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How I end up being a PhD (student) – Part 2

Hi again!

So as I’ve said before, at KI, when you get a PhD position, it doesn’t automatically mean that you are already a PhD student. Oh no. You have to go through a certain process to be officially admitted.

In my department, the first thing you have to do is to gather all the documents that are required (list here). Mind you, it is a quite long list. Afterwards, you have to present in a pre-admission seminar, submit all the documents to the administrator, and attend the admission seminar (where you present your project plan to the admission board). You will get the results (admitted, conditionally admitted, or rejected) approximately 1 week after the admission seminar.

Since the date of the admission seminar (at least in my department) is fixed, you usually have to follow certain deadlines for this application. All the documents have to be submitted latest 2 weeks before the admission seminar and the pre-admission seminar should be conducted at least 4 weeks before the admission seminar.

Now, usually, people would have 3-6 months to prepare for the admission since they started working (as R&D Trainee — because they were not officially admitted as PhD students yet).

I only got 1.

Wwwwwwwwwwwwwwhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy 😳 😳 😳

Yes, for some reasons my supervisors targeted that I participated in the closest admission seminar, which was on 7 December. I just started working 6 November. I hadn’t had all the documents, I had no project plan, a.k.a. I had no idea how my research would be, and it was only 1 month away from the seminar.

Panic attack ensued.

Before I continue, let me clarify some things. The PhD program at KI is 4 years (for full-time students). You usually have 4 different studies (numbers might vary, 3-5 usually, depending on the fields) under one big theme. Each of the studies should be published, and in order to apply for the thesis defence, you should have at least 2 publications accepted (in international peer-reviewed journals). You should write also a PhD dissertation, which summarises all your studies. Apart from the studies, you should also attend some courses and obtain a certain amount of credits, not only from the courses but also from activities such as seminars, teaching, or conferences. You should state all your planned studies in a 5-page project plan, and list all the courses and seminars in the individual study plan as part of the documents to be submitted before the admission seminars.

Seeing me very tense and nervous since day 1, my supervisors tried to assure me that we would have the study plan, we would have the project plan, and that we would have all the documents that we needed. But still, it was not easy to shake off such tension especially for people like me (ambitious nerd).

Effectively, we only had 2 weeks to prepare for all the documents, since the deadline for documents submission was 2 weeks before the actual admission dates. What about the pre-admission seminar then? In this pre-admission seminar, you were supposed to present your project plan in front of your research group and an opponent (usually postdoc or other senior researchers), followed by discussion. Then you would get feedback and if you needed to revise anything, it should be done accordingly. This pre-admission seminar was supposed to be performed 4 weeks before the actual admission seminar date, but I only had less than that!!! 😳 So nervous I was that I even sent an e-mail to the Head of Doctoral Education at my department and asked for the consequences if it was conducted less than 4 weeks before the actual admission seminar. Apparently, the 4 weeks deadline was set so that the student would have time to revise the project plan after the seminar, should it be needed. OK, at least it would not invalidate my application then. 🐻

Since we had only limited time, my supervisors and I decided to allocate the first week to finalise all the administrative documents (apart from the project plan), the second week for the project plan, and the little time remained for pre-admission seminar preparation. By little time I mean one day, actually.

Perhaps the highlight of these days was the second week when we actually worked on the project plan. The good thing was since my project was part of a larger collaborative project, the researchers had at least an idea of what they wanted to study. The remaining issue was… I had to put details on it and it was a new field for me.

At this moment, too, I really got to appreciate my supervisors, especially my main supervisor for allowing me to put some of my own ideas on the project plan. As I said before, I began my research in injury, and I really did not want to abandon it just like that. So I included a part of it in one of our studies. I was actually REALLY nervous when she read my project plan because that was not what we had originally. But she gave me an OK and you could not imagine how relieved and happy I was ❤

Time flew and suddenly it was one day before the submission deadline, which meant it was time for the pre-admission seminar. A postdoc from the department had agreed to be my opponent and I was really really really grateful that he took up the assignment despite the very limited amount of time. Another colleague (PhD student) had also kindly written the Q&A session for me. I was so touched by the amount of support I had from people around me. 😥

The week after the submission was the week of my birthday, too and my supervisors allowed me a day off (really!) so I did. But I came back to the office the day after and found 2 presents on my desk! I still don’t know to this day who gave me the chocolate, so whoever you were, thank you very much!!!! ❤ ❤ ❤

My main supervisor and I spent these 2 weeks before the admission seminar to simulate the Q&A that I might get during the admission seminar. She really encouraged me to ask questions and seemed to never got tired of it (I really admired that!).

