Updated: Apr 26
During this COVID-19 season, you’re probably going to be stuck at home for an extended period of time. While this might be a bummer to many, this is actually the best time for you to take a step back, rest and re-examine your goals. Also, what better time than now to pursue current hobbies, develop new ones, or learn a new skill - something to take with you even during your retirement!
In light of various institutional closures across the world, many companies have put their services online for free to make staying at home just a bit more bearable - don’t miss out on these while they’re still free!
Many of us are itching to get our art and culture fix as we are stuck at home listening to news of the temporary closures of major cultural institutions and cancellation of local cultural events. So here is something to blow away your stay-at-home blues!
Google has partnered with over 500 museums and galleries worldwide to bring art and culture into our home virtually. Google Arts & Culture is not new to the digital community, but if you have not explored it yet, now is the time to do it!
Also, check out this extensive article by CNN for 50 ways you can “leave home” and experience culture without actually leaving your couch! From orchestras and libraries to virtual zoo exhibits, you’ll be spoilt for choice for things to check out.
BroadwayHD, a streaming service for theater fans that started in 2015, now allows you to stream all your favourite Broadway plays and musicals for free, for a limited time only! You can expect nearly 300 productions, including ballet must-sees like Swan Lake and The Nutcracker, and Shakespeare classics such as Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest and Macbeth.
The platform is offering a 7-day free trial, along with an $8.99 monthly plan.
Do also subscribe to this YouTube channel that periodically screens musicals by Andrew Lloyd Webber for free for 48 hours. As of 26th April, they've screened classics like The Phantom of the Opera, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat and Jesus Christ Superstar.
PA might have ceased their classes due to COVID-19, but that doesn't mean the learning stops there! There are plenty of online courses that you can choose from:
Find it difficult to sit down and read for hours on end? Try listening to an audiobook or podcast. They also make for excellent entertainment to keep your mind busy when you're doing tasks like cleaning, exercising, cooking, or anything mindless which doesn't require your undivided attention. This way, you can kill two birds with one stone!
In light of school closures in the US, selected libraries in Audible just became free to support education for kids! However, their library of free audiobooks are definitely not just children's books - expect to find literary classics like Jane Eyre or Pride & Prejudice, and cult favourites like The Return of Sherlock Holmes or Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Alternatively, sign up for a 30-day free Audible trial (followed by a subscription plan of USD14.95/month) and choose within a selection of over 300,000 titles!
Storytel is another audiobook streaming service that offers a 14-day free trial (followed by a monthly plan starting at S$9.90) that lets you choose within a wide selection of titles, even including SingLit! #supportlocal
If you're scared of commitment, you can check out NLB's very own Libby app that lets you borrow audiobooks (and e-books) for select titles for 21 days. It's also completely free!
If you've not ventured into the wide world of podcasts, what are you waiting for? Now's the time to try something new! Podcasts are similar to talk radio shows, where the host(s) discuss a wide range of subject material. They vary in length; short ones are around 10-15 minutes, while long podcasts can stretch for hours. There's something for every taste and style, from comedy podcasts like The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, to news podcasts like The Economist or BBC radio, or even true crime podcasts. You can listen to them on Apple Podcasts or Spotify for free.
This list simply wouldn't be complete without suggesting binge-watching a series or two. If you're among the few who have yet to start a Netflix subscription, you'll get a 30-day trial for free, followed by monthly plans that start at S$11.98.
If you're a long time Netflix user - carry on, nothing new here!
We don't need to tell you that Netflix is your friend during this crisis – you’ve probably got half an eye on it right now – but did you know that you can have a Netflix party with your friends? The Netflix Party app, an extension available on Chrome, lets you stream Netflix in unison with your pals. Anyone can play and pause the video for everyone else, and there’s a chat window so you can all discuss what's happening onscreen in real time!
And no, Netflix isn't the only streaming service out there. Amazon Prime Video is also a great alternative and offers certain titles that you can't find on Netflix. You get a 30-day free trial, after which it only goes at S$2.99/month.
Now, you have no excuse to be bored while you're at home!