The COVID-19 outbreak has dramatically changed our plans, itineraries, and day-to-day activities. To help curb the spread of the coronavirus, various theaters, operas, galleries have been shut down, flights have been canceled, education and travel plans – disrupted. Lately, I even found myself reminiscing about the last film I saw in the theater. In light of current circumstances, for me it has become this significant event, as opposed to what it used to be: a rather pleasant but mundane weekly thing.
Luckily, there is a lot you can still do to fill your self-quarantined time. You can continue your self-development or enjoy opera or a number of other events, even if these can’t happen in person right now.
With the encouragement of versatile online resources, you can learn new sets of skills, visit museums, get a new hobby, enjoy a theatre performance and more, all from the comfort of your living room. And do so free of charge.
I did some extensive research and put together a list of free online resources to help you spend some quality time and save a buck while self-isolating. So, here’s what you can do and where you can do it.
Of course, the best way to practice a new foreign language is to go to the country of its origin. And at this point in time, we clearly can’t know for sure when we’ll be able to travel again. While this is very frustrating – I’ll give you that – it’s not the reason to be idle. Just imagine that once you can finally talk to locals in their natural habitat, you’ll be able to jump right into the conversation with them!
Here are some free online resources and apps that will help you lay the groundwork for that much-awaited real-life experience:
- Duolingo is by far the world’s most popular language learning platform. It offers over 90 courses in 24 languages. It includes a website, a mobile app and a fascinating podcast. The podcast is currently available for French and Spanish learners only, and they are collections of easy-to-follow real-life stories.
- COERLL is a language resource center funded by the U.S. Department of Education. It is a well of learning materials, publications and podcasts in over 20 languages.
- Busuu has a large community of native speakers. It is very similar to Duolingo, except it offers only 12 languages, including some rather unique ones (like Arabic). It’s also available for Android and iPhone.
- Live Mocha also gives you access to native speakers, language enthusiasts and teachers from 195 countries. This fact alone surely makes learning more interactive and fun.
- With LingQ language learning system you’ll be able to learn from the sources that interest you, like books, songs, podcasts, news, in addition to the classic learning approach.
- Lang-8 is a language exchange website. It’s basically a community of native speakers who connect with you and check your writing. And in exchange, you can check the writing of those who are learning your native language.
- Though Gymlish is not a free resource, it is worth your attention. It’s just so charming, engaging and great for learning the ‘real languages’, that I had to mention it. You can try Gymlish for free, with no credit card and no strings attached.
- For French learners only. I personally came to love TV5Monde, InnerFrench podcast, and The French Experiment. All are incredibly useful, user-friendly, and entertaining. All of them offer authentic listening experience which is a great way to learn this sophisticated and complex language.
Invest your time into education
Many people have found themselves out of a job due to the current crisis. Because of this, many will be forced to reevaluate their career options and put things into new perspectives. And others just may not be particularly happy with their current prospects or simply want to learn new things. Luckily, there are companies and learning platforms that are offering online classes that you can take during quarantine:
- Coursera. In my opinion, this one takes the cake when it comes to remote learning. It offers plenty of open online courses and specializations from top universities, like Stanford, Yale, Copenhagen Business School and many others. The variety of subjects you can learn include engineering, data science, business, photography, biology, medicine, social sciences, humanities, marketing and so much more. Coursera courses can be audited at any point in time, but during the time of pandemic, it is generously offering free certificates for 85 courses.
- School16 offers free online courses to help you develop new skills or reinforce previous learning in more flexible and reliable industries, like tech. This course will help you rapidly develop soft and hard skills in this field, such as product management, sales, operations and more. Every session is taught by leaders from startups or flagship companies like Google.
- You’ve definitely heard about the MasterClass company. It’s hard not to, since its ads are flooding everyone’s YouTube channel. Though it doesn’t offer free courses, on the contrary, their classes with famed tutors are rather high-priced, the resource has recently launched free Q&A sessions with some of their star coaches.
- Unity Learn platform is presented by the game development company Unity and can be used for free for a period of three months. You are welcome to discover their Create with Code Live class to learn how to use C# programming language in game development.
- Browse thousands of free-of-charge courses on Class Central. Like Coursera, it offers dozens of specializations from prestigious universities.
- Even Yale University has provided free and open access to a handful of its courses taught by merited scholars and professors.
- edX gives access to over 2,500 courses on a large variety of subjects, from soft skills to programming. The courses are taught in different languages.
- If you’ve never used Fender platform before, it offers a free 3-months subscription to newcomers. It’s an online learning app for guitar, ukulele and bass. It’s a well of instructor-guided videos to teach you how to play songs from The Animals, Ed Sheeran, Green Day, the Monkeys, the list goes on.
Broaden your horizons
One of the most famous theaters in the world, the Metropolitan Opera, announced that it would launch “Nightly Met Opera Streams” – a series of free encore performances – on the company website. The streams include such operatic gems like Dialogue des Carmélites, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Macbeth, Nixon in China, and other.
After canceling all upcoming performances, Vienna State Opera is now also offering live streams of their award-winning pieces on a daily basis. Here’s their schedule.
Visit museums and galleries
Many museums and galleries from around the world bring us virtual tours and online exhibitions. It might not be the same as seeing it all live, but it’s definitely our best option for now. Here’s just a short list of some of the most renown museums in the world:
- Climb the staircase inside the Guggenheim Museum in NY and discover fantastic works of art from the impressionist, post-modernist, modern and contemporary eras.
- The British Museum in London offers access to its artefacts accompanied by incredibly informative audio guides.
- Musée d’Orsay in Paris houses most famous artworks by French artists, from Monet to Gaugin that can be seen in the virtual tour.
- Explore the biggest collection of masterpieces by Vincent van Gogh in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.
- Wander the halls of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence and be in awe of its precious art collection.
- Discover 23 exhibit rooms with rare artifacts on a virtual tour of the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City.
- Get a rare chance to visit Louvre, Paris without flocks of tourists. Just you, peace and quiet, and amazing art.
- National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. offers a virtual tour of its two exhibits. The first is a collection of works by Johannes Vermeer and the second is an exhibit of fashion from the Revolutionary and colonial periods.
Listen to good music
Berlin Philharmonic Hall is now temporarily closed to the public, but its Digital Hall has opened its cyber doors to everyone with Internet access. To listen to its concerts, follow this link, register and enter the promo code BERLINPHIL. Even the recordings of the concerts are pretty wonderful.
London Symphony Opera is streaming one concert at a time each Sunday and Thursday on their YouTube channel. There you can also watch pre-recorded concerts at any time, just follow the same link.
Seattle Symphony offers live broadcasts every Saturday and Thursday also on their YouTube channel. And make sure not to miss online concerts from Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. Enjoy the classics right from their website using your Spotify or IDAGIO accounts.
Having said all that, you should, by no means, feel pressured into being productive or discovering new things just because you have some extra time on your hands. Just getting through tough times like these is productive enough.
On the other hand, if you do feel the need to get your mind off things, investing your time to acquire new skills or learn something new doesn’t sound too bad.
Because it will all be over, and we’ll be out of our apartments and houses, and we’ll be roaming the world again. Make no doubt, the new things you learn now will certainly come in handy later.
But, for the time being, stay at home, stay safe and take care of yourself and your loved ones.