The 10 Smartest Online Courses You Can Sign Up For in June 2019

iStock/Deagreez
iStock/Deagreez

You don’t need scholarships, prior degrees, or even a physical classroom to further your education. Thanks to online education providers like edX, Udemy, and Coursera, you can take classes at home with just a computer and an internet connection. And with such vast course catalogs, the classes available online are often more diverse than what’s offered in a traditional academic setting. Here are some noteworthy courses you can sign up for in June 2019. (Both edX and Udemy are running sales for the beginning of June, so grab your spot soon.)

1. Hong Kong Cinema Through a Global Lens

Western viewers’ knowledge of Hong Kong cinema may be limited to Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee, but the region’s impact on film goes deep. "Hong Kong Cinema Through a Global Lens" will teach you about the techniques and stars behind the movies of Hong Kong as well as their relationship to globalization. Filmmaking, race, migration, and even martial arts choreography are all touched upon in the course.

Sign up on edX for free. The optional certificate costs $50. Use the code SUMMER20 for 20 percent off through June 5.

2. AI for Everyone

As artificial intelligence becomes more prevalent, it can be helpful for everyone—not just computer programmers and engineers—to learn about it. This class from Coursera focuses on the business aspects of AI. Lessons cover technical terminology, the limits and potential of AI, and the ethical and societal questions surrounding the emerging technology.

Sign up on Coursera for free. The optional certificate costs $49.

3. Learning How to Learn

This class from Coursera is a great first step for anyone looking to further their education. "Learning How to Learn: Powerful Mental Tools to Help You Master Tough Subjects" aides you in your quest for knowledge. The curriculum includes memorization techniques, tips for battling procrastination, and guidelines for taking tests. The strategies taught in this course can be applied to any subject, whether it's science, sports, or the arts.

Sign up on Coursera for free. The optional certificate costs $49.

4. Forensic Psychology

This is the course all your hours spent listening to true crime podcasts have prepared you for. After taking "Forensic Psychology" on Udemy, you’ll be able to separate the facts from the myths surrounding the field. The class covers legal matters, such as the reliability of eyewitness testimony in court, as well as criminal psychology and the motivations behind violent crimes.

Sign up on Udemy for $12 (regularly $134). A certificate of completion is included in the price.

5. Cookie Decorating Season By Season

Some impressive cookie decorating techniques may be all it takes to push your baking game to the next level. In "Cookie Decorating Season by Season," cookie designer Annie York equips you with tips and tricks you can use to make fun, festive treats for any occasion. The course comes with access to free video lessons; all you have to provide are the icing and baked goods.

Sign up on Bluprint. The individual course is free, or you can get access to this and many other courses on the site with an $8 per month subscription.

6. The Science of Happiness at Work

There are already several online courses devoted to the science of happiness and well-being. This three-course program offered by UC Berkeley through edX focuses specifically on the science of being happy at work. Learn how to practice mindfulness, deal with stress, and build positive relationships at your workplace by signing up for this program.

Sign up for the three-course program on edX for $402.30, professional certificate included. Use the code SUMMER20 for 20 percent off through June 5.

7. Contemporary Manuscript Illumination of Herat

Herat, Afghanistan, is known for its stunning illuminated manuscripts. This course will teach you about the tradition of the art form in the ancient city while covering the technical aspects of how to make one. You’ll come away from the course with your very own illuminated manuscript you designed and decorated at home.

Sign up on edX for free.

8. Learn Ethical Hacking From Scratch

If you’re interested in hacking but have no intention of breaking the law, learn how to hack the ethical way. "Learn Ethical Hacking From Scratch" teaches you how to infiltrate networks and systems like a skilled black-hat hacker, and then shows you how to use that information to detect similar attacks and secure yourself against them. Lessons start at the beginner level, so you don’t need to be a computer whiz to enroll.

Sign up on Udemy for $12 (regularly $195). A certificate of completion is included in the price.

9. Writing Short Stories: The Essential Guide

Experiencing writer’s block? This course from Udemy may be what finally pushes you to get your story down on paper. Regardless of your experience level, you can sign up for the class and learn the basics of writing short fiction, from developing characters to finding an ending for your story.

Sign up on Udemy for $12 (regularly $95).

10. Origins of the Human Mind

The lessons in this course lean on both psychology and primatology. Comparative cognitive science is an area of study that looks at the cognitive qualities of modern primates to better understand how the brain evolved in human beings. By showing you how chimpanzees think and learn, the class aims to teach you something new about your own cognitive abilities.

Sign up on edX for free. The optional certificate costs $50. Use the code SUMMER20 for 20 percent off through June 5.

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This Innovative Cutting Board Takes the Mess Out of Meal Prep

There's no way any of these ingredients will end up on the floor.
There's no way any of these ingredients will end up on the floor.
TidyBoard, Kickstarter

Transferring food from the cutting board to the bowl—or scraps to the compost bin—can get a little messy, especially if you’re dealing with something that has a tendency to roll off the board, spill juice everywhere, or both (looking at you, cherry tomatoes).

