Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Looking ahead

I figured it's not healthy to bottle things up. So this blog post is more of an outlet, than reading material - that's the only reason I'm writing this blog post.

Anyway, with the health warnings out of the way, let's begin.

I didn't get onto the PhD programme I applied for.

Which is a shame. Perhaps I shouldn't be surprised, since I only sent one application and did not look elsewhere. (And to be fair, I never assumed the PhD was a 100% in-the-bag thing). As it turns out, it was down to the lack of willing, able and available supervisors at the institution that shall go un-named (those who know me already know which one I am referring to, of course).

I was warned that this was possibly going to happen. And I should have listened. But I was warned in March 2014, when I completed and submitted my application in February 2014. I did not have time to prepare other applications, and even if I did, the deadlines for funding had long gone by March in some cases. So, really, there was nothing I could have done in 2013/2014, to apply for a programme which commences in 2014/2015.

The last year, I've been (very seriously) considering settling in the UK – by the time I finish my PhD, I would have been here for 9 years. If I get a 1-year extension on my visa and/or a teaching contract, I might be able to apply to settle after I(that's my understanding of the visa rules, anyway). Even if I didn't meet the 10-year rule, I figured my 4 years here might let me meet people here that I can start a family with.

In any case, I now find myself in a rather scary situation where I don't know what to do next. Or am I? Because I went into the application process, knowing that at the back of my mind, I've always had a back-up option. Admittedly, it's one I have been running away from, but it's one that has always been there – going back to Jakarta to help the family.

My whole life has been one where I am uprooted from one nation to another every few years – first, when I was 6, I left my kindergarten classmates to move to Singapore. When I was there, I switched school after 1 year because I was moving to live with my mum's friend. I only felt comfortable when I got to stay at St. Andrew's from Primary/Junior to Secondary School, but then the "uprooting" happened again when my folks have had enough of me living in Singapore with my guardians. Brighton, Exeter, London – I made, lost, and remade connections over the 5+ years in these 3 cities. It felt strange to think that I'm now living with a friend whom I met in Brighton. Or that I still keep in touch with friends I met in Exeter.

If the last few days, I seem as if I'm more "in-the-shell" and less interested in things, I'm really sorry. Perhaps it's just separation anxiety - I've experience it a couple of times now. And perhaps I'm nervous. Nervous that I'm about to move into a country which I claim to be where I'm from, but have absolutely no other connection with.

People tell me that they're jealous of me because I get to experience all these things, studying abroad. The downside is often an untold one (and often an ignored one, because they tend to only affect spoilt brats like myself, I guess). You spend so long in other places, when you come "home", you have no friends or contacts apart from your family, your family's friends, and those you meet at work, or while you were abroad (this bit, I'm not exaggerating - my only real Indonesian friend is probably Josh Irwandi).

It's going to be interesting to see how the next few months pan out. I'm scared. Of course I am. But then again, as my mum kept telling me (mind you, she really wants me to return home to Indonesia), I probably felt the same when I first moved to the UK. And look where things have gone.

Times like this make me realise how thankful I should be for all the friends I've had over the years. I've been really fortunate to meet some interesting people along the journey, and whilst I can't lie about "never forgetting any of you" (because my memory's recently been tested - and proven to have failed), I definitely cherish them like I cherish a really good wine - in the moment, because you know it'll end at some point, until the next time round, assuming there is a next round.

And whilst I feel sometimes like I'm losing touch with my faith (for a number of reasons, I've felt let down over the last few years - but I really don't want to discuss this here/now), I've grown up with the belief that God holds the future in his hands. And I'm glad He does, even in the darkest, most uncertain of times, to give the sense of a safety net.

If this post hasn't made any sense, I did say - this is just an outlet for me. But I'm just glad I've managed to organise my thoughts (admittedly, in a very 2004 way). And to be honest, I don't care if people know how I'm feeling right now. Like I told my friend Robin last week - don't feel sorry for me, because I'm not in the worst position out of everyone you know. I'll be fine, because I'm fortunate that way. I'm bruised in some ways, but t'is but a minor scuff, really. And yes, I'm being a drama queen, but seriously, what did you expect from a blog?

Enough chatter. Let's just get this done and over with*.

