Friday, December 28, 2007

My Trip: Part 3

Right, this is long overdue but I’ll try to finish it. On the fourth day we were in Vienna but (and this is a last minute thing that we did on a whim) we decided to ride a bus to Bratislava in Slovakia, which is quite near to Vienna. This is because some of us felt that one day is enough to visit Vienna, and anyway, it would be nice to add another country to the list of those that we’ve visited so why not?

Bratislava isn’t really tourist friendly and it’s hard to find people who speak English, but one thing I noticed is that stuff are really cheap here (and it says that in the guidebook as well). We found a Tesco, but there’s no sign of my favourite tea so I bought a Lipton Orange Jaipur instead, which was recommended to me by my friend. Afterwards, we visited a castle and paid a visit to the river Danube.

On the last day, we walked around Vienna. Unfortunately at the time I was freezing cold and couldn’t be bothered to figure out the names of the places that we visited so I’m afraid I won’t be able to tell you much about them. Anyway, here are some pictures:

Like Germany, Christmas markets are everywhere here too

Right, so now I've seen the river Danube in three different countries: Hungary, Slovakia and Austria. Guess it must be huge.

Guess that's all. Have a Happy New Year!


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

My Trip: Part 2

Okay, so it’s Christmas day today and I’m spending it with my beloved friend Equilibrium Thermodynamics. We ate together, we surfed the net together, and we even read Harry Potter 7 together. How nice. Oh, and instead of a white Christmas, we get a drizzly Christmas in Cambridge this year. Not that I really mind.

Right, let’s continue our story about my trip. We’ll start with… tea! I might have mentioned this somewhere in the blog but my favourite tea is the rooibos vanilla tea that I first encountered in Hungary while I was visiting my friend. I bought two packs for myself at that time and I remembered being sad when I ran out of them. I tried looking for the particular tea in the UK but to no avail. It seems that they only have vanilla with camomile or vanilla with ginseng and things like that, which I’m not really fond of. So, imagine my delight when I found some tea of the flavour I’m looking for in Berlin. In fact it was the exact same brand. Yippee!

Since we’re on the subject of food I’d like to mention that due to the large Turkish population, finding something to eat for us is not a problem at all in Berlin. Kebab shops are everywhere. And not that I’m an expert but I’m pretty sure that they taste better than the ones we have here too, not to mention cheaper.

So on the third day we rented a car (a Ford Mondeo, by the way... we were sort of expecting a German car but... oh well) and drove to Stuttgart, which is basically at the other end of Germany. Going across Germany is not really a big problem though since we rode the car at around 200 km/h. Not all the time, of course, but quite a big portion of the way. I guess there’s no way in hell you can do that back in Malaysia so we might as well savour the experience.

Isn't that amazing?

We saw lots of wind turbines along the way

The reason we went to Stuttgart is to see the Mercedes Benz museum. I personally don’t know much about cars, but what I saw was pretty impressive.

There was one incident when the car sort of broke down after we left the Museum to go to the airport. It was when we were going up a slope, of all places. Smoke was coming out of the front bit. Fortunately, the car started working again after ten minutes or so, otherwise, we would have missed our flight.

Guess that’s it for now, I’ll cover the last stretch of our trip on the next part. See ya!


Monday, December 24, 2007

This Place Makes Me Sad

Day before yesterday I cooked a meal consisting of rice and chicken and I put them in tupperwares and I placed them in the kitchen fridge so that I can eat it for lunch the next day. But when I looked the day after they’re gone. As a note, to eat the meal you have to put them in a microwave for a few minutes and then serve them on a plate; it’s not something that you can take a quick bite of. So I ended up hungry and I had to cook again.

Today I went to the laundrette to get the clothes that I left there to dry (since I can’t put them in the tumble dryer) but when I checked one of them is gone. It’s something that I just bought and it costs me £25. The clothes, the food… they all cost money. They don’t just appear out of thin air.

Honestly, I thought the stealing days are over when I left boarding school. Apparently not. Right now I’m feeling depressed because there’s no one that I can get mad at, which might be a good thing for the guilty persons, coz if I can get my hands on them…


Saturday, December 22, 2007

My Trip: part 1

Hey there! Did you miss me? I arrived in Cambridge early Friday morning and it took me a bit more than a day to recuperate and blog about it. Right, where do I start? The trip was five days and we departed from Heathrow on the first day to Berlin.

