Talk about blog posts I’ve never thought I’d have to write! A global pandemic shuts down worldwide travel and forces almost all my students home in a matter of weeks? Sheesh! But I know my students are not alone – in short order just about everyone school and college-aged is on a very unique kind of gap year.
No, this next period of time won’t involve trekking or penguin sanctuaries or bungee jumping, but it can still be incredibly formative. Young adults who are in the enviable position of not being parents to young children and also not yet financially independent have been given a strange gift: the gift of quiet, reflective time. You know that feeling on a long flight when your only responsibilities are curling up with a good book or watching in-flight entertainment? It’s kind of like that.
Don’t squander this gift of unstructured free time. It is (hopefully) a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. One can use this time to do the things you don’t normally get to do in your busy, overscheduled existence. Enjoy slowing down. Try something new. Cook, paint, journal. Once this is all over, you may even look back on this period of time wistfully and remember how nice it was to just tear your way through the Lord of the Rings trilogy because it was what was on your bookshelf.
That being said, you can still be productive with this mandated me-time. If you are looking for some ideas about how to keep yourself entertained for the next period of time, take a look at the list I’ve compiled:
1: Take Stock of Your Gap Year So Far
Most gap year students don’t feel like they have time to pause and reflect of everything they experienced during their year. Now is your chance! Organize and edit your photos (maybe even make a physical album!), journal about the people, places and activities that colored your gap year thus far. The Bliss Bean has some great tips for this. Write a topical essays or make videos – whatever feels right to help you process your learnings.
2: Take an Ivy League Course Online
Use this extra time to expand your brain with free MOOC course options. You can find over 450 options from Brown, Princeton, U Penn and more. Especially appropriate ones for this particular moment in time could be Yale’s Science of Well-Being, Princeton’s Civil Liberties or Columbia’s The Age of Sustainable Development.
3: Go to the Opera or Broadway
The Metropolitan Opera is making some of their most acclaimed performances available for free online each night at 7:30pm et. Check the schedule for this evening’s performance. Playbill created a list of 15 Broadway plays and musicals you can watch on stage from home here.
4: Go Inside a Musician’s Home with #TogetheratHome
Famous musicians are offering free “concerts” on Facebook or instagram live every day using the hashtag #togetherathome. So far Chris Martin and John Legend have hosted casual, intimate performances that definitely keep spirits high.
5: Learn to Cook or Bake
Our current predicament is the perfect opportunity to flex (or build) those cooking muscles. A bunch of chefs and cooking websites are offering interactive cooking classes online so you can jump right in with them. Some favorite recipe websites include Smitten Kitchen, Milk Street Cooking School (free classes through April 30) and Epicurious.
6: Digital Doc n’ Dine
One of my friends told me about a tradition he has with a group of friends where they get together with take-out and watch an interesting documentary. Use the Netflix/Chrome extension to watch Netflix with a group! Watch an interesting doc with a friend via FaceTime over a meal. Here’s a list of great documentaries available on Netflix.
My craft of choice is embroidery, and I very much plan on breaking out my needle and thread for some therapeutic crafting during the next few weeks. If there’s something you’ve always wanted to learn, like knitting, basket weaving or whittling, what better time than now to try it out? Skillshare has a bunch of courses available now. Into creating comics? Check out #comicsschool on Twitter — five days of lessons on writing comics.
8: Break a Sweat
Planet Fitness is hosting Facebook Live workouts every night at 7pm est. You can also find loads of classes on YouTube and various apps like Down Dog Yoga are currently completely free to use. If you are able to get outside while still practicing social distancing, then make walking, jogging or biking part of your daily practice.
9: Tour a Museum from Your Couch
HelloGiggles released a list of 12 museums that are offering free virtual tours. The British Museum in London, the Musee d’Orsay in Paris and the Museu de Arte de São Paulo in Brazil are among the institutions you can tour.
10. Participate in the Art History Abroad Weekly Challenge
Gap year program Art History Abroad is keeping people engaged with the arts with a weekly instagram challenge. Follow AHA here to see the latest challenge and break out those art supplies!
11. Take a Travel Writing Course with GVI
Want to learn how to turn those gap year adventures into a professional career or side hustle?
The GVI Writing Academy aims to help you grow your portfolio, improve your writing, and kickstart your freelance travel writing career in the online space.
This 12-week writing internship is designed for anyone with a love for writing and travel, ready to break into the online content writing scene. From students to professional writers, career-breakers and over 50s, this online travel writing program will enable you to enhance your writing skillset from anywhere in the world.
As a Writing Academy intern, you’ll be guided through a 12-week training program that consists of four content modules. These provide training in writing for brands, search engine optimisation for writers, travel writing, and freelancing essentials.
You’ll be personally mentored by a team of professional writers and editors as you grow as a writer.
The program runs over 12 weeks, and you should expect to spend roughly 5–7 hours per week completing self-learning exercises, honing your writing skills, responding to and implementing edits, and learning how to stand out in the digital space. Next intake in May 2020.
12. Work on Election 2020
Join the movement to help with election 2020! Young people have a huge opportunity to shift the direction of our country in 2020.
Election Gap Year 2020 is your one-stop-shop to get started. Enjoy this free resource for students taking a gap year in 2020 specifically to work on Election 2020. ➡️ www.election2020gapyear.com
This website has a directory of activist organizations with positions for gap year students, information on how to join local, state and national electoral campaigns and resources for planning gap year logistics.
13: Stay Calm
There’s no need to panic, just #staythef**khome. If you are feeling anxious, reach out to your trusted friends and family – everyone needs to help one another through this thing. Headspace, has created a collection of meditation, sleep, and movement exercises for you to use during the coronavirus pandemic.