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LIFE UPDATE (itโ€™s okay to be an underdog, really)

Hello everyone!

It really has been a long time since the last time I post something in this blog. Doctoral degree life, combined with many life twists and conflicts have made me really preoccupied in the past few months!

But now, everything is pretty much okay. I am writing after a long day from Tsukuba attending a crystallographic refinement lecture with my collaborator. Honestly, I am a bit tired because I have just arrived from Hungary.

So what’s actually happening in life recently?

  1. Most simple, age-wise… I have turned 26 several weeks ago ๐Ÿ˜€ meaning that probably i have passed my quarter-life crisis! LOL. With my new age, I must be more mature and be grateful in living my life!
  1. Academic-wise?

I think I am doing pretty much okay,ย i guess.

Doctoral degree life is quite tough and I am taking my own pace to do my research. But, I have just passed through my Doctoral Progress Presentation.

 

However, sad to say apart from my high frequency of attending conferences (the last one was Biotrans Budapest last week) I have not published any scientific journal, yet. But I guess it is okay. Although I cannot say that I know 100% of what I’m doing right now, but at least I am in the right direction.

Of course I am an underdog compared to other international students in my lab. One of them has published so many international journals and even book chapter. One of them is really brainy, has perfect English, about to publish his paper, and also one of the most sociable person in this campus. One of them is really brainy and can take this life so patiently. One of them is really good at Japanese, English, art, brainy, and has a really strong personality. Compare all of them with me? >.<

But I have some reasons to be not that upset to myself, probably need to list it down here :

  • My study is multi-disciplinary.

So actually I have a quite good skill-set from microbiology for bachelor (which makes me a little bit stronger in genetic and biology), organic chemistry (weak, though), biochemistry and enzymology (my love!), and right now I am studying crystallography as well. So itโ€™s a complete package from up-stream (enzyme engineering, enzyme production, and enzyme characterization) to down-stream of both application (organic chemistry for enzymatic reaction) and the process of enzyme structure elucidation.

I know I have not published anything yet. But I genuinely think that I have learned so many things.

  • I am quite good at doing things considered unimportant by others

Things considered unimportant include managing the lab condition (read it as cleaning up the mess), organizing things, making English manuals for many things in the lab (how to buy things, how to use Japanese system, etc.), and making laboratory rules. Of course, some people judge me as being not effective and I should have used my time for myself but I believe this kind of skill is important for me since I want to be an academician.

I know I am not smart. but if i can help on something? Definitely i will help ๐Ÿ™‚

 

  • I am given the chance to pursue one of my passion, teaching

Honestly I really love all my teaching assistant jobs and the time when new student get inside our laboratory. Because at that time I can teach them and I can prepare teaching material, which is something crucial if you want to pursue your career in academia.

  • I speak decent English and enough Japanese to live and discuss about research

Of course my English is not good compared to my other international lab members. But I am grateful enough that it is decent enough for daily conversation, writing blog, writing assignment, and writing conference abstract, hopefully it will be enough for writing a paper.

My Japanese? It is also not good but it is enough to live my daily life and even to discuss about research. With practice, I can even explain my research poster in Japanese and conduct an academic-related conversation.

  • Being an underdog actually push me to study and work more

Of course the feeling of being the worst in this laboratory drives me crazy, and makes me to be so hard on myself. But I do love my experiment and my topic (I have been with my enzyme from 2012, I am already falling in love with her). Cmiiw, it is better than not having the passion to do the experiment, or doing the experiment only for the fame or money.

  • I am actually mentally strong

Iโ€™ve been through quite a lot in the past year, yes, I have been bullied in many ways. From harsh type of bullying until the smooth gaslighting. From personal thing and decision that I made in life until the way I conduct my experiment (common type of work-place bullying).

Although again I have been judged for being too weak, too nice, ineffective, unstable and so on, what I do is just keep moving forward. I will just keep doing experiment and keep learning everyday. Although sometimes I do it with tears literally falling.

The most important thing is not stopping! And keep doing what you love โค

Perseverance is the key.

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  1. To sum it all up, I am quite happy and I will fight for my life. I will just do what I love although I am not yet good at it J

Do small positive things in my life. Cooking, writing in this blog, playing music, and Iโ€™ve even started editing my first vlog, lol.

