The Man in the High Castle

Salah satu keuntungan memiliki .edu e-mail, tentu saja adalah langganan Amazon Prime sebagai student gratis selama 6 bulan. Baru-baru ini, Amazon Prime juga menambah fitur bagi para penggunanya: kini kita bisa mengakses beberapa film dan TV shows secara gratis, sebagai anggota Amazon Prime. Bahkan, menyaingi Netflix, YouTube Red, dan televisi konvensional, Amazon juga merilis TV shows mereka sendiri.

Salah satunya, adalah The Man in the High Castle.

Diangkat dari novel yang ditulis Philip Dick, yang dipublikasikan pertama kali tahun 1963, TMIHC (The Man in the High Castle) bercerita tentang dunia distopis, di mana Jepang dan Jerman memenangkan Perang Dunia II. Amerika pun terbagi dua: east coast yang lebih dekat ke Eropa dikuasai Jerman, sedangkan west coast yang lebih dekat ke Asia dikuasai Jepang.

Satu hal yang sangat mencolok: bendera Amerika Serikat dengan swastikanya, terlihat di mana-mana di TMIHC. Dan tentu saja, bumbu cinta segitiga antara satu wanita dengan dua pria dengan latar belakang berbeda: yang satu punya kedudukan di Partai Nazi, yang lainnya masih berdarah Yahudi. Ah.

Continue reading “The Man in the High Castle”

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Why Gothenburg, Sweden and Chalmers?

I spent a week in Gothenburg, Sweden, because me, along with 6 other people, won Chalmers Global Challenge this year (as I have told you before, here). You might wonder, how different is the education system in Sweden (specifically, Chalmers), in comparison to American education system?

I was wondering about the same thing, too…

Hint: there is a (great) balance between work and life. Chalmers, also has a great number of international students!

Continue reading “Why Gothenburg, Sweden and Chalmers?”

Hatur Nuhun Cambridge!

Program pertukaran mahasiswaku berakhir juga. Dengan begitu, bulan September ini aku harus kembali ke Amerika Serikat, meneruskan kuliahku di MIT. Jika segala sesuatunya lancar, insya Allah aku akan lulus bulan Juni 2016. Sebelum kembali ke Amerika Serikat, aku akan magang di India, lalu pulang ke Indonesia untuk beberapa minggu.

Jadi, bagaimana rasanya setelah setahun (sembilan bulan, satu tahun ajaran) berada di Cambridge?

Seperti punting, mungkin. Terlihat mudah, tetapi sebenarnya tidak.

Aku salut dengan mahasiswa di sini yang mampu bertahan, berjuang keras, hingga mendapatkan gelar mereka. Satu tahun di sini, meskipun rasanya sulit, aku belajar banyak tentang berbagai hal.

Beberapa temanku bertanya, “MIT lebih sulit daripada Cambridge, bukan?” Aku hanya bisa menjawabnya dengan senyum simpul. Memoriku tentang MIT sudah mulai mengabur, mungkin ini memang saatnya untuk kembali. Tetapi, kembali ke topik mana yang lebih sulit, kedua-duanya memang sulit, tetapi berbeda. Mahasiswa Cambridge dilatih untuk bekerja dan belajar dalam sistem Cambridge, sehingga begitu mereka pergi ke MIT, MIT terasa sulit. Begitupun sebaliknya.

Sekarang pertanyaannya, sistem pendidikan mana yang lebih baik?

Entahlah. Aku berdebat panjang dengan temanku soal hal yang satu ini. Sistem ujian di akhir tahun memang melatih mahasiswa untuk retain memory longer, tapi bebannya juga sangat berat. Selain itu, sistem semester memberikan keleluasaan bagi mahasiswa untuk memilih kelas yang ingin mereka ambil.

Mungkin aku harus kembali ke UK suatu saat untuk mencari tahu soal hal ini, bukan? Hehe.

Beberapa hari terakhir, selain mulai mengepak barang-barangku, aku juga pergi ke berbagai tempat dengan temanku. Seperti foto di atas, aku mencoba punting. Hal yang mengagetkan soal punting adalah, dari luar mungkin si punter (yang mendorong perahu) terlihat mudah sekali mengemudikan perahu, tetapi sebenarnya berdiri di atas perahu itu sendiri rasanya menakutkan. Belum lagi kalau sungainya penuh dengan perahu-perahu lain, bisa jadi tabrakan. Kalau sudah begitu, aku harus siap-siap jongkok dan memegangi perahu supaya keseimbanganku tidak hilang saat perahu bergoyang keras. Temanku sempat terjatuh ke sungai saat dia menjadi punter. Karena tabrakan? Bukan. Tetapi karena pole-nya (tongkat untuk mendorong perahu) terjerat di dasar sungai yang berlumpur.

