By Caoimhe Killeen
When someone is asked to think of online communities on Instagram, the last thing that comes to mind is one purely dedicated to studying. Yet, the Studygram community (a mixture of “studying” and “Instagram”) is made up of a network of students posting about studying across the globe, with the tag amassing 6.3 million posts to date. Aesthetically pleasing pictures of notes in cursive handwriting, cute stationery and organised desks are commonly shared.
But for some, the community is a way to connect with other people. Diana Lajenko, a final year denominated Psychology student in NUI Galway, started her account “Kuzia Studies” with that intention in mind. “When I was in first year, I found it very difficult to connect with other people on my course. I wasn’t actually told who was on my course, we didn’t know who was in the denominated group. I didn’t really know who to talk to and I found it difficult to make friends. So, I just made it to connect with other people as I assumed there were other people in my position”.
Diana cites some accounts, such as the New Zealand based Lily Nest, as her inspiration for starting the account. At the time of writing, “Kuzia Studies” has just hit a milestone of forty thousand followers. However, Diana is modest about her follower count. “I don’t even know how to imagine that number, it’s so big!”, she explains. “The more people that follow, the less I care about the number. In the first year of running my studygram, I wasn’t popular at all. It took me approximately a year to gain thousand followers, which people find really hard to believe. But I remember how much that meant to me, because I’d never thought that I’d get there. I thought “wow, that’s almost the size of my secondary school!”
Of course, some accountability is also present when running a Studygram account. In Diana’s case, she holds herself accountable by posting to-do lists on her story every day to complete her tasks. “There’s days where I come back home from university, and I’ve only done one thing on my list”, she admits. “I think that pushes me to work harder and not spend as much time scrolling on Instagram”. However, she points out that having a balance between work and relaxation is key to increasing productivity. As she puts it: “There are times where for some extraneous reason, you cannot complete all of the things you have to do. It’s really tough, but you carry onto the next thing. You continue and tell yourself, it’s okay, you’re only human. You just need to do your best and try and keep all that negativity at bay”.
Diana has definitely followed her own advice and taken breaks from posting on the account during the summer times or when she’s sick. To her, it is a level of self-care that helps to prevent total burnout. “When people say self-care, they always post these infographics about going to the gym and about how that’s self-care, which is good because you’re staying healthy”, she states. “But I think self-care, on a much deeper level, is about realizing that you have a certain amount of energy and you can’t possibly use it up in one go on all of these things. It’s about keeping yourself and your mind sane and happy”.
Yet, Diana would definitely encourage a lot more arts students to join the Studygram community in order to allow for more diversity. “It’s mainly science or law students that have studygrams, and not a lot of arts students. I think it would be amazing to see more of those accounts. I only know of a couple language studygrams, and even then, their main professions wouldn’t be languages.”
So, what would Diana’s top tips be for making an account? “First of all, posting regularly. The more that you post, the more people will see your account and follow it. It’s also nice to have a coherent feed, some kind of theme running throughout your posts because people will like it and think it’s aesthetically pleasing.”
So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed by all of the final assignments and revision due for exams (that may not be traditional exams but nevertheless very stressful), perhaps the Studygram community is the key you need to give yourself a boost of motivation. Who knows, maybe you’ll find yourself on the way to a more productive life!