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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Nanyang Tech chapter.

Wondering what to do in your free time to destress and unwind?

Take inspiration from the Queen of Quarantine ­­(aka, the literal Princess of Corona), Rapunzel. Stuck up in her tower, Rapunzel wondered when her life would begin. She got it right to spend her time meaningfully by keeping herself occupied with something fun and exciting to break away from the usual line-up of daily routines and chores.

It is nice to have something to look forward to even if it is as simple as spending some time on a leisurely activity after a long day of online school. However, it is easier said than done. Stuck at home and with our devices within reach all the time, break times can easily morph into long sessions of mindless scrolling through feeds of content and information. Hobbies can help you spend your time more intentionally. If you need something to freshen up your stay-at-home lifestyle, read on!

Here are some creative hobbies you can consider, along with tips on getting started.

Fine writing

Starter pack: Fountain pen, ink (bottle or cartridge), a book or papers to write on, a pen case

The name ‘fine’ may mislead you to think that fine writing requires you to break the bank, but that’s not true! If you’re interested to get into fine writing, you can easily get started while sticking to a budget. Contrary to popular belief, fountain pens are available at affordable price points. When it comes to ink, you can choose between purchasing cartridges or investing in bottles of ink to refill your pens. Choosing an ink bottle over cartridges may seem more expensive at first, but it is most worthwhile in the long run! Besides the hassle of refilling the pen manually, ink bottles give you many benefits: such as providing more quantity of ink using less packaging than cartridges.

While fine writing tools have a huge possibility for collecting, it is also functional! Equipped with fine writing tools, you can use them for daily notetaking and journaling. From there, you can branch out into calligraphy, penmanship and lettering. There are many places you can source for letter sets, notebooks, paper, journals and greeting cards. And, if you are searching for fountain pens and writing tools, art and craft stores like Art Friend and Overjoyed carry a wide range of products.

Save: Daiso, Popular Book Store, Art Friend, Muji

Splurge: Tokyu Hands, Kikki K, Overjoyed, The Paper Market, NBC Gifts and Stationery

Film Photography

Starter pack: Film camera and a roll of film

Remember Hipstamatic, Lomography and the original Instagram filters? There is no doubt that there is a charm in the imperfections of blurry images and washed-out colours that come with analogue photographs. Try something new by experimenting with film photography. Some of the most popular film varieties are 35mm film and instant film (eg. Fujifilm Instax, Polaroid). Take the camera along with you wherever you go, and you’ll be surprised with what you can capture – whether you’re staying home, heading outdoors to explore or indulging in a staycation.

After finishing each roll, it is an exciting wait between dropping off the film to be developed and collecting it to reveal the vintage-esque photos immortalising your memories. Of course, film photography takes time and patience. Sometimes the photos may not turn out as expected or a roll of film may get damaged in the process, but that is all part of the analogue adventure! Like fine writing, this is a hobby that has lots of possibilities for collecting and personalising!

Save: Buying second-hand, Carousell, thrift/charity shops

Splurge: Fujifilm shops, niche camera shops

(Note: With the exception of instant film cameras, in addition to the cost of acquiring gear, you also have to factor in the cost of developing film and scanning your photographs!)

Sewing and Needlework

Starter pack: Sewing kit, needles, fabric, and thread

With the popularity of embroidery, needlework has joined the ranks of being a cool hobby to engage in. Needlework includes embroidery, crocheting, knitting and sewing. There are many other types of needlework but these few are most accessible. Besides decorating textiles and fabrics, picking up sewing skills can lead you to bigger creative projects, for example: reworking old or thrifted clothes, creating reusables (coffee holders, fabric masks, etc.) and making your own clothes from scratch! These creations can cost you close to nothing if you make use of what you already have.

If it is your first time working with needles and thread, you will be pleased to know that there are plenty of resources to guide you along and inspire you. Wondering what to create next? Platforms like Pinterest, Instagram and Etsy are filled with lots of inspiration. There are also dedicated online communities and interest groups for needlework enthusiasts, such as Ravelry.

Save: Daiso, Carousell, thrift/charity shops, market, dollar-stores

Splurge: Etsy, Spotlight, Art Friend

Vocal training

Starter pack: Sheet music, and your voice!

Whether you are keen on improving your musical skills or can’t wait to get back to karaoke sessions with friends (or both!), vocal training is an exciting hobby you can pick up. You can train your voice to suit various genres of music, singing styles and repertoires. Unlike learning a new musical instrument, vocal training makes use of the lovely voice you already have.

While on your journey towards pitch-perfect singing and confidently belting out tunes, you will need to know how to read sheet music. Training your voice also includes vocal exercises to increase your range of musical pitches and lung capacity to sustain longer notes – you will be surprised that it can be quite a workout! All this can be self-taught by making use of online resources and guidebooks. However, if you prefer more guidance or are looking towards attaining professional certification, you can enrol at music schools or work with a coach for vocal training.

Save: Online resources, guidebooks

Splurge: Attending classes, working with a vocal coach

Coffee or Tea?

Starter pack: Coffee beans/ground coffee, tea leaves/tea bags, milk, sugar or artificial sweetener, hot water kettle, mug, teapot/coffee flask and thermos

Yes, your favourite beverage can be a hobby too! The trendy Dalgona Coffee recipe made its rounds on social media during the earlier months of this year. It showed that it took skill and lots of time to create the perfect whipped coffee.

Instant 3-in-1 coffee mixes and powdered tea are convenient and effortless to prepare especially when in a rush, but these instant caffeine fixes cannot compare to sipping and savouring a cup of warm coffee or tea. You do not need to be café-hopping to enjoy a good cup of your favourite beverage, you can bring the café experience home by learning how to prepare the beverages on your own. For coffee, there are many variations to experiment and practice with: cold brew, pour-overs and freshly-ground coffee beans and lattes. And for tea, you can explore new flavours, tastes and scents with the different tea leaves and tea bags available.

Save: Fairprice supermarkets, wholesale food shops, dollar-stores

Splurge: Cafés, artisanal coffee shops, Cold Storage, Market Place by Jasons

Giselle Lim

Nanyang Tech '21

giselle is an undergraduate at nanyang technological university reading english literature, with a second major in art history. she finds joy in meaningful conversations and happy coincidences. she is trying to be the best person she can be :)
Shona Menon

Nanyang Tech '22

English undergraduate, Social Media Director at HC Nanyang Tech and freelance copywriter. Find me at @shonamenon on Instagram.