There are plenty of ways to stay connected and entertained while taking online courses with Penn Summer. From volunteer opportunities to outdoor activities and virtual tours, here’s to making the most of your time this summer!
This list of activities and resources was compiled by the Grad Center at Penn.
In order to be there for anyone else, you have to first take care of yourself.
- Follow CDC, Pennsylvania, and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health’s tips for social distancing, good health habits, and more.
- Take some time to practice self-care, whether that’s reaching out to a friend for a call or video chat; practicing at-home meditation, prayer, or exercise; or disconnecting from media exposure now and again.
Donate or share virtual support
- PHL COVID-19 Fund: The PHL COVID-19 Fund will rapidly and equitably deploy solutions and resources to help our nonprofit community navigate near- and longer-term challenges from COVID-19 and ensure that critical resources remain available for those in our community who need it most.
- Donate PPE and supplies to Penn Medicine: Penn Medicine is now accepting donations of personal protective equipment and supplies from the community. For more information, visit the Penn Medicine website.
- Penn Medicine Spread the Love Campaign: Send notes of gratitude to front line staff at Penn Medicine. Leave your messages of support, encouragement, and gratitude, and they will be spread system-wide and delivered to our staff. No name or contact information is required, but if you'd like to sign your first name and location, you're more than welcome.
- Support local small businesses (safely): Though some locations have closed, you can still safely support your Philadelphia neighborhood shops and restaurants during this difficult time.
Volunteer and help your neighbors
Please note: The University has suspended student involvement in community outreach for the safety of students and community members. Additional information and resources on COVID-19 are available at Penn’s Coronavirus website.
There are many established organizations in Philadelphia seeking volunteers. Students are not required or encouraged to engage in any of these initiatives. These opportunities are completely voluntary. Please contact the sites directly to sign up or with any questions.
- The Philadelphia Mayor’s Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Service is working to connect residents to volunteer opportunities with these critical organizations. Residents who wish to support these efforts can sign up for shifts at the Mayor’s Volunteer Corps portal.
- Corona Connects is an online database created by Penn students that lets you filter remote and in-person volunteer opportunities by US location and time commitment. Whether you have a few minutes or a few hours, want to teach others or flex your crafting skills, or want to get out or stay inside, there are many ways to make a difference.
Other ways to help
- Call or leave a note for your neighbors, particularly seniors and those who live alone. Help them get the essential supplies they need.
- Remind others of social distancing guidance, including your own friends.
- Order take-out or delivery from a locally owned eatery.
- Wear a mask and sew masks to donate to neighbors or essential employees.
- Post drawings and other art or words of thanks or encouragement in your window and offer a wave of thanks when you see essential employees, especially our healthcare workers and first responders.
We understand that the disruptions and uncertainty of this period make it difficult or even impossible to balance life with school and work obligations. We encourage and support you in prioritizing your own wellness and relationships at this time.
The resources and suggested activities below are provided for those who wish to dedicate some time to academic and professional development or who are seeking concrete ways to continue learning and growing.
Online learning platforms, open courseware, and MOOCs
- Coursera offers hundreds of free courses taught by top instructors from world-class universities (including Penn) and companies on a wide range of academic, professional, and personal development topics. Free courses give you access to on-demand video lectures, homework exercises, and community discussion forums.
- edX supports learners at every stage and delivers courses for curious minds on topics ranging from data and computer science to leadership and communications.
- Alison is one of the world’s largest free learning platforms for education and skills training. It is a for-profit social enterprise dedicated to making it possible for anyone to study anything, anywhere, anytime, for free—online, at any subject level.
- LinkedIn Learning provides online tutorials and courses on a wide selection of topics, including software products widely used on campus such as the Microsoft Office suite, Google Analytics, and Drupal, as well as topics to enhance key business skills such as project management, marketing, and collaboration. Access LinkedIn Learning with your Pennkey and password.
Learn (or practice) a language
- Mango Languages uses semantic mapping to help you learn languages through conversations, movies, and other exercises. Access Mango Languages with your Pennkey and password.
- Duolingo provides free language courses. Students learn a language by translating webpages and providing the site with translations as they learn.
- BBC Languages offers courses and interactive videos, plus pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar exercises. Listen to the BBC World Service news in 27 languages.
- Visual Link Languages was created by the US Institute of Language. Their courses offer free language lessons, games, vocabulary, and cultural information.
- Penn Libraries offers additional language learning resources on their website.
Social distancing doesn't have to mean staying indoors.
Explore new parts of the city or visit one of Philadelphia's many urban parks.
Feeling restless or missing your regular workouts?
Try out these online fitness routines and streaming workouts you can do from home.
- Planet Fitness Facebook hosts live "work-ins" daily at 7 p.m. EST.