* By 'this', I mean life. And by 'done', I mean going through the different stages in life, not (as I suspect some of you might be thinking) bringing it to a halt (oh, come on, suicide is selfish and pointless anyway).

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Half-Time Analysis: 2014

So, as some none of you may have noticed, this blog has been in a somewhat dead state, with the only life support system, in the form of my New Year's Resolutions and half-annual reflections, keeping it alive.

Given we are now at the end of the 6th month of 2014, I figured this is the right time for another blog post. Starting with that new year's resolution I penned so thoughtfully in January 2014...

> Get at least a Merit for my MSc. 

> Become an MPhil/PhD Candidate. 


> Get funding for the PhD. 

[as above, pending]
> Don't ask my parents for more funds. 

[I really underestimated how much living in London would cost (by £2k). Now I know better.]

> Cycle a total distance of 365km with an app or my Heart Rate Monitor. 

[Well, according to Strava, as of 22 Jun 2014, 4:45pm, I've done 613.3km. Adding on the miles I've done in 2013, and my commute, I've probably paid less than £1 per km I've ridden on my bike.]> Cut down on my chocolate, crisps, salt, Haribos and alcohol. 
[We're only halfway through the year, so this won't be 100% achieved until Dec 31st. But for now...
Chocolate: less than 10 bars. Went up during exams, but apart from that, not weekly anymore.
Crisps: hardly buy them (swapped crisps for bread and hummus. 
Salt: Can't really quantify, can I? 
Haribos: think I've only bought 4 packets of them, so no longer a weekly purchase. 
Alcohol: Well, what with London prices and the fact that I have the tolerance of a 22-year-old - i.e.: very low, I've really cut on alcohol this year. Which is good.
Overall: looks promising.]

> Be nicer to others. 

[I am trying. I promise.]
> Cut down on procrastination.
[Well, I killed my social media accounts in April to help me focus on my long essay. Then things went pear shaped in May.]

In summary (out of 8)...
Succeeded: 1.
Pending, optimistic: 1 (the snacks and alcohol)
Pending, unknown: 3.
Pending, pessimistic: 2 (the "personal" ones)
Failed: 1.

Ah, rubbish.

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

2013 in retrospect, and looking ahead...


Generally, 2013's been somewhat mediocre, and even though it should have been eventful (what, with my graduation), it turned out to be otherwise. Let's look back and see what happened, shall we?

So the year started with me planning my future. Or more specifically, which University would I be doing my Masters? I was putting together my personal statement for LSE, Exeter, Rotterdam/Erasmus, Nottingham, although I only sent in LSE and Exeter in the end. But it was a nerve-wrecking feeling, to not know where you will be in 9 months' time – much like what I am experiencing now. Thankfully, Exeter was quick to offer me a place - 14 January, to be exact. Masters, here I cometh.

Guild Elections month. I remember I may have lost my cool and, well, got a bit upset with how one of the nights went (Guild President debate, if I remember correctly - technical issues that weren't really issues - the issue with lack of preparation time and trying out new systems). Also, with each major event, I knew the clock was ticking for my time with Xpression and as Head of Production was coming to an end. Also, my 21st Birthday at the Vic was, with all due respect, a sweet yet awkward affair where almost everyone I knew was there, and while the plan was to head to Arena after the Vic, I actually felt a bit unwell (read: chundered - my alcohol tolerance was at an all-time low, following 21 dry days). I remember Nick Howe and Matt Bate taking me home, and we just played Slinky at my steps before I went to bed. An understated 21st Birthday. Oh, have to mention a special thanks to Alex Manning for abandoning his Valentine's Day plan with his girlfriend to come to my Birthday thing (I wouldn't recommend that).

March started with the news that I had been waiting to hear – The email from LSE came through, and I had received a Conditional Offer - an Upper Second Class (2:1) and I'm in. This was great news! Yes, I did consider running for XpressionFM Station Manager at this point, because I assumed LSE would reject me because it's been so long, but the offer sealed the deal - it's a rare opportunity, and I've been yearning to get to a less distracting (no offence) academic environment, I can't let this go. So, the Media Elections came and went, and I started winding down my Head of Production role.

