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New semester, new hobbies, new you

Carpet and photo by Atum Beckett.

No one wants to be stuck in the position of being asked about your hobbies and the only things that come to mind are scrolling through TikTok and doing your homework.

A new school year is a new chance to reinvent yourself. It’s important to find something to do that you find enjoyable and that is unrelated to your studies and work. In this modern era of 5hustle culture, you can feel like you’re falling behind if you’re not constantly working on your career or education.

But whether you want to meet new people, discover a new passion, find a way to relax, or simply appear more interesting to your peers, finding a fulfilling hobby is essential to maintaining a sustainable work-life balance.

Getting into a new hobby can be daunting. There are the various costs associated with getting started, the feeling of loss, and the anxiety that comes with trying to meet new people who already know a lot about it. Fear of failure can be enough to deter someone from even trying in the first place.

To give you a starting point for things to do or just to look sophisticated on your next night out, here are three hobbies I recommend!

Designer board games

Board games have grown much more than just Monopoly and Index. European designers have been pushing the genre into exciting places for many years, and the industry in North America continues to grow in popularity.

Many people know, or may have even tried, Catania. It, and many other games like Ticket to ride and Carcassonne are called “gateway” games because they’re a great way to see what the hobby has to offer. But they are just the tip of the cardboard box iceberg.

There are historical games, abstract role-playing games, and eight-hour intergalactic battle games. Whether you want to roll dice and push plastic game pieces, or sit back with your friends filling out glorified spreadsheets, there’s something for everyone.

These days, it’s rare to find something to do that doesn’t involve staring at a screen. If you want to learn more about board games, there are several cafes downtown where you can play a game from their library while enjoying a pint. The UVic Gaming Club, which can be found on Facebook and Discord, is another way to try it out and meet like-minded people.

Tufting

“What is tufting?” is the question you will likely be asked once you talk about this unique hobby. Simply the name of rug making, tufting involves repeatedly threading yarn through a fabric to create a rug.

Getting started can be expensive. The equipment needed includes a frame, backing fabric, yarn and the main dish – carpet gun. These portable machines cost hundreds of dollars, but cheaper (and sometimes less reliable) alternatives can be found on sites like AliExpress.

Once you have your setup and gain some experience, the sky becomes the limit. Cartoon characters, abstract patterns, words – if you can imagine it, you can probably tuft it. The social media community around tufting is a great way to learn techniques and get inspired for new projects. If making money from your hobbies interests you, taking commissions for custom rugs can be very lucrative.

If the high price of admission is a deterrent, punch needles are a very economical way to give the hobby a shot. Threading the rugs by hand takes much longer, but the level of detail achievable is much higher.

Running

Hiking is old news and jogging is too hard. The low-entry sport of running is worth trying, if only so you can tell people you’re doing it.

No, walking is not just walking fast, there are two important rules. First, you must always have contact with the ground. This is what differentiates it from running, because having both feet on the ground is a means of disqualification. Second, the leg touching the ground should stay completely straight until your body passes over it. This leads to the characteristic movement of the hips that makes running so entertaining to watch.

Although no longer officially an Olympic sport, race walking is still taken seriously by many. Put on some running shoes, put on a podcast and give it a try – you might be surprised how fast you can actually walk.

If for nothing else, being able to walk incredibly fast can mean the difference when trying to get from the Beaux-Arts Building to the McKinnon Building in the 10 minutes between classes.