Five Ways to Learn Something New During Lockdown

Mic check, mic check.. Does this thing still work?

It’s been a good couple of years since I wrote on this here blog, and figured now – while the world has gone tits up we are all in isolation – is as good a time as any to resurrect this old friend of mine. So much to say, so much time to say it, so why not?

Let me start by asking how things are going for you, dear reader (aka, Mom)? I, like most everyone else, am taking things day by day. Some days are better than others, but I’m doing my best with what we’ve been served, and that’s all anyone can ask for. However this finds you, wherever you are at both literally and metaphorically, up or down, thriving or barely surviving, keeping fit or going completely bat sh*t, it’s all ok.

It’s all part of adjusting to the “new normal”.

It’s all of us, all around the world, learning together as we go.

Speaking of learning, I thought I’d use this re-entry into the world of blogging to share some useful places we can all go to keep our brains engaged. Although there are the obvious not-so-great aspects of being locked down in the thick of a pandemic, there are quite a few silver linings (which I’ll aim to explore in future posts), and having the time and space to try new things is one of them.

Without further adieu, here are a few of my favourite platforms to get your virtual education on, while we are virtually unable to do much else!

Coursera: Ever wanted to learn about, umm.. literally anything? Coursera has a course for you! They have thousands of free courses, as well as full on degrees and certificates you can pay for if something really floats your boat. I’ve currently got my eye on a climate science course, an art history course, and am also interested in delving into the world of physics as I never took it in school (thank you Doctor Who for making me aware of my inner nerd). Sign up, sign in, and get learning.

Skillshare: Another online course based platform, here you’ll find classes more on the creative end of the spectrum. Think all sorts from any type of art and design you can imagine (both hand drawn and digital), food and drinks based classes, photography, content creation, and even a few lifestyle and business based classes. Here you will get your hands dirty, so to speak, as this is a place where you learn by doing. Again, many of these classes are free, so channel your inner artist and dig in.

Duolingo: Hello. Hola. Bonjour. Gutan tag. Konnichiwa. There are many ways to greet someone, and Duolingo will teach you how to communicate your way around the world with ease. By far one of my favourite language learning platforms, they have dozens to choose from, and best of all, it is completely free (they do have a premium paid-for option as well). It’s available on their website, although I’ve only ever used their app. They make learning fun, engaging, and so incredibly easy to stick with. I’ve used it to brush up on my Spanish, learn a bit of German, and even crack the cyrillic alphabet so I could travel around Russia and know what the heck everything I was reading said! I can’t recommend this app highly enough, so if there is any language you’ve been interested in trying your tongue at, now’s a great time to get lingual with it.

Insight Timer: Looking to ease your state of mind and begin (or deepen) a meditation practice? Look no further. There are loads of apps out there to help you go within, and this one is up there with the best of them. Best part, although there are courses you can pay for, there are thousands of meditations of all sorts completely for free. If you think meditation doesn’t work for you, think again. There are literally meditations of every kind in here, from mindfulness to japa, from yoga nidra to loving kindness, mantra to musical, it’s all in there (including a literal timer that you can set and customize yourself, if preferred). We could all use more space and calm in our lives, especially now more than ever, so download the app, take a deep breath, and find your inner peace.

Shameless plug: Really digging the meditation vibes? Come join me for live, guided meditations (and a bit of chit-chat) during the week at 8pm BST / 3pm EST on my Facebook page. I’d love to connect with you there!

Get Cultured: Not a specific platform, per se, but rather a whole virtual candy shop to choose from of world class museums who offer free virtual tours behind their legendary doors. Feeling a bit Parisian today? Why not hop over to the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay! In a New York state of mind? Travel around the famous spiral path of the Guggenheim, get modern at MoMA, or explore some of the collection at my all time favourite Metropolitan Museum of Art (even more Big Apple options here). Make your way around Europe, stopping in Amsterdam at Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum, Berlin for the Pergamon, to Italy to see the Vatican followed by a hop skip and jump to Florence to gawk at the Uffizi Gallery, over to Madrid to visit the Thyssen-Bornemisza, and then skipping across the Channel to tour the halls of the British Museum. Looking for a bit of Central and South American culture? Check out Museu de Arte de São Paulo here, and Mexico City’s National Museum of Anthropology here. There are so many more museums you can “visit” without having to leave your sofa, so once you work your way through the ones listed here, simply search online and tour to your hearts content! Most of these are in partnership with Google Arts and Culture, so that’s a good place to start.

So there you have it! Five of my top choice ways to learn something new while you’re in lockdown (or, you know, any time you want to get your education muscles moving). Not being able to go anywhere physically doesn’t mean we can’t still expand our horizons. In fact, I’d argue that now is the perfect time to do just that. Which one[s] of these are you most excited to dive into? Let me know in the comments!

As for me, I’m looking forward to being a Welsh speaking / watercolour painting / marine biology researching / art historian / astronomer in no time!

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