Joyanne Njuguna, one of our Kenyan Student Ambassadors, says she expected to accomplish so much during lockdown . . . but she also realises that it’s okay that she didn’t

It has been a tough year, as we were all acclimatising to this new way of living. Some of us are university students who are used to being around people all the time and even forming a dependence on them.

The drastic shift from that to isolation makes it hard to adjust, especially for international students. How can I make this situation better? I tend to look at life as: ‘Okay, so that’s happened what’s next?’ Dwelling in the past prevents you from looking towards the future.


Being indoors most of the time meant that I had to find other ways of improving my lifestyle. I love talking to new people because I always learn something different. That’s one of the reasons I love travelling because I get to meet people that change my perspective on things.

Not being able to do that because of the pandemic made me look towards other ways of fuelling that need to socialize. I joined my university’s Cara programme because I was thinking of some of the first year students who came to Ireland or moved away from home within the country. I wanted to help by giving them someone to have a chat with. Some of them have nobody to talk to since they didn’t have a chance to make friends.

So far, I’ve had a chat with a first year who lives in my building that I’d never met. After we had a friendly chat outside, she let me know how much it meant to her that I took the time and made the effort. Sometimes it’s the simplest things that can brighten up someone’s day and motivate them. You sometimes don’t realise that what you do can affect someone else positively.

Little victories
I put a lot of pressure on myself to accomplish so much since I would have much more free time, but in reality I didn’t. With the world slowing down, I took time to know myself by talking to myself and learning how I think. I saw victory in the smallest things, like getting dressed to go outside for a walk, going grocery shopping or getting a coffee with some friends.

I’m not a fan of the cold but lockdown pushed me to layer up and brave it. The other option was to just stay in the house the whole day which was starting to affect my mental health.

Setting goals
Setting out a list of goals can be daunting, so choosing to integrate what you want into your life gradually – like drinking more water every day – may be a better approach. Looking at social media and seeing all these people portraying their best selves by posting about what they’ve accomplished can be discouraging at times.

That can be hard as 2020 has been a struggle with some people having lost more than others during this pandemic. We should be grateful for being healthy, being safe and being able to take on the year with a fresh mindset.

Joyanne Njuguna, who is from Kenya, is doing a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Computer Science and IT at NUI Galway