Swap your beach vacation for a more rewarding cultural experience. Combine a trip with learning a new skill, language or hobby. Why not try mastering Japanese calligraphy in Tokyo or learning how to successfully capture wildlife on film on safari. You’ll arrive home refreshed, total fulfilled and bursting with new knowledge.
Learn to be a Fashion Designer in Milan, Italy
Where better to learn the art of fashion design than in Milan, Italy; the center of cutting edge fashion trends. Spend time at the Instituto Marangoni which was established in 1935 learning your craft. With summer school sessions as well as shorter courses you’ll learn how to sketch and plan outfits. There are also similar schools from Marangoni in Paris and London and there are degree and yearlong courses on offer too. Milan has produced many of the top fashion designers in the world including Giorgio Armani, Dolce and Gabbana and Gianni Versace. You could be the next Prada, Missoni or Moschino!
Learn to photograph wildlife on safari
If you don’t know your brightness from your contrast or your wide angle lens from your telephoto lens then a specialist photography course is a must for you! And where better to learn the art of photography than amongst the fascinating landscapes and exotic safari animals of Tanzania. A professional photographer will teach you about specific lighting, filters, choice of lens etc to capture lions, giraffes and elephants in the perfect shot, time and again.
Learn the art of Shiatsu massage
Shiatsu professionals study for three years in Japanese then undertake an exam to qualify as a Shiatsu massage therapist. You can take a fast-track course lasting two months instead which will give you a good grounding in traditional Shiatsu, which means ‘finger pressure’ in Japanese, including the methods for diagnosis and treatment of ailments. Shiatsu was developed in 1912 by Tokujiro Namikoshi and the Japan Shiatsu College in Tokyo will teach you treatments for lymphatic, skeletal, stress and muscular issues.
Learn Millinery in London
If your heroes are Stephen Jones, Judy Bentinck and William Chambers, then millinery, aka hatmaking, is the craft of choice for you. Anyone that’s ever shopped for a hat knows how difficult it can be to find the perfect style, colour and fit. Well now you can learn all about the art of millinery and make your own pieces with a Rose Cory millinery course in London. Rose has been hats since aged 16 and has created pieces for royals and celebrities. Take a five day course and learn how to make hats of straw, felt and leather with in depth guidance on sizing, making a dolly, linings and trimmings.
Learn to cook authentic Vietnamese cuisine
If you love Banh xeo (stuffed crepes), Banh canh (noodle soup) and Bo kho (beef stew) then you’ll enjoy taking an authentic Vietnamese cooking course. Learn how to balance the five elements and the essential ingredients of fish sauce, fresh herbs, shrimp paste, local vegetables, soy sauce and oils to create a delicious meal that you can recreate time and again back home.
Learn authentic Japanese Calligraphy
Try your hand at something really unusual such as Shodō, aka Japanese calligraphy which is an intricate artistic form of the language of Japan. Creating works is as much about being in a Zen state of mind as it is focussing on the correct techniques. Each school has its own special techniques with expert shodo masters on hand to guide and teach. Japanese calligraphy shares its roots with Chinese calligraphy and indeed once you master one you can travel around Asia practicing each countries particular branch.
Learn Ayurveda in India
Ayurveda is famous the world over and now you can combine a holiday in India with learning the ancient Hindu health and wellbeing practice of Ayurvedic medicine. Famed for its holistic approach to therapy, Ayurveda teachers will coach you in treating ailments from a spiritual, emotional and physical point of view. India is the perfect place to learn as the practice of Ayurveda originated here during the Vedic period (between 1700 and 1100 BCE). Combine with traditional yoga and martial arts for a well-balanced getaway.
Learn Belly Dancing in Egypt
The ‘West Asian’ dance, aka bellydancing originated in ancient Greece and was popular in ancient Egypt, Lebanon and Turkey. In Arabic ‘Raqs sharqi’ is the most recognizable form to the western world, where the term belly dancing came from the French ‘danse du ventre’ when it was introduced during the Victorian period. Each country has their own costume and interpretation of technique and both sexes and children would often perform the dance at social events as a traditional cultural dance. It may look relatively straightforward but it is a precise art form that requires grace, good posture and steely stomach muscles! Try a class at one of the authentic classes recommend by the Raqs Sharqi Society such as Egyptian Sha’abi, Baladi and Sharqi.
By Julie Bowman