Surviving a pandemic as a senior international student

Nigerian TROY student Tomiwa Akintode reveals her experience with the COVID-19 pandemic as she prepares to graduate in December.

Nigerian TROY student Tomiwa Akintode reveals her experience with the COVID-19 pandemic as she prepares to graduate in December.

Growing up in Nigeria, your graduation was one of the moments you looked forward to; it was a proud achievement you always celebrated with your loved ones. I grew up attending the college graduations of older cousins, and I had seen how proud everyone had been of them as they walked the stage. I would find myself daydreaming of when I would also experience that with my family cheering proudly. However, during those times, never did I consider what would happen after that. I had no idea that I would have to make plans ahead so I could easily transition from college to real adulthood.

As a graduating senior, you expect to be asked about your plans after graduation, but every answer you have prepared in your head is not enough to make up for the moment you are actually asked the question. It is difficult describing what plans you have when you still don’t have things figured out.

This is even more stressful after the world went on pause during the lockdown for six months. Staying home those months worrying about getting a job when companies were furloughing staff while also making sure I had registered for the right classes so I graduated when I was supposed to was no easy feat. While the world took the time to take a break, I had to start figuring out ways to relieve the pressure that came with planning for post-graduate life.

But if it’s one thing I’ve learned to live by, it’s to make lemons out of lemonade. I have enjoyed lots of things since I became a student here at TROY—the memories and friends I’ve made so far have been a blessing and they have helped deal with the stress of post-grad planning. Even though last semester was abruptly cut short when we had to go on lockdown, talking to my friends helped me focus on what I needed to do, and it was even an added bonus because these friends were also graduating seniors who shared the same worries as I did and constant communication with them made the experience feel less lonely.

The university itself has helped, thanks to my very understanding International Advisors. Their experience with students who have been in my shoes has allowed them to be able to give me ample advice that has helped me figure out the next steps I should be taking.

Being a graduating senior in a pandemic can be stressful, especially with how slow the world is adjusting after being on lockdown for months. No one knows when we will fully adjust to the changes COVID has brought, but I know that instead of worrying over things that cannot be controlled, enjoying the present and what it has to offer is the best solution to handling these unpredictable times.