The airport

Unfortunately I still haven’t got all the pictures that my friends took during the trip so I can only show you the ones I have. We arrived at the airport in Berlin, checked in to our hotel and went sightseeing afterwards. On the first day, we saw the Brandenburg Gate, the Television Tower (which we didn’t climb because most of us deemed it too expensive), the Reichstag (which is an awesome sight – modern meets historical, you’ll know what I mean when you see it), and a lot of Christmas fairs and markets.

A christmas market

The TV Tower

Brandenburg Gate

The front of the Reichstag, where the parliament meets

The inside of the Reichstag

Sony Centre

On the second day, we went to see the Berlin Wall, or whatever remains of it. We also visited Checkpoint Charlie, and entered the Checkpoint Charlie Museum. It's one of the best museums I've ever been. The first bit of it was sad because they displayed the horrible fate that befell the people during the era after the war. But then the later bit shows how people came up with all kinds of clever and ingenious inventions and tactics to escape from East Berlin to West and it's really amazing seeing all the ways that they employed.

We also went to see the Charlottenburg Palace but it was closed since it was a Monday. Then we went to the Jewish Museum which is honestly the most interactive non-scientific museum I've ever been too.

A wish that was written on the Tree of Life. Awwwww...

There's an installation that I really like. When you walk on this face-shaped metal plates, your footsteps will make a really melancholic sound. Best if only one person walks on it at a time.

We went to the Sony Centre to visit the Legoland but it was closed too because we arrived too late. Oh well...

I guess that's about it for part 1. The trip chronicles will continue in part 2 (and maybe 3?) when i have some more time to write. See ya!


Thursday, December 13, 2007

I’m in the news!

Ha ha, well… not exactly the newspaper kind of news. It’s just that the people in the department have found out that Cambridge won the L’Oreal Ingenius competition, so they put the news on the departmental website, together with a picture of the team. Guess that’s sort of my fifteen minutes (or however long they put it up there) of fame. I think people from outside the department can see it too. Oh gosh!

Went to London for a day trip today. I was there last Sunday as well because I felt like shopping but there were tons of people (it being a Sunday and all) so I got a bit claustrophobic and I went out of the shop without buying anything at all. Instead, I visited some of my friends in London including the new AC students. Got to be nice to them, just in case I plan to visit Atlantic College again and needed someplace to stay. Ha ha ha.

Just kidding. I’m nice to them regardless.

Today I went to see my sponsor to give them a bad news, a neutral news and a good news. The bad news is that Trinity doesn’t want to give my college bill straight to them but it has to go through me first, which to be honest, I don’t really mind since even though this will make the payment process slower, I have overdraft facility available if I’m short on money anyway. The neutral news is that I’m changing to Gmail, which I should have done ages ago. The good news you already know. My student advisor said I really should write a short report about it so that it can be put up on the Intranet and people in the company can read it. Errr… okay. I’m going to go to Berlin on Sunday so I’ll see what I can whip up within these two days.

I sometimes go to the river Cam if I just want to chill out and relax, so in London it’s only natural that I gravitated to the larger and grander version of the Cam: the Thames. Here are some photos that I took with my phone.

There was an open stall selling books under the bridge at the Thames. Unfortunately, when I arrived, there was only one row of books. I remembered the last time I went here there were three rows and tons of books. Oh well.

Also visited the comic book store of a friend of mine in Central London. It's called Gosh! and is situated near the British Museum. Unfortunately, my friend wasn't there (I expected him to be travelling at this time of the year anyway) so I just left.

Well, that sums up my day. I'll be back in the UK and Cambridge again next Friday. Until then, happy holidays!


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

This Week

Okay, so the holiday has officially started on the 1st (though I was only free from the 6th) and now Cambridge is partially devoid of students and the people who are left don’t really have anything to do, which is good. As you might know, I’ll be going to Germany & Austria next week, so now I’m dedicating this week to studying. Otherwise, I’ll feel guilty for not doing anything beneficial during the holidays and it will spoil my trip. This way, the trip will also feel more like a reward after working hard.

Holidays are also ideal to do things that you don’t have time to accomplish during term, such as this:

A friend lent it to me before he left for home. Finally! Now I’ll be able to actually understand what people are babbling about.