Aku juga pergi ke festival musik dengan temanku, Strawberry Fair.

Penuh dengan orang minum-inum dan merokok.

Lalu pergi makan malam bersama.

Bersama teman-teman college-ku. Betul sekali, jumlah pria di college-ku jauh lebih banyak dari jumlah wanitanya. Foto: Jeremny.
Juga bersama pejabat-pejabat PPI Cambridge. Foto: Olga.

Terima kasih untuk teman-teman yang bersedia meluangkan waktunya untuk makan bersamaku, lalu berandai-andai kalau tahun depan mereka datang ke Boston, atau aku kembali ke Cambridge. Semoga kesempatan itu benar-benar tiba, ya!

Sama seperti UWC dan MIT, tiap kali aku harus pergi saat awal musim panas, aku merasa sedih. Ketika melihat kembali seberapa banyak hal yang telah kupelajari tahun tersebut, teman baru yang sudah kudapatkan, pengalaman yang kurasakan, aku tersenyum. Hanya saja, satu koper 30 kg tidak cukup untuk menampung memori dan perasaan yang kudapatkan setahun terakhir.

 Kalau rumahku tersebar di mana-mana, kapan aku bisa merasa utuh lagi?

Hatur nuhun, Cambridge. I still cannot believe how beautiful and nice you are to me.

Ely

What is Ely? It is a city in Cambridgeshire, only 15-20 minutes away from Cambridge by train. So many people have told me that I should go to this small town, not only because it has a beautiful cathedral, but also because of its tearooms.

And it only costed 2.95 Poundsterling for the return ticket, with the railcard!

The day was really nice, although it was a bit cloudy. My first stop was the cathedral, which was about 5 minute walk from the train station. From far, I could see how beautiful the cathedral was.

It was like a castle in fairy tales. And yes, spring is at its best in England now.

The cathedral is the main attraction of Ely, and it is really important for people in Cambridgeshire. If you go in and see the chapels, many of them are dedicated for the soldiers who died in World War I and II.

The ceiling was also really impressive. Too bad, I didn’t go for the tour because I didn’t want to wait.

In the middle of cathedral, they also have an octagon tower, which I have never seen in any of cathedral I visited before. I believe it symbolizes something, do you know what is it?

The octagon tower.

After exploring the cathedral, I went to the Stained Glass Museum, which is located in second floor of the cathedral. The exhibition was really beautiful, and I learnt a lot about how to make stained glass, and how it evolves over the decades. I also read some interesting insights about the restoration work done for the churches, chapels, and cathedrals all over UK. For instance, most of the stained glass restoration works are done through companies which are family businesses. There are not many of them, so they have done a lot of work in so many significant buildings in the UK.

Then, I headed out and took a few selfies.

I know you don’t want to see my selfie, so here is the front of the cathedral.

Then, I went to the tearoom. I looked up online, and saw this particular tearoom with a really good review, Peacocks Tearoom. I ordered its breakfast tea and chocolate scones with clotted cream. Oh my goodness, I have never tried chocolate scones before!

They were served in beautiful tea set! So pretty.

They were really good, and the tearoom was full of locals. I was just there by myself, enjoying my tea, while the others are eating and chatting with their friends and families. It was a local place, not a touristy place, and was really nice. The chocolate scones was amazing, and the tea was amazingly good.

In general, I like Ely so much; it was really nice, warm, and beautiful. If you are in Cambridgeshire at some point, you should visit Ely!

Afternoon Tea in Grantchester

Last weekend, my friend, Jeremy, a PhD student in Engineering, and I decided to cycle to Grantchester, a tiny town, which is about 5.5 km from our college, or 4 km from Cambridge city center. Grantchester is famous for its tea garden. You can enjoy your afternoon tea, with scones, in the garden.

The shortest way to go there from my college was to take the narrow path in Grantchester meadows. It was such a beautiful day! There were so many yellow-white little flowers, which are the signs of spring here.

Further down the road, there are some cows chilling under the trees.

We went to the famous afternoon tea garden: The Orchard Tea Gardens.

Enjoying your afternoon tea with your family or friends. So full!