I don't remember anything exciting happening in April, apart from NaSTA - took photos for it, and actually enjoyed the event - made me regret not getting involved with XTV more in my 3 years in Uni. Anyway, apart from NaSTA, I don't recall much else apart from revision and dissertation. Well, I say "dissertation", I actually went up to my supervisor and we discussed the possibility of getting an extension, seeing as I have 4 exams in May, and I did have a big sample for my paper.

Exams finished 18 May 2013 - my final undergraduate examination. And then there was the last ditch attempt to finish my Dissertation by 31 May. Flipped my body clock so I don't get distracted. And, apparently, it paid off. But to be frank, by the time the paper was in, I didn't care. In fact, I stopped caring 4 hours before I submitted my dissertation - I couldn't think properly, and I had no heart in reading through the 10,000 words to spot mistakes by that point. It was painful, to say the least.

Post-exams, and I'm still in the UK, enjoying the warm summer in Exeter as a graduand with no commitments. There was the Xmedia Awards, Sushi Night, Paignton Zoo, Beach Trips (went to Exmouth at least twice, and got sunburnt), watched E3 Press Conferences in the A&V Hub, Sushi and board games, and a trip to London for Wimbledon... sort-of.

Family got to the UK (barely - visa was only approved the Friday before the weekend they were leaving), and on Tuesday, t'was the Graduation ceremony. Change the world, I shall try, Baroness Floella. Starting with... the final Cheesy Tuesday (Lord, that was emotional - to think I'll never experience it ever again in the capacity of an Exeter student. And Nik, if you're reading this, my penultimate Cheesy Tuesday was much better - that's the one where it was just the two of us. :P). Anyway, post-graduation, the folks and I went to London to see where I'd be for my next stage of education - LSE. Looked around the campus, bought my core textbook, and jetted back to Jakarta.

Back home, I went to the family firm's office to shadow my brother. Had a bit of a tiff about staying in Jakarta to work for the company or, well, otherwise.

Work. Oh, and travelling! Because my parents are old and I've got nephews, and apparently, this is the new craze amongst upper-middle class families in Indonesia, we went on a cruise around Alaska. Think you've seen the photos on my Flickr, so I won't blabber on. It was... alright - not my thing, considering my age...

Visited Exeter for Freshers' Week, then moved and settled in London, in time for the start of my Masters - Shakespeare's Head and George IV beared witness to the start of new friendships.

SRA Nominations Announcements. Massively disappointed, not gonna hide it anymore - thought we'd get more than 2 nominations, but I guess it goes to show the calibre of entries and the competitiveness of the awards.

Student Radio Awards. Not gonna lie, 2012's was better. Not only because we won a Gold and got up on stage. Mainly because we went in with lower expectations and the night itself wasn't as enjoyable, once you've lost the magic of being an SRA virgin. Ah well... T'was probably my last, anyway. But in any case, congrats must go to Gareth Jones and Laurence Foreman for the Silver Award in the Best Entertainment Programme category - Wake and Bake shall live on...

My worst hangover ever - thanks to Mark Brazil for that - his birthday party was... well... mental.

Also, Christmas! Had a big dinner with my coursemates. (Some of us ended up in Tiger Tiger. That was fun.) Got the train back to Exeter to fix some Xpression stuff and to meet up with old friends. Came back to London, packed my stuff, and then left again - this time, on a plane towards Düsseldorf. For the first time in 10 years, I was back in Amsterdam and Germany - the last time I was in these countries, I was 11, and my grandma was still (barely) alive (she sadly passed away soon after we returned from the trip). Went to places I haven't been to in Germany - Berlin, Cologne, Düsseldorf. And to be fair, Amsterdam has changed somewhat in the last 10 years, and I don't remember much about where I went, so that didn't matter. Met up with Callum, Nik, and Timon. Did all the touristy stuff, had idle conversation on a Berlin S-Bahn, and learnt a bit of German alongside.

Came back, had a friend from my St. Andrew's School, Singapore days (i.e.: Reuben) over in London. Had a reunion-of-sorts with others from SAS as well - Alex Choo, Sara, and while we were in Leicester Square, I actually met someone who was my classmate back in Primary School, and is now at the same Uni as me! Small world indeed...

--- --- --- --- ---

So, that's a year in summary. Before looking ahead to 2014 with my new year's resolutions, I thought I'd score 2013 against the targets that I set myself at the start of the year...

