My life is short but it is meaningful and purposeful. How is yours?

Archive for the ‘Life Lesson’ Category

Lessons Learned from REL1009

Recently I just realized how on time of a man I am is. Again, I did this post on the last day of the month. And in fact, this semester, I submitted all my assignments on the deadline days (never before them) – which is not entirely a bad thing actually since I was not late. I think this is because I always feel I have (still) too much time when the deadlines are still relatively far away – and this, I think is a bad thing. As a result, I enjoy my life very much since I love to delay my works, but then when the deadlines are near, I often suffer from lack of sleep. And furthermore, I become emotionally less stable during those periods. Now that I have acknowledged this, let’s see if I can make myself to start doing my works even though the deadlines seem still far away.

Okay, enough of the intermezzo, and now I want to share/preserve some lessons learned from taking one of my classes in GWU (George Washington University), which is the Introduction of Hebrew Scriptures (or also known as REL1009). This class is offered by the Religion Department of the university. However, even though it is called “REL,” the professor (or rabbi, since she is a Jew) already mentioned on the very first day of class that this class is not about spiritual refreshments and that there would be a lot of readings and writings to be done, not merely spiritual tips and lessons. In fact, I feel more like I’m taking a history class now. And by the way the last class was already over by the time I am writing this post, but the final exam is coming in 7 days time. This is some background of this class.

I was so surprised by the fact that the rabbi started the last class by asking the students what could be improved from the class, how we think about the assignments given, and if the text books have served their purposes well to us. And many students voluntarily raised their hands immediately and spoke up their opinions. Some said something positives, but some critiqued some of the assignments which they thought were not so useful/too hard/irrelevant. This is something quite amazing for me, a guy coming from Asia used to be surrounded by a lot of reserved people who do not really speak up in public places (I consider classroom as a public place), especially speaking about something negative or intriguing. I think being a bit more open and vocal is good and in fact needed. But that being said, I am not 100% pro America and hate Asia. I think that every culture is unique and each culture has been shaped uniquely by its very own history until it becomes what it is right now. We can’t entirely change a culture that is already there for some time, but adding a few positive elements will definitely be a good thing. And again, to repeat myself, those few elements to be added to Asian culture, in my opinion, are to be more open and vocal in speaking up opinions in public places.

Another seemingly trivial lesson is that reading the assigned readings for the class is actually good. How do I know this? Because I did not really read the readings of this class due to various reasons, but there were a few classes for which I read the readings beforehand. And I felt different in those classes. I felt like I know what is going on and I can actually participate in the discussion easily, since the questions that the rabbi asked are normally taken from the reading. I wish I read more readings in the past, so that I could learn even more from this class, but nonetheless, past is past. What I can do now is to apply this principle in my next semester in NUS, i.e. to be more discipline and diligent and consistent in studying. I hope by that I will be able to study more, and eventually score better grades too. Again, this seems to be a very trivial point that every body knows, but after I felt it myself, now I understand better why reading the readings is important!

To close off, I just want to say that this post is made by a guy who does not consider himself diligent, while striving to be more diligent. And I know this sounds more like a personal reflection, but if you can get something out of this, which I hope you will, that is great!


Short Nice Animation Movie

Okay. Here the story goes. I am now having a holiday in Jakarta, until Jan 3, before my flight to Washington DC for a semester exchange program with the George Washington University. And just today, this afternoon, I was surprised (in a positive way) to see a video posted by a friend on facebook about a short animation clip. While watching it, I learnt that it was made by some Indonesians because it was very “Indonesian-ly polished”: the language, the song, the characters, the bajaj (the little red vehichle which later on transforms into a robot), and basically everything!