The TidyBoard, available on Kickstarter, is a cutting board with attached containers that you can sweep your ingredients right into, taking the mess out of meal prep and saving you some counter space in the process. The board itself is 15 inches by 20 inches, and the container that fits in its empty slot is 14 inches long, 5.75 inches wide, and more than 4 inches deep. Two smaller containers fit inside the large one, making it easy to separate your ingredients.

Though the 4-pound board hangs off the edge of your counter, good old-fashioned physics will keep it from tipping off—as long as whatever you’re piling into the containers doesn’t exceed 9 pounds. It also comes with a second set of containers that work as strainers, so you can position the TidyBoard over the edge of your sink and drain excess water or juice from your ingredients as you go.

You can store food in the smaller containers, which have matching lids; and since they’re all made of BPA-free silicone, feel free to pop them in the microwave. (Remove the small stopper on top of the lid first for a built-in steaming hole.)

tidyboard storage containers
They also come in gray, if teal isn't your thing.
TidyBoard

Not only does the bamboo-made TidyBoard repel bacteria, it also won’t dull your knives or let strong odors seep into it. In short, it’s an opportunity to make cutting, cleaning, storing, and eating all easier, neater, and more efficient. Prices start at $79, and it’s expected to ship by October 2020—you can find out more details and order yours on Kickstarter.

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

17 Surprising Facts About Frida Kahlo

Guillermo Kahlo, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
Guillermo Kahlo, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

The life and work of Frida Kahlo—one of Mexico's greatest painters—were both defined by pain and perseverance. Getting to know how Kahlo lived provides greater insight into her masterful paintings, which are rich with detail and personal iconography.

1. Frida Kahlo was born in the same house she died.

Frida Kahlo was born on July 6, 1907, in a building nicknamed “La Casa Azul” for its vivid blue exterior. There, she was raised by her mother, Matilde, and encouraged by her photographer father, Guillermo. Years later, she and her husband, Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, made it their home as well. And on July 13, 1954, Kahlo died there at age 47.

2. Frida Kahlo's beloved home is now a museum.

Casa Azul is also known as The Frida Kahlo Museum. As a tribute to Kahlo, Rivera donated the house in 1958 as well as all of the artwork, created by both him and Kahlo, that it contained. Much of the interior has been preserved just the way Kahlo had it in the 1950s, making the space a popular tourist attraction that allows visitors a look at her work, life, and personal artifacts, including the urn that holds her ashes.

3. A third of Frida Kahlo's paintings were self-portraits.

Kahlo folded in symbols from her Mexican culture and allusions to her personal life in order to create a series of 55 surreal and uniquely revealing self-portraits. Of these, she famously declared, "I paint myself because I am so often alone, because I am the subject I know best."

4. A surreal accident had a big impact on Frida Kahlo's life.

On September 17, 1925, an 18-year-old Kahlo boarded a bus with her boyfriend Alex Gómez Arias, only to be forever marred when it crossed a train's path. Recalling the tragedy, Arias described the bus as "burst(ing) into a thousand pieces," with a handrail ripping through Kahlo's torso.

He later recounted, "Something strange had happened. Frida was totally nude. The collision had unfastened her clothes. Someone in the bus, probably a house painter, had been carrying a packet of powdered gold. This package broke, and the gold fell all over the bleeding body of Frida. When people saw her, they cried, ‘La bailarina, la bailarina!’ With the gold on her red, bloody body, they thought she was a dancer."

5. Frida Kahlo’s path to painting began with that collision.

The accident broke Kahlo's spinal column, collarbone, ribs, and pelvis, fractured her right leg in 11 places, and dislocated her shoulder. Those severe injuries left her racked with pain for the rest of her life, and frequently bedbound. But during these times, Kahlo picked up her father's paintbrush. Her mother helped arrange a special easel that would allow her to work from bed. Of her life's hardships, Kahlo once proclaimed, “At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can.”

6. Frida Kahlo once dreamed of being a doctor.

As a child, Kahlo contracted polio, which withered her right leg and sparked an interest in the healing power of medicine. Unfortunately, the injuries from the train accident forced the teenager to abandon her plans to study medicine.

7. Frida Kahlo’s poor health shaped her art.

In the course of her life, Kahlo would undergo 30 surgeries, including the eventual amputation of her foot due to a case of gangrene. She explored her frustrations with her body's frailty in paintings like The Broken Column, which centers on her shattered spine, and Without Hope, which dramatically depicted a period where her doctor prescribed force-feeding. On the back of the latter, she wrote, "Not the least hope remains to me ... Everything moves in time with what the belly contains."

8. Frida Kahlo didn’t view herself as a surrealist.

She rejected the label, saying, "They thought I was a Surrealist, but I wasn’t. I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality."

