Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Vienna

so my poster has been accepted to a conf in orlando, florida, alhamdullillah...! Then i googled for the location, and about a mile from it, there's a premium outlet, and this was exactly how i felt...

Yipeee!

Tp yg lecehnya, kena g buat visa kat Vienna. So 2 weeks ago, sbb rasa bersalah nak claim visa and train tix kat uni, we chose the cheapest tix yg jalan at 5am. So pagi2 buta yg bersalji rintik2, sbb too lazy to go out 40 minutes earlier to wait for the bus, we decided to run and cycle, alem ran and me cycled, that is. 15-20 mins je dah smpai station. Mencabar gakla lari dgn mengangkut backpack lg , tp alem convinced himself that if the navy can do it, he can too.

9.44am sampai kat Vienna Westbahnhof, and met Sabb and Aaron for the first time and she took us to her house. Konon plan, sampai awal tu nak jalan2 for the whole day, tp belum apa2, tertidor smpai tengahari.

Macam jakun je, kat train station pon nak amik gambar

Little tht we knew tht kami dah lalu pon depan demels masa jalan2 on the first day tu, siap amik gambar lg. Tp serious, tak perasan langsung sign demels kat atas tu.

Anyway, the following day, i went to the consulate for my 9.30am appointment. Masuk je 9.30, tu pon after queuing up for security check yg amatlaaaa lambat. Yela kan, those applying for non-immigrant visa mcm kitorg ni are terrorists until proven otherwise *sarcastic mode*.

Masuk dalam, give them our documents and a passport-sized self-taken photo *nak jimat hihihi* to them and tunggu for our turn yg ada kot kat sejam setengah for the interview. Interview simple aje. Dia tanya pergi buat apa (malas baca invitation letter la tu, but i said it's for the conf and dgn sejujurnya - to do some shopping), conf bidang apa, sapa sponsor, study kat mana, benda2 yg obviously dah ada dlm system diorg sbb b4 going for the interview tu mmg wajib isi borang online. Then tiba2 dia tanya g sana ada proof yg tunjuk aku ada duit?

Huh? Errr.. i said tht i forgot to bring my bank statement. What? I could've easily shown him my stacks of german n malaysian credit cards (okla tipu, ada 2 keping je), tp tak terpikir lak. So terdiam la sama2 time tu for wht felt like almost a minute. But I guess he genuinely believe that I indeed have enough 'cause he later said, "never mind" dan tanya if i'm a phd candidate, to which i said, "yes."

Anyway, yg cukup la kejam diorg is tht they asked us to leave our passports with a self-addressed envelope (yg ada skali dgn stamp). Nervous gakla tinggal, tp dah tu syarat diorg. Tup tup, 2 days later, i got my visa and the most surprising thing is that it's a multiple-entry visa tht will only expire in 2022. Terkejut sume tgk, including myself, biar betol! Alhamdullillah, jimat duit for the next 10 years, kot2 nak g US lagi.

So, lepas settle interview, Sabb took us for a treat at demels, which is a cafe mewah yg asalnya ala2 palace kot. Intimidating gakla tmpt ni, sah kalu dtg sendiri segan nak masuk. Dah la system nak pilih kek dia pon agak confusing.

So I had a slice of cake, and Sabb had a chocolate... i dont know what to call it, but it was warm and fresh from the oven and many times lg sedap from the cake tht I chose. Had I known it was tht good, I would've chosen the same thing. Alem tak mkn apa2, kesian dia, nak minum kopi takot masuk angin, nak cake, he doesnt hv a sweet tooth. So dia amik gmbar kami menjilat bibir dan mengunyah2 aje la....


Apa nama cake ni eh?

Gambar makan paling decent. Yg lain tgh menjilat la, mulut muncung la, tgh menganga la, ishhh... tak suka org amik gmbr kita tgh makan!

And our waitress was a french maid, konon2nya la....

All in all, we were in Vienna for barely 2 days, but it was certainly nice to finally meet Sabb, and her cute little boy. Teringat Aaron merangkak atas lantai sambil melangut looking at us towering over him, comelnya!! Can't wait to have one of my own....


*update: Alhamdullillah... another poster for a demo that we did for our phd course last sem has been accepted as well. Just told rommie to chk his email, and wait, in a few minutes, mesti sv hantar email.

