If you don’t quite have plans this break, let us introduce to you some ideas that might enrich your resume, help you improve your existing skills or help you get started on a fantastic project.
Start A Blog On A Topic You Love
Have you always been interested in being a food critic? You could start your city’s very first restaurant review blog (find restaurants with these iPhone apps) and even be featured in local magazines for being a witty foodie and sharing your food knowledge with utmost and serious detail. I know I have a friend in my home country that did just that. Her high-resolution photographs on her blog also remind me that you might need to awkwardly try to get the perfect dish picture in the best angle while the rest of your party waits, but you gotta do what you gotta do if you’re a serious food blogger.
Another topic you could start your blog on would be a blog to improve your cooking skills.
A cooking blog may be the start of something much bigger (Julie & Julia comes to mind.) But seriously, blogging your way through your dishes might be educational as it is fun. You could record your mistakes or tips for the next time you cook something. It doesn’t even have to be elaborate if you’re not trying to impress anybody. A cooking blog entry may simply consist of one (or more) pictures and some words on what you learned from cooking this time (if you doubled the recipe or made a variation).
Once you have a topic, you must ensure your blog gets updated with consistency. Even the most well-known blogs have only become what they are today because they were updated with frequency, and their entries had consistent quality. If you’re not sure you can take on a blog that you need to update after your winter break, read on to see other ideas we’ve narrowed down for you.
Write Short Stories or A Novel/Do Your Own NaNoWriMo
NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month (there’s also JulNoWriMo) and is a project that can help you get started on your first novel. The idea is that during the month of November, you try to write as much as you can of your novel. There’s a set goal of some thousands of words (50,000 to be exact) that you can choose to follow or if you’ve got the energy, you can write beyond that goal of course.
Most winter breaks are at least 2 weeks in length so if you have more than that (perhaps even a whole month of vacation), you could do your own version of this project. Set a goal of words you want to reach and just type away. Not only can you improve your writing skills, you can also exercise your critical thinking skills to develop a coherent plot and more. It’s also plenty of fun. You can also check out other creative writing projects, such as Six Word Memoirs, OneSentence.org, etc.
Do a DIY project, e.g. Arduino, old laptop hacks, etc.
James has a great series of articles on Arduino blocks that you can use to basically program a little robot to do anything you want without any programming experience. Think of it as Lego MINDSTORMS for adults. As if that doesn’t sound fun enough, you could also try other hardware projects. If you’ve got an old laptop somewhere, there’s always the digital frame hack, which is without a doubt, a great piece of conversation. You could also try a kitchen PC, complete with touchscreen functionality and the looks to kill.
If you have an old desktop PC, why not make a fun privacy monitor? You don’t need many materials aside from paint thinner, a pair of glasses, superglue, box cutter, screwdriver and an old monitor. There are countless fun projects highlighted on our site, as well as the always-interesting Instructables and Make magazine websites.
Learn A Language
We have beginner programming tutorials for several programming languages on our site, such as this one, this one and this one. If you’re not sure which ones to take on as there are quite a few choices, see this article on what you could learn for what environment (Windows programming, web development, etc.)
The official programming language websites are also very good sources to learn the respective language. One fun one is TryRuby. Codecademy is also a great way to learn basic programming in a certain language by doing and passing exercises. One site I haven’t seen anyone list is one that my Java professor had us frequent: CodingBat. There are many exercises on the latter that you can complete in Java and Python, and you can usually get a hint (or the solution even) if you get stuck, though I would suggest taking a break before re-attempting an exercise you’re stuck on to looking at the solution of course.
Perhaps you’re not so keen on learning to program. A foreign language is, without a doubt, a beautiful way to immerse yourself in another culture and expand your language skills. Want to renew those Spanish skills you worked on high school but gradually lost in college and beyond? You can start here, here and here to absorb other foreign languages as well.
Have you had a chance to start a great project you’ve always dreamed of this winter (or another past) vacation? Let us know how you spent your time in the comments below!