2013 New Year's Resolution...

Academics & Job Prospects: 3/3
  • I will graduate with a 2:1 minimum, and a 2:1 minimum in my dissertation.
    (Got the 2:1, and a First in my dissertation. Ticked.)
  • I will keep in touch with my friends from Exeter.
    (Gone back 3 times, still actively in touch with people at Xpression, yeah, got this one covered.)
  • I will make it to a Masters Programme.
    (Yep. LSE, MSc Accounting, Organisations and Institutions.)
Society Stuff: 1.67/3
  • I will do a Breakfast Show in the new term.
    (Included this as a plug, apparently. Cheated.)
  • I will contribute to the best damn Guild Election Coverage, Varsity Coverage, and Busking Culture Show. (Didn't do much for Busking Culture, bar making a promo. Apart from that, 0.67/1.)
  • I will hand over every thing I do for Xpression by March.
    (Yeah, like that ever happened.)
Personal Life and Finance: 0.5/4
  • Personal Life Resolution 1
  • Personal Life Resolution 2(Not disclosing what these two resolutions are publicly - they are on my private blog, for the record. But I definitely achieved #1, although not to the extent that I had hoped, and I did not achieve #2 - that's all we need to know for the purpose of this tally.)
  • I will make it a point to do some form of exercise every week.
    (For as long as I shall live, resolutions like these will never be fulfilled. You'd think I would know this by now, but apparently not.)
  • I will not buy any tech stuff worth over £250/€250/S$500/US$400/IDR4,000,000. (Doesn't include bikes and cars, but does include Apple products, phones and whatnot. The only exception to the rule that I will allow is a Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L ii USM Lens. Apart from that, nothing over the above-stated prices. Subject to change, with currency fluctuations.)
    Broke this one when I bought the Lumia 1020.
Total: 5.17/10. Decent. But not great.

--- --- --- --- ---

Now, looking forward...


Going a bit more generic with some of these... and more quantified with others.

> Get at least a Merit for my MSc.
> Become an MPhil/PhD Candidate.

> Get funding for the PhD.
> Don't ask my parents for more funds.

> Cycle a total distance of 365km with an app or my Heart Rate Monitor.
> Cut down on my chocolate, crisps, salt, Haribos and alcohol.

> Be nicer to others.
> Cut down on procrastination.

That's it from me. Happy New Year, folks.

Monday, 31 December 2012

2012: A Year in Retrospect

What an amazing year 2012 has been for me...

My family kicked off the year with a trip to Kuala Lumpur, just before I returned to the UK for the 2012 Spring Term. Then it's revision, Entered the trial phase with Pat. And to end the month, I started the Breakfast Show on 31 January 2012. Boom!

Song of the Month: M83 - Midnight City

February was probably the most insane month for me - a highlight, I dare say. Guild Election Week was a manic week for me as I helped out with the Outdoor Broadcasts and Debate Shows. And to top it all off, I had a surprise Birthday Party thrown at me. Good times!

Song of the Month: Avicii - Levels

March was when I got elected as Head of Production - one committee position that will shape the rest of 2012 for me. Speaking of Xpression, we had our Charity Football Match, in aid of Sport Relief. Raised £700+. Good times...

So April was the Easter break. Kicked the month off with the Student Radio Conference in Bradford, went to the Exeter Food Festival with Pat for some good food and music (Remember The Voice?), saw Charlie Simpson live. Oh, and revision.

Song of the Month: Carly Rae Jepsen - Call Me Maybe

Did I say revision? Well that's a lie. Because it's the opening of the Forum! Xpression kept me a bit busy, as usual, but it was worth it (see November). After that, things got pretty dull - Exams, things were on ice between Pat and myself. On the plus side, the Olympic Flame arrive in Exeter! Oh, and CIMA GBC Filming started, and we got through to the UK Finals!.