Thereafter, I shared that video on my profile right away since I was proud that some fellow Indonesians are capable of doing such things. Well, I actually have no idea how difficult it is to produce such a clip since it’s not my daily cup of tea, but I’m sure it’s not that easy. Some pride of being Indonesian started to arise. I always knew Indonesia is a big country and full of potential, not only natural resources but also people potential. Some quick examples: under the guidance of Yohanes Surya, Indonesia had won a lot of medals in Asian Physics Olympiad and International Physics Olympiad. I am proud to say that I have some friends who were the medallists in those competitions (will even be prouder if I was the winner myself haha, but anyway, I’m good now). And please tell me how many talented Indonesians are pursuing higher study in developed countries. I myself know some friends studying in MIT, UCB, NTU, NUS (I also am an NUS student btw), and other good universities (most of them I don’t know what their universities are but they are in good countries like US, England, Germany, Australia, China, etc).

The point that I am trying to make is, Indonesia do have a potential to become a great country, at least we should be able to become the leader of South East Asia. The biggest challenge in my opinion is to clear the corruption mentality. And again, it’s always easier said than done. And by the way, to banish corruption in Indonesia, in fact, is the dream from a friend of mine (he said it 3 years ago) who is now studying Law in the University of Indonesia. Coming back to the short animation clip, I was imagining myself as someone of authority from the Indonesian government who had watched this online. And I thought I would directly called this group of people, and I would ask them to use their talents/capability/whatever-you-call-it to do something good for the country. It’s not necessarily be something of heroic story from Indonesia history. It can be of any story with good morale (and preferably spoken in English, if not, that’s fine). I would back them up with the resources they need. And hopefully they could create a movie that can go international which would lift Indonesia’s name up! πŸ™‚

Discussing about aspects of life which need to be improved in Indonesia, apart from the corruption issue, I do have some other things in mind right now, such as education, philosophy, and English as a second national language. Education: I believe we must first nurture the younger generation because they are the successors of current leaders and their journey start when they enter schools. Perhaps, I will take a closer look into the current curriculum system and see if there could be any better system. The quality of teachers need to be improved, no doubt. And the mentality of students to study for the sake of learning must be developed somehow. This education issue is a very complex huge issue which will need a lot of resources to resolve. Continuing from education, I believe students from as young as SMP (junior high school) students should be introduced to philosophy. We will need to work on the curriculum and the availability of the teachers first of course, but still, I do think that introducing philosophy to students is necessary. And lastly, English. The idea is simple. To be able to go international (learn from other countries, influence other countries, make business with other countries, etc) we need English as it still is the lingua franca for now. I didn’t intend to discuss these issues in this post initially but I was tempted to, so here they are (in smaller scale). To sum up, the point in this paragraph basically is, apart from all the problems/weaknesses the country have, this country do have a strong potential to excel.

And, lastly, here is the video I was talking about. πŸ™‚

Give Thanks

I actually have some ideas to write as of now, but since I’m already sleepy and I need to stick to my promise of doing one post entry every month, I have to pick the shortest one. πŸ™‚

And here it is. As you may already know, it was a Thanksgiving Day (in the US particularly) on the 4th Thursday of November which was quite recent. I posted a facebook status, saying my thankfulness over the things I felt thankful for, and it got 25 likes up to now (I don’t think it’s increasing anymore though). At least this proves something to me that people like to see good news, or things that looks pleasing in the eyes; and do not like the contrast very much. And my status was pretty much full of happiness and joy, at least at that moment, and a lot of people liked it. When at the other time I posted a status of hardship or “its friends”, not many liked it. I know the amount of “like” will depend on what time you post it on facebook, whether it is at the peak-hour or not. I have tried this with a lot of variety in the timing really, random enough for me and the sample size is big enough as well, and the conclusion is what I just said a few sentences earlier. So let’s just talk a bit about good moments or whatever good things that we are thankful for.

Why do people give thanks? What is the actual reason of being thankful over something? Often times is the lucky feeling like “Oh! Thank goodness! I feel very lucky to bla bla bla!” So let me ask a follow up question: “why then do you feel lucky?” Maybe, we are thankful when we think we don’t deserve the thing we get. Maybe we give thanks when we enjoy our time, like really think that “This is really a good time that I’m having now!” Maybe there some other reasons and I believe there are, butΒ I hope it is quite clear by now that to feel good or thankful is very subjective to own’s decision.

