Alumni Voice


“Living through a pandemic : The good & bad”

Kyena Clarissa Adara

Student (Japanese language)

I have always been a very organized person ever since I was little. I’ve had a daily planner for as long as I could remember and a list of things I wanted to accomplish when I become an adult at 11. The original plan after I graduated high school was to take a gap year to finally take time for myself and spend time with the people I love whilst simultaneously traveling to different countries. I’d then start language school in Japan by April of the following year and proceed onto a top university somewhere in Japan. That has been the image I pictured for the entirety of my last two years in high school. Though, that image I’ve engraved in my brain started to fade when the first case of COVID-19 was found in a city almost 3,000 miles away from me. According to the WHO, COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered virus that has infected almost 400 thousand people and killed more than 13 thousand people. In that moment I realized that my life started to feel blurry and things started to feel out of place. 

This felt like a movie and not even the good kind was what crossed my mind when I heard about the first two cases of COVID-19 in Indonesia. I just came back home from a girls trip with my high school friends when I watched the news about how people are starting to raid supermarkets to buy goods in bulk caused by the newly COVID-19 panic. I started to feel a rush of anxiety when my family started to buy goods in bulk as well. I didn’t take it too seriously though because I figured things would be normal again by the end of the month. I thought that the bulk buying was just fear instilled by social media. Though everyday seemed like it’s getting worse and as the number of cases started to escalate, I started to wonder what the future would look like if we don’t flatten the curve. 

Due to the escalating numbers in COVID-19 cases and deaths, the Indonesian government decided on a large-scale social restriction to prevent the numbers from increasing. With the intention to break the virus chain, this was the best the government could do to protect our people. Public places started to close early, working adults started to work from home and students started to do school through video calls. Time started to slow down and this urban jungle I call my home started to feel empty despite the fact that we have almost double the number of Singapore’s entire population. I was starting to get used to the social restrictions, with the beam of hope that this will be over soon, until travel restrictions were imposed. 

Suddenly, the entire world is on lockdown. It felt entirely suffocating and I felt trapped because I physically cannot go beyond the parameter of my home. This personally affected me and my education timeline because I had to move my language school enrollment date. It was a hard decision, especially already feeling left behind with everyone else in my grade, being the organized person that I am to have my entire lifeplan postponed so suddenly. Not only that, a big part of my life used to consist of the loud atmosphere in concerts and catching early morning flights. I felt like I was missing such a big part of my identity, I didn’t feel like myself. Now life consists of ZOOM meetings and being trapped within the confines of the four walls in my bedroom. 

For a while I felt like I was being chased by the set timeline I created when I graduated high school last year. My mental health started to worsen and my anxiety levels have gone through the roof because I was scared I’d be even more left behind than everyone else. What happened to the girl that had her life planned? It was a time in my life where I was constantly fighting with myself and I had to figure out a way to stop that immediately. 

As I started to reorganize my life after sulking for quite awhile, I realized I should be more grateful because other people have it way worse than me. Due to the outbreak people started to lose their jobs and low-income families have a hard time making ends-meet. Not to mention, that not everyone has access to the internet to attend online school. Ever since then, I started to give back more and I realized then, that making other people happy makes me happy too. Since I’m home a lot too, I’ve completely utilized social media and the internet to start my own small business which would have been harder to establish if the pandemic had never happened and I was already in Japan. Being financially stable on my own has always been a big dream of mine since I was 13 and I’m slowly striving towards my goal. I’ve also established a stronger bond with my family since everyone is home. Before the pandemic started, I lived away from my parents because my dad works in a completely different country and due to social and travel restrictions he is now working from home back in Jakarta. It’s been awhile since my house felt complete and felt like an actual home. I’ve also discovered my new interest in cooking and a newfound appreciation towards the arts.  

What’s most important is that I’ve acquired newly-found knowledge and expanded my understanding towards mental health. Ever since the pandemic started, a lot of students have come forward about their struggles with online school and how they’re grappling with double the workload they used to have before COVID-19 struck. In recent news, an Indonesian student have just committed suicide due to the pressure and workload our schools have been giving. I now realized the importance of checking up on the people around you and how that small gesture of love could prevent the worst from happening. A lot of psychology institutions too have also offered free counselling targeted towards indonesian youth affected by the pandemic.  There are certainly a list of things that I would’ve done if I knew this pandemic would happen but I’ve come into terms that everything happens for a reason. Because of COVID-19, I have explored hobbies and interests that I would have never imagined doing before the outbreak struck as I cannot imagine doing it in my usual hectic lifestyle. I am very much grateful that I am born into an era where technology exists. The internet in particular is a powerful tool that we utilize to break borders despite not physically able to go outside. Keeping connections with the outside world is just as important as keeping good relations back home. For the first time, it feels like the world doesn’t feel too fast paced anymore and it’s good to slow things down so we can appreciate the current. It’s called the present after all.









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