Song of the Month: Gotye ft. Kimbra - Somebody That I Used To Know

Halt! Xmedia Awards! Not a great night in terms of awards I hoped to clinch, but great night nonetheless. Then there's the Annual Celebration of Volunteering - Event of the Year? Apparently, that's what the Guild thought of the Xpression Guild Election Coverage! Student Radio Chart Show from Xpression FM. Also, CIMA GBC UK Finals came and went. Held at the Milkround HQ (News International), rubbed shoulders with some interesting people, and our team won the award. #Winning

Song of the Month: Madeon - Finale

So, UK Finals sorted, now we set our sights on the CIMA GBC Global Finals. Tough, considering I was back in Indonesia, and I had to juggle the prep with editing entries for the Student Radio Awards (See November). Not the best of times, until Sri Lanka came and went. #WINNING #TRAVELLING #SriLankaIsAwesome Had a great time, met some great people, and to see a country that I wouldn't normally have the opportunity to explore. Fantastic...

Also, watched loads of Olympics on YouTube. #TeamGB #TeamIndonesia #TeamSingapore

Song of the Month: Muse - Survival

So, Post-Sri Lanka, I returned to Indonesia to enjoy my holidays. Oh, and editing station sound (See September). Family Vacation to the US East Coast was brilliant - from New York (Times Square, 5th Avenue, all the touristy stuff) to Toronto, then Pennsylvania and DC (saw the Magna Carta, US House of Representatives, all the touristy stuff), and then it's Singapore (Founder's Day, met up with a few of my best mates), then finally Jakarta. Oh, and then, back nice and early to Exeter.

Song of the Month: Coldplay - Paradise

New Station Sound at Xpression finally launched. Phew! In non-Xpression Radio news, I listened in to Chris Moyles' Last Show on Radio 1 - and actually wept, because it's one of those things that I sort-of got used to doing - waking up with Moyles, even back from my A Level days in Brighton, when Carrie Prideaux was Sports Bulletin Reader. T'was the end of an era. But start of a new one, too! Did I mention the start of the Mix & Mash Show? Also, I finally got my new laptop. Yep. Retina ftw. New Resolution? Mine's 2880x1800. Hunting for a Dissertation Supervisor - which eventually led me to Dr Petros Vourvachis.

Song of the Month: Swedish House Mafia - Don't You Worry Child

Football Varsity Coverage - gave up tickets to see Benjamin Francis Leftwich for this, but worth it? I guess so. We had issues at the start, when the stream from the OB PC sounded stuttery on the Studio PCs and on air. Had to run on to campus with an iPad and minijack-to-coax cable to save the show. And thank heavens that worked out alright.

Song of the Month: Of Monsters And Men - Little Talks

Roll on the Student Radio Awards. 2 nominations, which were converted to 2 awards on the night. #Boom. And the 24 Hour Broadcast. And SSB lineup announcement. And even though I had little to do with the Lad Culture Show (props should go to Hazel, Amelia, and the rest of the News Team), The Lad Culture Show was such a bangin' show.

Song of the Month: Anything involving Calvin Harris and Florence Welch together.

As the final month of the year rolled on, things slowed down. There was that horrible BEA3001 Financial Management Coursework test. There was the fantastic trip to Reading. Christmas meant another Christmas song from the Sports Team, Christmas Dinners aplenty, and me putting on a load of weight. No snow, though - only rain and floods. And in a totally insignificant kerfball, I celebrated my 2nd year with my iPhone 4 - the longest I've held on to the same phone. Bearing in mind this phone got dunked in sea water in Sri Lanka, and now the camera broke. So, to celebrate this fact, I ordered a new phone. Apart from that, the Christmas Break meant doing some overdue tasks - Masters Applications (Personal Statements, Forms, Reference hunting, GMAT), Dissertation Literature Review and data collection (a bit), editing to add onto the Station Sound, the new Xpression Website (Wordpress), revision.

Song of the Month: Anything Christmasy.

So, loads happened in 2012. What will 2013 be like?

Bring it on!

New Year's Post

So, as is tradition on this fine blog of mine, I post a review of my New Year's Resolution for the year that is about to close on our behinds, and a new one for the start of the new year.

So, let's begin, shall we? Starting with the review...

Review: My New Year's Resolution of 2012


I will finish my 2nd year with at least a 2:1 overall. [1st!]
I will NOT go back to Jakarta over Christmas, so I can focus on my January exams in 2013. [Didn't!]