Be happy, love yourself, and remember to always be grateful. Always keep in mind that your family will always be there for you during difficult times (and in some special case a very few selected friends will be there as well). For me? I donโ€™t mind having few friends since I know that I am very strange and not many people can accept me for who I am ๐Ÿ™‚ Happy summer holiday everyone!

This summer holiday I will just do experiment and spring back and forth between Suzukakedai to Tsukuba to learn crystallographic refinement, very necessary for my first publication ^^

 

It’s okay to be an underdog, just be a beautiful one โค

 

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And you can still be a hero ๐Ÿ™‚

 

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With love,

 

Afifa Ayu Koesoema

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Summer 2015!

Hello everyone,

Very long time no see! So, right now the summer is almost over here, it’s getting colder everyday so I will make a post about how my second Summer in Japan’s going!

I experienced many things in this second summer, including the heat and heat exhaustion lol. Maybe the only thing that i did not do is going to the beach. It’s okay, still have 4 summers more.

So here are some highlights of my summer!

HYDRANGEAS VIEWING

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What?ย Hydrangea is the flower that starts blooming in the beginning of rainy season. Once the rainy season has gone, voila.. you have the real summer and the real heat and everything! This flower is really beautiful and colorful (some said the difference of the color is due to the soil’s pH difference)

When?ย Late May to early June, so basically the weather is still pleasant!

Where?ย There are a lot of choices but we decided to go to Hase Dera (Hase Temple) in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture. Hase Temple has a trail for hydrangea viewing. They will give you number tags to allow you get in to the trail in particular time, this is to avoid congestion inside the trail and be aware, the trail is a bit steep! But it has a good downhill view and in some other part of the temple you can have the mesmerizing view of the sea!

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How to get there?ย Take Enoshima Electric Railway (Enoden, for short) from JR Fujisawa Station (Tokaido Line) or JR Kamakura Station (Yokosuka Line), hop off at Hase Station and take a few minutes walk to the temple.

FAMILY VISIT AND TRIP TO KANSAI

Although i could not go home this summer, my family visit me and we spent wonderful time in Kansai plus celebrating the Eid Al Fitr together! ๐Ÿ™‚ We stayed in Kobe so that we can shuttle back and forth between Osaka and Kyoto!

As an aquarium lover family, finally we went full team to the Osaka Aquarium, Kaiyukan (i have posted about Kaiyukan here before).ย We explored a bit more in Kyoto by going to the Fushimi Inari temple and exploring Gion District.

Fushimi Inari Temple

What?ย This is one of the most beautiful and famous temple with its gazillions of Red Gate in Kyoto. It is located on the hillside and the red gate will continue up to the top of the hill. There is no admission fee for this temple.

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How to get there?ย Take JR Nara Line from JR Kyoto Station and hop off at Inari Station, the temple is just outside the station. Using Kyoto city bus is a bit more complicated and crowded too.

Gion District and its Yukata Experience

What?ย Gion District is one of the preserved Geisha district in Kyoto. Besides enjoying the sudden appearance of geisha or maiko on the street you can also enjoy the wooden merchant houses architecture. The streets are also filled with shops, tea houses, souvenir shop, and ice cream shops. I will write about recommended ice cream shops in Gion in the next post. One of the interesting part is the yukata experience. Gion is filled withย yukata-renting shop, so you can walk around with yukata along the traditional wooden houses! The renting price differs among the venue, if you are lucky you can get a one day yukata rent around 3.000 yen for whole day! ๐Ÿ™‚

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How to get there?ย There are variety of Kyoto city bus going to Gion (number 7, 205, or Kyoto Loop Bus) and stop at Shijokawaramachi stop. From Kyoto Station, train requires transfer.

FIREWORKSย 

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What?ย The true Japanese Summer experience will not be completed it you haven’t watched fireworks or hanabi yet! Hanabi (่Šฑ็ซใ€literally means flower and fire) in Japan are held throughout summer’s weekend (July-August) in various places, usually along the river side or beach. It is really beautiful and special in my opinion. I think Japan really has the latest technology for the fireworks that make it really beautiful. The experience is further fulfilled with attending it using yukata with your friends and chatting plus sort of doing picnic while waiting for the fireworks!

And take purikura (Japanese cute-styled photo box) after it while wearing yukata! The memory will last โค

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Where?ย This year i visit Tokyo Bay Fireworks and watched it from Odaiba Beach. The magnificent view as you can see, is the graceful rainbow bridge with the beautiful fireworks!

