College x

Everyone needs a break from the daily grind, and college may be your best opportunity to get a hobby before you get a job.

Hobbies, like learning an instrument, can help students de-stress and develop valuable life skills (Image via The Observer)

For many college students, the popularized cultural tendency to “take no days off” has young people feeling the pressure. If you aren’t working or studying nonstop, then you could be doing better, and if you aren’t constantly stressed, then you aren’t pushing yourself to your full potential.

But, look: If nine-to-five jobs start as soon as you hit the real world, then college is the perfect place to pick up some de-stressing hobbies for the free time you should allow yourself. So if you find yourself with some spare time on your hands or need a break from a marathon study session, try out one of these suggestions to cut loose.

1. Snap some pics.

You’d be surprised just how many benefits you can reap from photography, and it doesn’t require one of those super fancy digital cameras either. In fact, I’d recommend throwin’ it back for this one.

Odds are your school has a dark room open for use that’s relatively free, and you can find decent film cameras for a fraction of the cost of digital. Using a dark room to expose and develop film is weirdly therapeutic, and some of the best photographers in the game specialize in shooting film. Plus, you can enlarge your pictures using photo paper and have a free original print to show off on your dorm room walls to replace your inspirational quotes or city skylines.

2. Binge on some informational entertainment.

If you’re like me, it’s much easier to watch “The Office” than commit to a two-hour documentary about the food industry, and kicking back to “No Strings Attached” is often more appealing than tuning into a podcast. But we’re college students now, and the world of documentaries and podcasts isn’t what it used to be. Podcasts like “Serial,” “2 Dope Queens” and “This American Life“ hit on topics such as true crime, racism, sexism and pop culture.

If you prefer some moving pictures with your sound, then Netflix has a whole slew of documentaries that are all eye-opening in different ways, and great conversation starters for friends and awkward acquaintances alike. Who doesn’t love the chance to bring up the great documentary they watched last night? You cultured and educated student, you. And with this grab bag of newfound knowledge, you’re going to kill it at trivia night.

3. Get outside, but in a cool way.

Not everybody attends a school with geographically impressive areas, so if hiking isn’t really an option for you, there are plenty of other active hobbies to choose from. If you’re anything like me, then I’d recommend taking up something a little less cardio-intensive than running, but still just as helpful.

Skateboarder Thaynan Costa grinding a rail in Thailand (Image via Thrasher)

Check out some of the wheeled methods of transportation to spice up your life and help you see more of the area. Get really good at skateboarding around for transportation, then try your hand at some ollies and kick flips. Use a scooter to get to class and learn how to take it off some sick ramps. Strap on some rollerblades and head to the park for an inline session. You’ll cut your class commute time in half and look dope doing it.

4. Craft your heart out.

Do you have any idea how much money you can save by being crafty? I’m talking cross-stitching, hand-lettering, knitting, etc. People start their own Etsy businesses out of this stuff.

Speaking as someone with little to no artistic ability, knitting is a lot easier than it looks. Plus, I can’t tell you how many times my friends and I used some homemade scarves as cheap and thoughtful Christmas presents. It’s easy to learn all or one of these skills online, and maybe you could get your friends into it and start a club. Knitters unite.

5. When in doubt, blog it out.

If you’re not burnt out from academic writing, then starting a blog is one of the most beneficial creative outlets you can utilize. You don’t have to make a Facebook post every time you write a new piece or put too much pressure on yourself to make every post about some small, yet transformative experience in your life. It can be as simple as a critique of the movie you just saw.

It really doesn’t matter; as long as you’re writing consistently, blogs are great resources to include on your resume to impress potential employers, as well as to get in touch with your creative side on your own terms.

6. Learn to play an instrument.

The internet is another great resource for doing this kind of thing. I used online resources to teach myself the guitar in high school, and while I’m not a pro, I can definitely hold my own in the acoustic world. Even if you’re just taking up the triangle, playing an instrument is good for your brain.

Plus, once you’ve maximized your skills you could assemble some musical friends and start your own band. Smash together any adjective and noun, and you’ve got yourself a name. Now go out into the world and spread that sweet triangle beat.

7. Strengthen your social media presence.

Look, have you ever tried to intentionally cultivate your online image? Not only do you have to have unique enough content to stand out, but you also need to post on a daily basis, and with all the social media platforms out there, that’s a time-consuming task.

Not only are employers more frequently looking to social media before making hiring decisions, but if your account is popular enough, some platforms or sponsors will even pay you to post. That’s a pretty hard goal to attain, and most of us will probably just keep posting dank memes and artsy scenic shots, but social media can be a pretty demanding and beneficial hobby if you’re into it.

8. Start a club.

Whether it’s a knitting club, a pack of social media gurus or just some friends that like to binge on documentaries, connecting through shared passions is a great way to meet people and make new friends.  Plus, you never know if one of your hobbies could become a marketable skill, and you could throw that club involvement on a resume.

Obviously, a bunch of other hobbies are available to choose from, and maybe you can make up your own if you’re feeling really wild. If all else fails, though, give extreme ironing a try, because that’s a skill you can take to the bank.

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