25.05.2016 17:33

University helps seniors to stay active

Autor: Dominika Sladká | Kurz: English section | Kategorie: Features and other

She decided to jump on board and started to study again when she retired. Now she knows it was the best decision ever.

Proud Irena Žáčková on her graduation ceremony. Source: Irena Žáčková's archives

Irena Žáčková is a woman who has worked as an accountant almost the whole life. When she reached the retirement age, she wanted to stay active and do something. “I just couldn’t imagine staying at home and not going anywhere. I am a very sociable person, so I thought I had to start doing something and studying seemed like a good choice,” Irena says about her choice to start attending the University of the Third Age (abbreviated as U3A) at Masaryk University.

U3A at MU is one of the biggest universities of the third age in the Czech Republic. The doors of the university are open to anyone who has reached the retirement age and who has fulfilled secondary school-leaving exam. The courses for elderly citizens have been running since 1990. The purpose of the U3A is to enhance older citizens’ knowledge and to introduce them to new discoveries and technologies from various disciplines.

Anyone who satisfies the conditions of the U3A can join one of the long-term courses, which take form of lectures, seminars, tutorials and excursions. Except for the one generally focused course devoted to the matters of healthy and meaningful lifestyle of the elderly there are many specific courses aimed at culture and art. One of these long-term courses has directed Irena to her presently most adored hobby – compiling her lineage. She says: “I am very thrilled about this, I really relish searching for my ancestors, who I have never heard of. Now I am stuck at my great great great grandfather who I cannot find.” After the course ended in 2013, she attended a few courses for the graduates of the U3A and to keep up with the times, she also joined computer course at the Brno University of Technology.

Irena is a very active person in other fields too, including sport: “Because of my advanced age I need at least a little bit of sport activity, therefore I do spinning, cycling, swimming and now I am starting to learn pilates.” But not everyone can bring himself to do sports on his own. For that reason, the university is trying to support seniors in being physically active by arranging short courses focused on a variety of sport activities. Another short courses are aimed at quite different fields such as foreign languages, literature, movies, photography and so on.

This is how graduation ceremony on the U3A looks like. Source: Irena Žáčková's archives

Last but not least, university also holds special lectures of rector emeritus of Brno’s universities and another significant people. Those lectures complete the offer of the main U3A courses and allow enthusiastic students to expand their knowledge even more. Irena Žáčková appreciates its lecturers. “Although ‘students’ are older, the lecturers do not care about it and they are still great whether they are younger or older than we are.”

The University of the Third Age has many benefits. “Although lectures were various and some of them you might not like (and there were not many of them), each of them gives you a lot of interesting information which you can use in everyday life. I definitely recommend it to everyone,” Irena Žáčková says.

University of the Third Age is a great possibility for elders who want to stay active even though they can no longer work. University helps them with broadening their knowledge, discovering new things, and, no less important, meeting new people of the same age and similar interests. Irena says that she goes to the university with her friend and they carry on over the coffee together after every lecture. It is a good way to stay sociable at higher age.

Klíčová slova: University of the Third Age, Masaryk University, study, lifestyle, seniors


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