What to expect?ย CROWDS!! There will be people everywhere, loads of it. But as long as you stay alert, and follow instructions from the officer it will be okay I guess. If you want to get a good spot, you can come to the watching place the night before, put a tarpaulin cloth and stick your name on it. Since Japanese are polite, they will not disturb your place and you can just come around 2 hours before the fireworks start.

N.B : But be careful if you use bus to the watching place, sometimes the road is closed if it’s already nearing the launch time! So I still advice you to come in advance.

SUNFLOWER FIELD

What?ย Last thing to make your summer complete? Sunflower viewing! Japan has plentiful of vast sunflower garden and the sunflowers are really tall and beautiful!

Where?ย This year, i pick a near viewing spot from my home, Zama Sunflower Matsuri (Matsuri means festival) in Zama, Kanagawa-ken. Along with the sunflower garden, they also have small festival containing food stalls. The festival was held only several days from late July to Early August.

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How to get there?ย This sunflower festival provides free shuttle bus from Odakyu Soubudaimae Station.

What to expect?ย Heat of course, wear adequate UV protection, bring umbrella or hat and water to prevent dehydration. Uneven terrain, of course. It is a field, so the terrain will be uneven, wear comfortable shoes! Full cellphone or camera battery, believe me the view will be breathtaking, both for serious photo hunter or selfie hunter like me :3

So, these are all my experience for this Summer! Let’s fight for the new semester!

Welcome, Autumn :*

Afifa Ayu Koesoema

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Summer Vacation ๅคไผ‘ใฟ2013

Hello all! ๐Ÿ™‚

Finally a little spare time in this Sunday evening and finally I can write about my summer vacation. I spent my summer vacation on Japan with my family (mom, dad, and little brother). Actually they came there to picked me up but we still managed to had some vacation as well ๐Ÿ˜€

We spent a week around Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka, Kyoto, and Nara. Well, actually we went mostly to places where I had been before, so i will only tell you some of memorable moments with my family ๐Ÿ˜€

Family Shinkansen Ride

This was super fun! ๐Ÿ˜€ย For my brother, it was his first ride of Shinkansen! And he was so happy!

my little brother and the Shinkansen that we rode

my little brother and the Shinkansen

before departing! :)

before departing! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Mom and Dad ๐Ÿ˜€ Dad is very proud with his ๆฑๅทฅๅคง T-shirt! ๐Ÿ˜€

But this ride was also memorable because there was an earthquake when we rode the Shinkansen. Although i did not feel the quake but the power supply suddenly went off because they cut off the electricity, the train immediately slowed down to a complete stop for 10 minutes >.<

Anyway, on the way back to Tokyo we got N700 Shinkansen ๐Ÿ˜€ so my brother was happier ๐Ÿ˜€

Shinkansen Series N700, the best line up of JR West Shinkansen!

N700, the king up of JR West Shinkansen!

cute bento :3

cute bento :3

Osaka Museum of Housing and Livingย 

Remember this museum? Where we are able to wear yukata and walk around in an Edo Period settings? Although i’ve been here together with my sister but this time was more special because there were 4 of us.

Yukata! ^0^

Yukata! ^0^

me and my little brother :D

me and my little brother ๐Ÿ˜€

my beautiful Mom and handsome Dad :)

my beautiful Mom and handsome Dad ๐Ÿ™‚

I hope someday, the whole family can go here together and all wear yukata together! ๐Ÿ˜€

Osaka Aquariumย (ๆตท้Š้คจ)

Going to Osaka Aquarium (Kaiyuukan) was a very good choice! Because it was really-really nice. The building consist of eight floors and it’s located near the sea. In front of the aquarium there is a very big ferris wheel ๐Ÿ˜€

The huge aquarium building :)

The huge aquarium building ๐Ÿ™‚

gigantic ferris wheel :)

gigantic ferris wheel ๐Ÿ™‚

At first we went up to the top and we saw the exhibits while going down. The theme of all of the exhibits was about animals (marine animal mostly), generally ecosystems around the Ring of Fire (Circum Pacific).

At first you’d be greeted by wonderful rainforest! Going down you would meet many animals from the pole, from seal until penguins.

rainforest

rainforest

^0^

^0^

Mr. Penguins!

Mr. Penguins!

