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I will be myself

Hello all!

Getting cold now and it’s been raining since yesterday, probably until the end of next week. So, i’ve just spent my super late summer holiday in Indonesia. Coming back to the lab, everything is just pretty much the same. Experiment and writing my manuscript.

Just gonna write a little before sleeping.

My heart is feeling unwell today. (lately).

That’s probably what happen if you try to cut yourself from your comfort zone of 5 years already >.< *geez that’s quite long, uh?* but that’s not the main point!!

 

 

So, lately I have this feeling again of everyone’s moving away so fast. People keep moving forward with their wonderful and full of accomplishment/achievements life (that they show in their social media, i do not know the real struggle, though).

Talking about social media, probably I am always honest at my social media. When I felt sad i will say that I’m sad. I am not really filtering my post so that my life will look perfect or fairy-tale-ish.

And the truth is now like this : people are super fast and shining and sparkling, while I am here with my baby steps and my matte color, lol.

But I guess it’s okay. It’s okay to always be the silent one. Silently works behind everything. Harmless and underdog. Has nothing to be brag about. Not a cool kid? That’s okay, as long as you’re still alive and moving forward, it’s completely okay.

 

 

The most important thing?

I have my goals (and reaching it with my baby steps, lol) and I have to make peace with myself. Probably I have my plus point as well compared to those shining creatures, lol.

But I guess I will just be myself and make peace with myself.

 

There are a lot of wonderful little things in front of me now.

Might not be as shining as what they have but at least I have secured myself a topic for my publication, and… I will talk about DNA to public in November.. and I will play piano in a concert in December, will dance and sing as well… and I will be in charge of my favorite class, International Communication Biology stuffs 🙂

 

Just record this quickly to uplift my mood.

 

 

With a load of love,

 

 

Afifa Ayu Koesoema

 

 

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この4年間ありがとう

Hello all!

I haven’t written anything in this blog for a month, I guess. The summer holiday was quite busy (doing experiment and doing experiment alone). However today, our laboratory has just finished rearranging the student room for the upcoming new students.

I got a very cool new place where I managed to put all my dolls, photographs, files, datas, and a monitor to assist me doing the protein structure study.

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Now 8 PM, I am sitting here alone looking at this particular room with a lot of memories and I just want to share a little bit about my lab here 🙂

I just changed the attendance list on the door, and realizing that there will be 14 students now, it was 7, back then. So many memories, right?

 

Okay, my laboratory.

2012-2013 ようこそ

I’ve known this place from September 2012, yes, 5 years ago. At that time they just moved in to this place from the previous old building and I was an innocent (lol) exchange student knowing so little thing about Japan.

I was startled at first. I received an e-mail from Sensei saying that the topic of research will be green chemistry. At that point i did not even know what green chemistry is.

I came here and  the first experiment they made me do here is of course, organic chemistry, the thing i used to hate the most. But somehow I survive my exchange year and it became one of the happiest year in my life.

To be honest, I knew nothing about my research back then. I did random mutagenesis and if I saw my bachelor thesis again now I would laugh pretty hard to read my own methodology of library screening. But that year was very fruitful. Despite of knowing very little Japanese word, I managed to develop a deep friendship with everyone here.

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2014-2015 so this is graduate school

Coming back here to start my master program, i was super optimistic for a month, probably. And then my experiment started to fail and fail and fail for months. I was pretty shock, since I used to be the girl who can finish everything  related to academic perfectly. So i guess, welcome to graduate school and real research life! ^^

I was pretty clueless, still, about my research. But i had a very kind senior that taught me everything so meticulously. He was nice but sometimes very strict, but he was nice, the nicest :’)

I will always remember what he said when he finally left the laboratory. I will always remember that he was proud of me that I can finally do the experiment according to his teaching. Really, I would not know how to survive my initial months without him by my side :’) After he left, I started to obtain good datas and I started to love my research so much. I could attend a conference and even applying for grant.

I remember saying to myself, “Let’s get it rolling!!”

Friendship was marvelous at that time, the good old days, with a lot of party and games!

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2015-2016 Establishing myself

I was in full throttle. Not only I had more and more promising results, my Japanese language gets better, and I could start teaching my juniors, and even do administrative things inside the lab. I was like a flowering flower bud, i guess. I would do my research non -stop and feeling happy about it. I would be very active in lab discussion. Even more, I got the grant that i applied for. I was also sent to represent my laboratory in more conferences, even 2 international ones. That was my very first solo trip to Europe :’)

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But of course, along with the joy, there were some drawbacks.