After we parked our bikes and took off our jackets (“It’s so hot! It’s not even summer yet!”), we waited in line to get our scones and tea. We chose to get fruit scones and Earl Grey tea. Jeremy got the raspberry jam, and I got the strawberry jam. I wanted to try the apricot jam, but didn’t really want to risk my first nice afternoon tea after a long time.

Yes, fruit scones and Earl Grey!

Apparently, to eat the scone, you need to divide it into two. Then, you spread the clotted cream first before putting on the jam. “The clotted cream is denser, so it sticks to the scones better. If you put the jam first, you will spoil the layer because it is less dense,” said my friend.

The jam was really nice! Each portion of jam was put into a nice glass jar. Really pretty, and more environmentally friendly, because you can recycle it.

Another thing is, the English usually put cream (or milk) into their tea. However, it is different than milk tea (or ‘teh tarik’), because you don’t put a lot of sugar into it. Nevertheless, I still put a lot of sugar into any of my tea, haha.

Later on, my other friends, Alice and Thomas joined us. We did not expect them to be there around the same time. They actually walked all the way from the city center! So impressive.

After enjoying a nice talk over tea and scones, we decided to head back because each of us still have something to do. I really want to go there for the last time before I leave England. I am going to ask my friends who are gonna be done with exam in few weeks to come with me. Then, we will enjoy a nice conversation over tea in the garden, just like what the English does.

Exam Period at Cambridge

Hello, everyone! I know that I haven’t kept up with my blog for a while. There is a lot going on, in my life, especially. Another significant thing that happened in my life for the past two weeks: third year exam at Cambridge.

Apparently, exams at Cambridge happen during Easter term, and they cover materials from the whole year. Yes, there is no midterm at Cambridge, so large percentage (almost 100%?) of final grades of your courses depends on these two weeks.

So, I was locking myself in my room, and having video calls with family and friends. I realized that the exams were coming up, about two weeks before, when I got back from Barcelona. “How am I supposed to learn all these 8 modules in the next two weeks?” I managed it. Don’t ask me how. I still sleep properly, eat properly, and have occasional hangouts with my friends.

Like having karaoke with PPI (Indonesian Students Association) at Cambridge. Photo was taken from Shinta’s phone.

Having an exam at the end of the year like this makes me realize that I have learnt a lot of things. I also drew some connections between the subjects, for instance how FEM (Finite Element Methods) can be done in Vibration and Heat and Mass Transfer (other two courses I took this year). Although it was hard to study properly for each of them, because sometimes I had three exams in 30 hours, I pulled it through. I am done with my third year exams at Cambridge!

Taking exams around this time is considered to be early. So many of my friends still haven’t taken their exams until the beginning of June, and they still have lectures, supervisions, and so on. They have started freaking out, just like me at the end of Lent term. Now I can talk and try to reassure them, that they are going to be fine. Just like me, now, haha.

Just as expected, exams at Cambridge felt (a little bit) more intimidating than exams at MIT. The proctors (or invigilators, British lingo) at Cambridge wear their gowns in the exam room. There is also a 50 Pound fine if your cell phone goes off during the exam period. God knows how many times I checked my phone to make sure that it was silent before I left it in my bag at the back of the room. Cambridge also has its special examination room, where everyone takes the exam. Well, at least that’s what I believe, haha. When the results come out, they are put up in front of Senate House, so you can see what everyone’s scores are.

Perk of being an exchange student: my name will be taken off the class list, yes! So, no one can see what my score is, except myself, my DOS, my advisor at MIT, and my program coordinators.

So, what is next?

I am going to do projects in the next 5 weeks. They are Heat Exchanger and Bicycle Design. I think they are going to be really fun, and I will learn a lot from these. I promise to update you more about these projects as the time goes on. I think it will be a great one to blog about, without being too technical about it (gear ratio, sun-annulus-carrier, deep groove ball bearing, and other things).

Can I also tell you something else?

I was going through a hard time in the past one-two months. Things did not go so well for me, and they went unexpectedly off-track. It was not only an exam period at Cambridge, but also within myself.

Come on, Titan, what is so hard about your life? You study abroad, at MIT, and now you are in Cambridge. You see things that other people don’t see, you experience things that other people can only dream about.

That is exactly the point. I was not grateful of what I have. I realized that when life got so rough, that all I could think of was having back my life the week before.

When something like that happens to you, just remember that the earth rotates. It is not always dark like at night, because the day will come and the sun will shine. You just need to endure it, and patiently work as hard as before. Even at night, you can see the moon and the stars: people who matter the most to you, will always be there to help you. So, I want to thank everyone for your prayers, helps, hugs, loves, and supports during my hard times. I really appreciate them, and I feel really lucky to receive them from you. Thank you so much.

