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.
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.
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.
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!
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 :’)
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 🙂
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 🙂
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)