At that time it was still bearable, I guess. Work place rivalry and misunderstanding that turned into working place b*l*y*ng? I guess that was the right word to sum it up for short. That was hard. I did not remember how many times I would also sit on the laboratory’s floor crying by myself. Or to think how worthless I am for not being able to publish paper, yet, despite the promising result that I got.

But then, my mood was lifted up again by more good results, or more trust from Sensei or being able to teach my junior more. At that time, probably i thought things will get better from now on, but…..

2016-2017 To the hell of Ph.D Program, and life.

Welcome to hell, i mean, Ph.D program. It started with a month of uncanny behavior of my bacterias and maybe a month of uncanny behavior of myself. My reasons to cry bounced from research to a guy to research to a guy, everyday. It was tiring because at the same time, i had to put a brave and proper face as a Ph.D students. I would stay until late to finish my thing and try to fix my bacteria, and I would pretend nothing happen in front of my juniors in the other day.

It was also difficult to divide thoughts. I would stay in the morning and afternoon not doing my things fully but also assisting many people. At night I will have time for myself. I started thinking that maybe I did everything wrong,  I focused too much on other people and the laboratory well-being. But I also did not want to be that kind of unapproachable and ignorant senpai (senior).

To make things worse, a mega problem and misunderstanding happened in the lab. It was tiring and scary and stuffs. But I guess all of us learned something from that 🙂 It did not end there, though. Another problem arose from this Spring, a problem that made me question myself, as a human being. A problem that taught me to be independent and be brave enough to forgive and let go of toxic people from my life 🙂

 

But now, here I am. through thick and thin, i am still here 🙂

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I am a second year doctoral student, quite happy and well. I haven’t published anything yet but I’m pursuing for it. I am aiming for two kind of papers with combination of enzymology, biochemistry, organic chemistry, crystallography, and structure analysis.

I love my research so much, I even talk with my enzyme when no one’s around and give them honorifics like alanine-chan or tryptophan-kun, lol. My love of teaching and research grew more and more. It is more like a calling to solve all of this enzyme mechanism mystery (lol).

Am I still childish? Yes I guess. But definitely I am more mature than my 2012-version of me. My lab has a lot of freedom as well, but I guess it shaped me. I had to push myself to be obedient, to do research passionately without anyone telling me or scolding me; to be punctual and responsible for your work, to teach well, to respect other people, to be tough and continue working despite of the acknowledgment, most importantly, to love yourself and your research :’)

 

 

And, yes, uhm. This lab and Matsuda Sensei, thank you very much 🙂

研究室、この4年間ありがとうございました。また大切な思い出を一緒に作りましょう。また2年間よろしくお願いします。

I hope I can make the remaining 2 years here more fruitful and I can contribute more for this lab :’)

 

With loads of love

 

 

Afifa Ayu Koesoema (almost D2)

4

Home Sweet Home <3

Hello everyone!

This is my first post in Japan! So i have been here in Japan for 1 month (so approximately there is still 59 months left LOL!). So the first month was quite tough, adapting again with Japan, finding apartment, taking classes, and directly doing my research.

But now, finally I have settled in my new petite house! ❤ Say hello to my white-pink-shabby chic 25 square meters petite mansion!

 

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Finding an apartment in Japan is quite difficult, especially when you’re picky (like me). And it is just impossible to find house that suits your criteria by 100%

So now, i will share some points that i have gained from my experience to find an apartment.

1. Try to understand everything (although it’s damn hard)

I know that you can always find an agent that speaks English, or you can always ask your tutor to accompany you, or ask someone whose Japanese is pera pera to accompany you. But you will still have to be able to(try to) understand everything by yourself. You are the one who will live in that apartment.

My Japanese was of course not good but at least being in my level (passing JLPT N4) i could already find apartment by myself although i could hardly understand the contract. But at least i could do verbal communication with my agent and don’t be shy to ask the agent, you have paid a lot of money of them, you should use them! LOL.

2. Try to understand the apartment renting concept

Apartment renting system in Japan is quite complicated. You have agent that will introduce you the room and yet you will still have the apartment broker/realtor (不動産) for that particular area. On top of the chain there is still the owner or landlord of the apartment. Seems like there’s so many people involved -_-

Please also note the difference between apartment and mansion in Japan. Apartment usually refers to building less than 4 stories-high while mansion refers to building higher than 4-stories, usually safer (equipped with auto-lock system) and slightly more expensive, with better facilities. In my point of view, it’s better to live in a mansion especially when you’re a woman and you live alone.

