Courses to change your life

Sign up now if you want to learn a language, study art or go an expedition

With the torrent of mince pies, chain letters, and gift lists that rain down on us at this time of the year, it can sometimes be easy to identify with those scatologically splattered souls damned by their gluttony to the third tier of hell in Dante's Inferno.

But relief can be found from the crapulous indulgence of the party season. For some it is a chance to start indulging their curiosity, not just their gullet. And with the New Year approaching new opportunities to broaden your horizons rather than your waistline are popping up all over the place.

For Londoners there is no better place to start than at Christie's. The world famous auction house starts a new term of wine-tasting and history-of-art courses in January, with weekly evening classes exploring themes from art in antiquity through Caravaggio to contemporary art. At £125 per five-week course, or £30 a lecture, the evening classes offer the same quality as Christie's famous year-long courses without the commitment of time and money.

On her way to check out the Turner Prize nominees at Tate Britain, one Christie's student, Nelly Yona, 41, tells me how, when she moved to London earlier this year, she was determined to make as much of her time here as possible. "Seeing the exhibitions tickled my fancy," she says. "I wanted a course that would give me the tools to enjoy them, and the course is excellent."

If your passion is for the beauty of the grand design, the environmental charity Earthwatch has the answer, with dozens of 10- to 21-day expeditions doing environmental research around the world. Elaine Massie, 36, was looking for something as different as possible from her job in insurance when she went on her first Earthwatch expedition in 1998. She fell in love with the projects and has done 14 since, the latest a trip to Canada to monitor grey whale populations that saw her kayaking up the west coast watched by curious porpoises and seals. "It's really good fun," she says. "You see so much more than a normal tourist and you're part of a community." And you don't need any scientific know how to get involved. "You just need enthusiasm," she says. "They'll teach you everything else." Expeditions cost from £200 to £1,900. To find out more go to their website at www.earthwatch.org

The best way to learn a language is in its native country. The problem is finding a good school when you're on the other side of the world. The International Association of Language Colleges (IALC) does that for you. Just log on to www.ialc.org.

Gladis Garcia-Soza, senior teaching fellow at Essex University, has been sending her students on four week courses at the IALC's school in Valencia for the last 20 years. "It's an explosion for them when they first get there," she says. "And when they come back they're speaking like a native speaker."

Learning something new always gives you a fresh perspective and outlook. It's a source of excitement and surprise. Which is more than can be said for the presents most of us will be getting at the end of the month.

www.systematic-kinesiology.co.uk

www.shad.org.uk

www.spw.org

www.connoisseur.org

www.christies.com/education

Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Guru Careers: Graduate Marketing Executive / Marketing Assistant

£18 - 23k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Marketing Executive / Assistant is n...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Trainee

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider to the fa...

Ashdown Group: Graduate IT Analyst - Global ERP Implementation - London

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful & reputable global business is l...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: At SThree, we like to be differe...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'