New Academic Year : Autumn Semester 2013/2014

It was Monday (30 Sept 2013).  Oh dear, apparently it was the beginning  of new academic year 2013/14. Yeah, the autumn semester just started and endorsed me officially entering my second year in this University. I have been here for a year. I love autumn very much. It is the most romantic season ever during the year. The time when the tree leaves getting yellow and red. The time when I can feel the leaves are falling down over my head while I am smiling to the world.

The sky was so cloudy in the morning, but getting more shiny in the afternoon. This day, I went to the lab as usual. The boring activity, yet I have strongly committed to it.  The lab was full with PhD students among of them were new PhD students. I saw them working very hard and seriously. It really forced me to work harder than was before. For the day, I read paper and code related with the concept of Hyper-heuristics.  Gradually, I little bit more and more understood the beautiful idea behind the hyper-heuristics. Sometime, I must realize that the only thing to do to succeed is keeping carry on.

In the afternoon,  I attended two programming lectures, namely Introduction to Programming and Algorithmic Problem Solving. They were two basic modules prepared for first -semester-student, at under graduate level. It could be embarrassing for a PhD student to attend first-semester undergraduate student module. For me, it really does not matter. I believe that it is never late for those willing to learn.  I am not very good in programming, so I should do so. In another side, I could learn how lecturers in this university teach their students in Programming. It could be very beneficial for me, as a lecturer, later on in the future. When, I come back to my base University.

I did enjoy both lecturers. They were very masculine classes where there were only three girls out of 300 students attending the class. I think, it is true everywhere that Women do not like Programming. I love very much the way the lecturers delivered their lecture materials. It was fun, encouraging and entertaining class indeed. And what I love most of is the lecture duration was only 50 minutes. Yeah, in this university there is no lecture more than 50 minutes.

In the evening, after I made Maghrib prayer at home, I went to George Green Library in the University Park Campus. Since it was the last day of my first year tenure, I must return all the books I borrowed from the Library. There were more than 20 bulky books and theses must be returned by today. I need one traveling bag  and a hand bag to pack the books. Luckily, a friend of mine, mas yod, kindly helped me picking up the books to the library.

I was so sad to know that even there is no a book that I have read thoroughly 😦  Although,  It has been one year in my room at home.

But, Whatever happens, welcome my romantic Autumn! Welcome my second year PhD life ! I wish more and more good luck.

the day that might be worth to remember


It was Friday (14/06/2013). The beginning of the weekend. Nothing special for the day, it was just like the other days. I came to the lab and was working with my PhD stuff. I was finalizing my first year review report that the deadline was in 3 days. I added the  Gantt  chart of my research works in the future works section. Since, I got no technical feedback from my spv, at the rest of time I just read, read and read papers. Oh God, please bless me with very best luck and great success at the day of the Viva of my first year review. It will be the end of my PhD probation period, that determine whether I am qualified or not to be a PhD candidate.  Please, help me ya Allah.

In the afternoon, I hop to the University Park, for making  Jumah Prayer. As always, there were a bunch of Muslim brothers originating from differing countries came to the same place, the muslim prayer room in Portland Building, University Park, University of Nottingham. I always find genuine serenity and happiness in this place, a place where everyone shares his sincere smile, where everyone offers his warm brotherhood in the sake of God.

After making Jumah prayer and having small chats with some brothers, I had a meeting, the final meeting,  for Indonesian Festival 2013, that will be held on the next day. It was a thorough briefing about the program for all organizing committee members. It was quite surprising, the committee looked work very well and quite well-prepared even if the number of committee is quite few and they had very limited time for preparation due to the final examination. Two thumbs up, for the organizing committee. another note worthy achievement was that the committee successfully rose thousands pound sterling money from some sponsors such as Indomie and Teh Botol Sosro.

The meeting ended at around 03.30 pm. I came along with Mas Udin, Mas Walid, and Arif to George Green Library. We had further works on finishing our Bahasa Indonesia workshop media and toolkit. We were preparing a booklet depicting the Indonesian people, culture and people at glance. We also prepared a Bahasa Puzzle, a puzzle of matching words in Bahasa Indonesia versus English. We were very lucky, the library provided many excellent discussion rooms. To be honest, it was my first time to utilize the facility. The cozy sofa, wide-screen PC, and electronic color marker made the meeting so enjoyable.

The Ashar time prayer called us at 05.30 PM. We went back to the prayer room in Portland Building for Ashar prayer.  Afterwards, we worked back in Portland Building, there were some PCs connected to University network available to use by any students. We did not need to worry about saving files problem, because the university provided a free drive space accessible from any PC connected to the university networks. When we start working, we were starving badly. Thus, we ordered halal fried chicken advertised in brochures located in the prayer room. We ordered 14 pieces chicken wings, 4 boiled rice, and 4 cans of coke for only £14. It was very modest order isn’t it. But, because we were starving and ate together, the food taste extremely good. Even, we ate each single grain of the rice.