- CorePower Yoga offers daily live streaming and on-demand yoga classes on YouTube.
- BeWellPhilly has a list of streaming workouts from Philly fitness studios that you can do at home.
- Orangetheory offers daily 30-minute workouts.
- Peloton 30-day free trial has a library of classes (many don’t require their bike or treadmill).
- YMCA 360 hosts fitness classes for all ages on demand.
- Barry's has daily strength and cardio interval workouts on Instagram.
- 305 Fitness has dance-cardio live streaming workouts at 12 p.m. and 6 p.m. EST.
- Rumble At-Home features daily boxing workouts on Instagram Live.
- Blink Fitness hosts Facebook Live sessions weekdays at 8 a.m. EST.
- Retro Fitness features daily Facebook Live streams at 6 p.m. EST.
Pick up a new hobby
- Bread Ahead Bakery has bread baking tutorials at 2 p.m. daily on their Instagram feed.
- Penn Libraries is offering free or discounted content, including textbooks, journals, film, and music from dozens of publishers.
Watch animal webcams
- San Diego Zoo
- Monterey Bay Aquarium
- Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute
- Atlanta’s Zoo Panda Cam
- Georgia Aquarium
- Ouwehand Park Polar Bears
- Kitten Academy
- ZooMiami Meerkat Cam
- Wolf Conservation Center
Visit the zoo
- Philadelphia Zoo hosts a virtual meet and greet with the zoo's animals and staff at 2 p.m. EST every weekday through the zoo's #PhillyZooAt2 Facebook Live series.
- Cape May County Park and Zoo posts videos from their Virtual School Zoo and fans can watch live lessons every weekday on Facebook while the zoo remains closed.
- Elmwood Park Zoo features live-streamed lessons from the zoo's education team on Facebook on weekdays at 11 a.m. EST. Viewers can post questions to be answered live during the stream.
Host a game night with friends
- New York Metropolitan Opera showcases Nightly Met Opera Streams, starting at 7:30 p.m. EST, and pulls from the renowned opera house’s award-winning Live in HD series, which includes encore presentations such as 19th-century French composer Georges Bizet’s Carmen. The recordings are available to view for free on the Met Opera homepage for 20 hours after they’re streamed.
- Color Our Collections features over 100 libraries, archives, and other cultural institutions around the world that have shared free coloring sheets and books based on materials in their collections. Download, print, and share your favorites!
- Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems! Join Kennedy Center Education Artist-in-Residence at home for a live daily doodle lesson at 1 p.m. EST. Videos are available after the live sessions on the Kennedy Center YouTube channel.
- Join the McHarper Manor weekdays on Facebook for a daily art project tutorial. Art projects range from watercolor paintings to chalk art to canvas painting and take place live at 1 p.m. EST. Videos are available after the live class on the McHarper Manor Facebook page.
- Penn Coloring Pages from Alumni Relations is offering print-at-home coloring pages for adults and kids alike! Download Penn coloring pages or kid’s coloring pages and activities.
Museum and galleries
Many museums and galleries provide virtual tours of their collections or special exhibits. Explore new and inspiring art from around the world.
- Penn Museum
- British Museum
- The Louvre
- National Gallery of Art
- Metropolitan Museum of Art
- National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea
- Van Gogh Museum
- National Museum of Anthropology — Mexico City
- Google Arts & Culture features virtual tours of more than 1,200 museums and galleries that anyone with Wi-Fi can peruse. Depending on the museum, viewers can scroll through select images from renowned collections, and, in certain cases, navigate a “street view” of the gallery space, functioning as a virtual tour.
The outdoors and beyond
- CAPS self-care resources
- Guided meditation from Campus Health includes live sessions on Thursdays at 12 p.m. EST and archived sessions to view anytime.
- Headspace's meditation app
- Calm's meditation app
- Keeping a gratitude journal
- Mindful Academics has a Twitter feed that offers free online mindfulness meditation sessions via Zoom.
- Penn Today offers five tips to stay positive and healthy during social isolation.
- Yoga & Movement Sanctuary features breathing, meditation, and yoga sessions from their Philadelphia-area studio.
- Palo Santo Wellness Boutique has live guided meditations on a pay-what-you-wish basis.
- Mantra Lounge streams live meditation and mindfulness workshops. $5 suggested donation.
Need a break from staring at screens? Try some of the activities below.
- Call a close friend who is far away
- Do something you’ve been putting off for a while
- Garden or grow plants indoors
- Go on a walk or bike ride
- Listen to music or a podcast
- Look through old family photos or scrapbooks
- Make some art
- Organize your space
- Read a book
- Send a letter to someone you've lost touch with
- Start or keep a journal
- Write a poem
- Write down your passions and goals