If you are not Japanese, some owner requires you to have Japanese-citizen guarantor (奉書人) or even some of them are reluctant to rent you a room. The moving in fee is also generally quite high (especially when you rent a mansion). There are so many things included from agency fee, rental deposit or shikikin(敷金)to gratitude fee or reikin (礼金). But you can always find an apartment that omit those fees.

3. Know your needs

Finding an apartment depends on your own needs and you need to know your own needs very well. Some people don’t mind to walk quite far from the station because they consider it as an exercise. While some people prefer to have apartment closer to the station. Some people prefer quiet place some people prefer a little bit busy and bustling place. Some people want a separate bathroom some people want to keep pet some people don’t like morning sunshine while others want it. You should list your needs or kibou (希望) so that you can efficiently explain your criteria to the agent.

4. Be Careful about Garbage

Don’t forget to know about how to separate garbage, it could be problematic and i think they will not take the garbage if you put it out at the wrong day. You could get the English version on the local ward office!

 

So now let me share some pictures of my mansion. I bought all furnitures in Ikea Yokohama (there’s a free shuttle bus from Shin-Yokohama station to Ikea). Ikea also provided delivery service and assembly service as well 😀 My furnitures are all white and the small things are pink. My mansion is really petite but i love it! ❤ I really love the location as well, only 3 minutes walk from the station and it’s really near to shopping malls, convenience store, Daiso, and many restaurants ❤ I also haven’t tried the salon located on the first floor of this building ❤

 

Hallway.. Fresh air!

Hallway.. Fresh air!

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Hi I’m on 4th Floor!

 

Bed Area :)

Bed Area 🙂

My Little Kitchen :)

My Little Kitchen 🙂

Dining Table + Study Table :)

Dining Table + Study Table 🙂

Kitchen utilities trolley :)

Kitchen utilities trolley 🙂

Mini book shelf!

Mini book shelf!

I tried to decorate it as nicely as i could, because i hope i will not have to move out during my 5 years of stay… 🙂

 

 

With love,

 

Afifa Ayu Koesoema

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I’m coming back Japan!

Finally this is the day!! 24th of September 2014 and I’m coming back to Japan!!

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So, this time I’m going to pursue my Master and Doctoral Degree in International Graduate Program (A) majoring Bioengineering in Matsuda Laboratory in Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan. I’m thrilled yet very nervous, since my program is an integrated Master and Doctoral program, it will take 5 years to be completed.

Some people said that 5 years is such a long time to be spent in one place. Some of them worried that i might get bored, some of them also worried about my love life. Since I am gonna focus in a totally rigour higher education, I guess they think i’d forget about love and marriage. LOL.

But I believe this is the best way for me and I have plenty of reasons to support the argument. Since my career aim is to be an academic , i should pursue the fastest way to reach my Doctoral degree and further start my career. I also want to be an expert in one kind of field (in my case : enzyme engineering), that’s why i have decided to pursue master and doctor in the same place, to get a crystal clear understanding about my own field 🙂 And the last reason? I love Japan! The culture, the people and everything (but especially the food, fashion, and cute things) I wouldn’t mind spending years in Japan! ❤

Although i know I am still my Mommy’s and Daddy’s little princess (look, he’s also coming to Japan with me right now… with Mom, as always) i think my previous one year experience had given me confidence to live by myself, although the stake is higher right now. The difficulty of my research will doubled yet i really have to get along with a completely independent life (by living in apartment instead of dormitory). But, i think (and i hope) that I can excel everything! 🙂

I am also planning to try new kind of activities in Japan. I’m going to play with Khatulistiwa (a Tokyo-based Indonesian ethnic band). I might also reenter the orchestra or trying to follow some jazz bands. I also might want to find part time job, maybe as a music teacher (hurry up Afifa, get your ABRSM diploma! so you can be a legit teacher).

I want to live my new life, career, music and love to the fullest! 🙂

Now we’re going to the downside.

Do i have some anxiety and uncertainty? OF COURSE.

I’ve said this gazillion times but Bandung is really my comfort zone! Bandung is the place where my beloved family and friends live. Bandung is the place where I’ve started my career. I’ve done so many things in Bandung, from being an owner of a cupcakery, teach english, play music, play band, and so on. It’s really hard to leave a place where you have felt comfortable and it’s really hard to leave a place where you have gotten acknowledgment.

And of course, it is really difficult to build a new life in Tokyo, you have to start from the scratch again. Building network, finding friends, and trying to get recognition again. It’s such a hard work but i’ve gotta try for it 🙂

I have to move out from my comfort zone 😀 I have to be able to strive wherever I am!

