Ever since the start of the quarantine, I developed a new daily habit: watching Ted Talks. I do not recall what brought me to start watching them, but it somehow became a part of my everyday routine. After waking up in the morning from a good night’s sleep, I immediately shut off my alarm, turn on my phone, and watch the latest Ted Talk from their YouTube channel.
For those who are unfamiliar with them, Ted Talks are videos from expert speakers who can present their ideas and original research from a wide variety of fields like business, science, technology, and education. Ted Talks allowed me to learn about various topics beyond what I was learning from my online classes. As a person fascinated with the social sciences, humanities, and the fine arts, I decided to branch out and watch videos covering topics that I would not normally come across in my weekly readings and assignments. I watched several videos from the science discipline, including one about how the brain creates hallucinations which result in us constructing our “reality” and another about how noise pollution negatively impacts marine life. At the time, I did not know that noise pollution was a concept. The media often focuses on how the waters are polluted with plastic and trash, but never on how the noises from boats can affect an animal’s ability to echolocate.
After watching these videos, I found myself reading more into the topics that I was curious about. I got sucked into a rabbit hole of research papers and even more educational videos that were related to the topic. I continued to use the critical thinking and reasoning skills that have become second nature after taking my undergraduate courses. When I read the papers, I asked questions, which then brought me to another article, and then another. With these talks, I learned how these brilliant scholars were using concepts we learned in our undergraduate courses to solve real world problems. These talks became my motivation to fight on in spite of the current pandemic and to study hard so that one day I might be able to stand on that stage and give a presentation on my very own topic.
I understand that it can be hard for college students to set aside time to study other topics beyond their required courses. We also have our other responsibilities to attend to. It’s important to also take breaks to ensure that we are tending to our emotional and physical health. Nonetheless, I still think that it’s important to make time to expand our intellectual horizons, especially while we are in the comfort of our own home.
In addition to watching Ted Talks, I also decided to subscribe to other YouTube channels dedicated to teaching individuals various skills and information. For example, I saved a playlist of Khan Academy videos that are about financial literacy. You can learn about taxes, mortgages, and investing. There are also some great video tutorials on how to code, how to use Microsoft programs, and how to set up your LinkedIn profile. The possibilities for learning are honestly endless. For the Class of 2020, this might be a great chance for you to learn some skills to better equip you for the job market (and becoming adults)!
Ted Talks bring forth information in a witty and brilliant way, but also as though the speaker is in conversation with the audience. Other educational videos mainly provide the information for us to digest and take note of. Still, I now watch Ted Talks after waking up in the morning and other educational videos during my designated study breaks. I hope this can be a new quarantine passtime for everyone else because I promise— you will go about your day feeling more satisfied that you learned something new about the world we live in.