Friday, December 07, 2007

My Little Trip to Wales

Hi there! It’s been awhile. I came back from Wales last Wednesday night but I guess I needed to recharge my batteries and take care of some other things, so I’m only able to write about it now. The whole thing was, literally, unbelievable.

We departed from Cambridge on Monday morning by train. This was my firsthand experience on seeing how people who live in Cambridge but work in London travel. The train was packed and we had to stand for 45 minutes. I’m used to having a relaxed breakfast every morning and then ambling slowly to the department, sometimes taking the longer way just because I felt like it. Those walks really help me to look forward to the day. I guess if you have to commute in a packed train for about an hour every day to get to work, that can be very stressful. Though I suppose they’re probably used to it.

Oh yeah, I guess I haven’t told you properly. The competition that I was entering was the L’Oreal Ingenius 2008 and the UK Finals was held last Monday till Wednesday in Cardiff. The winning team will advance to the International Finals which will be held in Paris next March. There were six teams in total from universities in the UK.

I personally think the whole trip was amazing. L’Oreal paid for our transportation, they booked us on a nice hotel in Cardiff and they even took us out to dinner. On Monday it was this Spanish/Mexican restaurant and on Tuesday was an Italian one overlooking the Cardiff bay. The days were spent visiting the L’Oreal plant and thinking of ways to increase its efficiency. A sad thing is that everybody was busy doing the assigned tasks that we don’t really have time to look at Cardiff in details or even socialise much with other teams. We did talk to each other a bit during lunch, dinner, and while we’re taking a break in the hotel lounge.

There is something vitally important that I learnt from this trip. Before this, I (and probably a lot of other students I know)… we were kind of detached from our lecture materials. That is to say, sometimes, we just view them as something that you need to study to pass the exams. But in this competition, I realised that I was drawing knowledge from my lectures. Thermo, separations, even biotechnology… they weren’t just stuff you learnt, but they were actually very useful and they helped our team to come up with a solution. This really made me appreciate lectures more.

All the teams did a PowerPoint presentation in front of a panel of ten juries on the last day, all of whom are engineering staff of the plant. After they heard from all of us, they discussed it amongst themselves to decide a winner. I think our team did well in presenting our ideas, and my two team members were really nervous and anxious and I can tell that they really wanted to win. I, on the hand, don’t really mind since I’ve already gotten a precious experience and a valuable lesson but I refrained from saying anything since it’ll sound too pessimistic.

After half an hour or so, we were invited back into the presentation room. The results were announced and guess what…

… we won!

I really can’t believe it. My team members and I will be representing the UK in the International Finals in Paris in March. To be honest, I never expected myself to go this far. The whole thing didn’t really sink in… not on the taxi ride to the station, not when we wandered along the streets of Cardiff afterwards, and not on the train ride back to Cambridge. My team members were feeling the same; we caught each other’s eyes and just spontaneously laugh. It was surreal for them too.

So yeah, that’s basically it. There weren’t any grand prizes or anything, those are for the International Finals. But we did get a gift box containing a belt and a perfume.

Me? Representing the UK? Hahahhahahahahahaha!

Yup, still can’t believe it.


Friday, November 30, 2007

I’m free!

Finally, no more coursework! My lectures all ended last Wednesday but we the chemical engineers still have to finish two coursework (we call them exercises, which often cause confusion for non chem-engers since the term makes people think they’re not that significant). Handed them both early this afternoon, well before the 4:30 p.m. deadline.

I guess students are pretty much the same everywhere. Even in Cambridge, I saw people queuing up at the department’s reception at 4:30 handing their work in, still warm from the printer. I mean, really… if you can start doing your work just two days before and hand them in during the deadline, then why wouldn’t you just finish them in the first two days after they’re issued and get it all over with? Surely it’ll be less stressful that way.

On another note, I’m going to Wales next Monday until Wednesday for this engineering competition. I somehow got dragged into participating by a friend. Still, they pay for the hotel accommodation, and I got the chance to visit Wales again… sounds good to me.


Monday, November 26, 2007

Skating Rink

There’s a new temporary ice skating rink open in Cambridge at Parker’s Piece, a grassy field area near the town centre. I’ve seen it since two weeks ago but at that time I just wondered what the white-roofed construction was. The rink just started operating for the past few days and I guess I’m not the only one being excited by it. More like the whole of Cambridge population, judging by the number of people there.

