Staying at home and social distancing for over a month has taken its toll on everyone. Personally, I’ve found it harder to stay physically active and productive. Focusing on school work at home is much more difficult than in a quiet library or classroom. However, this time provides everyone with the opportunity to build new skills while regenerating from a day of online schooling. The following are a number of fun hobbies and activities taken up by Athens Academy students and faculty while sheltering in place.
Daniel West’s collection of bonsai trees. Photo by Daniel West.
1. Grow a garden.
Outdoor activities and gardening provide great relief from stress, and many Athens Academy students and faculty are already using gardening as a way to connect with nature while staying productive.
For example, Daniel West, a math teacher at ACAD, has expanded his bonsai hobby. Since bonsai trees are grown in a porous soil, West spends 15-30 minutes a day watering the miniaturized trees. Included with the time he spends fertilizing, shaping/wiring, and digging up new bushes, growing the small, ancient-looking trees takes a long time. They also can take around twenty years to fully grow.
However, West does not mind the time commitment and the slow growth of the trees. He describes the experience positively, saying that “(bonsai) gives me a way to be outdoors and in contact with nature in a meaningful way….I’m accomplishing something while also getting physical exercise and making something beautiful.”
West encourages anyone with patience and a love of nature to grow bonsai trees and contact him (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions about the activity.
A bonsai tree in training. Photo by Daniel West.
2. Learn a language.
Learning and practicing languages has become increasingly accessible through the internet. From learning an entirely new language to practicing French and Spanish, apps like Duolingo and Lingo Deer teach basic vocabulary and language skills. Listening to podcasts in languages you’re trying to learn is also a free way to enhance linguistic abilities.
For Spanish, I recommend listening to Tom Segura en Español on YouTube. Foreign universities such as the University of Oslo also offer free online language courses. My sisters and I have been practicing our Norweigian as a break from school work, and it’s a fun way to connect with family as well as learn a language.
3. Create an art project.
While I am not a very artistic person, throughout the past month I have participated in several art projects. For me, scrapbooking has been a great way to remember happy memories while stuck at home. Snapfish, Shutterfly, and many other photo websites have digital scrapbooking options, and Creative Memories is my favorite company to use for physical scrapbooking supplies.
Besides my own scrapbooking, many Athens Academy students have been creating art projects not only for themselves, but to help spread positivity throughout our community. Many health care workers and nurses have been working overtime with the spread of the virus. To help show how much their work is appreciated, several students including Imana Adogu, Luísa Bertioli, and me have created over 15 posters thanking health care workers to hang around Piedmont Athens Regional Hospital.
Another art project designed to help the Athens Academy community stay connected is the Doodle-a-Day project, headed by junior An’an Shen. In the Doodle-a-Day project, students are encouraged to draw their feelings, thoughts, or just ordinary life during quarantine and then share their creations with each other.
“The project is more like a recording, a reflection of reality from this angle. However, drawing itself is enjoyable. I relieve so much pressure when I pick up a pen and create something,” An’an said when asked for her inspiration for the project.
If you have any questions about the Doodle-A-Day project or wish to participate, contact An’an Shen at email@example.com.
A doodle by An’an Shen.
4. Don’t forget to exercise!
Finally, exercise is an excellent way to stay healthy mentally and physically at home. Sophomore Jarad Faulkner has been using his extra time to exercise even more than usual.
“I wake up at 4 a.m. to do my cardio for the day,” Jarad said. “This is usually composed of running three to four miles, 10 to 15 sprints up and down my driveway, and jump rope. During the middle of the day is when I do my actual strength training….On top of this I wrestle three to four times a week.”
Jarad enjoys his strenuous exercise regimens, saying they help him stay positive and productive. However, other students have been using quarantine for less intense, but still helpful, activity.
“I go on walks a lot after school while I FaceTime some of my friends,” said sophomore Imana Adogu. “It gives me a break from my work. I’m able to make daily plans where I set aside time for working out, homework, and free time which helps with staying organized overall.”
Jarad Faulkner working out in the Athens Academy weight room (pre-pandemic). Photo by Evan George.