A new program offers ‘study abroad’ for adults. Is it worth the cost?

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There’s a common line of thinking that your early twenties are your formative years. Studying abroad in college, gap years, overseas volunteer trips, and vacations with your friends are certainly great ways to gain perspective, but it’s not like your thirst for adventure disappears when you hit 25. However, there is the risk of forgetting to carve out time for exploration because you get too consumed with your career and the other constricting realities of life as you get older.

That’s why Sojrn, a study abroad-type program for adults, is a welcome opportunity to relive your younger years without being that awkward old guy at the bar.

Sojrn describes its mission thusly on its website: “In college, study abroad allows students to continue their academic experience in another cultural setting. Sojrn does the same for people who are out of school but want to temporarily experience life through a different cultural lens without giving up their career, home, etc.”

Tara Cappel, founder of FTLO Travel, launched Sojrn this past April to encourage adults to take a “gap year” at a rather unconventional time in their lives. Sojrn offers remote workers the opportunity to live and work abroad.

Each Sojrn “chapter” lasts four weeks and includes private accommodations, dedicated workspaces with Wi-Fi, a local host, and a curriculum of activities designed to immerse you in the culture. This year’s program begins in September, with chapters including Philosophy in Greece, Wine in Tuscany, Mental Wellness in Bali, and Spanish in Colombia. The average age of participants so far is around 34, though anyone age 21 and up is eligible.

In the Tuscany chapter, guests will be able to work from a Tuscan vineyard, learn to read a wine list, participate in a pairing workshop, and get their taste profile analyzed by a sommelier. In concert with Sojrn’s mission to stay conscious of travel’s socioeconomic impact, all activities take place in collaboration with locals.

Though Cappel has lived and worked abroad in five separate countries, she understands that spending time abroad isn’t just a concept that applies to college kids. A midlife gap year is a great way for adults to take a break from their otherwise hectic lives, reflect, and return refreshed.

As you might expect, the experience isn’t cheap. Rates for each chapter start at $2,800 depending on the specific accommodation you book, though you’ll get 20 percent off if you sign up with a friend or significant other. The 2021 chapters are nearly sold out, but Sojrn already has an enticing slate of options for 2022, including Fashion in Paris, Technology in Tokyo, Design in Stockholm, and Surf and Sustainability in Costa Rica. You can join the waitlist for your trip of choice by registering online.

Sojrn might be a convenient choice for remote workers who don’t mind spending the money, but you don’t need a package service to take that midlife gap year. Studying abroad in college is great, but living and working abroad in your 30s or 40s — even if it’s just a few weeks — is a perfect way to press the reset button and gain some new perspective.