Now, I know that ice skating rinks are no big deal in places like, say… London, but we never had one for the past two years that I live here, so I have a valid reason to be excited. What I need to do now is to find a few people to go skating together. Preferably those who don’t know how, so at least I won’t be embarrassing myself alone by falling down all over the place.


Friday, November 23, 2007

It’s Christmas, well… sort of

The thing about Cambridge is that it’s essentially a university town (or city, if you prefer). Which means that come December this picturesque place will be reduced to something resembling a ghost town since everybody will be gone. I’ve lived through this twice already so take my word for it. What this means is that it will be pointless to decorate the city in December for there’ll be nobody to appreciate it. Hence, events that are related to Christmas are happening now: Christmas lights on the street (even though they’re still not switched on), Christmas dinners and formals etc. etc.

We had the chemical engineering Christmas dinner last Tuesday. Last year it was held in Teri-Aki, a sushi restaurant which, even though the food was okay, doesn’t have the Christmassy feel to it. As a result, this year it’s held in a more appropriate English pub called The Anchor. Nice enough place. It’s next to the river, which is always a plus. To be honest, I’ve never been inside a pub in Cambridge to eat before, so it was quite an experience.

Just to note, I’ve been in a pub in Cambridge before. There was this young lady who played a game with her friends in which they have to bring a person they don’t know with them so she just grabbed me while I was walking along King’s Parade. Went to the pub, sat for like 30 seconds and left. Pretty hilarious though.

And the best pub food experience for me was when me and my dorm mates ate at the Olde Swan Inn in Llantwit Major, Wales. We were quite an international bunch: a Malaysian, a Ugandan, a Londoner with a Maori heritage and a Pakistani/American. I still remember that I ordered quesadillas, and that we all shared a humongous plate of nachos. An amazing gastronomical delight, that’s what it was.

Anyway, back to the present (or more precisely, the very recent past), the Christmas dinner was good. Had to choose the wild mushroom soup and stuffed trout instead of turkey or steak due to my dietary requirements, but that was good too (I’ve never actually tasted turkey, wonder what it’s like). Ended the meal with ruffled by chocolate (essentially a chocolate cake with cream and raspberries and a mint leaf; Christmas colours, see?). Many went to a pub afterwards, though I don’t see the point of paying to get into a bar when you don’t drink and will probably not dance but instead having to see other people get drunk and listen to some music blaring in your ears. So I went with some friends to one of our rooms and just chilled out and talked about guitars, Mike Tyson, interesting suicide attempts, St John’s porcelain cups, German punks, accordions and some other random bits and pieces.

Lectures end next Friday, so a lot of other people (me included) are waiting in anticipation and counting the days for December to arrive. In the meantime, there’s another Christmas dinner on Tuesday, so that ought to get me through the week.

Season’s greetings everyone.


Thursday, November 22, 2007


Saw this near the department the other day. Frankly, I was quite surprised.


Thursday, November 15, 2007


Hey ho! Sorry I haven’t written much lately. After that morose account of my mental health in my last post, I was tempted to bury it by writing other more cheerful posts, but nothing much is going on recently that are of significant interest. I’ve been meaning to write about this famous pub in Cambridge and I really want to have a picture to go with it but I can’t bring myself to act like an annoying tourist and just stand there with my camera phone. I’ll just wait for the right opportunity to snap a picture or two when no one’s looking, I guess.

And yeah, Cambridge students, especially those from colleges like Trinity or Kings, do tend to get annoyed when tourists like Asian tour groups or French school kids come and take pictures/stare while you’re eating in the hall, walking across the college or going to the shower wearing a bathrobe.

Lately, I’ve figured out that the best way to get rid of worrying about work is to get up and do them. This is based on the principle that you don’t worry about them if they’re finished. Then one night I was about to slip into bed when I started thinking about a coursework that has a deadline which is three weeks away. So I got up, went to my study table and worked on it in the middle of the night.

I guess I need to abandon this philosophy if I want to get some sleep.


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Annoying Mental Snag

For those of you who are close enough to me, I’m pretty sure you’ve heard this phrase countless time:

“I wanna be a student forever.”