Time nak prepare poster paper tu problematic sungguh sbb vision kitorg 3 yg implement menatang tu tak selari dgn our sv. Sv cam nampak benda tu as a starting point of something bigger, kitorg ni dgn penuh humility rasa benda tu cikai dan tak layak hantar g conf pon. Tiba2, accepted lak, punya terkejut, dah la acceptance rate tak smpai 20% pon... tergelak besar kitorg.

Just told my roommie tht there's no way i'm presenting it alone. Dah la dia paling byk contribute, dah tu, kitorg buat cam in haste gak la. Nasib sv pon suruh dia yg present... phew! Excited dia bole kuar europe, and possibly bole g disneyland... kanak2 betol!

Group retreat 2


so on sunday night, dah penat berski, we were served a 6-meal course dinner yg cantik tp tak sedap. Dah sampai 6 meals tu sah2 la by the 5th meal, dah pukul berapa dah. Lagi best, we were told, our last dessert went missing, so kena tunggu chef prepare baru. Memandangkan many of the guys tak puas mkn meal2 yg ciput2 tu, sv asked for some kaeseplatte and some bread, sementara tunggu dessert. Then dessert smpai dah kat 11pm, sembang2 lg style german yg tak reti2 berhenti bersembang, dlm 11.40, sv decided it was time to start his talk, which was to discuss about the future research for our group.

By then, sume dah layu dah. Our team assistant n the wife of one of the guys naik tido dulu, tinggal la kami kat bawah discuss dgn 2 notebooks kat dinner table. Mmg response kurang memberangsangkan, except for one or two guys yg rasa one of the research ideas on car communication tu is a waste of time, sbb tu asalnya idea dia, dia dah study habis-habisan, dan dia kata it's pointless sbb kalu takde company yg bole make a business model out of it, susah idea tu nak jalan.

Sv rasa takpe, just go ahead with it, come up with the technology, in the future, kalu ada org buat killer app guna technology tu, then bole la cari kita. Rasanya dia terkilan kot sbb several years ago, ada group member kitorg penah propose satu idea ni kat satu stardardization body ni. Tp time tu keperluannya tarak, so his proposal ditongsampahkan. Tup2, a few yrs later, a japanese company needed something similar, and came up with it kot, then terlepas peluang member kitorg ni nak dpt nama.

Maybe sbb tu dia cam nak gak buat fundamental research. Biasanya, diorg selalu consider making a business model out of their research, sbb senang nak dpt audi ke siemens sponsor, and honestly i like their approach. Macam berpijak pada bumi nyata as opposed to syok sendiri. Tp maybe once in a while, dia nak buat research still dalam vehicular network, tp yg mungkin menguntungkan pengguna kereta, but not telcos or car manufacturers, or at least not yet.

So diorg gado2 la, yg lain mostly dok tgk je, kekadang menyampuk, sbb dah penat sgt kot. Tetiba, tak semena2, one guy yg dok termenung all this while tetiba menyampuk, "i think we need to look at this problem locally, like how can i send pictures to my computer, or my tv." Semua terdiam, cam pelik, apsal dia tetiba cerita benda yg takdak kaitan ni? Nampak sgt ngantuk smpai dah ckp ngarut2... padahal dia tak join g ski pun ptg tu.

Anyway, in the end, those guys yg gado2 decided to agree to disagree. Next slide, my area. Alamak, terkejut! Groggily, i just stared at the slide, otak serious tak jalan, and i remember mumbling tah apa2 for a second or two. Yg lain pon, tak responsive sgt. Then, sv looked at the time - 12.15 am, looked at us and called it a night.

So he suggested breakfast at 8am, nak sambung discussion kot, ramai tak nak. Mamat yg ckp mengarut tu suggested 9am, i seconded his suggestion. Sv tak nak sbb nanti dia kena tunggu smpai 2 jam n tatau apa nak buat. And i was thinking, dia ni tak penat ke, dah ptg g ski, tgh malam nak present talk, pagi nak breakfast awal... naya kalu kena ikot rentak dia ni.

Esok Monday morning tu, i went down at 830 am, in fact, most of us did, some even later than that. Dah lewat camtu, nak discussion apa.

Abih breakfast, dia hantar kami blk rumah, masuk umah, baru 11.15am, boom, sambung tidor :)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Group retreat

Tah sapa punya idea nak bg retreat nama yg punya catchy. But basically, kami kena present la keje yg kitorg buat selama ni, our future plan and then discuss tentang keje. Masa kat erlangen pun buat gak, tp kat sana, gile nerve-wrecking la. The group was big, we didnt really know each other. Pastu rasanya group head pun mcm a bit distant from the rest of us, typical mcm kat malaysia la. Group sini, well, let's just say sv kitorg ni berjiwa muda and cool. So that really puts everyone at ease. But I was nervous nonetheless-- need to really do something about tht! But I got some nice suggestions from my sv and some of the other guys on what to look into, for the result of my study which was hmmm... not exactly what I expected.

