It can be intimidating to teach yourself something new if you don’t know where to start, or if you don’t think you have time. But the break between semesters is the perfect time to do it. I constantly find myself getting restless over the Christmas break. Since it’s Summer in Australia, we have a 3 month break between semesters during this time. I love the Summer holidays as much as the next person but it’s a ridiculously long time between two classes. The first time I had three months off it took me a little while to get back into “university mode” when I started the new semester. Whether you have a 3 month or a 3 week break, it’s always good to keep your studying habits strong and your mind active. So, I love committing to some kind of self-study over the break. It’s a useful way to stay in the study zone and teach yourself something new.
Since the idea of constantly expanding my knowledge in different areas is so appealing to me, I love trying to teach myself things. I’m sure you’ve all done it at some point, right? From photography skills to languages, it’s tempting to teach yourself something new. There’s a certain appeal to self-study. During the semester I’m so busy with compulsory university work that I often lose the time to study anything extra. But the Christmas break is the perfect time to learn new things.
The ability to self-study is a great skill to have. It keeps your mind active and maintains your study habits. I find it fills me a sense of productivity too, so I’m less likely to spend my entire break sleeping and watching TV. Choosing to study something that you’ve always wanted to learn will keep you interested and motivated. You can even choose to study something which could be useful for your future career, or something which you’d like to include on your resume. The best part about the magic of the internet is that there are so many free online courses, tutorials and lessons that you can study at your own pace in your free time to develop new skills!
I’ve compiled a list of 4 of my favourite free online resources that I’ve used to improve my understanding of a subject or learn something new. I hope you use some of these resources during the break to teach yourself something new as well!
Khan Academy – https://www.khanacademy.org/
Khan Academy is a popular online resource for students in STEM subjects. As a physics student I was required to do a number of undergraduate maths units, which weren’t my strong point. But Khan Academy saved the day! I used to look ahead at the curriculum for my maths units and watch the videos on Khan academy to give me an introduction to the topics I’d be studying.
Khan Academy offers video tutorials on a variety of subjects. You can watch all videos in a subject (if you have the time), or just one. It mainly focuses on maths, but it also has topics in science, history and finance subjects which range in length and are constantly expanding. Ever wanted to learn about the birth of stars? Khan academy has you covered. It even offers questions that you can complete after watching a tutorial to check your understanding.
It’s a great resource for anybody looking to expand their knowledge without committing to a larger more time-consuming online course.
Teach yourself something new: The Life and Death of Stars on Khan Academy
EdX Online Courses – https://www.edx.org/
EdX is kind of the king of online courses. EdX provides a number of online university courses on a huge range of different subjects. Depending on the course the format can differ, but they usually involve videos, interactive tasks and questions to answer. These courses are adapted from actual semester-long courses through a variety of institutions such as Harvard or MIT.
There are a range of self-paced courses, and courses which start on particular dates. When I say there are a range of different subjects, I mean a complete range. Learn about thermodynamics or prepare yourself for job hunting by sharpening your resume, networking and interview skills. There’s a course for just about everything.
If you’re looking for something a lot more involved and more of a challenge, EdX is a great platform for expanding your knowledge through online courses.
Teach yourself something new: Resume Networking and Interview Skills on EdX
DuoLingo – https://www.duolingo.com/
I will never stop telling people to learn a language. Not only is it incredibly fun but it’s so useful! It’s even better when you are learning at your own pace. With so many free online resources to learn languages now, from Youtube videos to podcasts, you have a choice of options for teaching yourself. A great resource is DuoLingo. It’s super easy to use, the lessons are split into little “bite-sized chunks”, and it’s kind of like playing a game, so you’ll find it super addictive. You can learn online or through the app.
DuoLingo is super useful if you are travelling later in the year and want to expand your knowledge of a language, you’re about to start a language course at university, or if you want to keep your language skills fresh over a three month break with no classes. Whatever your motivation, you’ll really love learning with this program. Another really cool aspect of this program is that you can sign up, add your friends and you can learn a language together. What better way to stay motivated?
Teach yourself something new: Learn Polish or Norwegian on DuoLingo
Codecademy – https://www.codecademy.com/
Have you ever wanted to learn to code? Code Academy is a great way to learn coding languages. From Java and Python languages to HTML & CSS, you can learn how to code programs and websites. I needed to learn how to code in Python in my second year for some undergraduate units. Since I had some time over the break I decided to take an online course through Code Academy in the Summer. You can work through tutorials in your own time, doing as much or as little as you like, and solve problems to improve your understanding of the content. From STEM careers to creative careers, coding is a valuable skill to learn and a great new skill to learn during the break.
Teach yourself something new: Learn HTML and CSS on Code Academy
These holidays, I’m keeping my Polish fresh in my mind on DuoLingo, and I’m taking an Electricity and Circuits course on EdX.
I’d love to hear what you’re doing! Let me know if you are trying to teach yourself something new this break or if you have another great resource that you love to use.
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