And I’m also pretty sure that by now you’re sick and tired of hearing it. But I can’t help it, though. I really like student life. You study and make friends and do whatever and not worry about things like money and stuff. Okay, maybe that last bit isn’t true for everybody, but I suppose as long as you have a sense of thrift and self control, you’ll be fine. Plus, in the context of an oversea student, you get holidays of more than a month in duration and you can travel and you can skip one day of lectures to nip down to London… the list goes on and on. I suppose one of the reasons why I’m enjoying it so much is that I never had problems with my studies. Well, not big problems anyway. I was alright with SPM, I breezed through the IB and now I’m coping well with lectures. I don’t really experience one of the major causes of stress for students: academics. Maybe that’s why I’m so content and happy with the student life.

Which brings me to a major problem. I guess you can say that it’s not really a problem; it’s just in the mind. I was too complacent with my life that whenever I’m faced with something that reminds me of a life after graduating (i.e. the real world, where you get a job and such), I tend to get distressed. It’s like a reminder: ‘Well, tough. Life has been a smooth sailing for you and now that’s all gonna change’. This also explains why I took such a long time to prepare a CV. Everybody in my department is applying for summer internships and I thought, ‘Hey, I should too.’ But somehow, I really don’t feel like starting to write it.

Such an annoying mental snag.

Everything’s alright now. Well, mostly. I finished my CV some days ago and that removed a huge chunk of my distress away. One of those things that the more you progress in doing it, the less nervous you become. I’ve started applying to companies now, and I hope that by the time the interviews roll around, I will have stopped being so despondent and am actually looking forward to it. I think this also made me value the time I have now even more. After all, it will be less than two years now, and I won’t be able to do a lot of things that I can do now when that time comes.

On a more cheery note, I’ve made plans for the winter! Going travelling with some friends. Perks of being an oversea student in Europe, eh?


P.S. The ‘CV and Cover Letter’ book from Cambridge’s Career Service is a total lifesaver. I bow down to whoever compiled that thing.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Careers Fair

The Cambridge University Careers Service just organised a careers fair today. The event lasts for two days with different companies coming and explaining to us students about what they do, whether they’re recruiting and how to apply for jobs or, in my case, summer internship applications. Today’s fair is more oriented towards science, IT and engineering whereas tomorrow will be more about banking and finance so I went to today’s one. To tell the truth, in order to apply for summer internships they mostly just tell you to go to their website and fill an online form, so unless you’re really interested in what the companies’ representatives have to say or you want to ask them specific questions, there isn’t much point in going. With the exception, of course, for the freebies!

The different companies usually have some freebies like pens etc. that they give to people visiting their counter. Since I’m not the kind of person who visits every counter just to get the freebies unlike some people, I don’t get that much stuff. Still, after a day, this is what I ended up with.

Embarrassingly enough, I realised that amongst the free stuff, I’ve also brought this home. Drat! What on earth am I supposed to do with this?


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Guy Fawkes

Monday night was Guy Fawkes Night in the UK, which means one thing: fireworks!

Nevertheless, somehow this year I didn’t manage to enjoy it as much as previous years, probably because after two years of watching it they became a bit repetitive. Plus the fact that this is organised by the city council, so it can’t really compare with the May Ball fireworks or ones from cities like London. Still, it was good times. Had some cotton candy (this is probably the only time of the year that I’m eating something like that).


Friday, November 02, 2007

Sports stuff

One of the things I miss about AC is that it has its own outdoor and indoor pool so whenever I felt like swimming I just dragged a few friends and did some laps. Cambridge doesn’t have a university pool, unfortunately, so I finally decided to register with the local swimming pool. It can be quite crowded at times but at least it’ll satisfy my craving for swimming.

Oh yeah, have I ever mentioned that I only started learning how to swim when I arrived in the UK? It was good times, but was sort of a torture. I guess I’ll write a bit about it someday.

We just had our first UCCMixed (i.e. Cambridge 3rd team) match in the local league tonight. Two games overall, we lost the first one (that I didn’t join) and we won the second one (that I joined). Does that tell you anything, hee hee?

Well… actually, we played against different teams so you can’t draw any conclusions from that =(

I was told by one of my team mates that I have a very weird upper serve. This is confirmed by other people there. When he first saw it, he was like, ‘How’s that gonna go in?’ And then it came flying into the court. Honestly, I’ve never realised since I never watched myself play, and I don’t know whether having a weird serve is a good thing or not. I probably got the technique wrong or something.

