Last Paragraphs of 2016

I was standing on Arthur’s Seat, halfway through the summit, when the year turned into 2016. I was too cranky to climb the steep road and it was so cold and so dark I couldn’t see anything. The year began with fireworks. People started to sing Auld Lang Syne once the fireworks end.

And that was how my journey in 2016 began.

2016 has been harsh. Like the snow frosts that fall from the sky during a snowstorm, hitting my bare face with their rough surface and freezing temperature. But some people, including me, need to learn it the hard way before we realize that we’ve been trapped in an illusion of happiness. So then we begin to escape and recreate new happiness – this time for real.

2016 has been kind. With all the opportunities, love, joy, laughter, good friends and family, fortunate strokes of serendipity, and God’s blessings. Problems and challenges occurred throughout the year but great things also came along the way. And it’s only a matter of perspective, how we ultimately see our life.

2016 has been a great teacher. It taught me about the value of people around me, self-worth, true form of happiness, inner peace, the value of time, hard work, confidence…

It taught me about acceptance. That life is full of secrets and it has an interesting way of working. It surprises us – both in a good and in a bad way. Sometimes our plan doesn’t work, sometimes the result isn’t as good as we expect it to be, sometimes we just don’t get the thing we want the most in our life. And without acceptance, we might not be able to handle the irritation, the disappointment, and the sadness caused by those unfavorable circumstances. So we gotta accept, with the faithfulness that everything has been meticulously planned by The One who holds the life of every single human being in the planet.

It taught me about forgiveness. It heals us. It brings peacefulness in our heart. It’s how you eventually let go of the past. More importantly, forgiveness isn’t about making peace with those who have hurt us. Forgiveness is all about making peace with ourselves.

2016, to me, is a book full of wonderful stories. And now I’ve come to the last page. Thank you, for the sweetest goodbye, the warmest hello, and the endless opportunities.

I hope we all have had an awesome year.

I hope we all are ready for 2017; to be brave enough to take chances, to be faithful enough to open our heart, to be strong enough to defend our values, to be kind enough to always spread happiness, to be confident enough to do something good for ourselves, to be adventurous enough to inspire people – then to be inspiring enough to change the world (or the people around us, at least), to be wise enough to pick the right people we want to keep in our life, and to be curious enough to always learn something new and improve ourselves to be a better person.

Bye, 2016.

♥ Atiqah Zulfa Nadia


Rule of Happiness

Most people said that happiness is something we, ourselves, create. It has nothing to do with other people. At some points, I have to agree. We should not allow anyone makes us feel unhappy. Yet, other people do have the capacity to contribute some happiness into our life.

What even unique and interesting about this, is that other people sometimes do not need to do anything in order to make us happy. Most of the time, it is us who have to do something to trigger the happiness coming from our surroundings. It’s actually a very simple thing we all have been taught about since we’re kids. We get what we give.

I have been through quite lot of journeys to acknowledge the warm feeling I suddenly felt after giving somebody a helpful hand. Even only holding the door for someone else. That someone’s sparkly eyes when saying a sincere thank you, doesn’t it make your heart feel at peace?

When we do something kind, it will go back to us. Not that we should expect something in return. It’s not about that at all.We know the deal already, if we’re being very kind to others, it doesn’t necessarily mean that others will be very kind to us too. And it’s none of our business, how people treat us. Only how we treat others matters.

So it’s about knowing that our act of kindness will make us truly happy. More than when we buy the thing we want the most or when we travel to a place we’ve been longing for years. Because it brings a warm, peaceful feeling in our heart, too.

Kindness never fails, it’s never wrong. We should do more and more kindness, in order to feel happiness all around us.



♥ Atiqah Zulfa Nadia

2016. A Reflection.

This morning, just like every other morning, I scrolled down my Facebook timeline and found this set of questions from Thought Catalog. And then I thought why don’t I try to answer them and put it on my blog? After all, it’s a reflection of the life i have lived in the year 2016. And it’s worth remembering.

1. What made you feel the most alive this year?

The time I hiked the Stanage Edge

2. How did you surprise yourself in 2016?

That I can actually forgive the person I thought I would hate for the rest of my life

3. What did you do this year that you regret?

Nothing that I can remember

4. What made you cry the hardest this year?

Losing someone

5. Which friends have been there for you the most in 2016?

My best friends in Manchester

6. What are you most grateful for as this year draws to a close?

That I have Allah in my life

7. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder?