So everybody had to present something, even my roommie yg dah grad yg sv ajak as a special guest pon kena present, dan yg paling kejam, our team assistant yg keje part-time pun kene gak. So dgn takde preparation, she presented her diplom study, something on language studies (she's a linguistic student). But I guess sv was just being fair, tak prepare pape pon present je pape, sbb sume nak tau apa yg each other tgh buat. Guess he wants a difference from wht we had in erlangen. Sana, slot for each presentation ada dlm 15-45 mins, sini dia kata 10-20 mins max, sbb buat lama2 nanti lose focus. Plus, discussions lg penting, betulla tu. So buat camni, sekarang semua tau apa semua buat.

Anyway, sbb group ada duit lebih from a project they did last year, so our first group retreat buat la kat this nice resort hotel kat Seefeld. Terkejut gakla, sbb expect cam hotel biasa2, tp skali, wah! Even our team assistant yg buat planning ni pon impressed, padahal patutnya dia dah tahu what to expect.

the view from our balcony

old country punya charm, tp hotel ni mmg very very old pon, tp new the new spa facility and the 'disco' (they still call it disco here) terlebih moden pulak

ni mesti ada lawak in german, which probably explains why i wasnt laughing
yay! halfway-through our 'conference', roomie made a surprise visit! Nama dia ala2 legendary, sbb ada group member yg continue keje dia. Kelakar, sbb the guy presenting punya la nervous takot silap describe the software yg roommie buat dulu.

So there's the 8 of us, geng under sv yg tertinggal kat erlangen pon dijemput dtg. So tht was really nice, sbb diorg ni mmg loud and kecoh, ada diorg jd meriah. And they were the ones yg the moment nampak je perot, terus tau about my pregnancy. Tp being germans, takde la tegur straight-away. Tp si feng ni pulak, time kitorg sama2 nak amik coffee, he saw my tummy, and tanpa berselindung, terus, "congratulations!" and tanya mcm2. Okla, he's chinese, plus he's the only in our erlangen group yg ada baby kecik, so tht makes sense. He even asked roommie, perasan tak apa2 different kat my belly? (ok, dia perasan, cuma tunggu kita cerita sendiri. Maybe he thought i would kot, sbb i pratically told him everything dulu, even kes miscarriage pun cerita kat dia sorg aja, apart from my sv, or course). And it was only time dinner, baru Ju***en ni tanya apa cerita perut. Dia kata dia perasan the moment he saw me, sbb the last time we meet 4 months ago, i was still slim lg and he started asking questions mcm2, so rasanya sume dgr by then. And rasanya bebudak sini baru tau by then, tu la hari2 jumpa, tak perasan tht my belly makin membulat tiap2 hari.

Anyway, jom ckp psl makan. Package kami ada afternoon high-tea, so lunch sume skip, selection for breakfast is not too bad, and dinner, oh wow. Appetizer for dinner smlm was buffet-style, byk gila selection, salad biasa la, tp ada byk seafood, seafood salad pon ada, sushi pun ada, mcm2 la. Too bad i had to skip yg salmon slices tu sbb pregnant. Feng pun siap2 sound jgn mkn. Tp main dish, alahaiiii.... garnishing sikit punya class, tp pinggan je besar. Ju***gen yg kaki makan ni, seminit je terus licin, sampai kena g ulang amik appetizer sbb tak cukup mkn. But i had fish, portion dia lebih sikit from those yg mkn daging, and with the appetizer, kenyang gila smpai for the first time, i was confident i could feel my baby squirm in delight (or squirm sbb nak makanan melayu kot). And the desert, panna cotta kot nama dia, was so heavenly, sungguh la mkn tak puas. Malam ni ada 5-course-meal, ada itik, maybe i'll pass tht to Ju***gen.

At this moment, most of them are out skiing/ski touring. Sorg tangan bersimen, sorg mmg tak adventurous tahap kitorg pon tak paham, and me pregnant, choose the stay indoor and try the spa facility. Tp dah tgk spa, nak massage mahal, sauna kena bogel, swim alem tak bg pakai swimsuit dah, so sambil tunggu hi-tea, i blog hehehehe, and maybe i'd take a short nap later.