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Because they usually sell out down to the last classroom seat, late April is regarded as the last time for deciding whether to attend one of four major learning vacations in America and Great Britain.  With travel having recovered from its recession-based slump of 2008 to 2011, each of Cornell, Omega, St. John's and Oxford is full-up by that time.
 
     Oxford is perhaps the first to turn down late-spring applications for its adult summer school known as "The Oxford Experience".  Its accommodations are all in a single structure, the medieval Christ Church College completed in the 1500s by Henry VIII and best known today for its "Harry Potter Dining Room", the huge vaulted hall featured in key scenes of the movie series, where Harry and Hermione interacted with their friends and adversaries.  There, flanked by solemn oil paintings of Oxford notables (they remain still and unmoving within their frames), you take all three meals a day (surprisingly good meals), and in between you meet with your Oxford "dons" (teaching fellows) in their apartments found in the same quadrangular building, in full-day courses for a full week, in history, science, contemporary British culture, or popular philosophy.  The student body is a fascinating mix of adults from around the world, whose sole uniform talent is their ability to speak and understand English.  I greatly enjoyed my own weeklong course two summers ago in "Virginia Woolf and her Set", where I was the sole male in a class of nine women from Britain, France, Italy and the United States.  Go to www.conted.ox.ac.uk/oxfordexperience for further details about a memorable summer adventure costing around $1,789 per person for tuition, lodging, meals, evening entertainment, late afternoon tours of Oxford and vicinity, and interesting lectures in the evening.
 
     Cornell's Adult University, on the campus of the prestigious school in Ithaca, New York, is the near-equivalent of Oxford's summer school for adults (I call it a school, though--like the three other learning vacations--there are no entrance requirements, no tests or examinations, no required papers to write, simply learning for the same of learning).  Your teachers are some of the most distinguished members of the Cornell faculty, the courses cover broad areas in the liberal arts, and a distinguishing characteristic is that the children of persons attending these one of two weeks in summer are also enrolled in courses of their own, and meet their parents only in the dining halls where meals are had.  You stay in comfortable student quarters, and pay around $1,500 for the one-week experience.  See www.sce.cornell.edu/cau for more details.
 
     The "Summer Classics" program of St. John's College in Santa Fe, New Mexico, differs from the previous two in that the courses are all built about the reading of western masterworks, an activity to be expected from a school whose undergraduate curriculum consists solely of the reading of "Great Books" of the Western tradition.  You meet in seminar rooms at long tables seating a maximum of 14 or so adult students and two "teaching masters" of St. John's, who occupy either end.  Whether you devote yourself to Thuycidides "The Peloponnesian Wars" or to Dante's "Inferno", your one or two summer weeks are once-in-a-lifetime experience enhanced by the breathaking views of New Mexico from St. John's mountainside location.  See www.stjohnscollege.edu/resources/summerclassics for more details, about a program that costs around $1,769 for your week there (including tuition, room and board).
 
     The Omega Institute, on a large and picturesque rural campus a two-hour drive north from New York City, near Rhinebeck, New York, is a world apart from the three academic centers I've named, and teaches a form of secular spirituality that used to be called "New Age".  Its many seminars and workshops, which attract an audience mainly in their 20s and 30s, though open to all, deal not simply with the standard subjects in meditation and yoga, but with personal relationships, vulnerabilities, social attitudes of every sort.  Classes are accompanied by swimming, boating and hiking, with largely vegetarian meals, and with evening dances and get-togethers.  Omega is open seven months a year, and is well described at www.omega.org.  Bunks in dormitory accommodations cost as little as $123 per person per day (on a one-week stay), including all three meals; but seminars and classes are extra.   
 
     Any of the four opportunities I've listed will expand your life--and possibly change it.
 


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