The measures being implemented by governments across the world to combat the coronavirus pandemic can be particularly challenging for expats. Apart from the travel restrictions, lost work and social distancing, isolation can be particularly acute when you live a million miles from ‘home’.
Luckily, a lot of companies and individuals are currently stepping up to share their resources with the public to support people during lockdown. These resources include all kinds of offers from workouts to high-quality education and entertainment to mental health support.
To help expats the world over, InterNations, the world’s largest expat community, have compiled a list of some great free services they say are especially useful in making life a bit brighter and easier in these tough times.
To ensure that expats and global minds can still spend time together and get to know each other, InterNations have themselves temporarily switched from organizing get-togethers in person to hosting online events, opening them to all members for free. About 850 online events have been scheduled around the world in April, with almost 700 have already taken place in March.
Solidarity in times of social distancing: free offers expats should not miss out on
Mental health support
Social distancing can create anxiety and have other negative effects on mental health. Especially expats in single-person households may struggle to cope with being disconnected from their usual environment and in-person support network. Many health organizations have realized the need for support and offer free online counselling or individual therapy sessions at much lower rates than usual.
TalkSpace.com, for example, one of the most popular virtual therapy companies, supports both subscribers and non-subscribers with a free coronavirus resource hub. The hub covers various topics from acute anxiety to financial issues and relationship problems in close quarters. And the mindfulness app Headspace has opened a collection of meditation, sleep, and movement exercises that are supposed to help people in crisis situations.
New skills and an Ivy League education
As an enforced lockdown can also be a great time to tick off some projects on a bucket list, many companies attract new subscribers with low rates and free lessons. The guitar manufacturer Fender, for example, gives away three months of online music lessons to the first 500,000 subscribers, and the UK’s Royal Academy of Dance offers free ballet lessons.
Expats who are rather interested in studying subjects such as data science, programming, business, health, communication, and many more should join one of the virtual courses that a number of universities have made available to the public. This includes prestigious Ivy League universities such as Harvard and Yale. Classcentral has published a list of all online courses that are currently available.
Being active while staying indoors can be a challenge, but regular exercise has many benefits for everyone’s physical and mental health. As a bonus effect, it may also strengthen the immune system. To get you motivated, many gyms like Planet Fitness, Gold’s Gym, and Puregym share workout videos from their trainers for free. And for all those who prefer less intense kinds of exercise, one of the calmer yoga sessions from Down Dog might be a good match. Down Dog currently offers yoga lessons and other workouts for free until 1 May.
Socializing at free virtual events
Expats and global minds who miss socializing and want to get in touch with like-minded people can join the free online events organized by InterNations. They range from having a virtual coffee klatch together to book discussions, meditation sessions, online concerts, physical activities, and creative skills. As everything takes place remotely for the time being, it does not even matter where the attendees live. They can join the activities organized in their local community or any event around the world. Everyone can learn how to paint in Berlin, meet people from the London Book Group to discuss reading recommendations, enjoy Jane Eyre as performed by the National Theatre, talk about true love based on science in Paris, or get dance lessons from New York City’s “King of Mambo”.
Free entertainment for the kids
Keeping your kids entertained while being stuck at home all day sounds like a real challenge — especially when the local entertainment programs are in a language that your children do not speak (yet). Expat parents looking for ways to entertain their kids can have a look at Amazon Prime’s temporarily free collection of videos for kids up to the age of eleven. Additionally, Audible offers a large number of children’s audiobooks for free as long as schools are closed, including titles in six different languages.
And for those who are interested in home schooling, Scholastic has created a free open-access digital hub. Moreover, Rosetta Stone offers free three-month language courses for kids, and Minecraft has granted access to several educational games until June 2020.
Music and theater performances
No matter if you have always enjoyed classical music performed by some of the best artists worldwide or if you have become curious about discovering it — the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the Viennese Opera, and several opera houses across Italy now stream operas and concerts for free. You don’t even have to dress up to enjoy the music, all you need is a proper internet connection. Last but not least, the Seattle Symphony and the National Theatre in the UK also offer free performances for their virtual audiences.
With close to 4 million members in 420 cities around the world, InterNations is the largest global community and information site for people who live and work abroad. InterNations offers global and local networking both online and face-to-face. At around 6,000 official events and activities per month, expatriates have the opportunity to meet other global minds. Online services include country and city guides created by a team of professional writers, guest contributions about life abroad, and discussion forums to help members with topics such as the local job or housing search. InterNations membership is by approval only to ensure we remain a community of trust.
Find more information, visit the InterNations website