But the most magnificent part for me was three-storied sharks aquarium! 9 meters deep and 5400 tons of water inside ย >.< they had two whale shark, very cute ๐Ÿ™‚ they also had troops of hammer head shark, tiger shark, and any shark, you name it ๐Ÿ™‚ They also had the ugly sun fish (like what i’ve saw in Yokohama Aquarium.

cute whale shark!

cute whale shark!

The japanese crabs was also astonishing, they were enormous! And there was also a very good collections of jelly fishes ๐Ÿ™‚

spider crab!

spider crab!

magnificent jelly fish!

magnificent jelly fish!

if you are interested of going to Osaka Aquarium please visit this page

Traditional Osaka Okonomiyaki Eating Experiences!

Osaka is famous for its Okonomiyaki, and we had the opportunities to taste one of its finest! Luckily it’s located just behind our hotel at Umeda Sky Building (our hotel was the Westin Osaka, near Osaka Station)

Kiji

Kiji

The place was really comfortable and homey and it was really delicious. Although we had to queue for about 1 hour, the taste of the food plus the atmosphere really paid that all off! In this restaurant the owner cooked by himself for us. The place was small but homey; the wall is covered with photographs from customer all over the world and the smell of sizzling okonomiyaki was really irresistible!

inner interior of Kiji :)

inner interior of Kiji ๐Ÿ™‚

putting my own name card :D

putting my own name card ๐Ÿ˜€

We ordered okonomiyaki and yakisoba. You can decide by yourself what to put inside, from seafood until chicken, beef, and pork ๐Ÿ™‚

hurry eat it while its hot!

hurry eat it while its hot!

ใ„ใŸใ ใใพใ™๏ผ

ใ„ใŸใ ใใพใ™๏ผ

Nara

Second time to Nara, I was happy with all of the deers however we met one crazy deers that ate my plastic bags (and maybe if i did not react fast enough, my hand).

Dad, Mom and Daibutsu..

Dad, Mom and Daibutsu..

Deers! (but not the crazy one)

Deers! (but not the crazy one)

:)

๐Ÿ™‚

Kyoto, Kiyomizudera

Because we only had half day in Kyoto, we decided to visit Kiyomizudera. It was still as charming as my first visit 5 years ago ๐Ÿ™‚

Kyoto Bus!

Kyoto Bus!

Red :)

Red ๐Ÿ™‚

Mommy Daddy!

Mommy Daddy!

overlooking the city of Kyoto!

overlooking the city of Kyoto!

tranquil :)

tranquil ๐Ÿ™‚

Ok, maybe that’s all for now, and i will post later for our experience at Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disneysea!

See you guys! (and i’m missing Japan like crazy >.<)

Love

Afifa Ayu Koesoema

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Summer Short Trip : Kobe and Nara with Dad Part 1

Hello all! Happy sunday!

 

Another late post, let’s write! So, 2 weeks ago my Dad came to Japan for business. But he had some day off, and we decided to go to Kobe and Nara, we arrived at Osaka, stay at Kobe and go to Nara. Actually it was a mistake because Osaka is located between Kobe and Nara, so we should actually stay in Osaka that’s located in the middle. But whatever~ As long as we have fun! ๐Ÿ™‚

So at first we went to Osaka by night bus, still using Willer Express, but this time i have made sure that the bus will not be as disastrous as my last experience. We got bus with toilet, and reclining sit, and it was really a ย willer express bus (the pink bus with a big willer express logo on it).

This time i chose Shinagawa Station as the alighting point. And i really recommend this alighting point because it’s much easier to find than the Shinjuku part. It was at Bus Stop Number 5 on Konan Exit.

the bus the real bus :D

the bus the real bus ๐Ÿ˜€

And, the seat was also really comfortable, especially comparing to the last bus that i’ve took. this one had more reclining angle, had pillow, had blanket, and some kind of a hood that can be used to hide your face. And best of all, it was all pink! ๐Ÿ™‚

quite comfortable :)

quite comfortable ๐Ÿ™‚

And finally we arrived at Osaka Station, Shibashi Exit, earlier than the schedule. After buying JR West Pass for my Dad and buying some breakfast (it was easy though, the staff can speak english, but don’t forget to have your passport and visa ready!^^) we went directly to Kobe.