8. What did you do to take care of yourself this year?

I exercise regularly

9. Where was the best place you traveled to this year?

Alhambra Palace

10. What did you do for the first time in 2016?

Solo travel

11. What did you do for the last time in 2016?

Not committing

12. Which days from 2016 will you never forget?

Oh, this one is hard. Everyday is unforgettable, i guess? But if I really have to choose, then it’s the day I watched a ballet show in London

13. What did you accomplish this year that you’re proud of?

Obtained a master degree, successfully bake a number of cakes! (trust me, this has been through a long process of learning and I’ve failed at baking a cake more than I’ve failed at anything in life)

14. Who did you need to forgive this year?

Everyone 🙂

15. What were you most afraid of this year?

Making other people disappointed

16. How did life surprise you this year?

That everything has been going on very well this year

17. How was this year better than 2015?

I see things positively

18. How was this year worse than 2015?

I’m getting fat LOL

19. Who did you miss the most over the past year?

My parents, cause I’d been away from home

20. What was the most valuable thing you spent money on this year?

Travel!!! and skin care

21. What did you waste too much money on this year?

Food? But I don’t think it’s a waste

22. How did you spend your birthday this year?

I cooked shabu shabu with my best friends

23. What was the best book you read in 2016?

Sabtu Bersama Bapak

24. What do you wish you’d spent more time doing this year?

Solo traveling

25. What do you wish you’d spent less time doing?

Scrolling down social media

26. What made you the angriest in 2016?

I don’t know, honestly

27. When did you feel the most at peace this year?

Every time I pray during the one third of the night

28. What is the biggest risk you took in 2016?

My dissertation ha!

29. What made you laugh the hardest this year?

‘Receh’ jokes, the emerging silly Youtubers, and all the silly stuffs I did with my friends

30. What ended for you in 2016?

Settling down for less than I deserve

31. What began for you in 2016?

Knowing the value of myself

32. What song will always remind you of this year?

Happy as the sun by Tyrone Wells

33. How did this year differ from the way you thought it would go?

It has a lot to surprise me and I’m blessed more than I ever expected

34. How would you describe your personal style over the past year?

I never hesitate on doing good deeds (it goes back to you, trust me)

35. Who in your life did you look up to the most this year?

As always, my father

36. Which quote best sums up the past year for you?

And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about (from Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore)

37. Did you fall in love this year?


38. Did your heart break this year?

Another yes

39. What was your favorite TV show in 2016?

I don’t really watch TV show.. but let’s just say Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show

40. Which (if any) new years resolutions did you keep this year?

Do not hesitate on doing good deeds

41. Which (if any) new years resolutions will you be making for next year?

Work hard, fear none

42. What disappointed you the most in 2016?

Some people are not willing to fight for things that matter for them

43. Who did you rely on the most in 2016?


44. Who might you owe an apology to at the end of this year?

The people I talked about behind their back… I’m truly sorry

45. How did you grow as a person over the past year?

I am more independent, more adventurous, more positive, less childish

46. What made you feel the most stuck this year?

Dissertation LOL

47. What made you feel the most inspired this year?

Young Indonesian moms in Manchester (they made me want to raise children overseas)

48. If you could go back and give yourself a single piece of advice on the first day of 2016, what would it be?

Never settle for less than you deserve

49. What’s the most important thing you learned this year?

Letting go is good. Forgiving is better. Opening up your heart is best.

50. What do you hope will be different for you by this time next year?

Got more money, got more things that I can give to the society, (this one’s supposed to be a secret wish) found my prince charming 😀

That’s all mine. Why don’t you give it a go as well?

♥ Atiqah Zulfa Nadia

Study Abroad 101: Ujian Semester

It’s December already! Setahun yang lalu, di waktu-waktu seperti saat ini, aku lagi sibuk menyiapkan rencana liburan winter sambil mencicil bahan-bahan untuk ujian. Liburan winter itu berlangsung sekitar satu bulan. Setelah itu langsung disambut dengan ujian akhir semester. Beberapa universitas lain di UK sih ujiannya dilakukan sebelum libur. Tapi di Manchester malah sebaliknya.

