Source: Shauna Cheong @kektuz (IG)
In this last instalment of The ResLife Guide: Covid-19 edition, we focus on what university students – you! – can do to look after your mental health amidst the inevitable prolonged isolation.
As humans, we are naturally wired to need social interaction from time to time – even if you’re an introvert that recharges by being alone. Being in isolation for prolonged periods can have detrimental effects on our mental health, so it is extremely important for us to keep our spirits up, remain positive, and remember that it is up to us to carve out a new, happy normal for ourselves.
It may not be the summer we expected, but it can still be a summer that’s worthwhile and leaves you refreshed, ready for the incoming AY. Instead of waking up feeling listless every day or simply Netflix-ing the day away, here are some useful things you can do!
1) Learn (or teach) a new language
Wouldn’t it be cool to come out of isolation knowing how to speak a completely new language? Best of all – it’s free!
- Duolingo is a foreign language learning app offering Spanish, German, Korean, French, and many more languages to choose from. It offers a skill tree of lessons that use listening exercises, flashcards, and multiple choice questions to drill you on new words, phrases, and sentences.
- Italki, a website where you can choose to either learn or teach a new language. This one is a paid platform, but works on a pay-per-lesson system, and lessons are conducted by video chat on a time and date that you choose. Or to flip it around, you can apply to be a teacher too!
2) Take an online course
- Free Code Camp: This site, which looks like what you would expect a coding site to look like, has been featured in various sites like Business Insider, BBC, and The New York Times. It has a range of coding courses, such as Information Security, Data Visualisation, Front End Libraries, and more.
- Codeacademy lets you learn code for free. For basic membership at $0 a month, you get access to interactive lessons and limited mobile practice. Pro membership at $15.99/month gets you access to unlimited practice, real world projects, peer support for those who are committed to a career (or just expanding their knowledge) on code.
- Coursera is one of the biggest online learning websites that is now offering free courses to help you upskill – now that being at home all the time is the new normal. Partnering with organisations and universities, you can glean knowledge of something completely new. Try your hand at a course on Algorithms (by the University of Toronto), open your mind to The Science of Wellbeing (by Yale) or even take an Introduction to Philosophy (by the University of Edinburgh). Paid courses give you even more, such as access to additional quizzes and projects, and a shareable Course Certificate when you complete one.
- EdX is a one-stop platform for learning, founded by Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). It prides itself on being non-profit and open-source, partnering with universities and colleges to provide courses on a huge breadth of topics, from computer science and data science, to business and management, humanities, and more. The Science of Happiness, which teaches positive psychology (by the University of California Berkeley), Introduction to Linux (by The Linux Foundation), and The Science of Everyday Thinking (by the University of Queensland) are some of its most popular courses.
Source: Khan Academy (Salman Khan, founder of the Academy)
- Khan Academy is a non-profit organisation that aims to offer ‘free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere’. It has online lessons in topics that are commonly taught in primary to secondary school, and college education. So you can learn about macroeconomics alongside revising secondary-school algebra, geometry and statistics. It has even curated daily schedules for younger ones aged 2-18 to keep them learning, which might be helpful to those who have younger siblings at home and have not gone back to school after circuit breaker measures eased.
Arts / Creative
- Open Culture is a repository for people looking for free online courses. While it also has a wide array of topics, those particularly enthusiastic about the humanities, social sciences, and the arts will find its specific courses intriguing and a good start to gaining a deeper grasp of topics like Roman Architecture (by Yale professor Diana E. E. Kleiner), Digital Photography (by Harvard University), or Calligraphy (by Lloyd .)
- Skillshare is an increasingly popular online learning platform that hosts online classes taught by practitioners. A free 2 month trial is available if you sign up through partners like YouTuber Ali Abdaal, while two weeks of free access is the standard when you sign up with no referral. Those seeking a future in the creative industry will be pleased with the wide array of courses in animation, graphic design, illustration, photography, and more, alongside business, technology, and even your hobbies (culinary, crafts or gaming, etc.!)
Spoilt for choice?
- ClassCentral is a search engine and review site. That means that if you want to look for what’s the best provider for the topic you are keen to learn more about (it focuses on primarily free courses), Class Central will have a catalog that lets you see reviews regarding those courses, and also has services that help you to plan and track your learning path. Stumped by too many options that we’ve provided above? You can start with this website before you narrow a platform/course down!
3) Read something new, or learn about arts and culture
- Libby is the app used by National Library Board that lets users check out books, audiobooks and magazines for free onto mobile phones or tablets.
- Alternatively, this webpage contains 100 websites to legally download literature, inclusive of classic literature, textbooks as well as other academic publications.
- Ever wanted to visit the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, or Palace of Versailles in France? Google Arts and Culture offers free virtual tours of museums worldwide, which you can access through this link. Enjoy a day traipsing through digital walls of world-renown art all from the comforts of your own home.
4) Get to know the virus on an even deeper level
- COVID-19: Tackling the Novel Coronavirus is a free online course which goes deep into how the virus emerged and was identified, public health measures for the pandemic worldwide, and what is needed to address the issue going forward. It is targeted towards healthcare professionals, but anyone who is keen to know how to best respond to the outbreak should give this course a look too.
Source: Shauna Cheong @kektuz (IG)
5) Play a game or two with your friends, online
6) Just take a breather, relax, and slow down
- Headspace is an app for meditation. You can focus on different areas you want to address, like anxiety or self-esteem. It is available on desktop, iOS, and Android. A limited amount of content is available for free, while unlocking all courses costs $13/month or $70/year.
- Colorfy is a form of digital art therapy that decreases stress and anxiety, improves concentration, and even improves symptoms of depression. Download it for free to use on iOS and Android, with in-app purchases to expand the colouring options.
- Happify is a self-improvement app that provides science-backed ideas to improve your happiness while reducing stress and worry levels. It consists of a set of exercises to help combat stress, strengthen relationships, and work on being kinder to yourself. It is also free for both Apple and Android users.
It has been a tumultuous time globally, and it is completely normal to feel like your world is whirling out of control. Besides all the activities we’ve listed out above, know that NUS also has a trove of resources that you can tap on if you need information or any help at all. We’ve listed some resources here:
- National guidelines on phased lifting of the circuit-breaker: https://www.gov.sg/article/ending-circuit-breaker-phased-approach-to-resuming-activities-safely
- NUS Circulars on COVID-19: https://share.nus.edu.sg/registrar/student/circulars/Circular-Student-Index.pdfhttp://nus.edu.sg/osa/resources/covid-19/faqs
- Life as an international student in NUS: https://www.reddit.com/r/nus/comments/g11oxi/life_as_international_student_in_nus/
- Questions about your MOE Tuition Grant: https://www.reddit.com/r/nus/comments/glyqrn/moe_tuition_grant_question/
Take care, breathe and remember that it is such a blessing just to wake up every day and be alive!