Our hotel was Kobe Bay Sheraton, and it was located inside a man made island called Rokko Island, so actually it was quite far from the mainland and the city center. However, it was not inconvenient because they have a commuter line that connects all the place in Rokko Island with mainland Kobe named Rokko Liner.

For Rokko Liner, PASMO cannot be used. So we could buy ticket everytime or if your hotel is at Rokko Island probably buying pass for several rides at once will be more convenient.

Since we arrived at only 9.30 AM, the room was not ready yet. But fortunately we could have some breakfast on the hotel’s gorgeous 19th floor lounge. The view was wonderful and i ended up eating onigiri from konbini ๐Ÿ˜€

ulala here we go! Kobe Bay Sheraton :)

ulala here we go! Kobe Bay Sheraton ๐Ÿ™‚

nice view from 19th floor lounge :)

nice view from 19th floor lounge ๐Ÿ™‚

fusion of lounge and konbini, worth trying!

fusion of lounge and konbini, worth trying!

And the room was ready at around 10.45 AM and what fascinated me was the toiletries provided. they even gave a yuzu lipbalm!

relaxing :)

relaxing ๐Ÿ™‚

excellent toiletries :D

excellent toiletries ๐Ÿ˜€

First destination was Nara! This hotel location was really convenient it was just outside the Rokko Liner Island Center Station. Then we went to Nara from that Station. I recommend to take the JR Lines instead of Hanshin Main Line especially when you had JR West Pass. Basically you ย just have to go to Osaka and from Osaka find any JR train that go to Nara Station, it was longer but it reduce the complication, a lot!

Hanshin Main Line was less preferable because the route is complicated, not well equipped with English or even information in hiragana~ and well, Hanshin is a different company from JR, so remember your JR West Pass,ย will not be eligible to be used!

Island Center Rokko Liner Station

Island Center Rokko Liner Station

view from the first car of Rokko Liner

view from the first car of Rokko Liner

Dad inside the Rokko Liner

Dad inside the Rokko Liner

on our way to Nara :)

on our way to Nara ๐Ÿ™‚

Arriving at Nara, first we ate lunch. We chose to eat a set menu named Mayou in one of restaurant near the station. Mayou main highlight is probably the grilled beef in butter it was really delicious. And it cost only 2000 Yen, unbelievable.

Mayou DIsh!

Mayou DIsh!

Beef and butter :)

Beef and butter ๐Ÿ™‚

Melon Ice Cream that looks like a Watermelon :p

Melon Ice Cream that looks like a Watermelon :p

After the lunch, we went around Nara Park. Basically all of the famous tourist attraction in Nara is located inside the park. It took almost 3 hours to take a look of everything by walking. But, like the most famous one the Daibutsu from Todai-ji Temple is only about 20 minutes walking from Kintetsu Nara Station.

Along the way you could just play with deers! They were actually quite tame and quiet but when you got the deer food they will be a bit aggressive. So maybe taking photos with them is already enough rather than ended up being caught by the deer if you try to feed them ๐Ÿ˜€

Deers!

Deers!

tame and nice and quiet (if you don't bring food)

tame and nice and quiet (if you don’t bring food)

After that, we saw the Daibutsu, the entrance ticket was 500 Yen for Adult. This Daibutsu height was 15 meter and it was inside a massive huge building. It was really breathtaking. My Dad said the building was really designed to contain something highly respectable, like this Buddha, as their God. If we look carefully, the height of the pillar on the left and right side of the building were increasing until it reach the point that’s just next to the main building, so you can feel that the building is being ‘lift-up to heaven’.

front gate of Todaiji Temple

front gate of Todaiji Temple

'lift-up-to-the-sky' building

‘lift-up-to-the-sky’ building

Dad :)

Dad ๐Ÿ™‚

15 M Daibutsu

15 M Daibutsu

Daibutsu and another statue almost as big as the Daibutsu

Daibutsu and another statue almost as big as the Daibutsu

Dad and Daibutsu :)

Dad and Daibutsu ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Around the Daibutsu there were so many souvenir shops, you can shop for omiyage there. They have everything, from deer doll, books related to Daibutsu, sweets, snacks, just everything ๐Ÿ™‚

 

And anyway maybe that’s all from now, please wait for the second part of my trip to Kobe and Nara! This includes the wonderful experience of Kobe Beef Dining!~

 

Catch you guys, later ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Afifa Ayu Koesoema