Waktu mau ujian itu, aku bener-bener belajar giat. Sebelumnya aku ngga pernah belajar ‘segila’ itu. Dulu dengan latihan soal-soal aja kayaknya cukup, tapi berhubung di S2 kemarin aku ambil jurusan bisnis, jadi aku harus banyak baca dan pinter mengarang bebas. Ada tiga mata kuliah yang salah satu komponen nilainya adalah exam. Nah, tiap mata kuliah itu beda-beda jenis soalnya, approach dosennya, dan pastinya cara belajar dan mengerjakan soalnya. Here’s how they are and some tips to nail them.

Ujian pertamaku waktu itu adalah Innovation Management. Sebelum liburan, dosennya udah memberi contoh soal-soal yang dikeluarkan di exam tahun-tahun sebelumnya. Tipe soalnya adalah case study. Jadi ada satu paragraf kasus dan 2-3 pertanyaan. Yang seru dari mengerjakan case study adalah tiap orang pasti punya sudut pandang dan persepsinya masing-masing. So basically there’s no completely wrong answer if we provide a good argument. Di H-1 ujian, dosenku memberikan case study untuk dikerjakan keesokan harinya (semua case study di kirim lewat email, tapi kita ngga ada yang tau apa pertanyaannya).
Ini memudahkan banget sih, soalnya saat ujian kita hanya punya waktu 3 jam. Kalau case study-nya baru dibaca saat itu juga, kayaknya ngga bakal selesai deh. Dari sekian banyak case study, nantinya aku cuma harus mengerjakan 4 buah. Nah di H-1 itu aku sorenya kumpul bareng temen-temen sekelas untuk diskusi. Kupas tuntas case study-nya dan bikin perkiraan kira-kira pertanyaan apa yang bakal keluar dan gimana jawabannya. Sekalian juga buat recall teori-teori dan penjelasan dosen rame-rame.
Fyi, aku termasuk orang yang harus ada waktu untuk belajar sendiri. Aku lebih ngerti pelajaran kalau baca dan belajar sendiri di kamar atau di perpus. Jadi sebelum diskusi sama teman-teman, aku udah belajar dulu sebelumnya. Diskusi sama teman buatku jadi momen untuk saling sharing dan menambah ilmu (just in case ada yang aku kelewat).

Ujian kedua, which was actually the worst, adalah High Technology Entrepreneurship. Dosennya sama sekali ngga ngasih kisi-kisi. At all. Berhubung ia juga dosen baru, past papers (soal ujian di tahun-tahun sebelumnya) jadi ngga relevan. Pelajaran ini juga practical banget, semacam step by step bikin startup gitu. Jadi belajarnya menurutku lumayan tricky. Pokoknya aku pelajarin aja semua slide dosennya, buku-buku rekomendasi dosen (ini ternyata penting, lho!), dan buku kuliahnya juga.
Waktu ujian, kaget banget karena soalnya susah. Aku dikasih satu case, tentang suatu produk yang abstrak banget (ngga ada gambarnya, jadi semua pure mengandalkan imajinasi dan keterampilan memahami deskripsi produk dari kata-kata). By the way, ini produk inovatif yang beneran ada, lho. Jadi setelah ujian, aku dan teman-teman sekelas langsung browsing tentang produk mutakhir tersebut. Dan ternyata banyak dari kami yang salah memahami produknya. Di soal ujian ada salah satu pertanyaannya yang teori hafalan banget. Aku kebetulan cuma baca sekilas aja tentang teori itu dan ngga hafal sama sekali. Akhirnya jawab sesuai logika aja deh. Satu hal yang bikin aku terbantu di ujian yang ini adalah karena aku baca buku (selain textbook utama) dan nonton video belajar tentang startup di Udacity. Jadi waktu aku menjawab pertanyaan-pertanyaan di ujian, aku elaborate menggunakan insights yang aku dapet dari baca dan nonton itu. Otomatis, ada hal yang ‘baru’ di jawabanku dan kayaknya itu deh yang bikin nilaiku lumayan bagus.

