Movies can be the ultimate escapism, taking us to fantasy realms where anything is possible... and returning us to earth with a bump at the end!
Who hasn't walked away from an incredible film wishing that they could live in that world, where taxes, electric bills and boring 9-5 jobs are replaced with magic and adventure? Wouldn't life just be so much easier if you were a mermaid, a wizard, or a Jedi? Possibly not, given the adventures that our favorite characters get into, but assuming you weren't the chosen one...
While you may never have received your Hogwarts acceptance letter, there are still some amazing ways to get a taste of the life your favorite characters get to live. Check out these fantastic courses to bring a little extra magic to your life!
1. Hogwarts Is Here: Online Courses In Magic
Even if you have a sneaking suspicion that you're a squib, that's no reason not learn all you can about witchcraft and wizardry, thanks to the incredible online courses at Hogwarts Is Here.
This fan-created online school is a mix of courses in Hogwarts subjects (such as Charms, Astronomy, History of Magic and Potions) and a massive role playing community (with forums, school houses, a house cup, and school clubs). You can even browse the Hogwarts library, hang out in the Great Hall, and collect and trade Chocolate Frog cards.
About as close as you can get to real thing, this amazing site allows you to get as involved as you like. Just take one course (The History of Magic sounds pretty awesome to me!), or dive in for the full Hogwarts experience!
2. Flipping Your Fins At Mermaid School
Ah, the life of a mermaid. Gliding through the warm waters of a lagoon, perched on a rock weaving seashells through your hair, trading your voice to the sea witch to find love... ok, maybe not that last one.
If you've dreamed of pulling a reverse-Ariel since you first learned to swim, Mermaid Schools are popping up all over the place to let you give it a try. A cross between a fitness craze (apparently very good for your core) and an excuse for adults to indulge their inner child, these schools provide you with a neoprene tail and lessons on how to use it.
The International Mermaid Swimming Instructors Association lists courses in basic swimming, advanced free diving, and even professional mermaiding. (Yes, you can be a mermaid for a living.) While schools aren't yet too common, existing schools like Aquamermaid in Canada and Philippine Mermaid Swimming Academy are expanding rapidly.
3. Young Padawan: Jedi Academy
Hand a Star Wars fan any vaguely sword-shaped object, and chances are they're going to start swinging it around making light saber noises. It's just plain fun, and many a wrapping-paper-tube-saber fight has been had by geeks at Christmas time.
But did you know that there are actually multiple training schools where you can actually learn the art of light saber combat? These Jedi Academies use the principles of martial arts and sword fighting to teach students how to effectively wield a lightsaber, as well as using the Force to keep themselves calm despite the stresses of modern life. New York Jedi, Ludosport Lightsaber Academy, The Golden Gate Knights, and The Force Academy are just some of the schools dedicated to the art of light saber fighting.
Sure, you could just take a Kendo class, but this just seems like so much more fun!
4. Ahoy, Matey! Pirate Certification at MIT
It may not seem very pirate-y to go through a formal certification process, but if you are at MIT, you can do just that.
The school already has a physical education requirement (who knew, right?), but since 2011, if students complete PE courses in Archery, Fencing, Pistol, and Sailing they achieve the dubious honor of becoming a certified pirate. The course-load makes a lot of sense; add Thievery and Drinking in there, and you have the perfect buccaneer!
Of course, the big catch with this class is that you have to actually be a student at MIT already, and that's a serious hurdle of an entry requirement. However, it's still pretty fantastic to know that this is an option, and maybe one day other universities will follow suit.
5. The Starfleet Academy Experience and The Starfleet Marine Corps
For Trekkies who want to explore strange new experiences, there are plenty of options to satisfy.
Opening in 2016, the Starfleet Academy Experience is a travelling exhibit that aims to create an immersive learning experience for fans. Visitors will learn, play interactive games, and even get the chance to take the legendary Kobayashi Maru test and pilot a ship.
For the more military inclined fans, the Starfleet Marine Corps Academy offers online courses in everything from Tactics to Outfitting to Combat Engineering. The classes are all available with downloaded manuals, and the site is set out as a fully immersive Academy website.
Other incarnations of the Starfleet Academy have appeared over the years, but sadly, many of the sites are now defunct. However, this is such a huge fandom that I have little doubt that more will appear in future.
Weapons, Fitness and More
While the classes mentioned so far all have a specific focus, there are plenty of other classes available internationally that apply without being quite so fantasy-based.
You can learn archery, swordfighting, and martial arts and train like a favorite hero - although there'll be a lot of class time to reach the skill level of Katniss, Legolas, or Oliver Queen! If you want to go full fantasy, you might add classes in pursuits like tracking, orienteering, wilderness survival, and horse riding.
Or, if you would rather immerse yourself in the experience without the actual classes, LARPing (Live Action Role Playing) groups are becoming more and more popular. Take part in battles, celebrations, and costumed weekends with themes ranging from Medieval fantasy to Vampires.