Thursday, January 14, 2010

Lifelong Learning Thursday

Nancy Merz Nordstrom, author of Learning Later, Living Greater: The Secret of Making the Most of Your After 50 Years will share the benefits of Lifelong Learning on Thursdays.

The Secret for Making the Most of Your After-50 Years.

Lifelong Learning in Your Later Years…
A Health Club for Your Mind, Body, and Spirit!

Over the last few weeks we have discussed the concept, benefits and opportunities of educational travel. There’s nothing like a first-person story, however, to really make something come alive. So, with that in mind, sit back and relax while I tell you about my very first educational travel adventure. The story begins in August, 1996…

Sitting in Terminal E at Logan International Airport in Boston surrounded by strangers, I found myself wondering how, at age 51, I was about to travel to Europe, my very first passport clutched tightly in my hand.

Talk about stepping outside my comfort zone! Except for short trips to Canada and Bermuda with my family, all my travel had been within the U.S. Yet here I was, waiting to board a SwissAir flight to Zurich. To say conflicting thoughts were swirling about was putting it mildly.

After 29 years of marriage, four children, and work as a secretary, the unexpected death of my husband at age 48 had thrown my life into limbo. Even now, three years later, I was still floundering. Being a single woman was not a comfortable role for me in many different ways.

Travel was one of those ways. I kept noticing how our society seemed fixated on “Couple-hood,” especially when it came to vacations. I was interested in traveling, but I soon realized that traveling solo was going to be a real challenge – a challenge made even more difficult by that ubiquitous “single supplement,” a practice by hotels that penalizes single travelers.

So it was with great interest that I read an article earlier in the year about Interhostel,* an educational travel provider for adults over the age of 50, based at the University of New Hampshire in Durham.

The article talked about how their programs were perfect for solo travelers. It went on to say that traveling with Interhostel groups was fun, educational and safe for singles, especially single women. An added bonus was that many of the programs did not have that infamous single supplement.

So here I was five months later, about to leave for Innsbruck, Austria and the Northern Tirolean section of Italy. As a child I loved the story of “Heidi,” so a trip to the Austrian and Italian Alps seemed like a good fit. An added plus was that program participants would be staying in single dorm rooms, with private baths, at the University of Innsbruck – all without that extra charge.

In the weeks prior to departure I received a wealth of information about our program. I read everything thoroughly, including books from the suggested reading list. We were told about our accommodations, what to pack, and our day-to-day itineraries were clearly spelled out. I felt well prepared for what I thought would be a one-time, fun vacation.

Little did I know that the next three weeks were about to change my life. How does that expression go? Life is what happens when you’re making other plans. Well, life had certainly done that to me three years previously, and it was about to do it again.

Next Week…An Austrian Arrival

* Interhostel, the educational travel organization that developed this program was disbanded by the University of New Hampshire in 2005.

D. H. Lawrence said, “When we get out of the glass bottle of our ego and when we escape like the squirrels in the cage of our personality and get into the forest again, we shall shiver with cold and fright. But things will happen to us so that we don’t know ourselves. Cool, unlying life will rush in.” Over the coming weeks you will see that is exactly what happened to me.
For more information on Learning Later, Living Greater visit You can purchase Learning Later, Living Greater at

Till Next Time…

Nancy Merz Nordstrom is Director of the Lifelong Learning Department at Computer School for Seniors (

1 comment:

Sage said...

I alwasy find one of the best part of the travel is the preparation, gathering all the information about that area that you are interested it. The more you know about the place, the more you enjoy.