The day of my admission seminar was a grey cloudy drizzly day. Only my main supervisor came with me to the admission seminar. I thought I performed well, and the admission board was very nice. But afterwards I could no longer suppress my tears, so I cried in front of my supervisor ^^’ . It felt like all the tension for the past 4 weeks had finally lifted.

One week later, I got the result via e-mail. Admitted, no revision. Thank God!!!!! 😥 😥 😥

Looking back, I could only think that I had been able to go through this all because of the support from people around me. My husband, parents, best friends, supervisors, former supervisors, colleagues in the research groups, in the department, in other departments… It was a humbling experience. But this is just a beginning. I hope I can do my best for the next 4 years and I hope you won’t get tired of me blabbing about that (only occasionally, I promise!)

Until next time! ❤

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Aula Medica – KI Campus Solna, after an intense snowfall

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How I end up being a PhD (student) – Part 1

People want to be a PhD for different reasons. Some might want to do good in the world. Others might need the degree to advance their career. For me, I have always had a thought in the back of my mind that I have to be better than my parents. Both of them have PhDs from abroad so I’ve always wanted to be like them. Another thing is that I am a nerd – an ambitious nerd, to be exact. So I also thought that I should reach the highest possible degree available. I see it as a personal challenge. People might think that such reason is not pure, but I am just trying to be honest here.

However, this “dream” has not always been formulated very clearly. When I was asked what I would like to do after my master studies, I’d always answered, ‘I want to do a PhD’. But at that point, I had no idea what kind of PhD I wanted, where, when, how would I get the funding, etc etc.

It was even more complicated after I got into the thesis writing because honestly, it was hard. Writing a thesis is hard. Doing a research is hard. Even though you love the field, there will come a moment when you feel that this is suck. Things did not progress as you wish. Honestly, I felt a bit traumatic afterwards. I mean, I still wanted to do a PhD, but maybe not immediately afterwards.

God seemed to listen to my wish. I got a position as a research assistant some months after my graduation. But of course this was a temporary position and it was very prone to funding. No money=out. However, my supervisor was really kind that she introduced me to another colleague of hers and helped me getting another position once my contract was over. By this time, half of my closest friends had already got a PhD position, so I felt a bit of completely unnecessary peer-pressure here (almost like the gym thing).

Oh before I continue, what I meant by doing the PhD is working as a PhD student (i.e. receiving a salary) and not simply enrolling in a PhD program where you had to pay tuition fees, etc. I was open for scholarship options, although I preferred being employed due to my financial conditions. And I preferred to do the PhD in Sweden because basically, Sweden is a heaven for public health research with its abundance of data available.

Anyway.

When I had my first employment talk with my supervisor, I made my intention clear that I wanted to pursue a PhD. And she was very supportive, actually. The thing is, since PhD position in Sweden is usually project-based, it often only opens when there is a project available within a research group. That means, no project=no PhD position. Of course, you can always try to find your own funding (from your home country, for example), but even that is not always easy. And since there had been no formal agreement between KI and Indonesian universities (as far as I know), I couldn’t do the PhD under that schemes. So basically, what I had to do was to apply to as many PhD positions as I could.

At first, I was very picky on to what positions I was applying to. I had this kind of ideal that the PhD project should suit my interest (and I still am, actually). But my field of interest (injury epidemiology) is not the biggest public health area there is. I thought even that this area is severely under-funded, not only for the PhD project but also in general. It’s sad, but I sometimes feel like this area is a forgotten area in public health.

Anyway.

After some time, I started expanding my search. Anything that touches upon epidemiology, if I had the qualification (and sufficient interest to learn more about), I would apply. I also tried to look for PhD positions in injury epidemiology in other countries. I could assure you that it was a painstaking process. It goes pretty much like this: find announcement-apply-rejected-find announcement-apply-rejected and so on and so forth.

It was not until almost 1 year that I finally got the invitation for an interview. The first interview ever. I thought I performed well. But on my way to Indonesia, literally 30,000 feet above, I received another rejection. (Yes, there was a quite good internet connection inside Emirates’ plane – not an advertisement). I cried inside the plane. Felt that I was so stupid and not worthy of a PhD position. I felt frustrated. I wondered why. I even had published a paper and being invited for an oral presentation at a conference, all while I was still merely a research assistant. So why??? I think that was one of the lowest points in my life, although I was actually high up above.

Autumn semester came. Unexpectedly, I was contacted by a senior researcher in Australia whose project I had applied for months before. She said that I might not suit the current position but she also had another project which I might be interested in. She also said that she was willing to help me with the applications and she might be able to increase the stipend should I be admitted. I said I would like to give it a go.

