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

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Ashdown Group: Trainee / Graduate Helpdesk Analyst

£20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Data Analyst - Essex - £25,000

£23500 - £25000 per annum + Training: Ashdown Group: Graduate Data analyst/Sys...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Account Manager

£16000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Graduate Account Manager is r...

Guru Careers: Graduate Account Manager / Sales Executive

£18k + Uncapped Commission (£60k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Account Man...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee