Celebrating Cultures, Promoting Integration
With schools, colleges and cultural institutions shutting down, many are now taking on the challenge of education in their homes. To make this transition to self-reliant learning easier, many new resources for students have been made available for free online to help students during this crisis. If you’re a student feeling lost in your new learning environment or simply stuck at home and looking for something new to learn, read on for our picks.
There is no wrong or right way to deal with the Coronavirus lockdown that Ireland and many other countries have recently imposed on their population. The situation we are living in is one that most of us never imagined would happen in our lifetime. If you choose to use this time to rest, reconnect with your family or start a new hobby, these are all more than viable options.
However, most of us aren’t completely free to do whatever we want during these weeks of self-isolation. While many working professionals now get the opportunity to work from home, most Irish students also had to take their education into their own hands. Working towards a diploma is hard enough as it is, and getting a familiar work environment completely disrupted can be tough to adapt to. Thankfully, to help students and anyone wanting to use their free time to get an extra bit of knowledge in, many previously limited services have extended their availability. Here are a few resources to look into.
Are you a literature student feeling unsure on how to keep working on your assignments ? Or just a bookworm panicking at the thought of running out of novels to read ? Do you miss your local bookstore more than some of your friends ? Take a deep breath: you don’t have to worry about running out of things to read just yet. If you’re not a member yet, Libraries Ireland have now made it possible to join them online and get full access to their Audiobook, eBook and eMagazine catalogue. If you’re usually more likely to get lost in an art gallery rather than in the pages of a fiction novel, you can also now freely access the Guggenheim Museum’s own collection of art books. And if your favourite eBook is currently unavailable in your library’s catalogue, take a look at the Internet Archive’s own National Emergency Library, which has temporarily suspended its waitlist for books. This means that you can now read classics such as Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale or J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series for free whenever you like – not too bad of a deal, is it?
If you’re more of a listener than a reader, it could be worth Audible’s latest deals. The famous audiobook platform has made a considerable amount of its children, teen and classics catalogue available for free for the duration of the lockdown without needing to sign up. You can now distract your little ones at home with classic tales such as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland or The Jungle Book, while you and other more mature members of your family can enjoy confirmed masterworks of the likes of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World or Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
The usual pressure of end of term assignments can be a lot to take on, and a diminished access to resources in the form of on-campus libraries or face to face interaction with academic staff doesn’t make anything easier. While we can’t do much when it comes to your professors (although we can only hope that they are showing leniency and understanding in these difficult circumstances), staying at home doesn’t mean that you won’t find the necessary references and sources for your work.
The first thing to do is of course to look into your university library’s own online offers. As these differ from institute to institute, the best thing to do is to get in touch with your college’s library staff who will be able to guide you more than we ever will. You might however want to take a look outside of the beaten path, or may simply be curious about new research available online. In that case, a couple of resources are newly available to anyone with some time on their hands and a passion for knowledge. For new textbooks outside of your course syllabus, you can take a look at textbooks from Cambridge University, University of Michigan or the Ohio University Press Knowledge Bank. And if academic research and articles are more your thing, you can now head to JSTOR for unlimited access 26 new journals in Public Health, a subject that is more than relevant in our current context.
Keep in mind that this is only an overview of resources made available as a direct result to the Coronavirus pandemic. If you can’t find what you’re looking for there, get in touch with your library staff, lecturers and fellow students to see what other free online resources they recommend for your field of study.
It’s one thing to write an essay at home – it’s another to try to make a masterpiece of a film, a musical piece that can rival Mozart’s or a groundbreaking avant-garde poster. Students in more practical fields of study may be having trouble adapting to life at home now, and lack of equipment or specialist software can make the prospect of completing their projects more than uncertain.
While we can’t exactly send you expensive cameras or the latest sound mixing console, you don’t have to say goodbye to your dreams of artistic success. There are a couple of things you can do from your home. The most noteworthy one is probably the Adobe Creative Cloud, which will be free for the next three months if you log in with your student credentials. This suite includes well-known programs such as Photoshop, Premiere Pro or InDesign, which will be very useful to students looking to refine their editing skills.
