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What can I learn in two weeks?
January 14, 2013 11:10 AM   Subscribe

I'm feeling a bit burnt out from my job, and will be moving soon, so I've requested (and was approved) for two weeks of vacation at the end of February. Originally, I thought I'd be taking a university course, but I'm not. I'd rather not waste these two weeks, so I'd like to learn something completely new.

Hobbies I've picked up before and really enjoyed (but don't necessarily want to go further in): woodworking, knitting, crocheting, cross stitching, sewing, refinishing furniture, PHP, MySQL, HTML.

Hobbies that I've done that I can improve on, but would be too big of a scope for just 2 weeks or already do anyway: (fiction) writing, photography*, playing the piano, drawing, foreign languages (French, German, Russian, Japanese, and Mandarin), skiing, skydiving, cooking, ballroom dancing.

I'm not opposed to doing specific projects within my interests. Or I could learn something totally new. My budget is $-infinity (making money) to $500. I would like for it to take about 7 full days (so I have my weekends and extra time if I make a mistake or want to explore it further). I will be living in an apartment downtown Seattle, so things like car repair and/or short-wave radios are not doable.

I'm more of a homebody (i.e. an introvert), and physically lazy. So I would prefer something that doesn't require strenuous exercising, though getting out of the house might be nice. I would prefer something mentally challenging, but in a different way than what I do for work (software engineering). Nothing that is all fumes (e.g. nail art, painting), and if indoors, must be doable in a small space. Extra kudos for something barter-able. I'm not opposed to learning something purely theoretical, but am not drawn to it either.

Things I've considered: taking a specific type of photography (I have a Sony NEX-5n with a 30mm f/2.8 lens)--maybe HDR?, reading Les Mis in French, play with an arduino (ideally a specific project?), learn to ride a bicycle (is this even doable in 2 weeks?), leash train my cats (is that doable in 2 weeks?)...
posted by ethidda to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
reading Les Mis in French

Frankly, reading Les Mis in English could easily take two intensive weeks.

I vote learning to ride a bike, if you don't know how already. Of course it's doable in two weeks. A six year old can learn in an afternoon.
posted by Sara C. at 11:15 AM on January 14, 2013


play with an arduino (ideally a specific project?)

This is a new hobby for me and I'm having a blast, even at the very beginner level. Evil Mad Scientist and Adafruit both have kits at all levels and prices, and many can be easily hacked. With your programming experience you might look in to Raspberry Pi projects, too. This cool "musical pencil" took me less than an hour to complete, and that was just my second project.

I can tell you that, as someone who has an uneasy relationship with electricity and hadn't touched a soldering iron since 7th grade electric shop 30+ years ago, the projects can be easy enough to give you the confidence to keep exploring yet as challenging as you'd ever want them to be. I didn't take any courses, but have been learning more and more with each project and plan on picking up a few books to go along with the hands-on experience.
posted by Room 641-A at 11:33 AM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


When you say you've considered those things at the end, does that mean you've rejected them, and that's why you're asking mefi? If so, maybe get your scuba diving or motorcycle license? Either of those should fit into your budget and timeline and aren't particularly strenuous, but would enhance your leisurely enjoyment of the outdoors.
posted by smoq at 11:35 AM on January 14, 2013


I was thinking about cake decorating classes. My sister picked this up on a lark and she usually sells a couple of cakes a month. She really loves it and if you're a creative person, you can really get into doing intricate stuff in cake.

Here is a site where you can see some hilarious bad, professional cakes.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:35 AM on January 14, 2013


Riding a bike is definitely doable, though I would say that you could take it further and learn how to safely ride on trails, how to take it on public transportation, a basic maintenance class, how to safely ride on the streets, basic first aid, etc. It's really not necessarily that strenuous, but it's a useful skill to have. If you go for this, please get a properly-fitted helmet.

It sounds like an Arduino and/or Raspberry Pi would be a great option for you-- have you worked with any hacker or makerspaces in your area?
posted by jetlagaddict at 11:37 AM on January 14, 2013


When you say you've considered those things at the end, does that mean you've rejected them, and that's why you're asking mefi? If so, maybe get your scuba diving or motorcycle license? Either of those should fit into your budget and timeline and aren't particularly strenuous, but would enhance your leisurely enjoyment of the outdoors.

No, it means that I've thought of them but haven't decided on any yet. I'm sort of trying to look for recommendations for new things or strong recommendations/anti-recommendations for existing proposals. (Which people have been giving!)

I have taken the motorcycle course twice, and failed the practical part because of a lack of balance (partly why I want to learn how to ride a bicycle).

I would like to learn scuba diving... I can do most of it in a swimming pool, but I'd need to do a real dive before getting a license, and it's really cold in Seattle. Flying elsewhere will bust my budget.
posted by ethidda at 12:23 PM on January 14, 2013


Learn to ride a bike. It will take you less than two weeks to learn, and you can use the two weeks to get comfortable. I am so envious of your potential two weeks of bike time!
posted by ablazingsaddle at 12:29 PM on January 14, 2013


If I had two weeks that I had set aside for the specific purpose of learning something I would probably try and learn a few complicated new recipes. Those recipes you never get around to making because they are really time consuming or look intimidating. Take notes on what you did wrong and write your own detailed recipe for it. Really put the time into doing each recipe properly and researching the best techniques and ingredients to use.
This skill is bound to come in useful one day.
Maybe you could focus it on a specific nationality and make a new specialty of theirs each day. This would save money as well because you could buy ingredients to use in a bunch of different recipes.
You could invite people over to sample if you're feeling confident.
posted by kwes at 9:22 PM on January 14, 2013


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