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Online Summer Courses: A Different Type of Vacation

A summer in lockdown can be quite boring, especially if you live in Puerto Rico and you legally need to meet curfew. At the beginning of the pandemic, as a matter of fact, we could not go to the mall, visit family members, or take road trips of any kind. As both a nature-loving and outgoing person, this was quite a hard pill for me to swallow. I can’t deny that, at the beginning, I legitimately thought this was going to be the worst and most monotonous summer in the history of all summers. Little did I know, I was actually dead wrong.


After some days and long hours of brainstorming how I could make the most of my summer while cooped up at home, I suddenly had an epiphany of sorts: what if, instead of moping around brooding over how devastating this non-vacation was going to be, I dedicated some time to learning something new? 


Ever since I was a young girl in grade school, I’ve been accustomed to hearing time and again that summer school was for people who, quite frankly, didn’t care enough about their grades; thus making me believe that taking courses of any kind over the summer usually meant a negative connotation. It was this realization that motivated me to do some research on online programs that aligned with my own interests. After all, learning is fun when you’re genuinely interested in the subject! Lucky for me, Coursera, a popular learning platform, was (and still is) offering free online resources during the COVID pandemic situation. The cool thing about this website is that it offers classes for anyone on everything, ranging from graphic design to accounting. Better yet, you can complete any number of these courses, as well as earn certificates and degrees, at your own pace. This means there are no stressful deadlines that make studying even more tedious. As if this wasn’t enough motivation to start learning, all of the Coursera classes are brought to you by prestigious universities and organizations all over the world, such as Google, Stanford, and Duke University!


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Being the fashion enthusiast that I am, I instantly started searching for any class related to this area of study. I have to admit, I was somewhat disappointed because there were only six fashion-related courses, two of which appeared to be in Russian. However, after close inspection, I came across a Sustainable Fashion class hosted by the Copenhagen Business School. Even though I’d never heard of this institution before, I was instantly captivated by the title as well as the course description. I immediately enrolled and began my Coursera journey!


A couple weeks passed, but I still felt that I had too much free time. Don’t get me wrong, I had already learned so much with the sustainable fashion class, but it somehow still wasn’t enough. I really felt like learning something else. After all, it wasn’t like I had any other place to go spend my two precious months of vacation away from the stress and hassles of the previous college semester. I suddenly had another great idea: how about researching online courses from colleges and universities I considered attending at some point before settling into the University of Puerto Rico? I was thinking big― New York-and-Europe-type-of-big. Let’s be honest: most of these world-renowned fashion schools such as Parsons, Istituto Marangoni, and Central St. Martins are very expensive. Nevertheless, I gave it a shot, always keeping in mind one of my favorite mantras: “You don’t get what you don’t ask for.”


After several searches, I found some quite annoying limitations: either the classes were too costly (surprise surprise), I had to be a graduate student, or my 19 years of age were apparently deemed too young to participate in the programs. At this point, I was on the verge of giving up. But wait! There was still another fashion school I somehow forgot about: New York’s FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology). After a quick browse on their website, I found a wide variety of accessible online courses that they were offering during the pandemic. Not having taken any previous courses hosted by this institution, I decided to enroll in a basic class of Fashion Industry Terminology. 


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In retrospect, this decision was definitely for the best. For an affordable price of $245, I was able to take a full-month class, complete with one hundred percent online lessons, literary material, four assignments and one creative portfolio, weekly discussions with the rest of the students, one-on-one-time with the professor, and even access to FIT’s alumnae and faculty database! 


Now that summer has come to a close, I can honestly say that the lessons I’ve learned from both of these courses have helped me greatly in increasing my knowledge on a variety of topics of my interest. I don’t regret taking these classes at all― they were a very good investment of my time and dedication. This past summer may not have included a hotel stay, a fun road trip, or a flight to someplace nice outside of the Island, but it was definitely enriching and mind-nurturing. That being said, I invite you to expand your horizons and consider taking any online classes related to your passions, your professional ambitions, or even hobbies. Trust me, you might be surprised with all the benefits you may reap at the end of taking said course. If you don’t know where to start, you can check Coursera’s free resources for the time being here. Finally, don’t be scared of looking up your dream colleges’ websites; it’s possible you may encounter accessible classes and programs that might spark your interest. But above all else, happy learning!

Andrea Capllonch is a fourth-year Marketing Major who loves editing literary and journalistic content, studying emerging trends in fashion, books and music, playing the violin and discovering new bands and musical artists. She aspires to someday break into the literary world as an editor for a publishing house or an online publication (while freelance-writing). When she isn't busy editing or working at the local indie bookstore, you'll most likely find her cuddling her two cats, Bobby and Ziggy.
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