Sorry for the shaky pictures. Were taken with my mobile phone when I was outside the court.


Thursday, November 01, 2007

My Cambridge Interview Experience

Okay, as promised, I think I’ll share a bit about my experience in having an interview in Cambridge. Unlike a lot of other universities that only have ‘interviews’ as in ‘we just want to see your face and have a chat’ session, in Cambridge you’ll need to expect a proper, serious interview. Only then will they decide on giving you an offer. Or not. Before I start, I just need to say that this is just my recount of my own interview, so it should by no means be treated as ‘a definitive guide to Cambridge interviews’ or something like that, since there are different types of interviews and I only know about my own. To clarify, I applied to Cambridge to do Chemical Engineering.

It started when I looked at the Cambridge prospectus to prepare for the application process. To tell the truth, with so many colleges being featured in there and they all seem pretty similar, the prospectus confused me a bit. Of course, at that time I knew nothing about the different colleges, which one is richer, bigger, more famous etc. etc. In the end, I just decided to choose a college that has the type of interview that I like: Trinity.

Pretty funny that even without prior knowledge, I end up in one of the richer, bigger and more famous of the lot.

Depending on the subject, some colleges have a normal interview, an interview with Thinking Skills Assessment or TSA (sort of like an IQ test in a way), or an interview with a technical test. I realised that my people and social skills are probably mediocre, average at best, so I ignored the normal interviews. My mock TSA test (they have a model of the test online) is around 60-ish %, not bad but definitely not outstanding so I ignored those too. That left me with the interview-with-test type, which is okay for me since I’m definitely comfortable with the technical test compared with just an oral interview. At least now I have something to fall back on when I screw up in the oral interviews by either:

a) failing to be eloquent and charming or

b) spewing complete crap when asked questions like ‘What can you contribute to Cambridge?’, ‘What are your strong points?’ and ‘Why do you think you want to study in Cambridge?’ or

c) (and this is what most people dread about Cambridge interviews) being utterly gobsmacked and speechless when asked questions like ‘What do you think about extra-terrestrials?’ or ‘If you could make up a word, what would it be?’ or some other bizarre questions of that nature.

So among the interview-with-test type colleges, I picked Trinity at random. My application was accepted and they asked me to go to Cambridge (since I was in the UK at the time) for my interview. That was in December 2004.

So I went there, stayed the night, and did the test the next day. It was a combination of physics, chemistry/material science and maths. The thing to remember here is that if you find the test hard, then you shouldn’t worry about it. They purposely made it so that you won’t be able to answer everything, and that’s for a reason which will be apparent later.

Some time after the test, I walked to the place where my dreaded oral interview is going to be held. I went in. There were two people: a woman who dyed her hair red and another blonde woman (I don’t know who the first person is but the second one is my current Head of Department and Director of Studies). I sat on the chair, and the interview began.

The good thing: they don’t ask me some mind boggling questions that you have to bullsh*t your way through i.e. situation (b) or (c). I think you can still get those kinds of questions though, even in an engineering course interview so it’s wise to be prepared anyway. The bad thing: lo and behold, they have the test answers that I wrote with them! So here’s the reason they make the test difficult: they go through your answers, and they note which questions you have difficulty with, and they ask you about them in the oral interview. Personally I think it’s kinda cruel. The purpose of this is so that by presenting a problem that you don’t know and giving you hints during the interview to guide you to the answer, they can see your thought process i.e. how you think to solve the problem. One of the questions that I couldn’t answer is about unit cells, which honestly is not in the IB syllabus and the only time I’ve encountered them was when I read Chemistry 9th edition by Prentice Hall. They have this crystal lattice model in front of me to demonstrate the unit cell and I swear I can feel the gears in my brain grinding as I try to work out the answer. Fortunately, I managed to solve it, and I think they were impressed. So am I, if truth be told.

There was a question which leads you to estimating the density of air. It began with ‘The weight of air in this room is about the same as half a dozen eggs…’ or something like that. Normally this is a killer question for me since I am horrendous at estimating things. I can’t guess the distance/weight/height of things without actually measuring it. However, I was proud of the answer that I gave: I basically ignored the question and wrote ‘Well, in the data book that I’ve read, the density of air to three s.f. is…’ and I put down the value. I think the interviewers had a laugh from it. Just to clarify things, no, I don’t go around memorising values in the data book. That would be stupid. I just did a number of physics questions some months before and since I had to look up the value a few times, it sort of sticks in my head. So I guess I’m just lucky.

