Things to Do During Quarantine When You’re Not on Zoom

Jessica Chee, c2022

These are truly unprecedented and scary times, but there are many ways to maintain a regular schedule and keep moving onwards and upwards.

Below I present to you seven ideas on how to occupy your time during this quarantine when you’re not on Zoom calls!

1. Learn new recipes

I know quite a few of us at Mac are avid bakers and chefs, but even if you’re not, it’s never too late to learn some new recipes! For beginners, I find that Buzzfeed Tasty and Bon Appetit are fun resources to learn easy recipes for both savoury and sweet dishes. See below for my family’s attempt at Oreo-cream cheese cookies!

2. Discover movies or TV shows

Now is the perfect time to go through your movie list or binge that TV show you’ve been meaning to watch!

These are a few of my personal favourites:

  1. Love is Blind:

If you’re looking for a funny, whimsical, reality TV show that won’t expend too many of your brain cells, I would recommend Love is Blind. The premise of this Netflix show is that people can fall in love without having seen each other – participants go on dates in “pods” where they can hear but not see the other person, get engaged through a wall, and then move in together where their relationship finally gets tested in the “real world”.

  1. BoJack Horseman:

Another TV show I highly recommend is Bojack Horseman. It’s an adult animated show about an anthropomorphized horse who was once a celebrity but is now struggling with a whole host of issues, including substance abuse and depression, while he tries to return to his former glory.

  1. Millennium Actress:

If TV shows are too much of a commitment for you, I also have some movie recommendations. A movie I recently watched that spoke to me was Millennium Actress. It’s about a retired Japanese movie star who recounts the story of her life to two documentary filmmakers. As the movie progresses, it becomes more and more difficult for both the audience and the two filmmakers to decipher which parts of her story are taken from reality and which parts are from the movies in which she acted. By the end of the movie, we get the sense that even the millennium actress herself has lost touch with the difference between cinema and reality.

  1. Uncut Gems:

If you’re looking for a thriller to get your heart racing, I would recommend Uncut Gems. It’s about a jeweller addicted to gambling who progressively digs himself into deeper and deeper holes. But be warned – the movie gave me a couple nightmares.

3. Workout

Exercising is important for both your physical and mental health, especially during trying times like these when stress levels are high. Although gyms are closed for the time being, working out at home is always an option. Some resources I find helpful for coming up with workout ideas are Hanna Coleman’s YouTube videos and the Nike Training Club app. You can also improvise some quick workouts like doing stairs in your house, running around your backyard, or going for a walk if it is safe to do so in your area.

Also, don’t neglect your bone health! Even during a lockdown, it’s important to get our daily dose of vitamin D either by getting direct sunlight every day or taking supplements.

4. Practice your second language or learn a new language

One thing I’ve always regretted was not trying harder to learn my family’s native language. I would often respond to my parents in English when they spoke to me in Cantonese, and over the years, I found myself less able to have meaningful conversations with my grandparents because of the language barrier. Since I moved away from home for undergrad, I’ve been getting fewer and fewer opportunities to practice Cantonese with native speakers. I hope to take this time at home to have more conversations with my parents in Cantonese, FaceTime my relatives in Hong Kong, and really try to improve my language skills through immersion. Even going through the clinical skills manual and looking up how to ask the history questions in your second language is useful not only for practicing the language, but also preparing us to serve diverse populations in our future careers. If you are also a first- or second-generation immigrant whose family’s first language is not English, I encourage you to do the same.

If you do not live with a family that speaks a second language, now is also an awesome opportunity to learn a new language or practice a language you’ve previously learned. Apps like Duolingo are great for this, as well as watching TV shows or movies in a foreign language with subtitles.

5. Call your friends and family

This is a stressful time for everyone, so it’s important to check in on the people we love. Personally, this lockdown has helped me discover a few new communication tools like Zoom and Discord. Given this and the extra free time we’ve had, I have found myself connecting with old high school and undergrad friends I haven’t spoken to in a while, as well as keeping in touch with my close friends and family. I think everyone is handling this pandemic differently, so it’s important to reach out to people we care about and see how we can help.

6. Volunteer in the community

Medical students across the country have set up some great initiatives to help with the COVID-19 crisis. Assisting front-line workers with childcare, pet-care, or grocery shopping; and organizing PPE donations are great ways to help the community. You can even volunteer from home by volunteering with phone crisis lines like Kids Help Phone.

If you don’t have the means to volunteer right now, rest assured that even by staying home, you are saving lives by slowing the spread of the virus.

7. Journal

We are living through a major historical event, and as medical students, the next time something of this magnitude happens, we may be the ones making important decisions about how our healthcare system is run. As such, I think it’s important for us to record not only what is going on in our everyday lives during this time, but also how the world is responding on a day-to-day basis to COVID-19, what decisions were made by our world leaders, and the consequences of those decisions. Try to capture the range and change in attitudes of politicians and citizens around the world during this time – from the toilet paper hoarders to the folks still insistent on hosting huge parties; and from the days we were told there was a low risk of infection, to when hospitals started reporting shortages of ventilators and PPE. Hopefully, when this all blows over, we can use an objective eye to examine the events of this pandemic, figure out who was overreacting and who was underreacting, and learn from our mistakes. Or, maybe you can publish your journal many years from now as a COVID-19 memoir!

Finally, I think we should all keep in mind that being bored at home during quarantine is a privilege. I hope everyone is staying safe and well, and I hope we can all meet again soon.

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