By Criscentia Jessica Setiadi

It’s getting colder as the autumn sets in. Yes, it’s that time when the leaves turn yellow and orange then fall. This is all just like what I’ve read in stories and watched in films; and it’s just one among the others new things I have experienced and about to as the clock ticks.


I am currently pursuing an MA in English Literature: Modern & Contemporary Fictions at University of Westminster, London. It has been a month now since I left all my family and friends back home. Knowing how supportive they are to this one big step is very lifting for me, so being homesick doesn’t really get on the way. In this little journal, I’d like to share some bits of what I’ve experienced; starting from how I find living, schooling, to enjoying my time here in London.

Settling In

I would like to put weather first in this case before going on to the transport, connectivity, and food. As a person who lives all her life in the two-season country and never spares her time to check on how the weather’s like everyday, living here is a whole different story. I spent the first two weeks in fashion faux pas in terms of not suitable for the weather for I didn’t check on it. ‘Nice weather’ here means it’s chilly, with the sun up there, and less windy; I would call it the Cisarua weather. Weather also has a good place in daily conversation. I don’t think it’s ever been skipped for once, which is very understandable.

Transport in London is pretty easy and user-friendly. Every passenger must have what is called Oyster card (similar to flazz card). One trip by bus is £1.45 (Rp29,000) and by tube (underground) is vary starting from £2.20 (Rp44,000). Without the Oyster card, the charge is higher, might as well get one. As I slowly figure how I want to plan my trips to save money, I learned that I begin to enjoy walking. The sidewalk is there, everyone is there, jaywalking is allowed, the streets are all predestrian-friendly, the weather is nice (refer to above description of nice weather). I mean I can walk very comfortably for more than 1 or 2-hour long if I wish. Since I am a full-time student, I applied for Student Oyster card that allows me to buy unlimited weekly, monthly, or annual pass for good bargain.
Most of mobile phones here come with plans. For example, I can get an iPhone 5S at £29 (Rp580,000) if I sign a 24-month contract of £33/month (Rp660,000) in which almost everything is inclusive like certain amount of texts, voice calls, and all-you-can-eat data. Intriguing. Fortunately or unfortunately, I don’t know, all Indonesian phones are unlocked and we can just buy a UK simcard for just 99p (Rp19,500) and get some top-up starting from £5 (Rp100,000). Internet connectivity is also major for students. Some simcard allows to tether, with extra money of course. But wait! Wifi is everywhere and the school library’s is the best one that also comes with great study environment. When it comes to food, I’d say cook and eat at home are the greatest way to save more money. Eating out at an average restaurant can cost £6-£10. Meanwhile, 6 eggs only £1, a bottle of milk is another £1, a big loaf of bread is also £1, a litre of rice costs £1.20, 3 packs of instant noodles are for £1. Oh, don’t always convert everything into Rupiahs, it can be very frustrating.


Lots and Lots of Reading

I applied for the University of Westminster via UKPass with no charges. There are also many other universities in the UK listed in UKPass. Starting to browse for the courses and universities is recommended. After decided on one/two/three choices of courses/university, the 2 biggest highlights are: First is to find out the minimum requirement of IELTS score (usually it’s slightly higher for English-related courses). This leads to preparing oneself to take the test, arranging test schedule, taking it, and waiting for 10-14 days for the result to come. A little note: TOEFL tests is no longer accepted as evidence of English language ability for people applying for a visa for the UK—official email sent, May 2014. Second is to write a personal statement (1000-1500 words). Personal Statements are often requited in postgraduate study application. It’s really important and takes time to write one. Most universities’ website provide FAQ and tips on how to write a good personal statement.

As I am ‘back to school’, what excite me the most is that I am a student again! Having a timetable, sitting in the classroom, getting homework and new friends, all of these things make me feel brand new; like a kid’s first day of school. The learning environment is extremely different, though. Before the classes start, each of the subject’s module leader sent a set of reading for us to read, obviously, and most importantly, to be contextual on each meeting. The tutor (lecturer) will never scold anybody for not reading them, but lost-in-translation is guaranteed. The learning technique depends on self-motivation and time management; the SKS (SistemKebutSemalam) is not working and will never be. Being kepo(continuous act of wanting to know more and more) can be put in good terms. In this case, it’s to read all those pages of theories and essays.
Apparently, the one that I’m pursuing is a research-based graduate program, so all of the assessments come in the form of writing thousands of words. God speed. These are the some fictions I read and reread on the first weeks: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Robert Louis Stevenson), The Picture of Dorian Gray (Oscar Wilde), Dorian (Will Self), and To The Lighthouse (Virginia Woolf); many will follow. The students don’t have to buy all the books listed, cause all of them are available in campus (students can borrow up to 15 books a week!) and public libraries. The uni also provides Silent Study Room for those who wish to study in peace and quiet environment. I personally prefer studying in libraries; among the books.

At Brighton with Charlotte and Ashlee
At Brighton with Charlotte and Ashlee

I did promise some people that I’d make a video blog. The pilot episode is now ready! Here you go:

(Katrok in London: Pilot Episode)