9. Frida Kahlo’s tumultuous marriage sparked more pain and paintings.

Frida Kahlo with Diego Rivera and a pet dog, Mexico City, 1940s
Frida Kahlo with Diego Rivera and a pet dog, Mexico City, 1940s
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

When Kahlo met Rivera, she was a student and he was already a father of four and on his way to his second divorce. Despite a 20-year age difference, the pair quickly fell for each other, spurring Rivera to leave his second wife and wed Kahlo in 1929.

From there, they were each other's greatest fans and supporters when it came to their art. But their 10-year marriage was wrought with fits of temper and infidelities on both sides. They divorced in 1939, only to remarry a year later. Paintings like Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird, The Two Fridas, and The Love Embrace of the Universe boldly illustrated their relationship from Kahlo's perspective.

10. Frida Kahlo grieved privately and publicly for the children she never had.

Modern doctors believe that the bus accident had irreparably damaged Kahlo's uterus, which made pregnancies impossible to carry to term. In 1932, she painted Henry Ford Hospital, a provocative self-portrait that marks one of several devastating miscarriages she suffered.

The piece would be displayed to the world in a 1938 gallery show. But Kahlo kept private personal letters to her friend, Doctor Leo Eloesser, in which she wrote, "I had so looked forward to having a little Dieguito that I cried a lot, but it's over, there is nothing else that can be done except to bear it.'" This letter, along with others from their decades-long exchange, were released in 2007, having been hidden for almost 50 years by a patron worried about their contents.

11. Frida Kahlo once arrived to an art show in an ambulance.

In 1953, toward the end of her short life, the painter was overjoyed about her first solo exhibition in Mexico. But a hospital stay threatened her attendance. Against doctors' orders, Kahlo made an incredible entrance, pulling up in an ambulance as if in a limousine.

12. Frida Kahlo is rumored to have had several famous lovers.

When she wasn't recovering from surgery or confined to a recuperation bed, Kahlo was full of life, relishing the chance to dance, socialize, and flirt. While American sculptor Isamu Noguchi was in Mexico City for the creation of his History as Seen from Mexico in 1936, he and Kahlo began a passionate affair that evolved into a life-long friendship.

Three years later, while visiting Paris, the bisexual painter struck up a romance with the city's "Black Pearl" entertainer Josephine Baker. And many have speculated that the artist and activist also bedded Marxist revolutionary Leon Trotsky, while he and his wife Natalia stayed in Kahlo's family home after they were granted asylum in Mexico in 1936.

13. Frida Kahlo was fiercely proud of her heritage.

Though she'd lived in New York, San Francisco, and Paris, Kahlo was always drawn back to her hometown, Mexico City. She favored traditional Mexican garb, the long colorful skirts she was known for, and the Huipile blouses of Mexico’s matriarchal Tehuantepec society. Perhaps most telling, she told the press she was born in 1910, cutting three years off her age so she could claim the same birth year as the Mexican Revolution.

14. Frida Kahlo had several exotic pets.

Casa Azul boasts a lovely garden where Kahlo had her own animal kingdom. Along with a few Mexican hairless Xoloitzcuintli (a dog breed that dates back to the ancient Aztecs), Kahlo owned a pair of spider monkeys named Fulang Chang and Caimito de Guayabal, which can be spotted in Self Portrait with Monkeys. She also cared for an Amazon parrot called Bonito, who would perform tricks if promised a pat of butter as a reward, a fawn named Granizo, and an eagle nicknamed Gertrudis Caca Blanca (a.k.a. Gertrude White Shit).

15. Frida Kahlo has emerged as a feminist icon.

Though in her time some dismissed this passionate painter as little more than "the wife of Master Mural Painter (Diego Rivera)," Kahlo's imaginative art drew acclaim from the likes of Pablo Picasso and film star Edward G. Robinson. After her death, the rise of feminism in the 1970s sparked a renewed interest in her work. Kahlo's reputation eclipsed Rivera's, and she grew to become one of the world's most famous painters.

Feminist theorists embrace Kahlo's deeply personal portraits for their insight into the female experience. Likewise, her refusal to be defined by others' definitions and the self-love shown in her proud capturing of her natural unibrow and mustache speak to modern feminist concerns over gender roles and body-positivity.

16. Frida Kahlo’s personal style has become a vibrant part of her legacy.

Frida's art and its influence were not simply spawned from the paint she put to canvas. Her distinctive personal style has proved influential in the world of fashion, inspiring designers like Raffaella Curiel, Maya Hansen, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Dolce & Gabbana. (In 2019, Vans even launched a collection of shoes featuring her work.)

17. Frida Kahlo's work is record-breaking.

On May 11, 2016, at the first auction to put a major Frida work up for sale in six years, her 1939 painting Dos desnudos en el bosque (La tierra misma) sold for over $8 million—the highest auction price then paid for any work by a Latin American artist.

This story was updated in 2020.