So why don’t we just enjoy more of our times? Is it that difficult to enjoy your own life? Is life really that though? I would choose always to be happy and to enjoy (if I can choose, or rather, if I’m aware that I’m able to choose) whatever I do or must do however hard it is. No scientific reason really to be not-thankful and grudging every time. Well I can’t give any evidence though right now, but at least I have read before that actually smiling needs less muscle work than frowning, significantly! I can’t remember the figures, but trust me I can give a lot of scientific evidences if I must do so. And it is not good for the mental health. Not good for the people around you also. Perhaps they are the one who actually need your courage. I do mean the last sentence. Sometimes people (including me also since I am just a human being) just think that their problem is the biggest problem on earth. They don’t really listen to others because they think others simply just don’t understand their struggles. On the other hand, I feel that this is, in fact, the biggest problem on earth, i.e. when every human being thinks that his/her problem is the biggest problem on earth!

So, c’mon people. Enjoy your life. Life is, well, sometimes can be bad, but it’s just sometimes. But we do learn from every hardship, don’t we? Your friend or the person next to you right now might be having a more difficult problem after all, but you just don’t know it. Be more thankful over everything. That can only give benefit. Don’t take every blessing we have for granted. Don’t give thanks for the past when you have already missed it. Give thanks now, in present time, for present time!

God loves you,


Movie Review: 3 Idiots

Alright, so 2 days ago I watched this movie 3 Idiots, alone in my room, on my laptop. I initially thought the movie is in English, after a few minutes I figured out though, that 95% of the conversations are in Hindi. Then I looked for an English subtitle and started watching it. The movie is approximately 160 minutes but, really, I didn’t feel that the movie was too long though. It’s enjoyable.

3 idiots

If you haven’t watched it, please watch it for your own good. It is actually better, in my opinion, to just watch the movie without looking at its synopsis first – just as what I did 2 days ago. So, I would recommend you to stop reading this post first before you watch it. But if you want to continue reading, well, that’s fine.

Generally, the movie is about a genius daring inspirational guy who went to a college of engineering in India. He challenged almost everything he saw/heard, one of those was the education system at the college. He felt that the college was not functioning as it should be. The system was wrong, he claimed. And of course, the principal of the college hated him. However though, he had two loyal friends who travelled together with him in most of his adventures. The movie showcases some fascinating scientific experiments. It also demonstrates a strong bond of friendship. It is a comedy movie, so you will laugh at times when you watch it, but it is also strongly emotional that can make you want to cry, cry of happiness. Really, for me, 160 mins of watching this movie didn’t feel that long.

Some ‘lessons’ that I take from this movie:
1. Value your friends. They are actually your treasures here on earth. Money can’t buy you love, as people say, money can’t buy you true friends as well. Be a good friend to others. Even if you’re a successful person, if you don’t have friends to share your joy with, life would be very plain, meaningless. But even in your darkest time, if you have friends around you, true friends, you can still smile and stand up facing the storm.

2. Β Don’t always follow majority. Yes it’s true that sometimes it looks stupid to act against the majority, but that exactly is the thing that this world needs right now! How do you know if the majority is right? How do you improve the system if you never do something that is not commonly done? How do you want to change the world if you don’t dare to act?

3. Don’t study merely for your grades. What is a grade after all? It is just A, B, C letters written on your transcript. What more important is the knowledge/skills you possess. Go study your stuffs to gain knowledge. Do your homeworks to sharpen your skills. Don’t study because you’re afraid to fail your module. Study because you like it. Don’t aim for success, pursue excellence and success will automatically follow you.

