Skills learned during Quarantine

Posted on Monday, March 22, 2021

Person playing with a rubik's cube

As university students, our course load can quickly become the largest part of our day. On top of that, many students need to keep a part-time job and juggle responsibilities in their day to day lives. This doesn’t leave much room for students to flourish in other skills or hobbies that would interest them and at the very least, makes binging Netflix after a long day of online classes and studying more appealing than applying yourself to something. However, there are many virtues to be found in developing hobby that inspires you.

Enriching your life with something other than studying, work or daily routines

The concept of a “third place” is something that enhances work-life balance. This is the idea that people have three important places in their life. The first is the home where people go to relax and spend time with family, second is the workplace (in the university context we can think of this as school as well) and third is whatever or wherever else you feel like putting your time into to be part of a community. This model of course varies from person to person but you can boil it down to this: you should be able to balance out your life, your work and your hobby.

For many, this third place can be anything from an on-campus club, a gym, a sports team or even painting by yourself at home. It can be a physical place or just a state of mind you’re in when doing something you love. You can practice whatever you’re doing casually or strive to improve the skill you practice. As many of you might have felt, social restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic have thrown a wrench in our work-life balance and you probably have lost that “third place”. The silver lining to all the time spent at home is that it has probably forced you out of boredom to pick up a hobby you had long forgotten or one that you had always wanted to try out.

My personal experience

Personally, for me, after the first few months of binging ridiculously long novels, I stumbled upon something that now keeps me going every day, improving at art. I had always wanted to try out illustration but I had given up before even trying because I thought I just didn’t have that nebulous thing that made or broke every artist: talent. One day, I decided to just dive headfirst into it and found that not only is talent a myth, but also that there is a lot of fun to be had in trying to put my vision on paper using self-taught techniques on the internet. It’s actually jarring realizing the wealth of knowledge that is on the web to let you learn basically anything you want. Since then I have kept up with drawing daily over the past few months and I am quite proud of the progress I made.

What other students have gotten up to

I am personally the type of person that wants to pick up hobbies to get better at them, but there is nothing wrong with just enjoying casually without putting much of a commitment to it. You might find new passions or simply just something fun to pick at once in a while. Whatever leaves you accomplished at the end of the task. Many uOttawa students other than myself have done this during the quarantine. We’ve asked students on our Instagram what sort of new skills they’ve picked up in the last year and were able to parse out what are some of the most common ones.

Learning new programming language and adobe after effects
- @ahmadhuda1

Graphic Design
- @max_bernier

I improved my cooking skills!
- @s.ydneycole

Python programming, SQL
- @chin_my_eeeee

Started long boarding… can’t wait for the snow to melt so I can get back at it
- @meg.wish

- @desouza81

Song writing +got into jazz
- @yassine_lachgar7

Baking and cooking
- @kristensherrington

I’ve picked up writing poerty!
- @claire.poulin.7359

With restaurants being opened in a limited capacity and an abundance of time spent at home, it’s normal that people would try and broader their culinary repertoire with skills and know-how that will be useful to then for their entire life.

We also took note of how some students have used this time to deepen their proficiency in certain softwares. The most interactive thing in your home is definitely your computer, so students have found new ways to work on it to satisfy their technical or creative needs. Some have delved into video editing, graphic design and even thought themselves new programming languages from the ground up!

No matter what it is that interests you outside of school or your work, I strongly recommend you pursue that with the level of intensity you see fit. It can be hard to get ourselves motivated to do something creative or challenging on top of all of our other responsibilities, but if that thing inspires you, once you start you won’t be able to stop. So, while we’re still stuck inside for the foreseeable future, go out there (on the internet) and learn about a new hobby to captivate your time.

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