At around the same time, I saw an announcement for a PhD position in mental health epidemiology in my current institution. It was not my field at all, but I thought I might be able to learn so I applied anyway. Surprisingly, I was being called for an interview! It was an interesting interview although I still couldn’t comprehend why I said I wanted to perform in a concert hall when being asked what my dream was (facepalm). I think old habit never dies. #musicianatheart

Some weeks later, I got the announcement that I was accepted. In both PhD positions. On the same day.

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy

My first emotion was sadness. I know it’s strange. But I was sad because I would leave my current injury research group, leave the project, leave my office and choose between those two positions. I was confused. On one hand, I really wanted to study injuries. On the other hand, I knew that many injury cases had some mental health backgrounds on it. Take suicide, for example. So I might actually learn something that would be useful for injury prevention work in the future. It was such a huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge dilemma for me. One of the most difficult decisions I had to take. But after some time contemplating, and asking around, I decided to stay in Sweden and take the PhD position at KI.

So yes… That’s pretty much how I ended up being a PhD student 🙂

It took me one good year to get the position only (not officially being admitted – because in KI you need to go through admission seminar in order to be officially admitted as a PhD student – but that’s another story).

What I was trying to say was… everybody has their own timeline, apparently. And as you know, time is constant (usually – we’re not gonna go through the physics here). You can’t just speed up your timeline and hope that you will be in the same position as your friends at the same time. Of course, it can be a bit annoying at times when people keep asking you when you’re going to be a PhD student, given that most of your colleagues are already in that position when you yourself don’t know if it will eventually happen. But whatever happens in your life, it will happen at the right time.

Thank you for reading! 🙂

new office

My new office. I’m glad it’s all green ❤

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Finding my favourite sport/physical exercise

When somebody asked me what my favourite sport was, I used to answer, “Watching football. But only world cup.” A bit older, I would answer, “Running,” although the only time I ever run was when I had to get the grades for P.E. class in high school.
I did basically no physical activities whatsoever during my 4 years of university. Same thing when I started working.

But it all changed (kind of) when I moved to Sweden. Countless of times had I listened to the lectures on physical activities and its association with various health outcomes. Not to mention that people here, at least in Stockholm, exercised A LOT. Like, I once saw a guy running in the middle of WINTER night (with snow and everything). As a couch potato, it all made me very uneasy. It became worse because I was surrounded by health conscious friends who hit the gym every now and then.

Perhaps due also to social pressure, I finally gave in. I signed up for the gym.

Gym

Now being the nerd I was, I needed to know what kind of training they offered. I had decided since day one that I would be better off joining one of the group training classes rather than trying to figure out what machine to use for what. So in the end, I found out that they recommended us to do at least 1 cardio, 1 strength, and 1 flexibility class every week. They also gave the list on which classes trained what. I decided to try the cardio/aerobic class first, because it seemed more familiar to me. I booked a bodystep class.

It was a disaster.

Continue reading

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My Top 8 Guilty Pleasure Songs (Eurovision 2017 Edition)

After I shared my top 5 favourite Eurovision entries, it’s time to share my ultimate guilty pleasures list XD

These are the songs that might be quite unpopular to be liked, with eccentric/strange packaging, disastrous live performance but good radio version or vice versa, or other kinds of flaws… but I still find them enjoyable at some point in my life. So… here we go!

8. Slovenia

This song came to my attention only because I was searching with ‘my’ keyword in Eurovision 2017 Spotify playlist. I was looking for ‘My Friend’ (Croatian entry) and I didn’t delete the keyword and this song was played immediately afterwards (weird story, I know ^^’ ). This is another ballad which some people might find a bit boring, but it was not that bad, actually. Well, to be honest, the one in Spotify is better than the live performance ^^’

7. Estonia

I always have a high hope for Estonia since Elina Born & Stig Rästa‘s performance in 2015, but honestly, this one is no match for that. In spite of that, I keep listening to this song over and over again. I don’t know. I like it when they sing the ‘Aaaaaaaa…’ part in the refrain ^^’

6. Cyprus

🙄 was my immediate reaction when I first listened to this song. It did not help when I watched the video clip either but somehow it helped when I finally saw the live performance: I think Hovig hit it off. I appreciate the choreography and although it was often compared to Belgian 2015’s entry, in terms of packaging, I think this entry has a better song (more melodious, probably, I don’t know). It’s still not a song that I like head-over-heels but I’ll say not bad for now (what a huge change of mood ^^’ ).