4. Do things you are passionate for. Why do you go to engineering school if your passion is in photography? Because your dad says you must do engineering? That’s stupid. Don’t do things because you are forced to do it. That way, it won’t be efficient and the result surely won’t be good. In other words, it is okay for you to have your passion different from others. Humans are unique. Every single one is God’s own masterpiece. That’s a fact.

That’s all I can share as of now. Basically I’m just sharing my values which are captured in this awesome 3 Idiots movie. Have fun watching it if you haven’t. See you again some other time. πŸ™‚

New Semester, New Expectation, New Hope

Hi there,

I am writing this after my third day of my school. School just started last Thursday, so yeah, today was only the third day. Something great happened today when I just wake up: I couldn’t speak! My voice was just gone. Well, I exaggerated a bit, I could actually speak but it was difficult and the voice was actually weird. It’s like I got phlegm inside my throat there that somehow blocked the vibration of my voice or whatever. The right hole of my nose is also not functioning! Isn’t that cool? So I’ve been breathing with only the left side of my nose this whole day! At this kind of situation whereby it was very difficult for me to speak, it came into my mind that I should write something! Hahaha. So here I am in front of my laptop.

Okay, so, from my own opinion, academic wise, I did not do very well last semester and I want to improve this semester. So that’s the new expectation. I will also be teaching one module in NUS (not as the lecturer! haha. actually only helping out as a lab teaching assistant). My actual reason to do this teaching thing is not really because of the money, but more towards because I want the students to get good teaching and in a way I want to train myself to be able to teach and help people. But somehow, when I talked about this to people, the first thing they talked about is the money. I don’t really think, personally, that the pay is that high — you can teach tuition outside and get a higher pay. Anyway, it seems that money is indeed a very important element in our lives that we can’t live without. And people will be happier if they have more money! (at least it’s what I think people think)

Back to academic expectation, I do really hope that I can be a good student this semester. Let me explain what my ‘good student’ means:
1. I will try to come to all classes, regardless of the weather, mood, etc.
2. I will try to do all tutorial problems, well at least have an attempt to do each problem will be good enough. (this did not happen very often in the past)
3. I will make sure that I am on the same track as the lecturer in every lecture. This might need me to revise my lecture notes if it is needed.
4. I will do all the assignments given to me. (i.e. group projects, homeworks, essays, readings)

Basically the idea behind this is to give my best. And that was inspired during a chat with a friend. She reminded me that we as Christians ought to do our best in every single thing (or task) we have, as if doing it for God. That really encouraged me since sometimes I was too logical (I would try to use the minimum amount of energy to get the maximum result (read: grade)). This way, however, resulted in a lot of bad things, e.g. underestimating the content of the lesson, overestimating myself, not taking into account if disruptive unexpected events happen, procrastinating at times, and maybe some other which I couldn’t think of now. So yeah, let’s just try to give my best this semester and I believe God will adjust the result accordingly. πŸ™‚

Besides, now I am also living in the Tembusu College at the NUS newly opened University Town, well thank God for that, and I have been seeing a lot of new people everywhere (especially at the dining hall) and I do hope to know them one by one slowly. Making new friends is good. But sometimes I do think that too many friends occasionally is a bit troublesome as well: if one have more friends which means more hours of interactions needed to keep the relation up with them, he/she still ‘only’ have 24 hours per day to live. So yeah, I guess this is a new challenge by itself already, i.e. to decide on whom shall I spend my time with, when to meet the crowd when to have a solitary time, when to meet new friends when to meet old friends, when to meet people when to study, when to be engaged in a face to face interaction when to communicate just using facebook-chat-skype-sms, etc.

After all, maybe I have thought too much which maybe is true and in fact I also agree that I think too much (sometimes). I better take every single day one by one and finish my daily tasks day by day. I believe God will still guide me along and protect me. Even though now I am physically weak, I will recover! God’s power is made perfect in humans’ weaknesses, am I right?

Have a new hope people and remain strong! πŸ™‚

What do I look for in life?

