In my profession (psychiatry), most of us have not had a lot of extra free time with the stay-at-home orders that many of us have been under. Mental health lends itself well to telemedicine, and I don’t think anyone feels COVID-19 has generally been very helpful for depression and anxiety, even if one didn’t have any of these issues before. Most days have been as hectic, if not more, than pre-COVID days. However, I still have a day a week where I don’t typically work (much) and on that day, I often focus on self-care- exercise, meditation, writing in my journal, spending time gardening and cooking, visiting with friends, reading and spending time with my family. I also take online classes for fun- but previously had been paying for them through The Idler (I especially liked the one on Ancient Philosophy, and another one on Romantic Philosophy).
Recently, a friend posted a link from Free Code Camp about free classes online from Ivy League schools. I looked at the classes and found a BUNCH that I was interested in trying out. The first one I’ve tried was from Harvard, and was about the history of the Giza Plateau. I didn’t pay for the optional certificate track because the certificate wasn’t relevant to me, and the main point for me was to really enjoy learning something I’m interested in from an expert.
I spent about an hour or so a week on the class, not including the optional reading, which I mostly did by downloading the free articles and books to my iPad. I was really impressed with the content of the course. I learned a lot about Ancient Egypt in general, and the ways that Ancient Egypt is still relevant today. I have a basic knowledge now about the Great Pyramids (go Fourth dynasty!), the cemeteries around the Pyramids, and the beautiful artwork. I even gained a basic knowledge of hieroglyphs, and can understand some of the fundamentals- something that I never thought I would be able to do, let alone with an online class. I thought the main instructor, Dr. Peter Der Manuelian, was very engaging, and clearly passionate about his subject. A few of the videos were hosted by somewhat less engaging staff, one of whom sounded and appeared to be reading directly off a teleprompter, even pausing at the end of each closed-captioning phrase. For the most part, though, the videos and readings were well done. Some of the quizzes were very challenging (especially the hieroglyph ones), but you could easily skip these.
If you’re interested in learning more about this specific class, follow the links above, or go to the Giza Project site, which is a little bit like a wormhole for my kids and I- we did virtual tours of multiple tombs, and then realized that an hour had gone by, unnoticed.
Learning something new can be a great use of time during the covid-19 stay-at-home time. There’s nothing wrong with a Netflix marathon, but after awhile, everyone runs out of things to watch, and TV, especially if you’re glued to the news, can actually be more stressful than helpful. If you’re interested, try one of these classes! Let me know in the comments if you’ve tried any classes online for fun- I’m always looking for something new to learn!