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Across the Pond: Virtual Engagement Abroad

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London is resting. Its streets, which are usually filled with taxis, double-decker buses, and pedestrians, lie comparably desolate with the city’s new lockdown in place. Many people are either working from home or, like one of my friends I met while studying abroad in London whose restaurant has closed indefinitely, have suddenly become unemployed. The city almost rumbles beneath with the anxiousness of the people—what awaits them here now? Even with the COVID-19 pandemic forcing the city into lockdown, individuals are working to make the best of their current situation. Below are some recommendations for finding ways to engage without needing to leave your home, whether you’re already abroad or are wanting to connect with those who are.

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The popular British fitness instructor Joe Wicks runs daily fitness classes for people of all ages, although his most popular age groups are children and young adults. He has established different trainings intended specifically for indoor spaces and limited mobility. Currently, his YouTube trainings are free and he has engaged more than 500,000 people. Another fun way to work out in these times can be through the London-based dance and fitness studio, Frame (a weekly newsletter recommendation by our CEA program director in London). The highly energetic and motivating instructors now have online programs through their website and even feature free live workouts on their Instagram every day (@moveyourframe). You can do things like a total body workout, sweat to the sounds of '80s hits, or participate in a fun Lizzo dance sesh… whatever beat it takes to get you on your feet.

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What else is on the agenda for today? London’s Time Out magazine (temporarily renamed Time In) has gone virtual and now publishes daily activities that you can do from home, from meditation classes to virtual pub quizzes. Other examples include how Beca Lyne-Pirkis, a Welsh cook who was a contestant on the show Great British Bake Off in 2013, hosted a live cooking class via Instagram. Similarly, Time Out announced that the restaurant Officina 00 is hosting pasta and sauce-making master classes through its website. There are several possibilities and opportunities for you to scroll through on the Time Out Instagram account (@TimeOutLondon), so definitely check it out if you’re looking for something new to do every day.

Places like the Victoria & Albert Museum in London are also hosting different virtual events or activities, many of which are kid-friendly, so if you have a sibling or are young at heart yourself, together, you may find them very entertaining. You can design an 18th century wig on a woman with a couple fun twists, all while providing you with interesting facts about the time period or the materials being used. The museum also offers the opportunity for you to create a lovely 1960s Mary Quant minidress with the fabric of your choice! Did I mention that you can make it wearable? You can find more about the museum’s continuous online enrichment by going to their website.

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Lastly, if you want to just get glimpses of London or other wonderful European cities, Instagram travel bloggers like Alex Zouaghi (@a_ontheroad), Jordan Emily Brown (@hellomissjordan), and Polina (@Polabur) all offer this through their posts. Though you may not be able to explore in-person at this time, you can gaze into the detailed photos of these bloggers and start planning the amazing locations you’d like to go to in the future. There are many options for you to consider that will allow you to make something positive out of your current situation. Find out which of these ideas intrigues you and let it take you somewhere new.

Diana Gerardo is a CEA Alumni Ambassador who studied abroad in London during the Fall 2019 semester. She is currently a student at the University of Texas at El Paso.


Diana Gerardo is the Fall 2019 Alumni Ambassador in London, England, and is currently studying at University of Texas at El Paso.
 
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