Today is the last day of May and it’s my deadline to write an entry already! >.<

Let me recall what happened in the last few weeks. Today was the 11th day of my internship. My holiday officially started on 7th of May but since then I always had something to do each day. 7th of May, I spent whole day for NUS ISCF AGM. 8th of May as usual, went to church and talked a lot with friends regarding the future of ISCF. 9-13 May was in ISCF Camp. 14 May, got another NUS ISCF AGM (they called it Extraordinary General Meeting or EOGM) because ISCF’s president was not determined yet by that time, after EOGM went to church for Youth Fellowship! πŸ™‚ 15 May, went to church and spent time talking to friends. 16 May, started my internship, then in the evening watched Fast n Furious! 17 May, got church outing in the morning and bible study in the late afternoon, spent time talking to friends in the evening. 18 May-20 May, went to work as usual. 20 May after work, went to NTU to attend their (NTU ISCF’s) ETG (Exam Thanksgiving), a sweet fellowship it was, then I slept over there in my friend’s (Vincent’s) room. 21 May, this day was dedicated for NTU ISCF’s AGM. πŸ˜€ 23-27 May, did internship as usual and mostly ate dinner talking to friends, also went to my church’s prayer meeting on Friday night. 28 May, volunteering for EARC as an area master at Ngee Ann City. It was a new experience, met some new friends as well from all over Asia! 29 May, went to my church and went to Saint John’s Saint Margaret’s church to play guitar in EARC’s communion service. Β 30-31 May, worked as usual, but now I am in different team from before.

3 weeks back, my friend (Edward) told me that a music school (Asia Music School) in Yishun needs a guitar teacher, the pay is quite good, and the probability of me getting accepted there is quite high, according to what he says. I could apply there as a part-timer on Saturdays and maybe Sundays if I want. But I held my decision to apply first because I wanted to see if I would be very busy already or not. Now then I don’t feel like applying into that position anymore because as can be seen from my short history, my Saturdays were always occupied. This coming Saturday I am asked to give some basic guitar strumming lesson in GENUS and probably I will stay over at my friend’s house. And by the way, this Sunday I will be playing guitar in my church as well. For the next Saturday, my Β Tembusu Orientation committee already booked my day for a dry run for the amazing race during the orientation later. Oh yeah packed schedule but I believe everything is going to be alright! πŸ™‚

Apart from that I have made commitment to read one Christian book during this holiday and now is already 30% of my holiday gone and I haven’t really started reading a book. I hope I can start reading a book soon, maybe I will begin with Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper first. See if I can finish that in a month or maybe less, then I will probably read another book.

At this stage in life, all these conditions make me think of what I actually look for in life. Why at the first place I decided to do internship and not just went back to Indonesia to enjoy holiday, meet family and friends? Why I was bothered to go to NTU ISCF’s AGM? Why I was interested in giving guitar tuition? Why I often spent times to talk with friends over dinner time (and sometimes after dinner also)? Why am I writing this particular entry in my blog? Here are some answers which I can think of: I do internship to expose myself into a new environment, to meet more people, and to get a nicer transcript as well. I went to NTU for their AGM because I cared for students ministries in campuses, since I am currently still a student also. I wanted to teach guitar at that music school mainly because of the money incentive; it’s always good to have extra pocket money right? And, again cliche, of course because I want to have a new experience in life: teaching guitar in Singapore. Next is, well, I talked to people because I believe I cared for them but who knows deep inside I do so because I just don’t like to be alone? I am writing this blog because somehow I just feel that I have to share this. I believe at this stage of life a lot of youths are having the same struggles as mine and it’s always good to share things around right?

Let’s just end this post, it’s already late night now and I still have to wake up early tomorrow to go to work again. Honestly, I am not so sure how to answer the question in the title of this post. I don’t even know which area of industry that I am interested to work on after I am graduated. Well, yeah, it is known that generally people look for wealth, health, and fame in life. But I am not really looking for those things actually (cognitively). However, in daily life, maybe I look for those things (practically). To close down, as what the bible says in Matthew 26:41, “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” So true is this statement in my opinion. I pray that God will strengthen me, but not only me (all others who are having the same struggles also), to be able to be strong in spirit and do not listen to the flesh very often.

