22 Februari 2015

Halfway through Cambridge

Lent term has been great! Of course, the classes are challenging and life never gets any easier; but I am surprised by how much I can cope with it. Now, it is week 6 of Lent term in Cambridge, which means that there are only 2 weeks left before the Lent term ends.

Which means... I am halfway through Cambridge!

When I realized that, my head said, "What? So fast! I have done nothing in Cambridge, and I need to go back to MIT soon."

No way! I fall in love with English breakfast already. Where can I get proper English breakfast in Indonesia/ the States?

Not really, haha. I personally think that I have learnt so much here. The professors and supervisors, undoubtedly are world-class. The students are really smart, and knowledgeable about different things around the world. Because of that, I always learn something new in dinner table.

Which makes me ponder...

Is that the difference between Indonesian universities and Cambridge? Because the system is more faculty-based, you only hangout with people who do the same stuff with you? Yes, there are societies/ clubs outside the classes where people across-major meet, but what makes it still really different? Or maybe, people just want to discuss school-related materials outside the classes? I don't know. My assumptions that Cambridge is better than most Indonesian universities might be wrong, too.

Or maybe, it is because the English drinks a lot of Earl Grey? Who knows.

My CME (Cambridge-MIT Exchange) Program Director, Josh, asked me during the interview for the program, "People study individually more in Cambridge. How will you deal with that?" Honestly, I didn't understand how it actually is until I came here. People seem to do a lot of fun things outside their rooms, but you may not realize, after the party ends, they will come back to their room, study hard, and even pull an all-nighter if necessary. People just don't talk about how hard they are studying. Unlike the MIT students, haha.

I can never really understand English weather, though. When I went to high school in New Mexico, USA, I thought it was crazy enough to get snow on early May. I am telling you the truth, English weather is even more unpredictable, and it covers really wide range: snows, hailstones, rain, fog, 'shallow fog', cloudy, partly cloudy, sunny, and other types. It never hurts to dress an extra layer (or bringing umbrella/ raincoat), because the weather forecast is not really that accurate.

I am getting used to the tea tradition. My college provides free tea and coffee at certain times during the weekdays and weekend, and you can meet people during those times for casual conversation, or more serious one, like, 'What is wrong with United States in British eyes?'

This term I'm taking four classes, besides my Spanish Lower-Intermediate: Vibration, Heat and Mass Transfer, Finite Element Methods, and Organizational Behavior (or in British English: Organisational Behaviour, haha). I was so surprised to find the methods in first three modules are somehow related to each other. Finite Element Method, has been a lifesaver for both modules, and probably many other engineering-related problems. So, if I can tell you a piece of advice on what class to take in junior/ senior year of college, I will definitely recommend Finite Element Methods. This also helps you think in 3-D, instead of 2-D, which is what the engineers need.

Besides that...

I cook more!
The flexibility that MIT gives me in terms of the way of studying is fairly limited, so I usually don't have time to cook for myself. During the weekdays, I would eat in my dorm dining hall, and go out with some friends during weekend. Here, it is more flexible, so I cook more. Don't ask me how it tastes, though, haha.

St. John's during e-Luminate Festival. Sorry for the bad quality.
City Center, Cambridge.
I also 'look outside' more often, and take time thinking over different things when I cycle back. I also write more, haha. Yes, it is just this time it has been quite challenging to manage it, I swear.

Also, I can never get over how beautiful this town is. And how people still hold on to the tradition.

See the Overhead Projector? See the wooden chairs?
Or, how I can explore new things with my safe status of 'exchange student', or ask as many stupid questions as I want.

Or playing with the dough for Bioengineering Lab.
That is the reason why I start to think... Studying abroad is one thing, but being an exchange student is another thing. The pressure and expectations are different, and the whole experience is just different.

For now, I would recommend you to do an exchange, even if you are studying abroad already. Trust me on this one.


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