While I understood that it’s okay to relax and enjoy during lockdown, the increased “free” time on our hands not only led to boredom but also to the feeling of unproductivity. So, like many people, I thought now could be the perfect time to learn a new skill. With all sorts of resources freely available to use on the internet, we can learn anything we want even from the comfort of a sofa.
Even though it seems like everyone speaks English around here, we all know German language knowledge is quite essential to enjoy the stay in Germany. I couldn’t decide on something exactly new to learn, and so I decided to work on my German Sprachniveau. I found a comprehensive language course – Smarter German - on Virtuelle Hochschule Bayern that I recommend to everyone who understands English. They offer an interesting mix of videos, text, and homework that is effective, and makes you study longer than planned.
Of course, it’s reasonable to expect that it wasn’t always fun to spend my free time studying German intensively. I had to adopt creative ideas while getting the most out of it. Binge-watching movies on Netflix may not usually be considered a productive activity, but watching German movies like “Isi & Ossi” with English subtitles was great help - and fun too! I also tried to watch English movies with German subtitles to passively connect with the language.
I tried to actively incorporate German into my alltag aka daily routine. Spending at least two dedicated thirty-minute sessions on my lazy days helped me learn faster and made it less likely to cancel my study plans. I found out that scheduling shorter study periods was more effective and makes it easier to start, and rewards for yourself were encouraging, no matter how minuscule. You can always choose to reward yourself with things that are very satisfying, like a good massage at the end of the week. The best reward.
Actively learning and improving my German language skills during this period has been satisfying. A new language moves you out of your comfort zone and there is this sense of accomplishment you get the more you feel comfortable with the language. Languages also help you appreciate other ways of life. As I explore the German language, I find myself immersed in not only the language but also the culture, as I draw comparisons with what is familiar. It has been an interesting process, and progress can be quite slow, but it doesn’t have to feel like work. You can get frustrated at the seeming lack of progress if you let the process become monotonous. Trying new approaches and using multiple sources to learn, made it less boring.
There are also many cognitive benefits of learning new things, such as improved ability to multitask and better decision-making skills. It boosts your creativity and flexibility while helping you increase your attention span and feed your brain. Adapting to change, discovering new things, and being willing to take on new methods of getting things done will help develop a growth mindset during this lockdown period. I’m sure everyone has something they’d like to learn. The secret is to just start; you have nothing to lose anyway.
Overall, there are many other opportunities this slower lifestyle brings; you actually don’t have to learn anything new, we should do things that we enjoy. So, this isn’t any form of pressure to be productive, but simply some ideas of things to do to get you through this tough time without dying of boredom.
Ikenna is a Nigerian enthusiastic about harnessing technology to improve healthcare for all. He is studying Medical Informatics at Technische Hochschule Deggendorf (THD-ECRI). He enjoys classical music, most outdoor sports, and books about technology, politics, and history.