Evaluation of Semester 4

Yes it is the end of the month, and again, I post my post on the very last time. This is mainly because I was busy (really) but perhaps partly because I was not committed enough to write more regularly. I need to be more committed perhaps. πŸ™‚

Now is the 2nd day of my 4th week in my 4th semester in NUS. Why don’t I just share what happened this sem?

There are some important things to take note of about this semester:

1. Up to today, I always came to my lectures. Sometimes I was 5-10 minutes late though, but I always came no matter what. This makes me proud in some sense. Why so? Because I have always had some lectures I didn’t attend during my first three sems due to various reasons including mere laziness. The worst record is last semester in which I had one module with my lecture attendance was only around 20% I guess (from total of 23 or 24 lectures I came only 4 or 5 times). What a bad boy I was! But relax, it’s not as bad as it looks because the lectures were webcast. And some more, those lectures were 8AM class. If you are NUS student, you would understand the struggle of having 8AM classes. πŸ™‚

Putting any justification not to attend lectures aside, I had made decision to try my best to come to every single lecture this semester even though it may be raining, the lecturer may be boring, the material may be too easy, etc. I think the most important thing is that I need to discipline myself. The discipline in attending classes, I believe, will induce my discipline in doing other things also! πŸ™‚

2. This semester is tough, probably the toughest for me so far. How so? Because I have 6 core modules with 24MCs. No one single module can be S/U-ed and among those six, three of them have group projects. The weight of the group projects are quite big also. All the deadlines for submissions are spanned throughout the whole semester. In short, I will be having a lot of project meetings!

Meanwhile, I am still the exco of GENUS (Guitar Ensemble NUS) and exco of ISCF (Indonesian Students Christian Fellowship). I can tell you that being excos in those groups are not easy jobs. If I may, I would count those commitments as another 2 modules which have homeworks almost every week, but luckily with no exams! And I am also involved in this Tembusu College Pilot Programme. I am sorry to the people there because I sometimes couldn’t come to their events because simply it clashed with my other CCAs. Tough decisions have been made in choosing which event to attend (many of them clash with each other, really), when should get more involved in which community, when should I have quiet time on my own to study and to think about various things, and so on.

3. I bought my iPhone4 9 days ago! I wanted this phone since December and finally bought it. The process till I get the phone on my hand was a miracle I think. God’s work was really being shown to me. Too many coincidences happened that night. If you know any of Dea, Inigo, or Tata, any one of them will verify to you that that night was just unbelievable. In short, my initial plan didn’t work as it was supposed to and in the very end, I got the iPhone with the 35% discount (this amount of discount exceeded initial expectation) on the monthly subscription fee. (Btw, I am under multi-line saver from M1 plan) That’s just amazing and that’s about it. Now the iPhone is by my side.

Quoting from my friend Hejing when she said it during GENUS comm meeting, “With great power comes great responsibility”. For me my iPhone is such a great power compared to my older phone. Here comes the responsibility part. I can utilise it in such a way it will help my study, make me be a more effective man, give me more entertainment, etc. But on the other hand, as my father always says, the technology may cause me not to study but instead to play all the time. What if I use my iPhone to play games all the time, to watch youtubes anywhere, to update facebook status again and again, to online in MSN 24 hours, to always get updated with soccer news, etc? Will I still have time to study and do my obligations then? Thus, with great power comes great responsibility. I am responsible to God for my time that He has already given to me. And with that in mind, I think I can be more responsible. πŸ™‚

Yup, that’s all for this post I guess.

Thank you for reading and hopefully we all can become better persons as the time keeps running.

Happy Chinese New Year in advance! πŸ™‚