5. Ukraine

Again, another song I found accidentally through the Spotify playlist. In the sea of ballads, this song feels kind of refreshing. It certainly reminds me of The Rasmus, or Muse probably. I might not like the visual (live performance), but this is an okay song to listen to.

4. Greece

I love the singer and I wished she had sung in Greek. I was kind of disappointed when they chose this song instead of the other one. I disliked the video clip they released but the live performance was a little bit better, actually. I wish she would hit the high note, though. I think it will boost her performance, but let’s see!

3. Germany

I really feel guilty for actually liking this song because the beginning sounds like a copy and paste of Sia’s song. But otherwise, this is a catchy song – or at least easy to listen to. And thanks to the familiarity of the melody, I find myself sing along to this in no time (facepalm).

2. Moldova

I always like the song that makes me dance. And weird as it can be, it’s – always – hard – for – me – not – to – like – a – song – with – violin. So there it goes with this one. Catchy rhythm: check, killer dance moves: check, energetic team: check, dress transformation: yesssss! how did they do that?? XD In two words: sleek performance.

1. Montenegro

This entry is on top of my guilty pleasure list. And to make it worse, I have actually known (but did not want to admit) since I first listened to the song. As opposed to the entry from Moldova, I did not actually like the live performance (or the video clip, for that matter). But then again, I can never refuse the song that tempts me to dance. So yeah… this is my ultimate guilty pleasure (facepalm) XD

So here you are. My ultimate guilty pleasure list. I don’t know why I have so many guilty pleasure songs this year. What about you? Do you have a song that you like but don’t dare to admit? :p

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My Top 5 Entries for Eurovision 2017

It’s the time of the year again! Well well. It’s been so long since I updated this blog (facepalm) but today I would like to share some of my favourite entries from Eurovision Song Contest!

(A quick note: it’s annual international song competition, although the participants are mostly from Europe. Sweden won 6 times since participating in 1958 and ABBA was one of the winners 😉 )

But of course, we shouldn’t dwell in the past! Because this year we have a number of great songs (well, great according to me, that is). So if you’re looking for an alternative to music to listen to, you’re welcome to check them out!

1. Sweden

Ah. Robin Bengtsson. Wonder why he’s so gorgeous. 😍 I have been captivated since I watched his first performance in Melodifestivalen (the Swedish selection for Eurovision). He was not a favourite for Swedish public back then so it came as a surprise that he won. But not for me. He had a quite consistent performance throughout the competition and of course, I’m glad that he made it to the final! Lycka till, Robin!

2. France

France was among the first countries that announced their song for this competition and I completely fall in love with this song at that very moment!!! 😍😍😍 although my French ability is a big zero, I just hit it off with this song! Too bad they modified it for the final version and I like this version better but nevertheless, best of luck, France!

3. Portugal

This song is so dreamy, like coming straight out of fairy tale. Again, I have no idea on Portuguese (language) but this song touched my heart just like that! 😍 I think he had the best performance during the semi-final. Undoubtedly the best entry from Portugal for the past 3 years. I hope it goes well in the final! Good luck, Salvador!

4. Croatia

What’s with me and tenor singers? I can not NOT love song that is sung by tenor singer! And it begins with a violin! How can I NOT like that? I know that some people think this song is weird, some kind of failed mashed up between opera and pop but for me, this song is sooooo way underrated! I hope Jacques performed well though. I’m looking forward to his live performance!

5. Austria

Ah, Austria. Beautiful country with no less beautiful singer.
Ok. Maybe cute is a better word to describe Nathan Trent. Honestly, I first fall in love with the video clip and not the song itself (facepalm). But it didn’t take long for me to start liking the song. I know the song is simple, too simple for some, perhaps. But for me, this is the charm of this song. It’s an easy-listening song that you play when you’re together with your friends or with the cute guy next door that is Nathan Trent (I wish!!! Haha 😂😂😂). Good luck Austria!!

And while those are on my top list, I have made another list of song that… maybe not as great, but they become my guilty pleasure anyway. I will tell more in my next post! 😉

What about you? Do you watch Eurovision, too? Which song is your favourite? Please share! 😉

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The Mug Cake Experiment

Jadi ceritanya sebelum puasa aku sempet belanja di supermarket sejuta umat bernama Willy’s di bilangan Friedhemsplan, Stockholm. Pas mau bayar, aku ngeliat setumpuk buku masak gitu deket pintu keluarnya Nah entah kesambet apa, tiba-tiba aku mikir, ‘Ih pengen deh beli buku masak itu.’ dan akhirnya aku beli aja dong, ga cuma satu tapi DUA buku masak. Hahahahahaha… XD Padahal dulu aku anti banget kan sama yang namanya masak-masakan. Mana bukunya pake Bahasa Swedia, tapi aku sokiye aja beli 😛 Abis bukunya nampak mudah dan menarik, sih… Udah gitu full color pula *mure* hehehehe 😛

