Apr 21st, 2020, 01:52 PM

Three quarantine activities with a cultural twist

By Ana Poo-Baiz
Wondering what to do during quarantine? Image Credit: Ana Póo-Biaz
Bringing cultures together while confined at home

The new coronavirus, which causes the disease known as COVID-19, is keeping the whole world on edge. Europe, with closed borders and millions of citizens confined to their homes, has become the main focus of the outbreak, which originated in China in late December 2019. With more than 2.1 million confirmed cases worldwide, people must stay inside their homes to prevent the spread of the virus.

Confinement has ignited all different sorts of emotions and moods but the quarantine has also inspired various ways to approach them. Since people are remaining in their homes, many have found new activities to do or skills to learn and excel at. Some common activities are at-home online workouts, binge-watching Netflix, calling old friends, being consumed by Instagram and TikTok, reordering closets and cupboards and learning to cook better (maybe slightly obligated to because restaurants are closed). We see these activities all the time, but there are some activities that, though may seem common, have a unique twist to them.

Social distancing calls for anxiety, doubt, and clearly loss of physical contact, but this doesn’t mean we can’t feel connected to other people and especially, to other cultures. I put together three activities that involve bringing cultures together while engaging in education, a healthy lifestyle and learning something new. Two of the activities are carried by two close friends while the third is a personal one. My name is Ana and, as everyone else, I am also quarantined. Since the beginning of confinement, I started cooking and doing at-home workouts which was alright, but it wasn't until a few weeks into confinement that the idea to bring these activities together popped into my head. While on a group video chat with my friends, two began sharing with me the amount of engagement they have had on social media with their own activities, and that was when I immediately told them: "I need to interview both of you!" We spoke for hours and I found the perfect touch that brought the activities together: culture. So, if you're an active person like me that always wants to do or learn something new, keep reading to find out about the three new activities you can entertain yourself with!

1. Sharing vegan recipes online.

Yes, ok, I know what you’re thinking, “That’s a common activity.” Well, what if I told you this girl has engagement and feedback from people all around the world and sells her own vegan desserts? Even during quarantine! (Yes, safely and responsibly.) Claudia has almost ten thousand followers on Instagram who interact with her on a daily basis. Her journey began as a personal goal in 2016 and with time, she began to connect with new people and many eventually reached out to her for tips on a healthier and more vegan-friendly lifestyle.

Claudia decided to go vegan around a year ago, after she developed a lactose intolerance and started to grow a conscience for the meat industry and its negative effects on climate change and the environment. Did you know 2,400 gallons of water are used to produce 1 pound of meat? That equals to the same amount of water as six months of average showers! As she learnt more about these issues, her motivations to provide ideas for a more environmentally friendly and vegan lifestyle increased. Every day, she receives from 80-170 people sending her versions of recipes she shared. During quarantine, she began to vlog her recipes on YouTube and has created vegan alternatives for common desserts such as chocolate-chip cookies, brownies and muffins.

 “It’s amazing, honestly I never thought I would have so much engagement in such little time. It makes me so happy to see people enjoying my content and giving me their opinions and remakes of any recipe I share. What I love the most is being able to share vegan options in a fun a delicious way so people can enjoy it and adopt this diet a little more if they wish.” - Claudia Nuñez

After sharing several polls and questions about her followers’ nationalities, she found she is followed by people from more than 40 countries. Her followers claimed to have been positively impacted during containment by the way Claudia lives her life (with what’s possible right now), what she portrays and the way in which she shares her recipes. While her Instagram @claudianunezz is filled with content every day, she shares her recipe videos on YouTube every Sunday.


2. Giving LIVE Yoga Sculpt classes through Instagram and Zoom.


Again, yoga falls into at-home workouts so you might think it is not different. But it is! Sofia has been a yoga teacher for over 3 years, she started her training with Vinyasa Yoga but now focuses on Sculpt Yoga which is yoga with weights. She started doing yoga as a child along with her grandmother. Unfortunately, during quarantine, her grandmother passed away so she created the account @svgyoga to both honor her and to keep her customers active at home. In as little as two weeks, Sofia has gained more than 200 international followers and has up to 500 people viewing her LIVE 45-minute classes.

“I started practicing yoga again in freshmen year of college and I realized if I trained to be a yoga teacher, it would be a lot cheaper for me to work out and continue to do the classes that I really enjoyed. My customers love my classes so much and during this stressful time I thought that sharing them for free would be such a nice contribution. I made a separate account from my personal one just to have everything more settled but I never imagined so much engagement, it’s an incredible feeling that so many people are happy with what I’m providing.” - Sofia Vegas

Remember when I mentioned there was a twist? Well, not only this yoga sculpts your body and makes you sweat, but it has a reggaeton playlist that will definitely improve your mood and motivation. Reggaeton is basically Latin American music. Although Sofia teaches her classes in English, she preserves her Venezuelan identity by providing this active music genre that many people enjoy. She has now been invited by two yoga studios in the United States (one in Washington D.C and one in Boston) to work with them and give online classes to their customers. During this stressful time, she has been able to share her knowledge with many more people than she ever had and constantly receives feedback on her work.


3. Puzzle making.

Beer puzzle. Image credit: Ana Poo-Baiz

The final activity is less viral but more educational. In 2018, I bought a one-thousand-piece puzzle made out of beer bottles. I made it for the first time during quarantine. In the process, I realized there were more than twenty beer brands I didn’t know about, so I decided to do a little research. The top five that I found most remarkable were Iguazu, Cobra, Bear Beer, Hen’s Tooth and Amsterdam Mariner. Iguazu is an artisanal Argentinian beer, named after the Iguazu Falls on the border of Argentina and Brazil. Cobra is an English-Indian beer, known to have a perfect combination of refreshing and smooth: this was produced because the Indians believed British beer to be very heavy and gassy. Bear Beer is a Danish beer with a polar bear as their logo to portray strength and richness. Hen’s Tooth is an English bitter and strong beer. Finally, Amsterdam Mariner as the name reveals is a Dutch beer which is said to have a sweet and banana-ish flavor: there is a theory that claims the beer was once made with bananas, however has not been confirmed.

While I didn’t interact with people around the world, I did manage to learn more about beer in general and especially about the signature ways to make beer in different countries around the world. During the research I also had some background history on the places the beers were born. Did you know beer was used to discover oxygen? Joseph Priestly noticed gas rising from the beer glass and began to carry out experiments – ultimately discovering oxygen. As simple and common a beverage as beer can teach us new things and bring cultures together by expanding regional knowledge.

Being restricted from our freedom and our ability to interact with society is difficult and causes alien feelings, but once again, there are always alternatives to be able to stay connected and learn something new every day. Social media and the internet are such incredible and accessible platforms to many individuals, which have facilitated communication and sharing all around the world. It is a tool that, when used productively, can definitely have positive consequences like; meeting new people, sharing and expressing ideas and opinions, learning new skills and keeping up to date with world news. It is hectic to have an indefinite date for when confinement will end, but as long as we’re here, we can try and make the best of it, benefit from all the online resources we have free and invest time in what interests us. Bringing cultures together and learning about them is also a way to travel.