mainly to these experiences, I can communicate in French, Spanish, Italian, and Russian.

I have discovered more about myself, my interests, and my passions by participating in volunteer and learning vacations than perhaps anything else in my life. Memories from volunteering and educational travel have left an indelible imprint on my life.

What Are Some Examples of Short-Term Classes For Travelers?

The variety of educational travel opportunities available is astounding. Learning vacations refer to organized courses you take away from home for personal interest. Usually, tourists in these programs also live with local families while taking the course. Classes are available worldwide in nearly every aspect of life (culture, history, economics, politics, art, language, cuisine, etc.).

I have studied, for example, Tuscan landscape architecture in Florence (through the British Institute) and Elephant Training in Lampang, Thailand. The most common type of learning tourist experience involves cooking and language classes.

A Couple of Comments About Foreign Language & Art & Cooking & Sports Classes & Other Learning Vacations

As you will discover throughout this blog, I am a massive fan of short-term classes for travelers (aka learning vacations). It is important to note that:

  • Learning vacations are available worldwide and typically last from one week to a year.
  • Many learning vacations also include opportunities to stay in locals’ homes (and eat meals there).
  • Learning vacations has taught me not just language but many other things. The teachers are well-informed people eager to help students learn about their homeland. Thanks to these teachers, I have uncovered information about the history, economics, politics, music, literature, and art of many different countries worldwide (including France, Italy, Spanish, Argentina, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Mexico, Thailand, India, and Russia) that would be hard to find elsewhere.
  • In addition, I feel privileged to be included in the lives of the learning vacation’s host families and to truly understand what it feels like to live in their hometowns. 

Despite a few minor bumps in the road, I wholeheartedly recommend that all Fifty Plus Nomads check out taking short art, cooking, culture, and sports classes during their long-term travel and expat adventures. (Sometimes, I think I loved the programs partially because of the problems). They are the best way to get under the skin of your destination and learn new skills while getting to know yourself better.

They also are one of the best budget vacation options available. I believe that once you give short-term Classes for travelers a chance, like me, you will be glad you did. 

I highly recommend taking short-term classes for travelers worldwide. I had a ball studying elephant training in Thailand, batik in Chiang Mai, traditional medicine near Cuernavaca, Mexico, and cooking classes in Mexico, France, Peru, and Canada. I even tried to learn surfing (without any success) in Costa Rica. This photo makes me yearn to take a pizza-making class in Florence.
I highly recommend taking short-term classes for travelers worldwide. I had a ball studying elephant training in Thailand, batik in Chiang Mai, traditional medicine near Cuernavaca, Mexico, and cooking classes in Mexico, France, Peru, and Canada. I even tried to learn surfing (without any success) in Costa Rica. This photo makes me yearn to take a pizza-making class in Florence.

Many of the Short-Term Classes for Travelers Are Very Well Suited to Singles 

Short-term classes for travelers can also work well for singles, though they also work for couples. Let us look at why they work so well for singles:  

  • No Short-Term Classes for Travelers have single supplements or other such fees. A couple will usually pay twice as much as a single person. 
  • Most of the language and other schools have many activities such as optional tours, cooking demonstrations, and informal nights out on the town designed to bring single students together.  
  • When singles choose to live with families as part of educational travel, they can easily avoid loneliness and meet locals. (I have stayed with twelve families as part of these programs and always found it easy to become friends with the families.) 

Take Classes at Schools Where the Subject You Want to Learn is their Primary Emphasis 

Many times, language schools offer non-language classes, sort of as an aside. As a whole, you’ll be better off taking classes at a school specializing in that subject. Often classes that aren’t part of a school’s regular programs don’t have good quality instruction and knowledgeable instructors. That said, there are times when these classes may be worth taking at a language school if the school: 

  • Has a long history of teaching these extra classes.
  • Integrates these other topics into the language curriculum. Some schools will offer lectures and activities in many ecological and political courses and then use these activities as a base for the language classes. 