We finished up when the Maghrib prayer was calling. After the maghrib prayer, Arif and mas Udin went home while Mas Walid and me went to the lab at Jubilee Campus to print out our work. I was very lucky, the Lab provided free high quality color printer, photocopy machine, as well as binding machine for free. We finished up at 01.30 am, in the morning. We walked through the river nearby Queen Medical Center from Jubilee Campus to Dunkirk. Arriving at home, I did not go to sleep promptly. The Subuh time was at 02.30 PM, so I thought it was more sensible to sleep after the Subuh Prayer.

Thanks God for the day. It should be worth to remember one day later in the future times.

Joyful Saturday and Social Life


It was Saturday (27/04/2013). The temperature in Notingham significantly droped  again. In the several days before, the temperature is at around 10-15 degree celcius. But this weekend, the temperature was drop at around 1 degree celcius.

I woke up at 03.30 in the morning. I made Tahajud Prayer and went to Mosque for Subuh prayer jamaah at the mosque at Portland Building, the University Park, University of Nottingham wit Arif. We conquered the very cold temperature in the dawn time, at the very beginning morning of the day. At the mosque, we met some brothers from Sudan, Pakistan, Malaysia, Somalia, Brunei Darussalam, and many other countries. It is alwyas a genuine happiness to meet each other with people from  the same religion backgraound.

I deeply enjoyed the tweets of many birds from diverse species which were perching  among the trees at the University Park. It was very  beautiful melodious  natural song from the nature. It rang me the bell of my childhood in very small rural  village, ringin pitu, plampang rejo, cluring, in a small town named Banyuwangi. I used to hear this tweets at every single morning when I was a kid of 5-10 years old. Now, it is only a fairy story of the past. Because, all the birds have been killed at my Village.


We continued our never ending discussion at Arif house. At around 09.00 am, we cooked our food for our breakfast. We cooked fried Chicken Wing and ‘Sambal’ ( condiment). I made the fried chicken wings and Arif made the sambal. Finishing everythings, we ate together  with Gus Dur style – ate while sitting on the floor while watching the X-Factor Indonesia video uploaded on the youtube.


Actually, today we planned to have Jogging around the lake-side at the university park. However, since the bad weather, we decided to cancel it. Eventually, we changed our mind to have photography hunting around the university park. By the way, Arif just bought his new camera. After taking a bath and making Dluha prayer, we went to University Park and met with Pak Sukirno. Unfortunately, suddenly it was raining. Thus, we decided to drop in Pak Sukirno house first. We had a tea time at pak Sukirno house while having a small chat. Pak Sukirno had problem with internet at his house. He did not find partners to have sharing contract to get Wifi Internet connection from Virgin media, that was quite expensive to afford by himself.

After 30 minutes, the day was shiny again. We left the home to the lake-side at University Park. We took some pictures at  around the Sakura Tree close to the Lake. The sakura flowers were still blossom at their final stage.


We also took photos with backgraound the lake, the trent building, the row boats on the lake, and the wild life around. It was a perfect background indeed. It was so natural and genuine beauty from the nature. Suddenly, it was raining again. We run and go inside the art gallery near by the lake. We enjoyed some visual art work that was also so sexy to be captured.


In minutes, it was shiny again. That was very typical weather in the UK, a very dynamically changing weather. It could be rainy, shiny, warm, and cold only in the matter of minutes only.  Living in this kind of weather taught me that Live is so dynamic, we have to change to survive and become the winner, or just stay static to be left behind and become the loser.


We continued our Photography journey to the lake and the wild life. Again, Pak Sukirno was our perfect super model. What I liked most was that he was so enjoying to be our photo super model. He was really a Hot Papa. Thanks to Pak Sukirno.


Another interesting and joyful thing in this lake-side was that we can easily find the wild life. We can find easily a variety of ducks, birds, and squirrels. They were so friendly with people around them. They never feel worry to be killed  by people around them.


This time, I was so lucky. I found a beutiful squirel. I fed him, while one of my friend took picture of mine. I offered the squirel with a bar of biscuit chocolate.  He was ashamed at the beginning. But, I kept teasing him with the biscuit. He was getting closer and closer to me until finally he caugth the chocolate biscuit.


Again, after several minutes, It was raining again. We decided to go to mosque at Portland Building, at the University park to make Dhuhur Prayer. Although, it was Saturday, I still met many people in the mosque. Some of them brought along their kids to the mosque. That really made me miss my kid at home. Oh God, supposing my kid was here, I must be very happy.

After making the Duhur Prayer and met with Pak Abdurrahman -a new PhD student from Indonesia, who just came to the university a week ago, we decided to visit one of Indonesian family living in the Nottingham at Beeston. It was only 15 minutes by foot from the University. We went through the foot path along the University Park campus, that was extremely  green and beautiful.


Along the way out from the university, it was so easy to find the flower blossom in this Spring. they were so colourful and beautiful. It was so beautiful to enjoy the green of leaves of the tree around the campus. A perfect place to take a breath.


