by Ann Rickard
THE importance of keeping the mind and body active after retirement has been told to us so often we don't need reminding again.
There is plenty around us to keep us active and involved as a flick through the community notes in your local paper will prove.
But Janette Galbraith, retired for five years now, believes joining your local U3A will give you access to learning and involvement in the community - all under the one roof.
"There are a lot of groups, so many opportunities to join things, to help socialise and so on, but at U3A it is all there in one place," she said.
"I have seen people who have blossomed at U3A. So many come in looking miserable, they say they only came because somebody had forced them. Now they are participating, enjoying, laughing, meeting for coffee. And it is all so inexpensive."
Janette is taking five subjects: Italian, German, Movies and More, Watercolour Painting, On Screen Arias and Operas. She says even if she never uses her Italian it does not matter.
"I do hope to go to Italy, but it is more a matter of keeping your brain active and keeping up your interests and keeping up with life in general," she said. "If one uses the Italian at some time, good, if not it is something you've learned. With the German, I do speak it. I lived in Europe for many years. In the U3A German classes we meet, have a chat and a few laughs. A lot of laughter goes on here. You meet so many interesting people. People who have lost partners, or their children have relocated, or they've moved from somewhere else. Instead of sitting at home alone, moping, feel bored or sad and lonely, go to your U3A. There is companionship, fun. Learn to live again. It is like living to learn and learning to live."
Janette encourages anyone who has not visited their local branch of U3A to step into the waters and find out what goes on.
"The name, the University of the Third Age might be a bit off-putting," she said. "Perception is a strange thing. There is no sitting of exams. Because the tutors are all members it makes it intimate. There are no qualifications needed, no exams, no pressure. If you have to go away you just don't come. It is not like you've signed up for an academic course."