For some, the CoVid-19 pandemic has embroiled us into prolonged hardship, as well as taught us a lesson. An outgoing and energetic person, Dhiya Habibati Siseido, or Bebby, really knows these feelings after she had to experience lockdown and other mobility restrictions during the outbreak. Bebby learns that being honest with ourselves and others might be the key to coping with difficult times. Our columnist, Inef, had an interesting opportunity to dig deeper into Bebby’s story.
Dhiya Habibati Siseido, or Bebby as everyone calls her, recently graduated from Fordham Gabelli School of Business with a Master of Science in Media Management. The program has prepared her to pursue a career as a media marketing professional. Her journey in finishing her degree on a campus in the heart of Manhattan, however, was not always easy, especially when the spread of Covid-19 in the United States was at its peak last year. I had the chance to speak with her regarding her experience of balancing academic and work responsibilities during the pandemic, as well as having fun, staying well, and holding on to happiness through it all.
From Pennsylvania to New York
Prior to attending Fordham University, Bebby obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Penn State University. While there, she was involved in a paid internship with the campus’ student newspaper, The Daily Collegian, and made connections with many other international peers, whom she is still in touch with to this day.
“My co-workers at the student newspaper came from different places, some from New Jersey, but also some from countries as far as Saudi Arabia and Thailand,” she reminisced. “Working with them was fun since we were a tight-knit community. The diversity of cultures broadened my horizon too. I would recommend everyone to get an on-campus job if they can—not only will working on campus teach you how to be more independent, it will also give you the opportunity to connect and socialize with others.”
At the end of her undergraduate studies, Bebby accepted a job in New York with a leading media company. When I asked her why she chose to move to New York, she said “I really like the atmosphere and vibe of this city. I like diving into digital media, social media, and entertainment, and NY is the epicenter of media industry. Moving here has also enabled me to meet new and interesting people from all over the world.”
Insights Gained from the Pandemic
When the pandemic started, Bebby had to adjust to the rhythm of doing her work from home. “Indeed, it took me a while to adapt to the way everything has become, but in the end I’m very grateful for technological advances,” she reflected. “Technology has allowed us to interact with important people in our lives no matter where we are and so distance isn’t a problem anymore.”
Bebby has also had a moment to take a closer look at how valuable social life and interpersonal relationships are to her. Being an outgoing and active person, she enjoys watching sports with her boyfriend, be it American football, basketball, or baseball. “Before the outbreak of coronavirus, the two of us would go watch games together and cheer on our teams. Now that we’re fully vaccinated, we’re hoping to go back to seeing more sporting events.”
Bebby believes it is crucial for one’s mental health to have a support group, as well as to stay connected with friends and family. “I try to make time for my loved ones no matter how busy I get,” she shared. “Whenever I talk to them I make it a point to be upfront about my emotions. The truth is that sometimes we don’t know what others are feeling and we also can’t expect them to know what we are feeling until we communicate openly. Holding things in isn’t good. I will always encourage honesty because without being honest with ourselves and our closest ones it will be much harder for us to go through obstacles alone.”
Not everything is sunshine and rainbows, but life goes on
Technology has indeed helped Bebby on several different occasions, but she acknowledges that there were certain times when video call platforms like Zoom and Skype could not cure the feeling of isolation caused by quarantine, lockdown, and other necessary health protocols.
“My parents weren’t able to come to my graduation in person,” Bebby admitted. “They did see the virtual graduation, but online graduation just didn’t feel the same. I was sad because it was a huge milestone for me and I wished I could hug my parents. You see, I am surrounded by millions in NYC but there’s always this jolt of loneliness, especially during the holidays. For example, I have always spent the holidays with my boyfriend’s family but the truth is it can be hard not spending them with my own.”
To add to Bebby’s frustration amidst the already trying times, she had to deal with the passing of one of her best friends. “When my best friend passed away, I was among the first few who got a call from Indonesia. It was heartbreaking to hear her husband and everybody else cried on the phone yet I was powerless to do anything. I wasn’t even able to attend her funeral.”
Despite the personal challenges Bebby endured and the tragedy, however, she still encouraged all Indonesians abroad to hold on to hope and be strong. “I want to do a shout-out to all Indonesians who live thousands of miles away from home. We have all gone through terrible things this year and it takes courage to get back up to our feet.”
The pandemic has been rough on everyone and the effects can be long-lasting, but with vaccinations starting to be offered more widely and businesses gradually recovering from the impacts of the outbreak, we can expect to see better days ahead. If there is one thing this pandemic has taught those of us who have survived in isolation, however, it is that we need to be grateful for the friends and family we still have, and that the little things in life which are often overlooked – like togetherness and being able to hold loved ones close – should never be taken for granted.