Aïda Léna Ndiaye
Master of Art (Honours) in Economics and Management, 2 July 2021
What attracted you to St Andrews in the first place?
The degree flexibility and the international student population.
What are your favourite memories of being a student here?
All the St Andrews traditions, and all the societies/sub-committee I have been a part of, especially being a part of UBUNTU, the ACS’s fashion/dance showcase.
When you reflect on your time in St Andrews, how do you think it has changed you?
Of all the knowledge and skills I have acquired from my modules, one thing I think the teaching style at St Andrews has taught me is how to study and work independently and manage my time efficiently. There is also a great emphasis on critical thinking, including on continuously questioning what we are taught and what we read or hear in the world around us. This is something I will take with me, a curious and critical mind. Thanks to all the societies and extra-curricular activities available I have also really developed my organisational and leadership skills amongst numerous others, and made lifelong friends. I have discovered what I enjoy in terms of academics and work, which has helped me decide on a postgraduate degree and career path.
Where have you spent your time since the outbreak of Covid-19? What was the experience of virtual life, teaching and playing for you?
When the Covid-19 outbreak started I was on study abroad in Milan. I subsequently went home to Belgium and spent the rest of Semester 2 there. I came back to St Andrews in September 2020 and I have spent Semester 1 and 2 here. Virtual life took some getting used to. There are some pros such as having access to recordings for lectures/tutorials and being able to attend more meetings back-
to-back and do more in one day as I did not have to factor in the time required to get from one place to another. However, I did miss in person teaching and events which make conversations and group interactions much easier. As with many people, I also experienced virtual fatigue on numerous occasions.
How do you think events of 2020/1 (coronavirus, lockdown life, BLM) have shaped the graduating Class of 2021?
I think Covid-19 and lockdown life have been hard on our cohort, depriving us of many things we would have hoped to have during our final year of our undergraduate studies. It has been challenging in so many different regards and many of us have had personal consequences whether through bereavement or personal health. However, it has also prompted us to be creative in finding ways to interact with others, activities offered by societies/sub-committees, and even on the academic side.
Lockdown has provided some of us with more time to work on non-academic related projects and/or explore other/new hobbies. These trying times have probably made us more adaptable to different circumstances and more resilient in the face of adversity. Events such as BLM have brought many students together and have fostered a huge momentum for change within the University. Overall, all these events have shown us how unpredictable the world and life is and that we have to be ready for this when leaving University. Furthermore, although progress may be made on different fronts including on EDI and non-discrimination, there remains a lot to be done, and as recent graduates we can engage and keep the momentum and conversations going on such matters.
What was it like finishing your studies towards the end of the pandemic?
The final stretch was difficult because of how intense the year had been. There was definitely a feeling of burn-out and exhaustion but we made it through the final stretch nonetheless! I was happy I could spend this time in St Andrews, and I was fortunate that most of my friends had made it back as well. There was also excitement about being so close to completing my undergraduate studies and graduating.
What are your hopes and plans for the future (both for yourself personally and the world at large)?
I really hope the world can go back to pre-Covid times in terms of Covid measures (masks, travel restrictions, lockdowns, social distancing, etc) and we don’t have to go through such a pandemic again. I hope that all those who were greatly affected will swiftly recover, and that people and governments will learn from all these events and the mistakes that were made. I hope we can live in a world that cares for the earth; the environment and its people. I hope to see less inequality and disparity, and for this reason, I hope to successfully complete my masters and enter an impactful career in the sustainable development sector.
What will you miss most about ‘the bubble’ of St Andrews?
I will really miss the beautiful nature and scenery St Andrews has: the sea, beaches, Lade Braes, parks, the coastal path etc. Everything is in walking distance, and it has been so nice to be able to randomly hop over to a friend’s house or easily organise dinners with friends as we all live rather
close to each other. The St Andrews ‘bubble’ has also in a way shielded us from the world/’real life’, living in our small, beautiful, remote bubble.
What are your plans for your own virtual conferral day?
I will be in quarantine, so I will just celebrate at home with family.
How do you feel now that we are beginning to see the light at the end of this pandemic?
It has been nice to experience the easing up of restrictions, however I don’t want to be too hopeful just yet as it is only the beginning and as we have seen the virus is unpredictable and tenacious. I do hope vaccinations and other measures taken will help us go back to ‘normal’ very soon!
And finally, do you hope to come back in 2022 to graduate in person?
Yes, I really hope so!