I guess though i have some (MANY) anxieties and fear i have to keep moving on! I have to be grateful of this opportunity, not all people can go to school in one of the best university in Asia for free :’) I have to try to look at the positive side and try to reap benefit as much as i can from this education opportunity! 🙂

 

Last?

I want to say thank you to those who have been a true friend for me during my time in Indonesia. Everyone who had fought together with me, share every happiness and sadness with me. I am definitely no one without your support right now, so I want to say thank you from the deepest part of my heart :’)

Thank you Mom, Dad, Mbak Allya, Mbak Azisa, Ilham, and De for being the best family for me,  my big family in Bandung and Surabaya especially Mas Rafdi and Rio, my lectures in ITB especially from Microbiology Department,  Pak Gede, Bu Pingkan, and Bu Dea; my fellow friend of SITH ITB 2009 and Microbiology ITB class of 2009; my seven year duet and bestfriend Mas Syarif; Klabklassik friend, Ammy Alternative String friends, PEP fellow teachers and students also various Bandung Indie Band (4 Peniti, Mocca, Beside, Kuburan, and all); my music teachers Mas Ammy, Pak Krishnan, and Pak Oerip Without you I will never be like this 🙂

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I hope I will see you again in the next five years, and by the time I would already be Doctor Afifa Ayu Koesoema! 🙂

 

With loads of love

 

Afifa Ayu Koesoema

 

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Goodbye Ganesha 10! <3

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Now, I’m Officially Afifa Ayu, S.Si. Sarjana Sains. Bachelor of Science. Let’s do some flash back.

Before you begin reading, pardon me for this EXTRA LONG post, it’s really hard to contain all of your feeling for 4,5 years in one blog post.

 

First year, Tahap Persiapan Bersama.

This year I was faced with the dilemma of entering biology versus microbiology. Adjusting to the harsh education rhythm in ITB that really gave me a shock (I mean who would not be shock if their first quiz score was 30s). Being rejected in two units because the lack of attendance (LOL), but whatever, I prefer to do activities outside school, anyway. Found close friends (Hilda, Irly, Helen, Febe, and Uti). I had Hilda’s farewell to Japan which was teary because I really need her and I had my leg broken (again).

Hilda's Farewell Party!

Hilda’s Farewell Party!

The most hated subject of all time, P.E.

The most hated subject of all time, P.E.

Struggling for my P.E. but I ended up with B, which was astonishing. Struggling for tons of examination and experiment, but after two semesters everything turned out to be fine and I had a good GPA, Alhamdulillah. After that, during the holiday was Ospek Jurusan. And after that I ended up in Microbiology Major (and I am grateful for that).

 

Second year,  Microbiology ITB First Year.

Getting to know more about Microbiology for the first time and I really loved it. Did my first laboratory work related to Microbiology, Microbiology project, with Helen, Astrid, Cita, and Galang. I got really close with Astrid from that moment. I had an ambition of finishing my study for 3,5 years so I was busy taking extra class. Flunking biophysics! Busy doing music thing still in the middle of my hectic laboratory works. I also had first independent group project which was Penelitian Kecil about Ekstrak Kunyit.

My first Research Project!

My first Research Project!

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I also had a subject that I really loved biochemistry and also had the guts to take biosafety (a subject for fourth grader).  I ended this year also with amazing GPA, Alhamdulillah.

 

Third year, Microbiology ITB Second Year. More and more laboratory works which came from Molecular Genetic Projects. I also had my most inspiring and mesmerizing subject this semester, Enzymology and Food Microbiology. So I really had my thought split on my final project, whether I would want to work with enzyme or work with fermentation. Finally at my 5th semester I could get rid of my first love (tee-hee) and finding new love. I also had my first band album ever through the hectic semester and opening an online cake shop. 6th Semester was truly amazing, breaking up with my second boyfriend and get my third one LOL. 6th Semester was the most extreme semester with huge independent laboratory works (+ its overnight stay) from Prinsip Teknik Fermentasi and Mikrobiologi Analitik. And my class also went to China for the excursion.

with my 'date' in Beijing, LOL <3

with my ‘date’ in Beijing, LOL ❤

I also got accepted until last selection of a student exchange selection to Tokyo Tech Japan. I started teaching violin and I got selected as Mahasiswa Berprestasi from my faculty, SITH and got to participate in ITB-level competition! (Unbelievable! I don’t really think they ever had a band-member Mapres, that often went home at 2 AM after show).