Bisa dibilang ini adalah ujian yang termulus. Soalnya, sejak awal dosennya udah ngasih kisi-kisi soal. Bahkan dari tiap kisi-kisi itu dijelasin juga pertanyaannya akan seperti apa. Dosennya pun udah jelasin struktur jawaban yang baik itu kayak gimana. Meskipun udah ada kisi-kisi detail, mau ngga mau sebetulnya semua materi harus tetep dipelajari. Jawaban yang diminta dosenku itu strukturnya ada introduction, discussion, example, dan conclusion. Di bagian discussion, aku harus bisa mengaitkan teori yang ditanyakan dengan teori-teori lain yang sudah dipelajari di kelas. Semua teori kan sebetulnya saling terkait. Nah tapi dengan adanya kisi-kisi, aku terbantu banget untuk nentuin di bagian mana harus lebih fokus belajarnya. Aku juga bisa membuat stock answer alias latihan menjawab soal. Jadi ketika H-2 ujian, aku cuma banyakin baca stock answers-ku. Saat ujian juga udah ngga repot mikir, tinggal tulis lagi aja stock answer yang udah dibuat.

Nah itu tadi tiga tipe ujiannya. Sekarang tips and trick-nya.. supaya belajar ngga terlalu berdarah-darah tapi hasilnya tetep memuaskan (pass lah paling ngga).

Yang pertama, fokus sama kisi-kisi yang dikasih dosen. Itu semua tujuannya kan buat memudahkan, jadi jangan bikin repot diri sendiri. Tapi tetep pastiin bahwa kalian ngerti juga materi-materi lain yang ngga termasuk di kisi-kisi.

Kedua, jangan ragu untuk diskusi sama teman-teman. Aku inget banget dulu pulang dini hari dingin-dingin dari rumah salah satu teman sejurusanku karena diskusi. Aku juga ikutan diskusi di dua kelompok berbeda, biar insights-nya makin banyak.

Ketiga, cicil belajar dari jauh-jauh hari. Soalnya materinya banyak banget, paper yang harus dibaca pun puluhan. Kalau ngga dicicil ya dijamin keteteran banget. Setiap selesai baca paper juga sebaiknya tulis poin-poin penting. Aku bukan tipe yang bisa nge-stabiloin paper (I always end up highlighting all the sentences). Jadi aku lebih suka nyatet dan bikin mind map-nya.

Keempat, if necessary, dengerin ulang lecture dari dosen. Aku beruntung banget teman sekelasku ada yang rajin ngerecord lecture. Ini buatku bermanfaat banget sih buat ngulang slide-nya dosen. Most of my lecturer tuh slide-nya minimalis banget, isinya cuma poin penting dan gambar. Jadi rekaman penjelasan dosen itu sangat membantu.

Kelima, remember the structure. Saat menjawab pertanyaan di ujian, jangan lupa masukkan seluruh poin yang diminta dosen: introduction, discussion, example, conclusion. Exam-ku tuh sebenernya mirip bikin mini essay jadinya. Waktu kuliah di teknik, aku terbiasa jawab to the point, ngga banyak ba-bi-bu. Nah pas S2 aku harus elaborate banyak hal. Aku sampai latihan nulis loh sebelum ujian, to ensure that I write fast enough hehehe.

Keenam, ask a lot of questions. Biasanya di hari terakhir perkuliahan dosen tuh melowongkan waktunya untuk revise semua pelajaran yang udah disampaikan. Nah di kesempatan ini, baiknya sih tanya sebanyak-banyaknya hal.  Kalau waktu belajar tiba-tiba ada yang bingung, jangan ragu juga untuk nanya ke teman yang lebih pintar atau langsung email dosennya.

Ketujuh, don’t get stressed out! I know you’re going to feel so overwhelmed, tapi semua teman sekelasmu pun melalui hal yang sama. Jangan sampai merasa panik karena itu malah bikin distraksi belajar. Keep calm, atur jadwal belajar sebaik mungkin and do give yourself some rewards. Aku dulu bikin target ngga boleh nonton Sherlock Holmes yang Abominable Bride sebelum selesai belajar sampai bab 5. Jadi makin semangat juga deh belajarnya.

All I can say now is.. good luck! God speed! I’ve passed it all and you will, too.


♥ Atiqah Zulfa Nadia