Buku yang pertama ceritanya tentang cara bikin Mug Cakes dengan mudah dan cepat gitu, terus buku yang kedua sebenernya buku masak buat anak-anak 😛

Tapi entah kenapa, setelah aku beli pun aku masih ragu-ragu bin takut buat nyoba. Asli ga penting banget. Sampe akhirnya si mas nunjukin video cara bikin mug cakes dengan cepat, (tampak) mudah, dan cantik berikut ini:

Itu asli ngileeeeeeeeeeeer lah liatnya. Ih kok hasilnya cantik? Ih kok kayanya gampang? Mau bikiiiiiiiiiiinn!!! *anaknya mudah dipengaruhi* 😛

Setelah meminta restu si mas (yang mana ternyata dia juga pengen bikin dengan varian berbeda :P), akhirnya kemaren nyobain lah bikin yang ‘Funfetti’… Resepnya nyontek dari sini.

Hasilnya gimana?

Ya… Kira-kira gini deh:

Source of 'Expectation' image: Screenshot from Gemma Staford's 1 Minute Mug Cake Video. Image combined using  frabz.com

Source of ‘Expectation’ image: Screenshot from Gemma Staford’s 1 Minute Mug Cake Video. Image combined using frabz.com

Ya biarpun hasilnya ga secantik aslinya, rasanya tetep enak kok :3 Bener deh… :3 Mau dibikinin ga? Hehehehe… Terus karena aku belum bisa bikin bubblegum frosting kaya di videonya, akhirnya diganti cream cheese deh atasnya. Terus sprinklesnya diganti sama yang bulet-bulet soalnya ga nemu yang kembang-kembang di supermarket. :3

Jadi… gitu deh kira-kira percobaan pertama bikin mug cakes. Pengen deh nyoba lagi. Bikin yang mana ya berikutnya…? 😛

Alicia

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Sedikit Update-an Tidak Penting di Awal Bulan Puasa

Halo halo semuanya… Udah lama ya ngga update blog ini… Maklum sibuk… Hehehehe 😛 *dilempar sendal*

Berhubung udah masuk bulan puasa, diriku ingin mengucapkan, selamat menjalankan ibadah puasa, mohon maaf lahir dan batin (biarpun pas aku nulis ini aku yakin temen-temen di Indonesia udah pada buka semuanya :P). Tapi berhubung saat ini daku berdomisili di luar angkasa belahan bumi utara, yang mana puasanya aja 20 jam, jadi ya… masih valid dong yah diucapin selamat puasa *halah* 😛

Gimana rasanya puasa 20 jam?

Belum kerasa sih sebenernya, soalnya aku baru puasa hari ini. Muhahahaha 😀 dan…. masih ada 7,5 jam lagi sebelum waktu berbuka jadi, ya… So far so good. Lagipula di bulan puasa ini aku udah masuk liburan musim panas, jadi ga mesti ke kampus tiap hari, biarpun bulan depan aku rencananya ngambil summer course Bahasa Swedia yang mana kelasnya tiap hari juga, tapi ya… mudah-mudahan sih ga bakal terlalu cape-cape… Hehehe…

Terus liburan ini udah ngapain aja?

Ga ngapa-ngapain. Hahahahaha. Enjoying holiday to the fullest! 😀 Kemaren sempet buldu ke Paris, alhamdullillah… :3 Seneeeeng. Ternyata Paris baguuuus! *lebay* Padahal selama ini aku ga pengen ke Paris karena mikirnya itu kota mainstream abis buat dikunjungin. Hehehehe… Tapi ternyata rame, dan alhamdulillah karena aku masih muda :3 di bawah 26 tahun, dan punya residence permit EU, jadi bisa masuk banyak museum gratis tis tis…! XD Termasuk ke Louvre, Musee d’Orsay, sama bisa dapet potongan harga naik ke Eiffel juga :3 Alhamdulillah ya…

Sebenernya tujuan awal nulis di sini pengen sharing pengalaman masak-memasak selama di bulan puasa sih *ga nyambung* Hehehehe… Tapi kayanya lebih enak kalo ditulis di postingan berikutnya. Jadi… nantikan di layar komputer Anda! *kemudian ga ada yang baca* 😛 Hehehe..

Sampai jumpa di postingan berikutnya! ❤

Alicia