Editor’s Note: This article was originally published back in spring 2020, just as the first round of lockdowns were starting in Europe. If your first attempts at quarantines were anything like ours, you had all the best intentions – self-improvement, learning new languages, taking virtual tours, starting yoga, staying sober, etc – but ended up spending most of your time getting in pointless arguments on social media and/or trying to decide what the earliest socially acceptable time you could a start drinking your favourite quarantini was. Well, now it looks like most of the world is going to get another crack at things, and hopefully we’ll all make the most of it this time!
Are you a travel fanatic who’s not sure how to make the most of your free-time now that you’ve taken the very responsible decision to self-quarantine, lock down, self-isolate, observe social distancing or whatever other terms the kids are using to describe this brand new, novel concept of ‘staying home’? Well, as long as the internet keeps on keeping on, there are virtually endless possibilities for incredible things to discover, breathtaking sights to see, useful skills to acquire, languages to learn, books to read, audio to listen to, films to watch and plenty more!
Of course, you know as well as we do that you’re very likely not going to do any of those things, and will instead just scroll obsessively through your Facebook feed and watch videos on YouTube. However, if there are two skills to work on during a global pandemic, looking on the bright side and always being in denial are two great ones to consider. So in that vein, our international staff has come up with all kinds of ideas for what you could be doing over the coming weeks and months from the comfort of your home – enjoy!
Learn the science of being happy
This Yale University course, officially titled ‘The Science of Well-Being’ and taught by Prof Laurie Santos, was already one of the most popular online Coursera offerings before the entire world got locked inside and had a collective existential crisis, so it should be no surprise that its virtual enrolment has now swelled into the millions. Among other topics, it covers: Misconceptions about happiness, Why our expectations are so bad, How we can overcome our biases, Stuff that really makes us happy and Putting strategies into practice.
Listen to any (online) radio station in the world
This is one of our personal favourites, both for the actual service as well as the way in which it’s presented. Give Google Earth a spin and zoom in on any of the thousands of green dots you see to listen to local radio stations that are streaming live online. A great way to reconnect with places you’ve travelled in the past or hope to visit in the future. And of course lots and lots of great music!
2500+ museums throw open their (virtual) doors
During the early days of the global lock down, there were a bunch of copy-paste articles going around about how 12 museums had online tours. Now thanks to Big Broth… er, the benevolent folks at Google, you can visit some 2500 remotely! Sure, they’re probably going to track your every eye movement and try to sell you a bunch of crap later, but this isn’t really the time for worrying about the future anyway.
Take a tour of 30 Unesco World Heritage sites
This sounds amazing, but it only managed to keep our interest for approximately 3 minutes. Not to brag, but it’s easier to be amazed if you haven’t already been to many of the sites in person. All the heavy hitters are here: the Pyramids, Taj Mahal, Stonehenge, as well as load of temples you’ve never heard of.
Learn to code
You’re definitely not going to learn to code while you’re locked inside over the coming weeks and months. But it won’t be for a lack of freely available courses and tools.
Learn a ‘rare skill’
There’s no shortage of lists going around these days – lists of books to read, films to watch, podcasts to listen to, online courses to take that you’ll still never take even if you were locked inside for 1000 years, etc. In fact, this article you’re reading right now consists almost entirely of them (#irony). But if you only have time to click on one of them, then this is it! Blacksmithing, bobbin lace, stained glass, harps, suminagashi, flintknapping, storytelling and more totally relevant and useful skills/hobbies await!
Join a virtual book club
Reading is just about the most productive way one could reasonably expect to spend time whilst quarantined during a pandemic. It doesn’t take all that much effort as long as you’ve got access to books, but also feels like much more of an achievement than binge watching Tiger King.
Binge Watch Tiger King
We’ve spent the last 15 years being jealous of anyone who tells us that they haven’t seen The Wire (which is objectively the greatest thing to ever be put on film), so we’re saving Tiger King for as long as possible in order to enjoy the anticipation. Of course you’ve probably already watched it, a few times, so please don’t email us with any spoilers, like how Carol fed her husband to the tigers or how Joe is actually a homosexual meth addict who marries two dudes – we want to be surprised!
Staycation date night
10 detailed staycation date night ideas from an adorable newlywed travel blogger couple, whose palpable enthusiasm for life will likely make most single people feel miserable and lonely, and most non-single people feel like they’ve chosen the wrong partner. Nevertheless they’ve got some good ideas, so checking them out is worth the risk.
