Are you ready for a real “getaway” during your upcoming Road Scholar Adventure Online? Just because you can’t be out on the road, learning in person, doesn’t mean that you can’t make this week feel special — a real escape from the world of quarantine, social distancing and pandemic concerns. We gathered some helpful tips and ideas from other Adventures Online participants from past weeks to help you disconnect from your “normal life” and connect more intimately with your Road Scholar experience. Read on to find out how to fully immerse yourself in your upcoming learning adventure to really make the most of it!
— Linda A. from Eliot, Maine | Road Scholar Class of ‘19
"During my online Paris program, I really felt like I was away for a week. I was in desperate need of a mental break from everything. It was like a gift from the French gods."
1. Unplug and tune in!
Treat your week-long virtual program as a way to immerse yourself in someplace new. Imagine you’re really in Paris or Santa Fe and your cell phone coverage doesn’t reach there. Let your friends and family know you’ll be unavailable during the program times, and put your phone on airplane mode. Hang a sign on your door that says “Gone Learning” or “In London December 7-11.” Try not to check your email until your day’s lessons are finished. Really disconnecting and unplugging from your “regular life” will make this week feel more special and unique and will make it feel more like a true exploration.
2. Invite a pal to join you
Who do you usually go with on Road Scholar programs? Your spouse? Your sister-in-law? Your college friend who lives across the country? Or think of someone you miss — whether you’re separated by distance or quarantine. Ask them to enroll in the same Adventure Online as you! It will give you a reason to call each other as you plan for the week, and you’ll have so much to talk about at the end of each day or when the program is over. Plus, you can use it as a reason to get you excited for a real in-person program to take together when it’s safe to travel again!
3. Journal about what you learned
Are you someone who likes to journal at the end of each day when you’re on an in-person Road Scholar trip? You can make this online program feel more like a traditional Road Scholar learning adventure by spending some time at the end of each day journaling about what you learned and the people you’ve met. Keep your notebook handy during the day, too, to keep notes during the presentation.
4. Make your meals immersive
Get a real “taste” of the place you’re learning about by planning your meals ahead of time! Learning about Paris this week? Get a French cookbook and add some recipe ingredient to your shopping list for the week. Buy some snacks from the international food section at the supermarket. Or find an ethnic restaurant in your neighborhood and order a special meal during the week to make it feel like you’re “really there.”
Enrolled in a more topic-focused program? Your special week of learning is still a great excuse to order out from a new restaurant nearby that you've never tried. (And a great way to support local businesses in the process.)
5. Unwind with a book
Keep your phone ringer off through the afternoon and into the evening as you snuggle up with a new novel that takes place in the destination you’re learning about or a non-fiction book on the topic you’re studying during your program. Check the reading list you received when you enrolled or our list on bookshop.org for recommendations! (Remember that when you buy your books from the Road Scholar Bookshop, your purchase supports Road Scholar programming AND small, local bookshops across the U.S.)
6. Send postcards to friends (or yourself!)
Order postcards online before your virtual program that represent the place or the topic you're learning about (Zazzle is a great source). Then, take time in the evenings during the week to write postcards to friends or family to tell them about your experience and what you learned. Don’t forget to stamp them and send them before the week is through! You can even send YOURSELF a postcard from a public mailbox to commemorate your learning adventure this week.
7. Get dressed up
Are you enrolled in an opera or theater program? Does your Adventure Online include a live performance or social hour with the other participants? Use it as an excuse to don your Sunday best and dress up for the event to make it special.
8. Get a memento from Road Scholar’s World Bazaar
Have you heard about Road Scholar’s online marketplace, the World Bazaar? Every purchase you make from the World Bazaar supports Road Scholar’s mission AND local artists around the world. Commemorate your Adventure Online with a handmade keepsake, and learn about the actual artisan who made it and their home culture at the same time.
9. Make connections with other participants
During these times of social distancing, one of the benefits of taking part in our LIVE Road Scholar Adventures Online is that you have the opportunity to interact with other lifelong learners from across the country. Take full advantage of your interactions with other participants. Tune in during all the social hours and extra discussion time offered to you in the mornings or evenings. And stay in touch with friends you meet on the program by exchanging email addresses or connecting on social media. (You might consider enrolling in another Adventure Online together, or even an in-person program in 2021!)
Bonus Tip: You’ll receive a “group picture” from the program at the end of the week. Print it off and put it on your refrigerator or mantle to remind you of the wonderful week you had learning with new Road Scholar friends!
10. Avoid Zoom fatigue
Try to avoid scheduling other virtual events or Zoom calls the week of your program to avoid Zoom burnout. Past participants recommend looking away from your screen for 20 seconds every 20 minutes to keep your eyes sharp, and be sure to get up, walk around, take regular bathroom breaks and hydrate throughout the day. Your instructor will have scheduled breaks for the group, but don’t be afraid to step away when you need to.
11. Avoid the post-program blues
Other participants have expressed to us that they felt so connected and engaged during their week of online learning, that the day after it was over, they woke up feeling a little blue. Help yourself avoid being bummed out after your program ends by planning your next program before the week is through! Browse our other Adventures Online, or look ahead to in-person program in 2021!