Now, spring almost ends, but can I just show you one last picture from Cambridge spring?

Cherry blossom tree near St. John’s.

I spotted this cherry blossom at its peak of blooming when I got back from my Marketing exam. It was so beautiful, that I stopped my bike, and walked around this tree to observe its little details. Yup, by now, you should know that I do so many random things. It is just one of them.

It does not only give me extra strength, but also happiness. Like an instant big smile. I hope this picture does the same effect to you.

Lastly, happy late spring. I should go to Grantchester to get my nice afternoon tea, before I leave England in few weeks. Good luck everyone who is facing the end of term, or academic year. You will do it well, just like a year ago.

Exchange-ception: Barcelona, Spain

I might have told you before that I took Lower Intermediate Spanish class in Michaelmas and Lent terms at Cambridge. Because of that, I signed up for the exchange trip organized by Language Unit of Engineering Department here. 


I did not know how much improvement one week could make to my Spanish (especially, listening) ability.

Yeah Cambridge engineering students in Barcelona! The background was Camp Nou, the stadium for FC Barcelona, but I’m sorry you cannot see it.
The whole trip did not start really well. On my way from the airport to the hostel, I lost my wallet (which I strongly believe, it was actually stolen, considering how my daypack was opened). It was on the same day as derby match between Real Madrid and Barcelona at Camp Nou, and the metro was packed with people, so I could not move around.

However, Barcelona was such a lovely city, that I fell in love with in the end.

The food was super amazing!

OMG. The best paella I have ever tried in my life. I usually don’t like squid/ calamari, but this time I just love it, combined with clams, mussels, and prawns.
Fresh smoothies, with weird combinations. My friends’ favorite is ‘coco y mora’, or coconut and blueberry. My favorite is banana, chocolate, and coconut. Super yummy!
Empanadas! Most of the fillings are vegetarian-friendly.
Giant Chupa Chups. I was really tempted to get one, but how am I going to finish it anyway?
Gelato Mango! It was just what I needed when the weather reached above 20 degrees C. It reminded me so much of Germany last summer, where I spent every single euro I had on gelato.
Really good seafood. I got a three-course meal in a restaurant next to the sea, which cost me just 11 euros! Amazing, right? 

Engineering Department of Cambridge University works with Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, and we had several lectures, lab tours, and visits with them. It was such an amazing opportunity to hear from the professors directly (in Spanish), on their current research project.


Visit to the Supercomputing Center in Barcelona. Such a strange place. They put the supercomputer in a church, and plays hymn. 
Clean room visit to Institut de Bioengiyeria de Catalunya.
Nuclear reactor simulation.
Learning how the old water distribution worked in Barcelona, at Museu Agbar de Les Aigues.
A visit to Tramvia (literal meaning: Tramway), the tram system in Barcelona.
I also had a great host, Sonia, who is a chemical engineering student. She is going to come to Cambridge on late April, and I am excited to show her Cambridge.

Barcelona is also famous with… its world-renowned architecture, mostly done by Antoni Gaudi. Gaudi is so famous with his strong-naturalist/ modernist architecture work. He liked to put natural components in his work.

Casa Batllo. You can see right away how unique this building is.
Park Guell part, which used to be Gaudi’s house for a little while.

La Sagrada Familia. It was such an amazing experience to enter this basilica, because it was totally different than any of basilicas I had ever visited before. This cathedral is still an ongoing project, after more than 100 years. They put so much detail into it, and everything is carefully hand-crafted.
Besides Gaudi’s works, there are also amazing places around Barcelona.

Don’t forget to hike up the Placa Espanya when you come here.
And hike up the Park Guell to see the view of Barcelona from above (and see La Sagrada Familia + its cranes!).
Beautiful (and relatively warm) beach in Europe.
The Cathedral of Barcelona.
Parc de la Ciutadella.
Port Vell.
I will definitely recommend you to visit this place before you die. Brace yourself though, it’s a favorite destination for couples. Coming from Asia, where PDA (Public Display of Affection) is not really common, it can make you feel awkward a little bit (or even lonely, haha).

Even though it was a short exchange, but I learnt so much from the people around me. One thing to note, they prefer to speak in Catalan than Spanish in Barcelona. So, another bonus: you can get exposure to another language at the same time.

Adios, Barcelona! I will see you soon.