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Skills for the Summer

The summer period gives ample opportunity to develop several hobbies that are both enjoyable and useful in the long-term. There are also many resources online that make more things accessible; from painting, fitness, or designing a website. Hobbies that can provide transferable skills to take into an academic or corporate environment are essential to personal development. In this post, I have rounded up several skills that one can take up – and potentially master – in a month. These range from more creative tasks (which can introduce a new interest in artistic pursuit) to practical tasks, that can develop your digital aptitude. The summer holidays are an ideal time to expand one’s interests in different areas, alongside gaining skills that will aid you throughout life.

 

  1. Learning Basic Code – The benefits of coding are greatly overstated but certainly true. Coding gives people the opportunity to learn how to build simple website designs and games, as well as refining logic and problem-solving abilities. Non-profit foundation org is helpful for coding novices. It provides a great starting point with lots of useful online resources. Code Monster is a great resource for young kids to teach them different coding commands and what they do. Coding can unlock the door for a greater interest in computing and digital design.

 

  1. Learning a Foreign Language – Although many students will encounter more than one foreign language in their primary and secondary school curriculum, the summer is the perfect time to brush up on our linguistic skills. One can also learn a new language through online resources such as DuoLingo or even through private tuition. Communication is an essential skill and knowing more than one language encourages education on different cultures and practises.

 

  1. Volunteering – Although the current situation has left limited options when it comes to face-to-face interactions, there are various opportunities to still volunteer and help out in our local communities. Emailing non-profit social organisations shows initiative towards getting involved with different social causes. In our new ‘Zoom’ climate, one can also volunteer tutoring services to younger students, offering academic help through voice or video call.

 

  1. Photography – The art of photography is special in that its canvas is the world around us, and its tool is non-specific; one can use a DSLR camera or phone camera. There are so many tutorials online to learn basic portraiture, landscape photography, or fashion photography. The members of your household can act as models when you need some inspiration!

 Although I have only suggested four, there is a seemingly endless list of skills you can try out. This online page has compiled a huge comprehensive list for those who want to choose more than a couple of activities. Remember, the aim is not always to master, but to keep practising beyond the summer months!

 

 

Beat the Heat! Ways to Stay Cool this Summer

The drastic (but very welcome) rise in temperature this week has led to small changes in daily routine. Going out for exercise feels torturous under the glaring heat; working at a desk feels uncomfortable in the sticky humidity. BBC Weather has reported that this sweltering heat is the hottest August we have seen in 17 years, as temperatures have reached around 36° Celsius. Finding motivation in a heatwave and within a pandemic seems like a Herculean task. It is clear that “productivity levels have slumped as the heat affects the nation’s diet, routine and sleep patterns” (The Independent). However, small but key changes can be made to accommodate for any weather, but specifically the British summer.

 

Eat Cool to Stay Cool – Surprisingly, eating spicy food will cool you down through inducing you to sweat more. A recent Independent article spoke to nutritionist Daniel O’Shaughnessy about other foods that can help beat the heat, such as soup, spinach, and turmeric for its anti-inflammatory effects. Although soup is a traditional winter dish, O’Shaughnessy speaks about the benefits of its consumption specifically in the evenings. Another easy hack to stay cool is to drink lots of water – infused with cucumber, melon, or celery for taste. Dehydration is definitely a possibility in this heat, so it is important to keep drinking water (or hot drinks, they help too) throughout the day.

 

Sponge and Cool – A study conducted at the University of Sydney, as reported by Huffington Post, suggests that dabbing water to your chest, legs, back, and arms can increase comfort in extreme heat. This is a useful trick to use when you are studying or doing zoom tuition over the summer holidays. Taking small breaks to hydrate and apply water prove to be most effective.

 

“The study’s results, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), found applying water to these areas of the body improved comfort during a heatwave, in addition to lowering cardiovascular strain and reducing the rate of dehydration.” – HuffPost

 

Check your Setting – It can be difficult to find a spot to chill, literally, when your house lets a lot of sunlight in. To keep rooms as cool as possible, shut your curtains or blinds when you’re not in the room. Sometimes, it is cooler outside so adhere to social distancing and find a shady spot in a nearby park.

 

There are rare and few moments where we get weather that resembles anything close to tropical so make the most of the sunshine, with home barbeques, socially distanced picnics, or just good old-fashioned water fights. Enjoy the weather!

Does Practise really make Perfect?

When one thinks of the action of practise, it is often synonymous with discipline and order. The fundamental idea of repetitive work is one that is championed by scholars and leaders. Why do we say, ‘practise makes perfect’? Is this a phrase applicable only to one discipline of study, like maths tuition, or is it a more general theory? The scientific impact of practise on the human brain is that the neural pathways work better in unison, by myelination. When we practise a skill over a set period of time, our brain thus becomes conditioned to feel comfortable with the skill – E.g. practising a speech over and over again will make one more confident with the skill of public speaking. It is almost subconscious when we become more attuned to the object of practise.

 

In the life of a student, practise is a certainly an integral pillar of success. Therefore, reserving the period before key exams for revision seems realistic and practical. Private tuition, (such as GCSE levels tuition or 11 plus prep) is a great mode of practise for students to get comfortable with examination conditions. Practise not only allows one to aim for the highest grade, but it also inspires a sense of confidence. If practise encourages personal confidence, it must also have a place in our daily life, whether it be in the extracurricular or academic sphere. The iconic phrase – practise makes perfect – is originated from its Latin form ‘Uses promptos facit’ referenced in the ‘Diary and Autobiography of John Adams’. Clearly, the philosophical and practical message is far from antiquated, and still essential for one’s personal success.

 

However, it must be said that sometimes practise has an innate tendency to feel monotonous. We gain personal satisfaction from seeing immediate results, whereas the ‘art’ of practise can feel like a long-haul endeavour. To achieve the desired results, one must stay diligent over a specific time-frame – this is tough, for boredom can strike, but with perseverance, practise will always achieve results. Will it achieve perfection? The idea of perfection is in itself ambiguous, but what is clear is that practise will make you better at what you are practising. To quote the resounding words of essayist Audre Lorde, “Every day of your lives is practise in becoming the person you want to be”.

 

-Ketki Mahabaleshwarkar

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