Well, that’s the short (or long) of it. Hope I didn’t bore you. I got an offer afterwards asking for a 42 and 7,7,7 in higher subject. For those of you who are/were doing the IB, you’ll realise that this is a very cruel offer. Still, they’re Cambridge, so I guess they can afford to do that. So, the lesson? The interview’s just halfway. You still have to work hard afterwards to meet the offer.

That about sums it up, then. I usually stay in Cambridge in December so sometimes when I see the current interview candidates, some relaxed, and some nervous, unsure, waiting in anticipation… I can’t help smiling and be reminded of the time when I’ve been through what they’ll undoubtedly be going through. Can't help but wish them all the best either, since I know how challenging it can be. Good luck!


Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Sick. Sore throat. Will update later.


Thursday, October 25, 2007


The day of the deadline of the first exercise. I managed to complete mine in good time, so no problem there. In my last post, I did mention that I can laugh at people who are still struggling to finish the exercise. Unfortunately, though, that didn’t happen. Why? Because they all skipped lectures to finish it! Cheeky buggers. There goes my chance to gloat evilly at people.

I read in the papers that there exist some people who spent up to £3500 for their kids to have a better chance of getting into Oxford or Cambridge. Seriously, are they crazy or what? Apparently, there are some agencies and organisations that offer services to train applicants to face the famous Oxbridge application process. Honestly, I know you have to make an extra effort to get into Oxford and Cambridge e.g. finishing UCAS application early, an extra personal statement, the dreaded interviews, getting good results etc. but still, £3500 seems way over the top. Unless you’re rich and couldn’t care less about that amount of money, of course.

Hmmm… seems like a long time ago that I first arrived here in Cambridge for my own interview. I guess some time later I’ll write a bit about it.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Resuming life as a student again

Hey ho! Finally, a breath of fresh air. For the past few days I’ve been busy working on this coursework (literature survey, to be exact) and I’ve just finished writing the main body some time ago. Granted, there are still the abstract, conclusion and reference that I need to write about, but let’s not worry about those too much. Of course I know that it’ll be kinda crappy since even though we were given three weeks to finish the darn thing, most of us only start in the last week. Me included. Well, the deadline’s on Thursday so I still have time to smooth out things and laugh at people who are panicking because they have their hands full with this.

On a different note, I’ve now accepted… no, make that fully embraced… the fact that there exist some people who are buff and sporty and are into rowing and other physically-exerting stuff… who are much more intellectually superior than me. I guess you CAN have everything.


Saturday, October 20, 2007

Eventful Saturday

Yesterday was the Scholar’s Admission Ceremony in Trinity College, which resulted in me wearing a suit, white bow tie and gown for the event since I’m upgraded from a Junior Scholar to a Senior Scholar this year. To those who don’t know, in Trinity, if you get a first class in your first year, then you’ll be awarded the Junior Scholar, which gives you room ballot privilege, £150, food allowance, among other things. If you get a first again in subsequent years, or if you get really good result in the first year, say, top five in the university, then you’ll be a senior Scholar instead, which gives basically the same but better privileges. £250 prize money, for example.

The ceremony’s pretty much the same as last year. I got the same book (and I’ll just put last year’s pic here since it’s the same thing) but this year I managed to get it signed by Martin Rees, Royal Astronomer and Master of Trinity College. It’s basically about Trinity’s history, but since history’s not my thing I haven’t even gone past chapter one.

The Great Court Run (last year’s link here) happened again this year but there’ll be no pictures since I was not there. Instead, I went to London for the Petronas open house & Eid celebration. It was nice to meet the new faces of Atlantic College students. There are eight Malaysians this year instead of the usual five.

I didn’t stay long, however, since there’s a volleyball training session in Cambridge at four. This year’s UCCMixed team (essentially the 3rd team) looks promising, and I noticed a few people who are definitely the 2nd team’s level, but they are in our team for some reason. Probably because they didn’t make it in the 2nd team’s tryout or they just can’t be bothered with the time commitment or competitiveness of the 2nd team. I certainly hope that we’ll perform better instead of losing to a secondary school team like last year.

And finally, since I was at King’s Cross station, I thought I’ll take a picture of the famous platform 9 and ¾.