It’s easy to learn how to do just about anything these days with the help of the internet. Simply watching a YouTube video or reading through a how-to article will get you the base knowledge you need for a DIY project or small-talk conversation. But sometimes it’s easier (and more fun) to learn in an organized setting, like a classroom.
Between auditing classes at universities or signing up for a personal enrichment class, Wisconsin residents can take part in any number of college classes that peak their interest.
Just because you’re on a college campus doesn’t mean you’ll have to enroll in classes like accounting or philosophy. Many colleges and universities across the state offer fun and quirky classes that are available for anyone, including Introduction to Wine, which offers numerous tastings throughout the semester; or a study abroad trip in Iceland, where you can learn about the process of authentic Icelandic knitting.
Whether they help you improve your skills in an existing hobby or introduce you to something brand new, here are some of the most quirky classes that are open to anyone at various colleges and universities throughout Wisconsin.
Weather Forecasting at Home
Madison Area Technical College
It’s easy to make a guess at what the weather is going to be just by stepping outside and looking up at the sky, but if you really want to be accurate with your forecasting, it’s best to learn how the professionals do it. Whether students want to become expert storm chasers or just have enough knowledge to know what to wear outside, there’s a lot to learn in Madison Area Technical College’s (MATT) enrichment class, Weather Forecasting at Home. The six-week class is held every Tuesday of the spring semester at MATT’s campus in Madison, teaching students basic weather terminology, how water impacts the atmosphere, and how to determine weather forecasts. If nothing else, it can help you more confidently decide whether to trust that inconsistent weather app on your phone.
Holiday Frosting Fun
University of Wisconsin – Parkside
Some people are incredible bakers, creating the most delicious muffins, brownies, and cakes, but if they lack decorating skills, then their culinary creations come off as … underwhelming. Fortunately, the University of Wisconsin – Parkside, located in Kenosha, has a Holiday Frosting Fun class, which teaches the basics of decorating with frosting for holiday bakes. For a respectable $50 fee, students in the week-long class will have to bring their own small cake or cupcakes, working with the instructor to create their own individual designs and make treats that look as good as they taste.
Introduction to Urdu Language and Culture
University of Wisconsin – Madison
Most colleges and universities offer at least one language class, but oftentimes the offerings don’t go beyond Spanish, French, German, or Italian. If you want to learn a skill beyond romance languages, why not try Urdu? This class, offered at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, teaches not just the basics of understanding the national language of Pakistan but the culture of the people who speak it. The group-paced class costs $259 and lasts for 10 weeks.
How to Get Started in Game Development
University of Wisconsin – Stout
It’s one thing to be really good at playing video games, but if you really want to know the ins and outs of your favorite games, then you should have some understanding of how they’re developed. How to Get Started in Game Development is a six-week course offered at the University of Wisconsin – Stout that teaches passionate gamers and coding students what it takes to transform an idea into an actually playable video game. There are two versions of the class—one that’s led by an instructor with monthly start dates and another that has no instructor and gives students access to course materials for three months.
Science of Brewing
University of Wisconsin – Superior
Brewing a batch of beer is a tricky procedure—one that requires some science and math knowledge as well as a lot of time and passion for the process. The University of Wisconsin – Superior’s class, titled Science of Brewing, offers students a hands-on opportunity to craft their own beers and understand the science behind how it works. Another perk of the class? If you’ve already mastered the first level, there’s a second class that will help home brewers craft even better pints. Each session of the weekly, three-month class costs $599, and graduates of both courses receive a Science of Brewing certificate.
University of Wisconsin – Whitewater
As you may remember from your first go at college, it can be easy to space out and let your mind go blank when you’re supposed to be paying attention in class. You don’t have to worry about that in the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater’s class focusing on meditation. While meditative practices might seem easy when you’re bored in another class, it’s harder to do when it’s an intentional practice. The class delves into the history and cultural importance of practicing meditation, the health effects meditation has on a person’s body and, most importantly, how to effectively do it. Participants in the six-week class, which costs $79, receive a certificate upon completion.
Iceland: Knitting Under the Northern Lights
University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point
Even if you’ve already graduated college without studying abroad, that doesn’t mean you’ve missed your chance to do it. Sure, you can travel with any tour company or on your own, but the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point makes travel not only fun but educational with several personal enrichment travel programs, including a trip to Iceland.
Participants in the Iceland trip stop at waterfalls and hot springs, but the main focus of the trip is to learn about the country’s knitting culture. Students will spend time knitting while also learning about the country’s sheep and the yarn they produce. They’ll also attend a workshop where they hand-dye yarn with Icelandic herbs.
Cremation: A Hot Topic
University of Wisconsin – Green Bay
Death can be an awkward and uncomfortable subject to talk about for some people, but that’s the main topic of conversation in this cremation class at the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay. The interactive class is led by a licensed funeral director, who teaches students about the entire process of cremation and, despite oftentimes being a mournful subject, the class is said to be lighthearted—in case you didn’t take the hint from the wordplay in the title. The three-week class, part of the university’s lifelong learning program, wraps up at Green Bay’s Malcore Funeral Home, where students get firsthand experience learning the ins and outs of the process.
West African Drumming Ensemble
Drumming has been a part of West African culture for thousands of years—used to celebrate, mourn, or simply communicate. But you don’t have to board a lengthy flight to learn about the culture and skill set of West African drummers. A trip to Madison is enough. Edgewood College offers an ensemble class that teaches students the basics of performing and how drums are culturally used in West Africa. This isn’t even the only geographic drumming class available at the Madison-based college, as they also offer Middle Eastern Drumming and Culture and numerous other music courses. Classes are available to audit at the college for a $75 per-credit fee or a $25 per-credit fee for seniors and alumni.
Introduction to Wine
Mid-State Technical College
Even people with the most limited wine knowledge can sense some differences between a glass of red wine and a pour of white. But do you know what people are looking for with all that swirling and sniffing in their glasses? You will once you enroll in Introduction to Wine at Mid-State Technical College, in Wisconsin Rapids. The class, which costs $40, teaches participants how wine is made and the characteristics of reds, whites and roses—even including five tastings along the way. If you finish this class and want to continue learning more, the college offers three additional classes that get more into the specifics of red, white, and dessert wines.
Learn to Turn: Woodturning Class
University of Wisconsin – Platteville
One of the best parts of taking a personal enrichment class is finding a brand new hobby to enjoy. The University of Wisconsin – Platteville offers students the opportunity to test out woodturning in one of its personal enrichment classes. Students of woodturning, which uses a constantly-spinning wood lathe and handheld tools to create symmetrical wooden objects, spend the class learning basic techniques to create their own masterpieces. The five-week class is offered as part of the university’s personal enrichment classes and costs $135 per student.
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