I will get an Internship, and I will actually enjoy my internship &// find it useful and beneficial. [Didn't.]
I will actually help Robin with his Bubble Today website (have you heard of it? it's really good) [Pardon?]
I will brush up on any sort of code. HTML5/CSS/Objective-C, etc. Seriously, I will actually improve my knowledge of one/more of the above-mentioned computer/web design languages. [PHP, CSS, Javascript. The lot.]

I will be in a committee in my 3rd year and not regret it. [Xpression!]
I will submit 6 articles to Exeposé by December 2013. Surely not that difficult, right? [err...]
I will single-handedly work in a team to make Photosoc awesome. [Not sure about this one. Did I?]
I will learn to develop film.[Didn't. Unless Polaroid counts?]
I will get presenter-trained/tested and get my own radio show on Xpression. [Did a Breakfast, Morning After, Afternoon Sessions, and Specialist Slot (Mix & Mash Show). In short: I passed presenter training!]

I will go to a gig in 2012. [Charlie Simpson! Would have made it two with Benjamin Francis Leftwich, if it weren't for the football varsity.]
I will not chicken out like I did in 2010/2011, and I will actually get tickets to Glastonbury 2013. Failing that, I'd love to go to any of the major music festivals while I'm still in the UK. BBL, perhaps? [Radio 1 Starts The Summer in Torbay counts in my book.]

I will get a girlfriend. [Let's not delve into this one, shall we?]
I will give up chocolate for Lent. [Whoops. Completely forgot about this one. Missed the start of lent by 2 days.]
I will wean off my Pescatarian diet by the time the June exams come. And I will then learn to cut the sugars and carbs out of my diet. [Did the first bit, getting to grips with the second]
I will run a 10K (standard triathlon distance). [My longest run of the year seems to be 6.74km.]
I will cycle 40K (standard triathlon distance). [My longest bike ride for the year was 16km.]
I will try to do a triathlon in one day. Yes, I know I've had this resolution as holiday targets that never ever gets done, but I'm going to give it a try.

I will NOT ask my parents for any more money until the 2012/2013 academic year, when I really need money to pay my tuition fees. [Didn't]
I'm allowed to buy an iPhone 5 and a new Mac this year. NO MORE. No iPad, no iPod. [Followed through.]

My 2012 New Year's Resolution Report Card: 11 / 20. PASSED!

Moving on to 2013...

My New Year's Resolution for 2013...

Academics & Job Prospects: ___/3
  • I will graduate with a 2:1 minimum, and a 2:1 minimum in my dissertation.
  • I will keep in touch with my friends from Exeter.
    I admit, I'm rubbish at this, so this one's probably going to turn red.
  • I will make it to a Masters Programme.
    Applications have been prepared, and references have been sought after. It all depends on my results now.
Society Stuff: ___/3
  • I will do a Breakfast Show in the new term.
  • I will contribute to the best damn Guild Election Coverage, Varsity Coverage, and Busking Culture Show.
  • I will hand over every thing I do for Xpression by March.
    Everything. Website, Station Sound, News/Sports Show Production, Logo, the whole lot.
Personal Life and Finance: ___/4
  • Personal Life Resolution 1
  • Personal Life Resolution 2
    Some things are just not meant to be shared in the public domain. My top 2 resolutions for this section are amongst them. When I see this at the end of 2013, I will know what 2 resolutions this bullet point represents. But for everyone else, just know that there are two resolutions here that I really want to achieve in 2013. From a personal view, these resolutions mean a lot to me, but they are tough nuts to crack. I have been making progress towards resolution 1 in 2012. Here's hoping that things will get better, eh?
  • I will make it a point to do some form of exercise every week.
    Badminton, Football, Cycling, Swimming, Running, whatever it may be. As long as I can get my sorry bum off my bed.
  • I will not buy any tech stuff worth over £250/€250/S$500/US$400/IDR4,000,000.
    (Doesn't include bikes and cars, but does include Apple products, phones and whatnot. I did buy an iPhone towards the end of 2012, a new laptop in September 2012, and I am in possession of a new iPad. So, really, there is no reason for me to be buying anything in 2013. The only exception to the rule that I will allow is a Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L ii USM Lens. Apart from that, nothing over the above-stated prices. Subject to change, with currency fluctuations.)
Total: ___/10.
What will I score? Well, bring on 2013!