Cultural craft projects for kids
We’ve never been happier to not have kids, but since not everyone can be so lucky and in most countries adoption centres are not considered ‘essential’ and are thus closed, might as well make the most of your new found career as a homeschool teacher with these cool cultural craft projects.
Watch a symphony
There are now quite a few symphony orchestras that are streaming both their recent live performances and archives online, but the Berliner Philharmoniker was the first that we saw, which is why you’ll find them at the other end of the link above.
Get artsy and creative
Artsy.net has narrowed down the selection of university art classes you can take online to a very diverse top 10, which range from the ancient pyramids and the Avant-Garde to art crime. And while we definitely don’t want to encourage any art crime, it really really seems like a global pandemic would be the perfect time to commit some art crime, right?
Pick a Belorussian football side to support
UPDATE: Congratualations to FC BATE Borisov (or ФК БАТЭ Барысаў) on winning the league and qualifying for the Champions League!
Sports fans don’t have many options these days. In fact, if you don’t count the illegal cockfighting operation that we’ve been running with some old friends in Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown (and you probably shouldn’t, since it’s illegal, actually please forget that we even mentioned it, that was a mistake on our part), then the Belorussian Premier League is pretty much the only game in town. No joke. Why on Earth is football still being played in Belarus you ask? We’re no experts, but we’d guess that it has something to do with the fact that the country is run by a batsh*t crazy dictator who says things like ‘vodka and saunas can ward off Covid-19‘.
Conquer classic video games
When we think of ‘classic video games’ we hop in our mental wayback machine and picture things like Legend of Zelda, Metroid (spoiler alert: the main character is a girl!) and other titles from the golden era of NES. The editors at The Guardian are of a slightly different opinion, which is perfectly fine. Their opinion is wrong, but still fine.
Entertain your (inner) child
Explore this archive of some 6000 digitised children’s books! And if you don’t have children at home, then go ahead pour yourself a drink first or consume any other mind-altering substances you might have lying around.
In a crafty PR move meant to make up for their blatant and absolute disregard for human life and dignity, Amazon (or rather their subsidiary Audible) is offering free educational listening material for as long as schools are closed. There’s nothing wrong with taking free handouts from our amoral overlords, especially if it helps to further the education of children, just make sure to opt-out of those sneaky auto-renewal scams so they don’t steal any of your money once the pandemic is over.
Improve your photography skills
The Professional Photographers of America have made all 1100 of their online courses free for everyone for ‘the next two weeks’. We’ve got no idea how long these next two weeks will last for, so if you’re interested in improving your photography skills whilst quarantined, then best to sign up asap.
Read, read, read
Unlike toilet paper, hand sanitiser and coherent government strategies for dealing with the coronavirus, there is thankfully no shortage of online resources for eBooks (#silverlining). The site linked above brings together 25 separate databases, which means you should be able to find whatever you want if it’s in the public domain. And if it’s not, you can still probably download illegal pirated versions (that’s what we usually do, just don’t tell anyone we told you).
Žižek: The Drinking Game
This 1-hour interview with Slovenia’s own Slavoj Žižek is incredible on so many levels. First, there’s all the things he has to say about the current crisis. Then there’s the fact that he’s laying in his bed in his flat in Ljubljana and the camera is constantly shaking. And finally there’s the great opportunity to turn it into a drinking game – he says “and so on and so on”? Drink! He touches his face? Drink! He gives an impassioned argument for the creation of a global Communist system? Just finish the bottle! One way or another you’ll feel much better when it’s over (and then probably much much worse).
Did we forget anything?
Got any other creative suggestions for what we could add to our Ultimate Quarantine Pandemic Guide? Well, it’s already the ultimate guide, so by definition can’t be improved upon. But since we’ve got loads of free time these days, please feel free to add your own tips in the comments below, and we’ll gladly steal any we like and then pass them off as our own. And of course #stayhome #staysafe #staysane
The preceding was written by In Your Pocket’s editor-in-chief Yuri Barron, who these days can *still* be found on the 30th floor of a condominium in Kuala Lumpur, where he was planning to ride out the global quarantine by finishing his memoirs, Thirty-Cent Life: A Decade of Moderately Irresponsible Travel in Dodgy Countries, but *still* hasn’t managed to get round to starting yet. More of his somewhat travel-related work can be found here.
Thank you! That was the first thing that made me laugh in 4 weeks of isolation, and the first list I read from A to Z. As nobody knows how long these 4 weeks will be, keep on!
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