Transitions and Mentoring Toolkit

Self-reflection for wellbeing

Self-reflection is a way of understanding ourselves better, which allows us to appreciate our own unique perspective better.


University is a transformational experience, as one encounters many new people, situations, and ways of doing things. This can be overwhelming,  but it can also be an opportunity to get to know ourselves better. When we know ourselves, it allows us to make choices that are in line with what we truly value.  Self-reflection is a way of understanding ourselves better, which allows us to appreciate our own unique perspective better. Therefore, by dedicating time to reflect on who we are, what is important to us, and by celebrating our successes, we can identify actions that help us safeguard and support our wellbeing.

Context for scholars

Moving to a new country is a transformational experience.  In dealing with the challenges associated with moving and starting education in a new country, we have a chance to know ourselves better and to see the ways in which we bring new and unique perspectives. As African international students, scholars have different experiences and perspectives compared to other students. This can become a strength, as it can provide a new perspective on things that are often taken for granted in educational and social settings. Furthermore, given the many changes most scholars are likely to face (different foods, different culture, different educational system), it is important to check-in with yourself to see how you are doing, and ensure that you are making choices that are good for your wellbeing. 

Practical advice

Knowing yourself can support your wellbeing, help you identify your passions, see the value in diversity, and connect with other people by being open and authentic. It can be hard work, but it is a process that is worth it.  One way of knowing yourself is to develop self-awareness.  You can develop self-awareness by reflecting alone or with others.  When doing self-reflection there are some key things you can focus on for your wellbeing.

  • Get to know yourself better.  Spend time reflecting on your values, your strengths, your weaknesses, and your goals. 
  • Practice reflecting on experiences.  When we have experiences that do not go as intended, we can use reflection to identify things we can do differently in the future. This can empower us to make positive changes and give us control over our personal development.
  • Identify your unique perspective. Spend time seeing how your perspective is valuable and can help create more diverse and meaningful interactions.
  • Celebrate successes. It can be easy to only focus on things that are difficult. By using reflection, we can also identify what has gone well and celebrate those successes.
  • Start writing. Using a journal can be a great practice for slowing down our thinking and learning about ourselves. 
  • Be careful not to ruminate. Reflection is about spending time examining our past; however, we should ensure that it does not become a tool for us to punish ourselves about things we did not do well. Focusing on problem-solving, and practicing self-compassion are great ways to remain productive in your reflection.
  • See vulnerability and openness as a strength.  When engaging with others, sharing our perspective and experiences with them means that we are sharing the knowledge we have. 

Mastercard Foundation scholars Experiences

Photovoice book

Again, for me, I think what I used to think about is the self-awareness of every moment that we're in, the self-awareness that this is the stage I was in before, this is the stage I am currently in and being realistic about yourself, being realistic about who you are, being realistic about what you can do and what you cannot do and then, I would say, being truthful to you and to others, and whether in some cases you cannot meet certain expectations.

Mastercard scholar

I'm okay. I'm still figuring things out. Just living in the moment and being present and being truthful and then just hoping that things will come as time progresses.

Mastercard scholar

Useful Links

Reflection Toolkit

Benefits of self-awareness: increase emotional intelligence and wellbeing