Foreign Studies for Seniors

A growing number of seniors are discovering that they're never too old to learn. They are signing up in increasing numbers for combined travel and learning opportunities, through programs designed specifically for seniors.

* Interhostel, now in its 15th year, offers more than 40 travel/ study programs in 25 countries for travelers over the age of 50. Each program is designed in cooperation with an overseas university or institution, whose faculties provide instruction in history, politics, culture, natural environment and other subjects. Accommodations and food vary with location; they may include dormitories and cafeteria-style dining or hotels with meals in local restaurants.

Interhostel programs are offered in almost every European country, including the Scandinavian countries and England. Prices include all meals, lodging, air fare from designated departure cities, airport transfers and admissions to galleries, museums and program events. Prices vary with departure dates, duration of visit and destination. A 15-day visit to England in September, with residence at the University of London and round-trip air transportation from Boston on Virgin Atlantic, is priced at $2,215 per person.

Interhostel, which is headquartered at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, N.H., also features a Familyhostel program with special prices for children and grandchildren. There are seven Familyhostel destinations in Europe, plus one each in Australia and Mexico. For a catalogue or information on Interhostel or Familyhostel programs, call (800) 733-9753.

* Lakeville, Pa.-based TraveLearn has linked 225 colleges and universities into a nationwide network providing cultural learning tours around the world. The tours, led by university professors, are limited to 20 participants. Specialists at each tour site, many of which are off the conventional tour route, offer lectures and field seminars; participants are further encouraged to interact with local people. Lodging is in first-class hotels. Tours cost $2,000-$5,000, depending on destination and length (typically 12-23 days), and include two or three meals daily. Destinations include Canada, South and Central America, North Africa, Australia, China and Indonesia. For a catalogue of 1994 TraveLearn programs, call (800) 235-9114.

* The National Registration Center for Study Abroad (NRCSA) emphasizes learning languages in the countries where they are spoken, with programs varying in length from one week to a full semester. Participating institutions are in 25 countries throughout Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine) and South America, and in Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Taiwan and Japan.

Costs vary widely depending on length of study term, location and lodging--which is usually in private homes and includes two or three meals daily. In some areas, residence is in hostels, or host institutions can make hotel reservations. Field trips to nearby points of interest, museums and galleries can be arranged, although transportation and entry fees are not normally included in tuition. The size of classes also varies; tutoring is available at extra cost. For a newsletter listing dates, fees and course descriptions for schools in all countries, send a self-addressed, stamped, business-size envelope (52 cents postage) to NRCSA, P.O. Box 1393, Milwaukee, Wis. 53201.

* For aspiring Spanish-language students, Mexico's Cemanahuac Educational Community offers a year-round selection of study options. Cemanahuac (pronounced say-mon-a-wok) is headquartered in Cuernavaca, a hill city about 50 miles south of Mexico City. The length of individual courses is determined by the student, based upon the degree of proficiency sought. New study groups are formed weekly, and the number of students per class is never more than five.

Participants can opt for private room and full board with a local family for $15 per day double, $21 single, oror they can stay in a small hotel for $38 per day, double, including breakfast.

All students pay a $75 application and registration fee. Course tuition varies; intensive Spanish, which consists of four hours of classes daily, costs $150 per week. There's a discount of 10% for four or more weeks, but all tuition is subject to a 10% tax. Additional fees are levied for textbook and educational materials, tutoring, library use, transcripts and attendance certificates. Field study trips cost $10-$30 per day, including transportation, guide and entrance fee, but not food or lodging.

A special program for seniors, entitled "Senior Studies in Mexico," is a two-week educational vacation that includes Spanish-language instruction; courses on art, history, archeology and culture, and anthropological field study in central Mexico sites. A fee of $647.50 per person, double occupancy, includes housing and meals, tuition, registration, all educational materials and applicable taxes. For a brochure outlining the various programs, costs and other information, call (800) 537-8601.

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