In fairness, she had no idea the final week of her first 100 days would include trying to frame a response to a global plague. Against that, it should have come as no great surprise to new EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen that the migration flashpoint in Turkey and Greece was ready to flare up again with a vengeance at any given time.
We mention these things because the former German defence minister today passes 100 days in her new job in Brussels. The symbolism of these 100 days as a first assessment of success in office has been with us for some time.
Many people date it to July 1933, when legendary US president Franklin D Roosevelt made a major deal of it during his regular radio broadcast on that landmark date. Ms Von der Leyen already has two things in common with the storied US president.
Firstly, and more superficially, she is already widely referred to by her initials, 'VdL' just as 'FDR' was in his heyday. Secondly, and more significantly, she faces huge challenges that will define her career and affect all our lives, in ways comparable to that famed US recession warrior.
The challenges when she took over from the avuncular Jean-Claude Juncker of Luxembourg on December 1 last were predictable but still no less daunting. It may be why Ms Von der Leyen raised eyebrows by announcing she would improvise a small flat at EU headquarters - living over the shop.
Most immediate and visible of the job challenges was Brexit Mark II, which involves framing a new EU-UK relationship into the future with a fractious London government again threatening a cliff edge. Then there was the Brexit interlinked urgent need to get overdue agreement on a new seven-year €1.1trn EU budget plan to cover the years 2021-2027. This also involves plugging a €12bn a year hole in lost UK contributions to Brussels.
She had made it clear right from the start that the EU also badly needs action to deal with climate change. At the first EU leaders' summit after her appointment, she announced the ambitious goal of making the 27 member states carbon neutral by 2050 via a new EU green deal.
And right then, at her debut on December 12 and 13 in the Brussels EU summit centre, she learned just how tough a sell that one will be. Climate-change laggards like Ireland made the right noises.
But former East Bloc economies in Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic and elsewhere made it clear that their heavy coal dependence makes climate change compliance slow and very expensive. Ms Von der Leyen is talking about a €100bn "just transition fund" from which the Irish midlands will expect a proportionate slice to help the ending of peat harvesting, which has underpinned the region's economy since 1940.
These East Bloc leaders made it clear that compensation must be separate from - not wrapped into - a new tranche of EU regional and social funds. These risk being curtailed at any rate by the loss of UK revenue, and pressures to spend on new priorities like migration, security co-operation and climate change itself.
Writing for this newspaper on Saturday, to mark her first 100 days, President Von der Leyen, cited another important goal to make the EU a "digital leader" via a new data strategy. Already the digital world is hugely competitive, crowded and noisy. It will not be easy to show results here.
The former German minister will be keenly aware of what is at stake in Brexit. German car makers, which sell huge volumes into the UK, are watching these negotiations keenly. Indeed, the whole interlinked automotive industry has much to lose from a less-than-successful tariff-free and quota-free EU-UK trade deal.
Three days of EU-UK talks ended on a positive note last Thursday, including with assurances that London was not after all trying to "weasel out" of assurances on the Irish Border. But there are nine more such three-day sessions scheduled in a very tight schedule supposedly due to end by next October. So, this one could still go any way.
Talks on a new EU budget framework ended in deadlock between the "net payers", like Netherlands, Sweden, and Denmark, who said they already pay too much, and the "net recipients", like the East Bloc and southern countries, Greece and Portugal, insisting they need continued farm, regional and social grants. It was no great surprise that a special summit on February 20 and 21 last ended nowhere near a compromise. As Taoiseach Leo Varadkar held aloof from both groups, but still vehemently opposed to proposals tabled, it was clear that a heck of a gap needs to be breached and that time is short.
The other two "big ones" - the coronavirus and migration - had not figured hugely on her inaugural list of challenges. But as we've noted already, the migration issue was always looming in the background and the latest phase of a murderous war in Syria just brought things to a head in the past 10 days.
The EU deal with Turkey in 2016, which saw the Turks providing "a human holding tank", was never a solution. It was really only meant to buy time for the EU governments to agree a proper burden share which would ease the pressure on the unfairly put-upon frontline countries like Greece, Italy and Bulgaria.
Again, it is up to EU leaders to get over their difficulties and recognise their responsibilities. Another "quick fix" to keep the 2016 Turkey deal is needed. A more sustainable EU deal is urgently required and will be very hard to come by.
The coronavirus is a tough one, given the EU has very limited health roles, and major responsibility rests with the member governments. But Ms Von der Leyen needs to be seen to act on the virus and proposals for bad economic fallout.
The EU institutions are themselves vulnerable to infection and the virus spreading. Last week one EU body, the European Defence Agency, reported a case. The European Parliament relocated its plenary sitting from the French city of Strasbourg to Brussels. Yesterday, the European Council, whose 3,000 staff organise ministerial meetings and leaders' summits, reported its second case. All EU meetings will go ahead as planned - for now.