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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

"The one first entry down under..."

Howdy mate!

Finally, my debut post from the Land Down Under. Melbourne’s been, so far so good I must say. Pretty hectic schedule, and settling down with things nicely at the moment. It’s undeniably not Malaysia, but I’m embracing the fact that it could’ve been worse. I’m missing everyone back home very dearly, especially mom, dad and my dearest Fifah for sure. Alhamdulillah, people have been very warm upon my arrival and I have surrounded myself with kind, wonderful newfound acquaintances.

When I arrived in Melbourne airport from the 7 hour flight, I was greeted with the plains that resembled more of Africa than Australia. The searing hot weather, not to mention the Ashes a few weeks earlier had really desecrated the soils of what had been a beautiful place. However, all was not lost and things looked to get better during the weeks to come when autumn sets in. The temperature was a cozy fifteen degrees when I arrived. Customs was horrendous – imagine standing in a queue that snaked a whopping 25 metres; my line started so near to the duty free parlors that you can actually do a bit of shopping while you’re queuing. The only great part was that I breezed past security checking, as I’ve cleared my declarations with the customs officer and therefore the security people felt no need to check my baggage.

If only I’d known it’d be this smooth – should’ve at least smuggled in a few chicken cubes or so.

The complimentary Mews pickup was prompt at the gate; a Turkish driver who’ve spent forty years in Melbourne. Moved here together with his wife and three kids in 1969. His eldest son’s studying dentistry back in Turkey while he has another starting his Bachelors in Chem Eng at RMIT. Very talkative fella, so we exchanged stories on our 24 minute drive. Yes I was that sure about how long the journey was from the airport. Thanks to the approximate by none other than my rekindled UK gadget Tomtom. Finally, something that reminded me of UK!

After checking in with the office and getting my keys I settled into my humble abode for the next year. Jimin, my housemate was cooking along with another friend of mine, Fendi. They’ve been expecting me and we had a quick chat over brunch – kari ayam and rice. They invited me to join them for a trip to Melbourne City Central, on the tram which had a stop just in front of the University Mews of which we were staying. Bundoora (the suburb of where I’m located) is quite far from the city; the tramway extended a full hour to get there. The three of us were joined by another wonderful Malaysian couple, Mahathir and Milah.

*All pictures courtesy of Jimin’s 'semi-DSLR' camera.

Tonight’s my third night staying in the University Mews, and the place’s sufficiently adequate in terms of space and amenities. My housemates also a charm – Jimin is certainly a nice guy and easy to get along with. Again, I count my blessings that God had made it an easy transition for me at the moment. Still in the midst of getting more stuff to fill the apartment with, so until then I’ll reserve the pictures of our household. Among those on my checklist would be to get an Australian line (the network Three’s a good option after numerous recommendations) as well as making myself connected with the Internet. Most have recommended that I opt for Three’s mobile broadband option; the speeds and rates are enough for a normal user such as myself. Then again, it’s also a cheap alternative to consider so probably I’ll just sign up for it by tomorrow or until I get my bank statement. The rule is that, you can only register for a mobile line and internet if you have a bank account statement attached with your registration. To avoid bad credit, you see.

Which explains why I’m always offline at the moment.

Today I had arranged to meet my main supervisor, and new head honcho Dr. Paul Pigram himself. He’s been very nice in our previous few encounters and today was no exception. Very warm, cheerful and full of energy. He took me on a tour of the university grounds for a while, showing me the department and labs as well. It wasn’t until a good half an hour that he buzzed Dr. Suzi Cutts, another member of my supervisory committee for a quick meeting in his office. Surprisingly, both were very optimistic about the prospect of my PhD work ahead – and through subsequent discussions we had over the next two hours we shared that afternoon I found that they’d also harbored a great deal of hope on my performance. Somehow, they’ve mentioned that I’m their first attempt at bridging interdisciplinary work that’d bind both the Physics and Biochemistry Department of La Trobe together.

That thought scared me, A LOT.

So, since Dr. Pigram would be off to Germany for the next ten days after tomorrow we parted ways today with him telling me to utilize those days getting acquainted with the university and its surroundings. Read up a little on current research endeavors in the field, and upon his return we’d arrange for a meeting between everyone from both Physics and Biochemistry to crack up any ideas for my project, as a whole.

This, had also scared the CRAP out of me.

Then again, the crazy realization that I’m now a PhD student is also quite daunting. I’ve been a student for a long, long time now. The path I’m on would penultimately decide the course of my carrier for the future so I won’t thread it lightly. Somehow, I want to start off on the right foot this time.

Regardless, I miss everyone back at home very dearly. Fifah has been accompanying my nights lately, and I realize that I miss her so very much. Somehow, a part of me wants the next few months to fly by fast, but another wishes the otherwise so that I’ll have time for work. But one things for sure – when I waved goodbye to everyone who sent me off at KLIA that Saturday night, I felt an emptiness I could never had imagined possible. Saying goodbye then, was the hardest I’d ever had to do.

I had a very teary sending off in KLIA. I was fortunate that everyone I loved was there, plus a few surprising faces I thought would not turn up, but did. Thank you guys, I appreciate it a lot. More on this experience for my next post.

- JeP


Anasfadilah said...

kejap je tu jep...tau tau dah bulan 12 dah...heheheh

Fadhil Syukri said...

Sori Jep x sempat jumpe ko kat KLIA. huhuhu, ape2 pun gudluck and all the best....see u soonnnn

azfar said...

Huhuu bagus la ko dah settle down... anyways all the best bro!! pejam celik nnt dah bulan 9... look forward to c u soon!

kakak lab bahan nano said...

salam jep....sori x dapat antar kamu ari tu...i was busy packing up things kat kolej nak pindah ke pjaya.anyway, akak sure kamu leh settle kat sana cepat...tingat la jugak kat kamu...ingat lagi `confer'.hehehehe...malam tu akak antar msg tapi kamu dah off hp kot...take care jep n all the best.

Anonymous said...

Assalamualaikum wbth,

Nice to know you are settling fine. I'm sure you will excell because you enjoy what you are doing. Whenever I talk to my colleagues about family and the subject of what my children are doing comes up, they will always be WOWED by the fact that I have a son who is currently doing his PhD...Learn all you can and take the opportunity to enjoy Australia you can be a good tourist guide when we visit!

Don't worry about Fifah..I'll look out for her. Seri Petaling is becoming quiter by the day. If Aiysha is not around it's worst. Yesterday I only see Andi in the morning at breakfast because I come home late (parliament duty) and he had bowling tournament.

Keep us posted and make sure you bundle up good when need be...don't let your ears drop off from the cold!..lov, mama.