@KoiwiGal - That does sound like an awesome way to learn about another country, or a piece of history.
I don't think you can dismiss distance learning though. I know quite a few people who have managed to expand their horizons with courses over the internet.
My mother was following a lifelong learning program that taught Maori for a while and she said it was really good.
I think there are all kinds of free courses as well, if you have a look online.
Just be careful to only use accredited courses and not to pay money to any that seem fishy.