Questions to Ask the School 

Here are a few particular issues classes that you should discuss with the school beforehand: 

  • In what language will the instruction be given? Many dance, art, and other schools have mostly instructors who speak the native language exclusively. You may have a small choice of teachers (sometimes none) who speak English. It is almost impossible if you don’t have much of the language under your belt. Learning how to do a sport in another language is challenging even if you know the language somewhat well. 
  • Does the school provide supplies, food (cooking classes), utensils, etc.? Most schools will provide materials as a matter of course. However, I have heard of some classes that require you to bring your materials. Based on the cost of materials, you should expect to pay more for art and cooking classes than you would for a language class.   

Fantastic Classes in the US and Abroad 

Many people assume that the only subject available for travelers to study abroad is foreign languages. However, you don’t have to learn a foreign language to take a class in another country. Look at some of these fantastic programs that offer alternatives to language schools. (These are classes I have not taken but want to take in the future):

  • Eco-Maya provides a combination of Spanish language schools and environmental education/volunteer opportunities in Guatemala. It also offers a chance to live in a small, indigenous town. The profits go back to the community. 
  • Crow Canyon gives archaeology classes in Colorado and archaeology tours worldwide. 
  • The World Fellowship Center in North Conway, New Hampshire, allows you to stay in a dorm, get three meals a day, and participate in many “progressive” political discussions and lectures for a low cost. 
  • Incas del Peru provides one-on-one instructions with Peruvian artists involved in dancing, weaving, gourd carving, pan flute, jewelry making, and spinning (in addition to Quechua and Spanish language classes). }
  • Part-time classes in arts and cooking (including pizza and gelato) in Florence, Italy.
  • Take jewelry making, batik, cooking, massage, Muay Thai, meditation, and rock climbing in Chiang Mai, Thailand. (Note: I took several of these classes in 2007, which are still operating today).

Want Additional Information about Learning Vacations?

Check out these posts from Tour Radar, Responsible Vacations, Momondo, and Trip Savvy.

We can’t always rely on bilingual signs and people, sometimes
we just have to learn a foreign language to be comfortable traveling and living abroad.
Thankfully, 100s of schools offer short-term travelers language classes to help us learn a foreign language.
Taking these classes while staying with local families has been essential in my ability
to speak Spanish, French, some Italian, and Russian. I love these classes
so much that my company even offers Spanish classes for Fifty Plus Nomads.
(Photo of hospital sign in Tucson by Jesuiseduardo – Own work, Wikipedia)

Over 50? Tired of Learning Spanish Without Results?

Whether you want to converse confidently with locals, polish your Spanish, or deal with a few common issues expats and travelers encounter in Latin America, Fifty Plus Nomad has four 1-on-1 Spanish classes just for you. Join us online or at the beautiful Casa Los Dos Gallos in Merida, Mexico. We guarantee you’ll meet your goals through our exclusive polyglot method and personalized coaching.

Additional Posts About Learning Foreign Languages; Spanish, English, Cooking, Art, and Other Classes; and Volunteering for Expats and Long-Term Travelers

Paul Heller has been a lifelong avid traveler and language learner and teacher, Even as a child, he told Santa Claus that he wanted to visit all the children worldwide. At seven years old, Paul wanted to retire to Mexico. At eight, he memorized the name, capital, location, and some facts about every country worldwide. At twelve, he found a book "Lonely Planet: Southeast Asia on a Shoestring" and started developing his own itinerary for a future round-the-world trip. He remained obsessed with travel; after getting a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Southern California and working as an administrator, He spent his vacations going to different countries around the globe studying language, touring, and volunteering. In 1994, he quit his job and lived in Russia as a volunteer English instructor. He discovered that he loved teaching languages. In 2004, he decided to make a living out of his travels and founded a community of people who love to travel just like him. He developed 5 three-hour classes about living and traveling long-term worldwide which he taught in over 50 adult education programs throughout the US. After his parents passed, he realized his dream of traveling around the world; cruising and touring some of the most remote places like the North Atlantic, Patagonia, and Oceania; and learning new languages (he knows Spanish, Italian, French, and Russian). Paul encourages everyone to learn foreign languages. He knows that it can be frustrating and slow but that anyone can learn a language if they put in the work and, most importantly, learning a language is well worth the time and effort because it opens up a whole new set of people, ideas, and cultures. He is currently spending the next chapter of his life in Mérida, México. He is excited about using this blog and his classes and workshops to inspire and equip fellow Fifty Plus Nomads with the language, cultural, and psychological skills necessary to be successful and happy long-term travelers and expats over 50.

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