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Essential Guide: Strange Schools and Unusual Universities

With colleges and universities opening their doors for the spring semester, it's time to go back to school for millions of college students, and while most students will take general subjects such as math, science, and history, there are a few schools in the world where you can get an education in subjects that are definitely off the standard curriculum.

Elf School

In Iceland, over 50% of the population believes in elves. This belief is so widespread that entire roads are planned around boulders that are suspected elf homes. So it's no surprise that there's an entire school dedicated to the study of these hidden people.                                          

article-imageElves! (image via Florintino Floro)

Located in the city of Reykjavik, the school offers a five hour crash course on Iceland's elves that includes a tour of proven elf habitats. The class ends with a coffee and pancake breakfast and a signed diploma that certifies you as an official elf expert, at least in Iceland, anyway.

Monroe Institute

Whether or not the Monroe Institute is an actual school or just a complex scheme to sell some of Robert Monroe's patented "Hemi-Sync" technology is up for debate. If the class descriptions are to be believed, this is the only school in the world dedicated to inducing an out-of-body experience. You can spend the $1,795 you were saving for a generic spring break vacation to for a transcendental out of body experience.                                             

article-imageCampus of the Monroe Institue (via the Monroe Institute

The Monroe Institute offers classes such as "Gateway Voyage," for those who want to travel out-of-body, to "Using Hypnosis to Relive Past Lives," which is pretty self-explanatory. Even if you don't believe in Monroe's Hemi Sync technology (or out-of-body experiences in general), the Monroe Institute offers (perhaps questionably so) continuing education credits for psychologists, counselors, and massage therapists. 

Tempest Freerunning Academy

If you're more of a gym class sort of person, the Tempest Freerunning Academy is a parkour paradise run by the Los Angeles-based Team Tempest. Team Tempest is a group of professional freerunners who have done TV commercials and worked in movies. They've created a huge space full of walls, ramps, and bars to run around, jump off and climb to your heart's delight. They offer classes for aspiring freerunners and parkour traceurs. While you might not be doing flips or jumping across rooftops your first class out, it beats getting picked last for dodgeball.                                                       

article-imageFacilities at the Tempest Academy (via the Tempest Academy)

Santa Claus School 

If you want something more to add to your resume, or at least qualify you for a Santa job at the mall, you can attend the Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School. Established in 1937, the school is the oldest Santa school in the world. Dedicated to upholding the traditions, image, and history of Santa Claus, the Charles H. Howard Santa Claus School offers classes like proper dress and makeup, radio and TV experience, live reindeer habits (with real reindeer!), and Santa sign language.                                                  

article-imageSanta Claus School (via Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School)

The school, located in a wooded area of Midland, Michigan, looks like it would be more at home at the North Pole. The gingerbread house exterior and Christmas workshop interior sets the right tone for the intensive three-day course that occurs near the end of October, right before the big Christmas months come around.  


ELF SCHOOL, Reykjavik, Iceland