Receiving the Award, it was like dream!

Receiving the Award, it was like dream!

This is it, 12th best of ITB batch of 2009 (why am i there LOL)

This is it, 12th best of ITB batch of 2009 (why am i there LOL)

 

To made the semester more incredible, I had several really wonderful performances at television and even (with my ex band) got nominated in Anugerah Musik Indonesia. And in the end of the summer holiday, I got the news that I was accepted in Young Scientist Exchange Program Tokyo Institute of Techonology!

 

Fourth Year, YSEP Tokyo Tech. I spent one year at Japan with this exchange program. Although I had a loads of consideration (like graduating late and leaving all my jobs behind for one year), eventually I departed to Japan. Days were nice, a loads of ups and downs but I learned really lot here. I learned how to stop being a crybaby and take care of all my problems by myself. I learned how to take care of myself without 24/7 driver and housemaid. I learned how to live alone. First it was really tough with all of the language barriers and home-sick thingy. But I’ve managed to nail everything. Despite of my retardation on my research project I guess I still did fine, because on the first time since forever I got straight A ^^ I found new boyfriend.

I also managed to slip inside the school’s orchestra, PPI’s Angklung Team, and even got part time job as a research assistant. I had two amazing symphony orchestra concert with school’s orchestra.

Angklung Team!

Angklung Team!

Orchestra!

Orchestra!

I got many friends with golden hearts (Apichaya, Shuyin, Jew, Richard, Danielle, Mika, I miss you guys!) and very nice host family.

Dears <3

Dears ❤

Beloved YSEP!

Beloved YSEP!

 

I traveled to amazing place with friends and family. I even passed JLPT N4. In the end I could finish my research and wrapped it home as my final project. In the completion ceremony I was asked to give valedictorian speech.

Matsuda Ken!

Matsuda Ken!

Officially a YSEP Alumni!

Officially a YSEP Alumni!

My first Valedictorian Speech!

My first Valedictorian Speech!

Everything was so heavenly, it was really hard to leave for Indonesia, because I was already too comfortable with all of the things in Japan >.<

 

Fifth Year, Bachelor Final Year. Starting again in Indonesia was not as easy as I thought. I had to go inside unfamiliar class with my junior and this creepy feeling of being left out by my batch’s friends was raging. I mean everyone else was graduating except me and 3 other friends (2 were exchange participant as well and 1 was still working with the final project). To made things worse I was being kicked out by my long-term band without any explanation. I spent quite a lot of time grieving but well, life must go on.

Eventually I think with all the struggles, everything started to get better. I got along quite well with my new classmate, and the study was not horrendous at all.  I made a clean start over at music and started playing jazz and everything. I started teaching English as a part time job. I applied to 3 master program (IGP A Tokyo Tech, Erasmus Mundus Lotus Unlimited, and TOTAL Scholarship). I got accepted in IGP (A) and half accepted on the rest (I mean I’ve stopped the selection process of the rest due to my acceptance in IGP (A) Tokyo Tech). I wrote my final thesis pretty well and somewhat somehow I succeeded in my bachelor seminal and final defense, and graduated with cum-laude title ^^ and again a valedictorian speech, but this time, spontaneous! 😀

S.Si!

S.Si!

my cum-laude medal!

my cum-laude medal!

 

Thank you very much for all of those who had helped me through this bachelor chapter of my life! My wonderful family, my siblings, my besties from ITB, outside ITB and YSEP, SITH ITB 2009, Mikrobiologi ITB 2009, and all of my lecturers, especially my supervisors. Without the support of everyone I definitely would not pass this chapter of life with flying colors. I certainly had learned a lot and I hope this learning process could further be beneficial for my life ^^

Now it’s time to take a little rest before starting my new chapter of life as a graduate student in my dream university, Tokyo Institute of Technology!

Probably, some people’s dream universities are as high as MIT or Harvard or Oxford but I’m grateful for what I have. And surely I don’t have the guts nor has adequate intelligent to follow the rigorous graduate education of those world top 5 Universities. But whatever, in some world-ranking, Tokyo Tech is 11th and in case you really want to enter MIT or Harvard or Oxford, you can always try exchange program ^^

 

Embrace your last months in Indonesia, Afifa! You will surely miss it!

Thank you Institut Teknologi Bandung! Bakti kami, untukmu Tuhan, Bangsa, dan Almamater! Merdeka!

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Love

 

Afifa Ayu Koesoema, B.Sc. (LOL)