Since creative work often requires a lot of teamwork and hand-on practice, the amount of things you can do from home is still very limited. If you’re scared of what will come next, check in with your lecturers for relevant advice. And in the meantime, if you simply want to relax while honing your creative skills, now is the time to use your inventivity with what you have at home ! You may not be able to complete the prestigious end of the year film project you wanted to, but why not be the first to make a short film in self-isolation, or produce a soundtrack in the confined space of your bedroom ? You may be worried about the uncertainty of your studies and a perceived lack of resources right now, but rest assured that none of your lecturers want to see you fail and will help you get back on track as soon as circumstances come back to normal !
Contrary to what we might sometimes think, student life is not only about, well, studying. In these times of heavy stress, it’s also important to take care of your body and brain.
For the first part, you don’t necessarily have to follow a strict exercise routine if you don’t want to. If you’re studying at home, just make sure to regularly get up throughout the course of the day, even if it’s just to get a bit of fresh air in between two intense writing sessions or make yourself a cup of tea or a much needed snack. Government regulations seem to change from country to country, but one thing that everyone seems to agree on are the benefits of a bit of natural light and some everyday movement. You don’t have to suddenly become a marathon runner if you don’t want to, but getting outside for a little walk when you start feeling antsy will only benefit you in the long term.
However, if you’d like an exercise routine that’s a bit more structured, you usually don’t have to look much further than your phone or your computer. On top of the many fitness Youtube channels that regularly upload home workouts, some previously paid-for apps are temporarily free to all to compensate closure of gyms and reduced everyday movement.
Don’t know where to start ? Aaptiv, an audio-based online workout website, has put some of its best routines into a free podcast, while Daily Burn offers its various HIIT and running classes for free during 60 days after signing up. If you’re looking to get into cycling, the Peloton app is offering a 90-day free trial which doesn’t require the ownership of any Peloton equipment. And finally, if you’re looking for something a bit more gentle, the famous yoga app Down Dog is free until May 1st for everyone, with an extension until June 1st available to teachers, students and healthcare professionals. You can also check in with your local gym to see if they’re offering anything during these times: for example, Irish gym chains Flyefit and Ben Dunne have been sharing live and written workout routines tailored by their own personal trainers.
This isolation combined with academic pressures can also take quite a toll on mental health. While there are no shortcuts to feeling happy, you can make it a bit easier for yourself by taking a few minutes out of your day to go through a Headspace guided meditation or even do a couple of therapist-approved exercises on mindfulness app ACT Companion. Even if you don’t usually struggle with mental health, we could all benefit from having a few coping mechanisms to deal with our feelings right now.
Last, but certainly not least: with people staying at home more and the threat of boredom hanging over many heads, finding quality ways to entertain yourself has become a more pressing issue than ever. If you’re currently working hard on college assignments or other projects, don’t let the lack of your usual academic structure trick you into thinking that you need to study 24 hours a day ! Taking breaks once in a while just to relax is essential for your wellbeing and will only better the quality of your work in the long run.
In our ultra-connected world, options for entertainment are almost endless. On top of your usual streaming services, you can now also watch free films from all over the world on Filmdoo with the code TOGETHERWITHFILM. If gaming is more your thing, you can head down to GOG, who are currently giving away over 20 games from a wide range of genres and eras for you to play at home. Or if you’d like a hit of nostalgia, you can go to Adult Swim and watch every season of Samurai Jack. From opera livestreams to guitar lessons, the only limit to what you can do with your free time is in your imagination!
This is far from a comprehensive list as websites, apps and various other resources are putting out new offers every single day. However, we hope that this overview will remind you that a temporary life outside of campus doesn’t have to mean a life without culture! Keep in touch with your academic staff, take advantage of what you can get at home and have faith in the process: when this is all over, you’ll be more than happy to have used these exclusive resources while you had the chance.