University for Retirees - The U3A

Question: Why would you want a University for Retirees? 

Answer:  Because most retirees once they get over the immediate euphoria of finally leaving work end up feeling a little lost and even lonely.

Even when retired you need to have a purpose in life.

Continuing to learn new things and sharing existing skills and knowledge that you may have with other people is a great way to keep mind and body active and give you that purpose.

I recently bumped into a friend of mine Suzanne who was telling me about her parents and how they became members of the U3A and the way it changed their lives. 

She told me how throughout their lives, her parents Mona & Jim had adored classical music.  Her Mum had a lovely voice and sang with local choirs.  And over the years, her Dad built up a near- encyclopaedic knowledge of orchestral music.

When they both retired, it was a natural step to join their local U3A music appreciation group.  Taught by a knowledgeable and approachable music aficionado, her parents loved the talks.

Jim Vennard

After a few months went by her Dad, a naturally quiet and rather shy gentleman, tentatively approached the group leader, whom by this time had become a firm friend, and gently suggested a theme for a future talk. 

The group leader considered this for a moment and then said, "I think it’s a brilliant idea, but I think you should be the one to deliver it". 

A little taken aback, her Dad nonetheless seized the opportunity with both hands, and threw himself into research. Suzanne says "I think he was a little nervous, but tried not to show it.

I still remember the evening after the talk, when he called me to report back. It had gone well, apparently.  "At the end, everybody applauded!".  He couldn't have been more thrilled.  And thus, he had a whole new purpose.

Over the next year or two, he suggested, meticulously researched and then delivered another few talks, all equally well-received as the first. 

He really did discover a new lease of life.  For him to be able to pass along his love and knowledge of classical music was a wonderful way for him to enjoy it all over again.

The University for Retirees

There are branches of the U3A all over the Country. If you can't find one near you then you can start your own with their National Membership Associate Scheme which provides support and resources.

If you search the internet for University for Retirees or U3A you will find them in lots of different countries all over the world.

The U3A is not a university with exams and certificates.  There is no curriculum and no entrance qualifications you only a need a desire to learn.

There are no lectures at the University for Retirees members simply embark on an amazing voyage of discovery. 

The list of topics and activities are endless and cover anything from academic subjects to physical activities both indoor and outdoor here's a small sample of some of the activities on their website.

  • Computing skills
  • Learning to Paint
  • Learning to play a musical instrument 
  • Creative Writing
  • Digital photography
  • Knitting and needlework
  • Board games
  • Doing a parachute jump
  • Climb Kilimanjaro or something more local if you prefer
  • Walking groups
  • learn how to dance.

It's not just about learning new things. If you enjoy something in particular the U3A provides the opportunity of meeting up with like minded people to make your hobby or interest more sociable by enjoying things together.

There is also the opportunity like Suzanne's father where you can share your knowledge on a subject with others and maybe teach a skill to someone else.

Most members of the University for retirees will tell you how it's opened up a completely new life for them not only broadening their horizons but making new friends and enjoying a busy social calendar.

Check out the articles below for more ideas on retirement activities.

Outdoor Pursuits

Indoor Retirement Activities

Retirement Hobbies

Retirement Ideas Out and About

Fun and Adventurous Hobbies

Spectator Sports and Events

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