There were still many flocks of students came to the campus, eventhough  it was Saturday. The came to the libarary, especially the Hallward Library. One of the most crowded libraries in this University. It was so fantastic that the library in this university was open 24/7, twenty four hours everyday. It was so saluteable to see the high motivation of  independent learning of students in this University. Contrarily, It was extremely different with students in Indonesia. To best of my knowledge, the libaries in many Indonesian campuses were almost empty from students learning indipendenytly in the library. I should admitted that the independent learning habbit of students in western countries is much better than that of in Asian, developing countries such as Indonesia.


We took a break for a while, to have a cup of coffee at Highfield Graduate Center. It was a very cozy place to study and have a very cheap coffee. It was only £0.5 per cup for the very delicious coffee. Unfair price to make us so relax.


We finally arrived at Mbak Mar house. In this house, mbak mar and her family, mbak Arif and her family, and mas Udin were living together. They were so friendly indeed, that made us felt so comfort and felt like at our own home -where our heart were. We had a warm dicussion and Jokes. We lough out loud. It was also a rare opprtunity to speak in our mother language, i.e. Javanese. It has been very long time for us, not to have lough like this in this very terrible social life country. It was so incredible time to have chats with them. It made my day  totally different, in which in the other days, my day was nothing but boredome day in the lab at the campus.


We were served with Indonesian food and drinks. We had bakso, sambal terong, bakwan, sambal goreng, kerupuk, and many other Indonesian cuisine. We continued the chat until the late of night around 10.00 PM. We made ashar and maghrib together in this house. It made us feel close to each other. Thank you very much for mbak Mar, Mas Hasto and their three sons. Thank to mas Wisnu, Bu Arif, and their lovely son. Thanks to Mas Udin as well for being a very nice host for us. It was really unforgetable moment  during my Life in the UK.

Thank you ya Allah for blessing us this tight friendship and brotherhood. Thanks for today. Hopefully, it will fully recharge my courage and determination to finish my Phd studies-the very long journey to go, sucesfully  and as soon as possible in the very near future. Because, sometime it was not trivial thing to maintain our courage and determination. When, I was stuck, it was so easy to be lazy and do useless things. Hopefully, this exceptional Saturday will effectively kick the boredom out from my PhD life. Ammiin.

— *) All photos are courtesy of Ziaul Arif.

Phd Life is #4

Phd Life is…

… all about working with your lovely supervisor(s).

Pursuing a PhD study, especially in the UK is totally differenet with pursuing Undergraduate and Taught Master Program. In the UK, as  Phd students, we have no class at all. It might be different case in the USA or other countries that require Phd Students to take some courses in advance, before conducting a research project. Phd Studies in the UK are all about conducting research project, writing up the results and finally publish the results, under tight supervision of your supervisor(s). In rather ridiculous words :p, a Phd Student is low-cost, even students pay for, research fellow to conduct ongoing research project in the University where your Supervisor(s) were. Hehe… but, it is not totally true and could be totally wrong.

Therefore, the role of a Supervisor(s) in determining the succesful of your Phd studies is extremely important. They who will ligitimate you, later on, whether you are eligible or not to be awarded a Doctor of Philosophy degree. In other Universities, I heard that there is a strict requirement i.e. to publish paper in international journal to be a prerequisite of Phd degree.  I think Supervisor(s) in the UK, has very high confident to legitimate the capability of their students without making sure by a requirement to publish paper on the Journal. I think, It is quite make sense, because the majority of Universities in the UK is among Top 100 World-best Universities.

Since, later on, your Supervisor is the only determining Judges. It is very-very important to have a good relationship with your supervisor(s). Mantain a regular meeting (e.g. in weekly basis) is one way to secure your good relationship with your supervisor. Whatever happens, NEVER HIDE from your Supervisor ! Keep humble in front of your supervisor(s). It is very fine to admit that you are stupid instead of  to admit your self as very smart student. It is not fine, I think, to be pretending as a genius student in order to get applausible  impression from your supervisors. Think positively, all about your supervisors. Never underestimate them. Shortly speaking, Make your supervisor happy and make sure you are happy with them.

I have heard some students have failed from their Phd studies, not because they are stupid, even some are very smart students, but because bad relationship with their supervisors. It might be OK, to make your supervisors happy with your excellent interpersonal skills. Such as to be friendly and warm individual infornt of him/her, Inviting him/herto your party, give him/her special gift, or so. But unfortunately, I am not those kind of guys. I am not a good flatterer  :p and exactly I am totally bad in Interpersonal Skills (though, I have taken Interpersonal Skill Class, during my Undergraduate studies ;p). One of my friends ever  told me, one another secret to maintain good relationship with supervisors is by sending him/her “alfatihah” regularly after Shalat :D. I have tried it, and it looks work very well. at least, so far, my supervisor believe me to be one of his Teaching Assistants,  and my another supervisor have ever come to my office, gave me cake several days ago, and again, today he gave me a chocolate hehe…. and I ever gave him NOTHING ;p. They are very nice supervisor(s).

O.. Allah. I do Hope, I have a ultimately good relationship with my supervisor(s). Ammiin..

* ASAP Lab, while waiting my Java and Matlab Program running for thousands of data set*