During quarantine, it can be hard to find something to do. Sure, Netflix and Youtube are enticing for the first couple of days, but beyond the initial excitement of that sense of freedom, the hours spent staring at the screen and feeling your brain turn to sludge can get a bit old. Yet, doing absolutely nothing and choosing to immerse ourselves in some fictional or online world seems to be our coping mechanism, a way that we relieve stress and take time for ourselves, as self-destructive and hindering as it may can be.
However, there are ways to be productive that don’t involve actual thinking or laborious effort! We can still keep our brain in a somewhat autopilot mode, all the while staying attached to our screens and devices — through the wonders of the online world.
One great idea are online courses. I know what you’re thinking — “Online courses? We already do those,” “that’s just like studying,” “they’re boring,”. — but no! When you choose the right topic, taking courses online can be a fun, destressing time to explore something you’ve always wanted to. Through sites and apps like Coursera, EdX, or even Khan Academy, you can browse through lists of courses from universities, including prestigious ones, and participate in lectures and activities for free.
For instance, I’ve recently been taking a course on social psychology from the University of Queensland. As arduous as it sounds, it’s been something I’ve wanted to learn about for a while. Things like reading body language to tell whether someone is lying, discovering the self-deceiving notions we lock ourselves under, or determining which prejudices bind my view, have all been absolutely fascinating. Though there are a couple activities or assignments here and there, the lectures are low-commitment and almost therapeutic, and I usually “watch” them while playing Solitaire on a split screen.
Finding a topic, you’re passionate about, whether it be music or science, and learning more about it from an esteemed professor, all the while being able to choose how much you are engaged, can be a great way to stay productive and stress-free.
Another good option is to learn a foreign language. Yes, we all have a slight trauma from Spanish oral exams, and yes, many of us do not ever want to see another “conjugation” or “clause” mentioned again. But learning a foreign language is always a great asset to have, even in life, and it can actually help you develop a better understanding of the English language.
There are free apps, Duolingo, Babbel, or Memrise, that you can download right away, or you can search for an online course that can help you. Many European languages like Norwegian, Swedish, Italian, German, or French use the Latin alphabet, which English uses, so they’re fairly easy to pick up. One great pro tip: foreign language films are a great way to pick up a new language. While you’re learning, you can always “study” the language and culture by watching more movies, which will actually motivate you to observe and analyze what you’re watching.
Although there are many ways to spend your time at home, taking online courses and learning a new language will not only keep you occupied, but also help keep your mind healthy and active. And now you have an excuse for ruining your eyesight and losing track of time and reality with the online world.
Joyce Kim, Grade 10
La Canada High School