Live, Life, and Love at CERN (Part 1)
It has always been my dream to join research in an international research environment where researchers around the world come, discuss, and share their idea together to solve any problem. I will also be very grateful to contribute my knowledge and work there.
It was January 25, 2014, a beautiful weekend in my lab. My friend told me that CERN was opening registration for CERN Summer Student Programme (CSSP) in their website. I had already known CERN before, so I quickly opened my laptop and fired up my web browser, searching for any information regarding that program. Then, oh my god! I was shocked that the deadline for the application was January 31, 2014, less than a week. In fact, I hadn’t prepared anything except registered an account in CERN job web site that time. I took a deep breath for a while and hoped that one week would be long enough for me. It was surely a great program and a lot of prospective students around the world would apply for this program. I was sure that they had prepared a long time enough to make their application stood against others.
“I only had less than one week to prepare my application for CERN Summer Student 2014.
Why not? Just give it a try!”
The silent witnesses of the most hectic week in my life, preparing for CERN Summer Student 2014 registration. Note that the modified date are still well preserved.
©2014 Bagus Hanindhito
I quickly made a checklist of what I had to prepare. Here is the list of documents that I have to prepare in less than a week. The items in bold are the difficult one for me to prepare in a one-week time frame.
- Account Registration, “already done. :)”
- Personal Detail, “quickly done by filling up form on their website.”
- Education Detail, “same as above, done by filling up form on their website.”
- Curriculum Vitae, “that is easy, I have prepared that one, but I think I have to modify it a bit.”
- Motivation Letter, “Ouch, this will be the most difficult part.”
- Preferred Topics, “I have already got imagination what I want to do at CERN, so I take a piece of paper to write it.”
- Experience Abroad, “I think I have one. I will take a look at it later.”
- Project Experience, “I think I also have several projects to be described.”
- Two Recommendation Letters, “ow great. I hope I can find professors that can quickly give me a letter of recommendation.”
- Academic Transcript, “let me ask the administration to give me newest transcript in English.”
- University Cover Letter, “same as above, I hope they will give me that letter in English.”
- Passport, “I already have.”
It would be the most hectic week in my life. Class projects and lectures were still running, and I had to lower their priority a bit just like a microprocessor whose scheduler was being interrupted by a task that has higher priority.
The famous Globe of Science and Innovation during night. It is a landmark (and also museum) in front of CERN Meyrin Site that will welcome everyone who pays a visit to CERN.
©2014 Bagus Hanindhito | Geneva, Switzerland | Canon EOS 60D | EF-S18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II | 1/10sec | f/7.1 | ISO1600 | Aperture Priority | Auto Exposure
Saturday, January 25, 2016. I started to write a draft for my motivation letter that night. I searched all about CERN and their current topic for research. Firstly, I began with a simple opening sentence, short reason about my perspective for CERN, my field of interests in computer system architecture, high-performance computing (HPC), and very large scale integration (VLSI) that will be applied during my stay at CERN, and lastly my hopes even after the program was ended.
I also gave a try to describe preferred topics that I would get during that program. At that time when I applied, CERN was in long shutdown which made it temporarily stopped all of the experiments. The shutdown was intended to upgrade research facility especially the Large Hadron Collider and their particle detectors to run at higher energy. I thought that they would also need to upgrade their data acquisition system. As their experiment would generate gigabytes of data each second, they would need sophisticated data acquisition system and high-performance computer to store and process their data. With that reason, I described that I would really love to learn CERN’s data acquisition system and some high-performance computer (server farm) that are used for their experiments.
Sunday, January 26, 2016. Finally, I had finished the draft for both motivation letter and preferred topics. I understood that it was still a rough scratch so I needed some time to take a relax before revisited them again to give some fix. Meanwhile, I began to write experience abroad and project which were easier than the first two. The first version of all documents should be done that night.
“It was a hectic Saturday night. That night seemed to be longer than other night.
