Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Genetic Society of AustralAsia (GSA) conference


Having did the summer semester research last 2010 really exposed me with lots of opportunities. Despite of the irresistible feeling to go back to my home country and enjoying the 3 months holiday like others did, I made a decision to stay at Brisbane and did some research project. 

April, 2011

From the network that I have established during the summer break, last April I had been offered by my previous supervior, Dr Suresh in attending this one big event called GSA conference. You can go for FREE by applying for GSA student travel award. This award is being offered to only 10 third year students all around Australia. If you are a success applicant, GSA will sponsor:
  1. your return flight ticket (regardless of your check in luggage kgs), 
  2. accommodation, 
  3. registration fee worth AUD253, 
  4. a grand dinner worth AUD60 for student price.  
When I applied for this award, I did not know about this at all! I simply thought,
"What if I just give it a go? Dapat tak dapat, belakang kira. Kalau Allah bagi, dapatlah. Kalau tak dapat tu, tanda takde rezeki. Yang penting dah usaha nak mohon travel award ni"
The application need to come along with a support letter from any GSA community member. So I got mine, and I applied.

(Bila baca surat sokongan dari Dr Suresh kat atas ni, bangga sekejap. Muahahha..)

Dr Suresh even asked if I want to do some poster presentation and looked what have I replied. Berani je kan? ;p

Done with the application process. After that, I waited. It was near to my final exam. So I was not paying so much attention to the dates. Neither hoping much for it. I simply made a prayer, "O' Allah, if by having this travel award it will bring good to my Deen, to me, my study and future, please ease the application. Ameen" Then, I concentrated back on the final exam revision.

June, 2011

They told that, if you are success with the application, please expect to receive an email from them. And the day arrived. But as I expected, I received no email. So I was like, "Fair enough. You are competing with other students around Australia which might be way better than you. Plus, there are only ten places to be filled. Okay then. Allah have something better for you than this".

So I put aside the GSA conference stuff and  focused back on my revision.

Two days after that, I was in the BSL library. It was around 7.20pm. Still doing revision. And suddenly I received an email notification on my BB. When I opened up the email, it started with,
"Congratulation! I'm delighted to tell you that your application for a GSA Student Travel Award to attend the annual GSA conference in Melbourne in July  has been successful"
Alhamdulillah alhamdulillah. Allah knows best, kan? :)

In the email recipient lists, I realised there were students from ANU, Flinders Uni, Monash Uni, UNSW, UNE, Macquarie Uni. And I was UQ representative. ;)

Few days after that, the official letter arrived.

July, 2011

I flew to Melbourne for winter break programs and the GSA conference. On the registration day, I got one thick book summarising the abstract for all presenters and speakers. And also name tag, mixer and dinner tickets, and also exhibition passport.

Sesat sekejap dekat Melbourne University tu sebab bukan tempat kite kan. Penat lah cari Pelham Musolla berdasarkan memori winter 2010, siap guna Google Map bagai cari Pelham Street. Dah 2 hari conference baru perasan. Laaaaa.. Berdiri depan pintu gerbang je dah straight nampak Pelham Musolla. -__-

On the conference day, I made a list of the speakers that I intended to attend. I read through the thick book and scan for any Muslim presenters. Some of them even work at CSIRO! Subhanallah mantap sangat. Proud of them for bringing Islam image to the scientific research field. Macam zaman Abbasiyah dulu :) Next, I  listed anyone who is doing research on plant, my interest.

In the conference room. Some of presenters in this size of conference room were PhD candidate. Dr Suresh got to present in bigger general lecture hall as he was the invited speakers.

And the foods were deliciously awesome! They even got halal sandwiches. Maka makan pun tanpa ragu-ragu. 

The grad dinner. I simply wore my black abaya. I thought the appearance is modest and elegant enough for a dinner like this. And yes, once I stepped into the dining hall, it was as if I were in the Harry Potter dining hall, with Dumbledore standing in front, and being seated according to your homeroom. The long dining table with dim light candle gave you the feeling that you were Hogwarts student. Ewah! :D

Jakun sangat dapat makan dengan cutlery set yang lengkap. Siap tanya labmate nak pakai yang mana dulu. Heheh.. And I was lucky enough to be surrounded by vegetarian and non-alcoholic labmates, and that included Dr Suresh. :) Senang sikit hidup. When the main course arrived, it was meat. Sedih sekejap sebab confirm tak halal, dan Dr Suresh pun tak makan daging. Suddenly, a malay waiter approached me and said,
"I was told that the meat was not halal, so here's your grilled salmon"
He smiled. And I smiled back as a thank you sign. I were very pleased that night to know that such prestigious conference really paying attention to specific needs of every participant. And treat everyone respectfully, regardless of their belief and religion. Bravo! Excited jugak sebab jumpa orang Melayu, serve kite pulak tu. :p

August, 2011

Received a letter from GSA treasurer with a cheque for travel cost reimbursement. Alhamdulillah.

Overall, it was an invaluable experience for me as undergraduate student. 

To friends out there, grab every opportunity that might come to you. Who knows what you could get out of every opportunity that comes by. Make yourself different. It's your choice! Dan jangan lupa tanya Allah jugak. :)

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