Grateful – I was feeling inside out, as I sit comfortably on a flight back home after spending an autumn in Shanghai. On the flight, I felt the urge to share my key personal takeaways to people who might find them useful, while reminiscing my journeys for the last 4 years.
Early 2009, Jakarta
Having done my IBT TOEFL and GMAT, sent an astute and personal recommendation letters from people that knew me best, fulfilled other requirements and packed my dreams to envelopes (or emails) of applications, the acceptance letters finally came to my door. I was lucky as I did not have any significant barriers for me to pursue my naïve dreams. But for those of you who do, find a way and still go for it. If all else fail, get up and try again!
“One characteristic emerged as the significant predictor of success. And it was not social intelligence; it was not good looks etc. It was GRIT: The passion and perseverance for a very long term goal. Grit is living life like a marathon and not a sprint” – The brilliant Angela Lee Duckworth, Ted Talks
Summer 2009, The University of Oxford, English Summer Course
I wanted to come early before settling down to my university, to get a feel of what it is like to live in a historical, beautiful city.
First day of being alone in such a strange surrounding was definitely uncomfortable, trying to figure out the surrounding areas, the supermarkets, the school, the bank, the phone and the “nitty-gritty things” that you need to survive. Fortunately, Oxford was such a breeze to navigate. Then came the first day at school and I hit the ground running with only one thing in mind: to get to know as many people as possible. Yes, you just have to pack your courage and confident with you, earn great friendship with people around the world, and soon the strange city would become very homey.
This lovely vibrant rich historic city, I will always hold dearly.
Autumn 2009 – Autumn 2010, Warwick Business School (WBS), MSc Finance
So they said, a Master’s degree should open the door and a great one would do. Where to, which country, which continent? Somewhere with a great cultural sense and where there are not that many Indonesians for me to be “forced” to absorb the culture and brush up my English well. Aussie? Too many Indonesians (But I applied anyway to both ANU and MelU for their Masters in Finance)). How about the UK? Definitely!
As I am much of a capitalist at heart, a Master’s in Research would not suit me. So, I need a degree in Master of Science instead. I did some research on the internet and asked a lot of questions to different people anywhere in the world and sent emails to staff of various admission offices, and also communicated with their alumnus; all these to help me come up with a selected few of universities with the best MSc in Finance programmes in the UK.
So I ended up choosing Warwick Business School. Why WBS? First reason: location, location, location. At that time, I applied to WBS and another university in London. Now, if you’re so much more a city girl or guy, the you may choose to live in London. But if you want to broaden your basket of experience, then try living in the middle of nowhere for a year. You’ll very much appreciate our vibrant Jakarta once you came back.
On the programme? if you want to study finance in the UK, make WBS one of your options. All I can tell you is that I had a great time and great learning experience. I got copies of Financial Times and WallStreetJournal every day to be a street-smart in financial and economic issues, top-notch lecturers open their doors for constant questions, Bloomberg and Reuters terminals ready 24/7, and possible “future employers,” such as various top investment banks or consulting firms come constantly from London to the school. The opportunities that may open from being in such environment are just endless!
However, shifting from our much dictated, passive education system to an independent, active one required my juggling and running at the same time to try to catch up with the classes. Although I had a finance background, I still needed to work hard. The university awarded five scholarships in a year for your full CFA Membership and Level I exam. If you also want this, you should be ready to work hard, then just like me, you may get lucky.
Mingle with non Indonesians make the years away from home to be not only a great learning experience academically, but also culturally, and I cannot emphasize more on how important this is. My take is: you should immerse yourself, day in, day out, with the locals… the Europeans, the Africans, and the other Asians. An open mind leads to open door. It builds up your empathy, appreciation, and tolerance. As strange as it may sound, you would love Indonesia more from afar.
Autumn 2010 – Autumn 2011, London
After having a glorious year in a quiet side of England, I finally moved to a house in London with 3 good friends from the uni, two guys from Greece and 1 girl from Colombia. Needless to say, I LOVED it there. The people, cultural diversity, energy, soul, and history are just some of the city’s attractions. I spent the year studying for my CFA, interning at a bank in the Bank/St.Paul area and searching for job. Nothing beats munching the best crepes in town while laying down in the park on any given Sunday. Unfortunately, time like these must also end.
Coming home from London was really difficult. I was so in love with the idea of living there that I never wanted to leave. Little did I know life’s about to give me another soul searching journey to Singapore. In the last four years I managed to enrich my life, taking the gist of Oxford, WBS and its surroundings, London, Singapore and Shanghai. I get everything but mostly great friendships and learn nothing else but to be a better me. With this, I encourage you to embark on your own journey and find that side of yourself you never knew exist!