Reflecting on my year, by Fatima

Fatima, an international student, sits in a leafy window.

Sometimes I like to think how the version of myself would be without the events from the COVID-19 pandemic. Many things have happened throughout 2020, but mostly 2021; the first major event was choosing The University of Sheffield for my studies. This has led me to experience the independence of living alone, which I really liked and hope to improve in the next years. However, facing a pandemic during your first year of college was kind of hard, not because the classes where difficult, but because it made me face loneliness in a different level with only a screen and four walls. Everyone was trying their best, including me, but I was hoping that things would get better, and I would be able to meet my classmates for once.

Eventually, in March of 2021 I found myself in a plane travelling to Sheffield. I am not going to lie and say I was not nervous; it was my first time travelling alone and going to a totally new place, not knowing anyone. But when I look back on those days, I realise it was the best decision I could have made. I was able to meet fantastic people from other parts of the world, such as Paraguay, Peru, Hong Kong, Namibia, and Algeria. I tried new things with them, and one I am grateful for is that I even start deconstructing myself and started learning more about life and questioning my future.

Even with COVID I found more ways to enjoy life that I would not normally consider. I realised a new sense of value for my friends and family, my life, and the small things that can make a difference in my day. Lastly, I was also able to experience the revival of a city paused by the situation, which in some way has made my year an anecdote I would like to tell future generations. I also had exciting moments - I visited London for the second time in my life, but this was totally different; being there as an “adult” was refreshing, and for one second, I felt like I was not in a pandemic, but in a normal day.

When I think how this year has been a point for change in my life, I realise how much I like this version of myself, much more able to see a bright light in a situation like this, but to also grow as a person that I can be proud of.