A Bit About Myself

Welcome to my Blog! Some of you may have stumbled upon this blog by accident, some may have seen my post on social media about it, or some are here because I told them to. Yeah sorry about that.

Just to clear things up, and the same time prove that I’m not some super-effective-diet-organic-Anti-GMO-supplement seller, I’ll tell you some of my background.

Actually, you can just checkout my LinkedIn page right here, or at the bottom of the page. Clears out all questions. But really, you can never ask too many questions, right? Therefore, I’m going format this like a QA. Like an interview, you might say. I’m interviewing myself.

Yeah. Me interviewing me.

Not weird.

I’m gonna wing it.


Q1: Basics

LinkedIn profile walkthrough, and some other stuff. Basic stuff.

What’s your name?

Muhammad Avicenna Naradipa.

Sorry what?

You can call me Cenna.

Some other people call me Cen, Cencen, Na, Dipa, Vicen, or Avi. Don’t call me Muhammad because that’s like the most common name in the world.

Okay, Cenna. Where are you from?

Indonesia. Tangerang, to be exact. Although I’ve lived in Surabaya for about 3 years, back in 1997.

So you speak Indonesian?

Yes, and also a little bit of Javanese, Intermediate Mandarin (HSK level 4), and English of course (TOEFL IBT: 108, #humblebrag).

Where are you now?

I’m currently in Singapore, doing my Master’s degree in Physics at NUS. This is my second semester. I’ve received a scholarship from LPDP, one of Indonesia’s government scholarships.

Wow you must be super smart.

Nah, I’m just okay I guess. My fellow physicists who are Indonesian have cum laude GPA. I don’t. I have another friend who did his Undergrad and Master’s in Oxford. He did physics. In Oxford. He’s living in the same floor in my dorm. So no, there’s other super smart people out there. I can tell you my story on how to get through to NUS, get a scholarship, and so on, later in another post.

Okay. So you started off in Physics in Undergrad as well, I presume?

Yep. I did my bachelor’s degree in University of Indonesia. Graduated in 2015, with a concentration in Condensed Matter Physics. My research is about graphene, I had to do a simulation to get the optical conductivity of it through means of Tight-Binding Approximation. Those of you interested, ask me in the comments 🙂

I’m guessing that’s when you won the Science Olympiad?

Exactly, it was in 2013, and I won 1st place in Theoretical category for Physics. It’s hosted by Pertamina, a government oil & gas company managing the whole country’s distribution of fuel and energy.

Quite a challenging competition I would say, but I liked it because it’s not just filling out answer sheets with equations, but also finalists are required to do a presentation on renewable energy that we had to present in front of three judges. I’ve met some good friends during that time, and now they’re all over the world as we speak.

Awesome. Wait, here you said that you’ve graduated from an International school in Shanghai?

Back in 2009, my dad, who was working in a government bank, was told to move there in their international representative office. At that time, I had to make a big decision whether or not I should go along with him.

I was in 11th grade, meaning I only had 1 year left to go to university. Moving to Shanghai would mean that I need to add another year to it, because there weren’t any curriculum that could do that. I ended up going though, and considering that I did my Junior High in only 2 years (it’s supposed to be 3 years, but I was in an Acceleration program) so basically I’m back on track. IB was the curriculum available at that time, and I think it was great because it really was demanding and prepared me to do better in University.

 I see. You also speak Mandarin, so life must be easy for you, right?

Not really. When I first arrived, I knew nothing in Chinese / Mandarin. I had to take a class in school called Mandarin Ab Initio. It’s basic Chinese for foreigners.

Since my mother insisted (thanks Mom, you were right) that I should go back home with Mandarin in the bag, we found a tutor to help me with studying the characters and words. This would lead me to become pretty good in class, and in fact the teacher kept giving me exercises that are more difficult that the others, because I basically knew more. Thumbs up for Wang Laoshi, for helping with all the writing.

When I went back to Indonesia in 2011, I already had an HSK level 4 certificate (like a TOEFL or IELTS for Mandarin) and my brother who was equally good in Mandarin — taught Mandarin afterwards. I, on the other hand, taught piano lessons.

So you’re a piano teacher. How long have you been teaching?

If you notice on my LinkedIn, it says about 3 years, but actually I did it during weekends only. Saturdays only, in fact.

Here’s the story: back in Shanghai, I had a piano teacher near my apartment. At that time, my music teacher at school (in IB I took music as one of the subjects) encouraged me to take an ABRSM exam. It’s basically like an International certificate showing that you are capable of playing the piano, divided into different grades.

So I trained for that exam with my piano teacher, and Alhamdulillah, I got the highest for students, the grade 8. From then the rest is history.

Are you still teaching now?

No, currently focusing on my studies. Maybe later though. We’ll see.

Hm. There’s something here about Leadership Development Trainee. What’s it about?

After I graduated from UI (University of Indonesia), I don’t actually have anything to do rather than preparing for my scholarship admission and NUS admission documents. After sending all the proprietary files, I was supposed to continue my undergraduate project and/or calculation. This, apparently, turned out to be difficult due to the fact the the project cannot be done on its own. Add to that, a senior named Wileam who helped significantly on the work was busy and my supervisor was of course occupied with another batch of students’s research. Since my admission in NUS will still be in August, I thought that I needed a job to occupy myself during that time. And the job search began. Interviews, posting CVs, job fairs, clicking “Submit application” in LinkedIn for a gazillion times, the complete package.

I stayed there for half a year, had a good experience, and left an office filled with unforgettable memories and friendships. It’s a glimpse of the office life that I’m glad I’ve tasted.

Looks like you’re the complete package.

Yeah, sometimes I don’t know where I’m supposed to go though. Virtual high-five if you feel the same way.

You’re supposed to answer that with something a bit more humble, Cen.

Next time, bruh.

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