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!


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)


LIFE UPDATE (it’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 😀 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, 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 it’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 🙂


  • 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

I’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 ❤

Perseverance is the key.


  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 I’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 don’t mind having few friends since I know that I am very strange and not many people can accept me for who I am 🙂 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 ❤




And you can still be a hero 🙂



With love,


Afifa Ayu Koesoema


Sanrio Puroland!

Hello everyone and happy golden week! 🙂

So yesterday I went to Sanrio Puroland with my bestfriend Hilda. And since we are sort-of a Sanrio-addict we were really-really excited! We even managed time to get the same dress for this particular occasion.

Before I told you about our adventure there, let me give you a general information for this park.

So, what’s Sanrio Puroland?

Outer Look of Sanrio Puroland!

Inner look of Sanrio Puroland!

Definitely from the name it is an all Sanrio-character theme park located at Tama City, Tokyo. It is located just a short walk from the South Exit of Odakyu Tama Center Station (Odakyu-Tama Line). You can basically meet any Sanrio character there from the famous Hello Kitty, My Melody, and Little Twin Stars, to the little known ones like Monkichi (or it’s just me that don’t know Monkichi?).

In my opinion this park is really popular for Japanese (but we spotted some foreigner, though) and popular for toddlers and children (though we also spotted other grown up women, mainly come in pair with twin dress, just like me and Hilda). It was Golden Week so the park was kinda fully packed with people, but it’s indoor and the queuing is nothing like Disneyland, so don’t worry!

What’s the main event currently held there?

When we came, Sanrio Puroland also celebrates My Melody 40th Anniversary (geez, she’s that old). So they made special shop for her and the theme is just all for her! Good for me as a huge Melody fans!

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What’s the main attraction there in Sanrio Puroland?

Character Boat Ride

The boat ride is the first thing you will see at the entrance. During the first half of the ride you will get an overall introduction of all Sanrio Characters. During the second half of the ride you will see them all inside Hello Kitty’s Party! The decoration and character are so cute, you can even smell cinnamon when you see the cinnamon roll!

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Lady Kitty House

Next thing up is Lady Kitty House. But please note that Lady Kitty is not Hello Kitty (Kitty White), Lady Kitty is actually Rose White, Hello Kitty’s Grandmother. How can you see the difference? Rose White wears rose instead of red ribbon!

But the house itself is super cute and magnificent! You can go inside the house, look around all the cute stuffs, take picture, and in the end take picture with Lady Kitty :3 (but you will have to pay 1600 Yen more to get your photo printed). You will be greeted by Lady Kitty’s baby grand piano upon arrival and after that you can see Lady Kitty’s huge teddybear, her make-up, her dress collection, her bed, and everything!

It’s definitely a perfect place to take pictures!

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And this is me and my twinnie official picture with Lady Kitty Rose ❤


Kiki & Lala – Twinkling Tour

This adorable twin is also my favorite and they also have attraction related to Kiki and Lala! Inside the Twinkling Tour you will watched a video about their born and also why did they descend to earth 😀 You will also learn about Kiki and Lala’s magical power and about a cloud machine that can grant anything that you wish for!

After we’ve finished watching the video, we will walk inside Kiki and Lala’s cloud house, it’s very cute!

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And of course, a photo with Kiki and Lala 🙂


My Melody and Kuromi – My Meroad Drive

My Meroad Drive is another attraction hosted by My Melody and Kuromi. You can ride a very cute melody vehicle and the attraction mainly tell you about My Melody’s birth. The ride itself is only about 3 minutes but we have to wait for 1 hour for that, however, it is still worth it.

Any Musical, Parade or Character Greeting?

Yes, they are. But we did miss the parade and character greeting, though. Due to golden week, they did not have character greeting for main character (Hello Kitty, Melody, etc.) but only for some minor unknown character. But the musical, Hello Kitty in Wonderland is really excellent! Kitty is helping Kyle to search for Heart Queen’s lost heart (which was stolen by Joker, but Jack was the culprit).

You can watch it in youtube just search for ‘Hello Kitty in Wonderland (Sanrio Puroland)’ (but I think the feeling will be different than watching it directly)

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What i love the most of the musical is the song with very touching lyrics : 君にがいる大好きな家族、どんなに喧嘩しても、愛してる :’) (You have your loving family and no matter how hard you fight or have quarrel with each other, you will still love each other :’)

How about the shopping experience?

It is definitely a shopping paradise for Sanrio lover! :3 They have so many stores, like store special for Hello Kitty, My Melody, and Little Twin Stars. But we explored the biggest one located near the main entrance, it had the combination of all characters! They basically sold everything related to Sanrio. From common things like doll, accessories, until shoes, bag, and even trunk!

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I ended up buying three Melody-related things. One stuffed toy (but not the LLL size probably only the L size), one melody-shaped tupperware, and one Melody transparent bag 🙂

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So, in overall?

I rated it 10 out of 10 (because i’m a Sanrio maniac, lol) 😀 I really want to come again later when it’s not Golden week, so we can get more photos with the main character!


See you sooner or later, Sanrio Puroland! ❤


Afifa Ayu Koesoema