Ways to Continually Learn

In college, at least 70% of my time was spent either in class or studying. I was a nursing major and a business minor, and learning does not come easily to me, so I had to spend many hours studying to do well. Because of this, after I graduated I suddenly found myself with seemingly lots of free time outside of my job to do things. At first I was motivated to keep learning nursing-related topics that might help me in my job or that I was simply just interested in. However, as time went on I found myself less and less inclined to enhance my brain and more inclined to spend hours watching youtube videos or Netflix, or mindlessly scroll through Instagram. I felt like I quickly forgot how to take in new information, and this bothered me. I want to learn, and to enjoy learning new things, for life. There is so much to know out there, and taking the time to learn something new makes me feel like I am using my time well. Free time is worth a lot, especially as you grow older and it becomes more sparse, so I like to use it well. Here are some of the ways I like to continually learn, that aren’t just boring starting at powerpoint slides. 

  • Coursera: Coursera is a website that offers hundreds of free courses from often very highly rated colleges. You have the option to pay $49 for a certificate in that course, or you can choose to “audit” the course for free. The only item missing on the audit option is some exams, and formal credit for the course. When I thought I wanted to go to med school, I retook all of chem 1 and 2 through Coursera for free. They offer a wide range of classes, from finance to mountains 101 to the history of the Bible. I really liked the law class I took in college, so I am currently informally taking An Introduction to American Law by the University of Pennsylvania.
  • Podcasts: Podcasts come in handy for learning while doing something else, such as driving, cleaning, or cooking. Some of my favorite educational podcasts are Science Vs., Stuff You Should Know, Planet Money, Hidden Brain, and Kwik Brain.
  • Piano: I played the piano a lot as a child, and much less during high school and college. It is something I am trying to get back into now that I’m older. It works my hand-eye coordination and I get to create something beautiful in the process. I like to develop skills and playing the piano is one I’m working at re-obtaining.
  • Cooking: To me, learning how to cook should count as learning! There are so many recipes out there for free on the internet, there is no excuse not to try cooking. It is so much cheaper than ordering takeout or meal prep services, and it gives you a sense of accomplishment that you are able to prep and create something delicious. In other words, you are immediately rewarded for your actions through cooking. I like to experiment with recipes after I’ve made them a few times and add my own twists, like adding in some new spices. Try making homemade dinner bread instead of buying it from the store, or making homemade bagels. It really is not as difficult as it seems, and while it might take more time than buying bagels from the grocery store, they taste much better and are better for you.
  • Nonfiction Books: Don’t get me wrong, I love fiction. I have to be in a mood to read nonfiction, but wow are there some great ones out there. My husband likes anything by Malcom Gladwell, I lean towards books more about science and health-related topics. Mary Roach has some interesting nonfiction books.
  • YouTube Videos: I have admittedly learned a lot from YouTube. When there’s something I don’t understand at work, like a drug or a disease process or ventilator settings, YouTube videos have helped clear things up for me many times. I’ll make a list at work of what I need help on, and then go watch videos on it later. MedCram has been a helpful channel, as well as ICU Advantage and Registered Nurse RN. I also like to look up YouTube videos on anything else I might be interested in.
  • The Bible: I am a Christian, and while I have not always followed my faith and pursued the Lord, I find learning about the bible very interesting. I like to pick a book at random and learn the context behind it. I prefer to read chunks of scripture instead of picking out individual verses that suit what I want to hear. Learning more about the Bible and it’s context helps me feel more involved in my faith.
  • Museums: If there are any museums in your area, go check them out. I am not the best at taking in history, but I still enjoy wandering around a random museum. When my then-boyfriend and I were bored a few years back, we found ourselves at a funeral museum. It was certainly not anything like what we had been to before and we actually learned a good amount. My grandpa and I went to a water tower museum in Kentucky, and it was actually super interesting. So give your local museum a go next time you’re bored!

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