At least, the first draft of the documents were finished.”
CERN LHC’s Magnet which is displayed nearby the Globe of Science and Innovation. Some people have told me that it is the real magnet they use in LHC. Uhm, maybe they can use it as a spare.
©2014 Bagus Hanindhito | Geneva, Switzerland | Canon EOS 60D | EF-S18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II | 1/640sec | f/7.1 | ISO100 | Aperture Priority | Auto Exposure
Monday, January 27, 2014. I was going to campus with only one target: finding two professors who can give me a letter of recommendation in less than five days. As an additional information, the professor that gave the recommendation should submit the letter by themselves using the upload URL that would be given after I completed my application. So, I definitely must complete my motivation letter, preferred topics, etc. before they can submit that letter. :(.
The first professor was my academic advisor. He is my favorite lecturer who knows me very well. He was happy to give me that recommendation even though he was a very busy person. What a relief. Next step was, finding another professor. I walked around the building of my department. Suddenly, when I was walking on basic electrical lab corridor, out-of-nowhere, the head of basic electrical lab appeared, face-to-face with me. I guess that he was in a hurry, but I couldn’t hold my voice who called his name.
“Sir, can I have your time for a minute? I urgently need a recommendation letter to apply …”
He stopped and listened to my voice. I explained that the deadline was in next Friday. I was surprised that he didn’t mind to fulfill my request and asked me to come to his office tomorrow. Mission accomplished, at least for this day. Before I went home, I visited the administration to request a newest academic transcript and cover letter from my university. They promised me next Wednesday. Then it was a perfect time to go home and continued the draft of my other documents.
After finished the first version of motivation letter and other documents, I asked help from my sister and my cousin to proofread them on Monday. I knew I only had few days left to submit these documents so that my professors could submit their letter of recommendations. What an exhausted day!
What a relief to receive these confirmation emails from CERN. I have done all of the effort needed, let God do the rest.
©2014 Bagus Hanindhito
Tuesday, January 28, 2016. Nothing special in this day. I was busy that day because there were two laboratory activities but I must spend some time to meet my other professor who would give me the letter of recommendation. He wanted to meet me in his room, one by one just like an interview! He asked me what kind of topics I wanted to explore during my stay at CERN. It was like reading my Preferred Topic that I had written the draft. Then, he wrote the letter on-the-fly, meaning he continued to write the letter after asked me some questions. Then, the draft of the letter was finished. Because he had a class, he dismissed the meeting, and I thanked him for his time and effort.
Wednesday, January 29, 2016. I went to campus as usual. I visited the administration to take the academic transcript and cover letter from my university that I had requested last Monday. Fortunately, they had finished both of the documents because they usually needed more time to complete the documents I had requested. I had done my business at my campus that day. It was time to go home as my sister, and my cousin gave the feedback for my motivation letter. I thought that I need to revise it a bit more. After rigorous reading and reviewing, I decided to upload all of the documents including academic transcript and cover letter that I had obtained that day. I distributed the submission link to my professors who gave the letter of recommendation.
Thursday, January 30, 2016. In the afternoon, I got a notification that all of my professors had submitted the letter. What a relief for me!
Friday, January 31, 2016. I triple-checked the submitted document. It was the time I had to pray to God after all of these efforts. Let God gave the best result for me.
On February 4, 2016, I got a notification that my submission was passed for first verification. The first verification decided whether my submission was completed or not. If not, the submission would not go further.
to be continued…
“I have done putting my best effort this week.
Let God do the rest.”
More stories like this…
Working day-to-day in the biggest particle physics laboratory in the world is just awesome. At first, I think that I fall into the deepest of my daydream.
It was the end of my stay at CERN. I felt that the last two months went by so fast than usual that I was sad to leave CERN too early. I wished I could stay longer here. If not, I hoped someday I would come back here to do my next challenging research project.
Participating in some workshops held by CERN added up my experience and knowledge. It becomes “a must” during my stay at CERN.