At my last post, I was telling you that although I didn’t get to the University that I had chosen, I decided to go for it.  ‘Maju Terus Pantang Mundur’.

With this conviction I packed my belongings and go, and for the first time in my life, I had to go away from home and live in another city.  Although it was somehow scary, in truth, I couldn’t wait to go away, to have my own place, my own life, free from my parents ever-questioning look, their authority, you know what I mean :).
I did the National Exam the following year and again on the next one while I was in the Uni, and successfully failed each of them.  By then it didn’t feel funny anymore.  Yes, granted that I had a good time in the Uni, Hell ! I actually had the greatest time in my life I wouldn’t trade it with anything else; but deep down I could feel that it wasn’t my path, it wasn’t what I meant to be doing, that there were more to life than just that.
This was when a crazy thought came to my mind, why did I have to get stuck at home to get educated ? What about *other* countries ?  Yes, why not ?
The answer for that was actually quite obvious, because otherwise I would had had done it a long time ago.  The issue was money, it just required so much money to study abroad, if you had to pay it on your own.  But the problem was, what was the alternative ?  And before my fellow Indonesian readers lynch me for not looking for other local alternatives, yes I knew about Gunadarma, and Bina Nusantara (and some others).  These two universities were the only Private Universities that could stand shoulder to shoulder with the other two State Universities (that were my primary choice).  In fact, I was accepted at Gunadarma before the result of that National Examination was announced, but I rejected it.  The reason being was that had I had accepted the offer, I would had had to forfeit my National Examination result.  And I was (over) confident that I would get in.
Besides, these Private Universities were not exactly cheap.  Based on these facts,  we thought (my parents and I) that if we had to pay that much money, I might as well make the best out of it.
Once we passed the financial hurdle and made a commitment (my parents on financial side, me on the study side), the next issue was ‘where’.
So I set myself on a task to do research, to compile best places in the world to study.  The two typical destinations for Indonesian to study abroad were USA and Australia.  I did a lot of research on the two countries, and decided that USA was not the right choice for me.  We were worried about the way of living, the culture of the people would affect me in a bad way.  I know that this may sound prejudice, but looking back, I am glad that I took that decision.  That leaved me with Australia.  Fortunately because of the bilateral relationship between the two countries, there was no shortage of information. Australia had a special office that deals with Education.
At this point, England was not even in the radar, we’ve already disregard it pretty early on (even before we decided against the US) because we thought it was too expensive.  I was encouraged by my father to look beyond these typical destinations, which had brought me to many embassies of many countries, from Singapore to Japan, from India to Germany (free tuition, but you need to speak German), even to Russia (where my Father got his degree), but not England.  Until one day we heard that the UK Embassy and The British Council (then was the organization that deals with British Education) would held an Education Fair.  We went just to satisfy our curiosity, but what we found fascinate us.  Having had discussion with several (very nice) representatives from some UK universities had opened our eyes, suddenly UK was not that bad idea, even tempting.  So I decided to get more information on these Universities, the Cost of Living, the culture, the way of life etc.  The British Council, luckily had all information I needed, they even provided service for students that wanted to apply, they would guide you through the application process and send the application on your behalf, perfect I’d say.

UK Academic Map

UK Academic Map

From the financial point of view, we did some calculations and comparisons, and we found out that it was actually cheaper to study in England compare to Australia, and it was comparable with the US.  Why? Because, in the UK, a Bachelor degree only take 3 years, with no need of Matriculation/Bridging School (remember that I had graduated already as Bachelor).  In the US I would need 4 years plus 1 year of Matriculation, the same as in Australia, 4 years plus one year Bridging School.  So, all in all, at the end of the day, the cost would be cheaper in the UK, and it’s also quicker (we were thinking about my age too).  Other things that are quite unique with UK Education System, that we found as a plus, was that all Universities are Accredited (in the US you have to be careful with this).  Secondly they have this system that is called ‘Sandwich Course’, which means during your study may have Industrial Placement (Internship, ‘magang’) with any UK company that would take you.  There are two type of Sandwich Course, the ‘Thin Sandwich’ and the ‘Thick Sandwich’.  In Thin Sandwich you are required to do an Industrial Placement ‘every’ summer, between your your academic year (‘sandwich’ get it ?), whereas in Thick Sandwich, you must take your Industrial Placement between the second year and the third year for a one year duration.  This, we thought was excellent, because not only that you get your education but you also get work experience !  Now, if you think that that is great, there is the third one to top it all, and it’s called 4-Year Master Course with Thin Sandwich !!! Brilliant !  Not only you get your Bachelor and your experience, but also you get your Master ! ALL in only 4 Years !  And by the way, if you really really love the academic life, you could always continue for a PHD, which usually takes 3 Years !
I couldn’t help but to thank God to bring us to that Education Fair :)

Sandwich

Sandwich

After shifting through the list of all Universities in the UK, thank goodness they don’t have that many, I came up with a shortlists of 10 Universities that I would like to apply to.  All have Degree on either Computer Science or Software Engineering, most of them with a type of Sandwich Course, some of them had 4-Year Master Course as I described earlier.
I sent all my applications, and wait.  Some of the Universities sent back confirmation to say that they had received my application and that it was in the process of consideration.  Along with confirmations usually also came the latest prospectus and some brochures about the education and the student life in the particular university.  Thumbing through these prospectuses, I started to imagine myself being a student in there, I could feel that the start of a new beginning was drawing near.
Then one day, came one Letter from one of the Universities that I sent my application to, it was from the University of Bradford, and the letter was the Letter of Acceptance !!!  I couldn’t ‘believe’ my own eyes when I read the letter I almost cried.  And the great thing about this one was that Bradford University was one of the Universities that had the 4-Year Master Course.  My heart was full of emotion, to realize that this was it, I had finally given a chance to make my dream come true !  That all those efforts I poured into this had finally paid off.  Thanks be to God !

University of Bradford

University of Bradford

My parents obviously very happy to hear this news, although I knew that deep down they were also a bit sad because this time we were going to be far apart, not just Jakarta – Bandung, but a half way around the globe (almost).
Anyway to cut the story short, I accepted the offer and made all arrangements for my departure.  Before I went, I managed to go around visiting my Grandparents from both sides, and my uncles and aunts (also from both side) who lived in a few cities all over Java.  The purpose of the visit was to say goodbye to them and to ask for their blessing.
On early September 1995 I left Jakarta’s Cengkareng Airport.  Next stop is London – Heathrow.

It’s a start of a new Beginning and I could feel it in every pores of my skin.

Funny thing is, after 13 years, that hasn’t been very far from the truth :)

Nevertheless, the following video always remind me of what I had, still have, and hopefully will still be there when I’m home .. someday.

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It All Began Like This …

Why England ? (The Big Decision that changed my life)