Tuesday, 14 April 2015

The Amazing Journey

365 days just flew pass by just like that in 2014. Looking back at the events that took place, there is only one thing I can say. It has been one amazing year I flew through. A lot of great memories and also some very sorrow moments. Being a firm believer of "The Secret" I choose to focus my thoughts on the positives and amplify the positivity around.

2014 has definitely served me one of my best years alive. Starting from landing the dream internship opportunity I could ever ask for at Linde to finding the love of my life to having my family getting bigger with the introduction of my future sister-in-law. Yet if I could pick one defining moment to be the best moment of my year, it has to be the moment I stepped into flight QR 849. Yes that was the flight which got me on course the "land of opportunity" United States of America.
The American Dream
 When I reflect back, I realized it was no easy journey to make this trip a reality. The seeds of this amazing adventure was planted back in 2013 October. When they idea of developing The STATS Charger was initially thought of. Never in my wildest dream I thought a random idea coming up in a bedroom late night was going to take me on a journey across the world. The idea was success and it blossom into making me apply to compete in a competition in USA.
STATS Charger on IEEE
I remember, it was a quiet boring February morning during one of my internship days where I was browsing the internet in search of competitions to participate using the STATS Charger and it was then when I came across the competition called Material Science & Technology 2014 which is to be held in Pittsburgh USA in October 2014. I just told myself why not? Why not just apply for this? What is the worse that could happen? I don't get selected that's all right. I'm not losing out on anything, so yeah screw it and lets just apply. After that I totally forgot about it until receiving an email in April from the organizer informing me that I am one of the selected participants to come. It was indeed my wildest dream coming true. From than on it was the process of raising the funds, applying for a passport and visa. Once everything had settled only than the feeling started to sink in that I am actually really going to travel to USA all alone. Mind you it was one of the toughest challenge I faced raising the money.

And then came to the moment, Friday 10th October 2014 at 8.50 p.m local time, I boarded into my dreams. Flying in an airplane has been a lifelong dream ever since I was kind. To be honest I was very afraid and nervous. I have been alone this far away from my family for the period of traveling plus I have never been to another country. I know nothing about the security process or anything about transit flight and here am I needing to transit twice before reaching Pittsburgh. Despite all the nerves I was overjoyed that I was about to fly all the way to USA.

I arrived at Pittsburgh on 11.30 am US time on the 11th of October with my worse nightmare coming true. The airlines crew misplaced my luggage. Here I am stranded in the land of the unknown, having no friends or family around with no luggage. After lodging a formal complaint, I was promised I will receive my luggage in 24 hours. Holding to that word I took a cab to the hotel and checked in. I remember the journey from the airport I was brimming with smiles looking at the beautiful scenery of Pittsburgh while feeling the breeze of the chilled air. I remember it very well because this has to be my most funniest cab ride. The driver was stuck in a relationship with an overly obsessed girl who intentionally got pregnant so that he wont leave her. How do I know this, because when she called, he put her on loud speaker and I was hearing every single thing. What a way to start my adventure. The first beautiful sight I saw on my first day was this amazing pink colour water fountain. Its actually a normal water fountain but it was breast cancer awareness week and they change the colour of the water into pink. The first meal I had here was pizza and it was then when I realized how much here Pizza Hut and Domino s has been cheating us when the serve us pizza. The amount of topping was incredible here
Breast Cancer Awareness Water Fountain

Pizza in Pittsburgh

I received my luggage finally that very night around 2 a.m. It is only at that very moment I realized I actually lost my keys to open the lock on my luggage. So now I have my luggage and now way of opening it. Smart right. I had to wait till the next morning to go to a hardware store buy a screwdriver and some pins and watch YouTube videos on how to pick a look. Yes the internet provides lesson on how to pick locks.

Surprising enough I never encountered any jet lag nor having trouble adapting to time difference. I think all those years sleeping at 5 am and waking up at 3 pm showed its benefit. I was able to wake up around 8 in the morning and treated myself to some heavenly breakfast . The food there is heaven I tell you. The day passed on with me just going around the town exploring what places are where and routes to get back to the hotel. I walked and walked like no men has walked before. End the day by packing back dinner to the room and dropping by to the hotel bar to have some drinks. Perhaps that was my best part of the day. A freaking chilled beer bottle cost me only $3 while a coke cost me $2. I reduced my drinking habits this year but the one week in USA, I definitely did drink every day. Not drinking until you get drunk but a couple of beers, healthy conversations and back to the room. What I realized here is how friendly people are there. I was sitting alone in the bar, and random people which just walk up to you and strike up a random conversation with you. They make you feel welcome and even suggest things you should do while you are around. Comparing to how situations are here in a Malaysian pub, if you are having a drink and if you just look at another person, it is good enough to strike up a fight not a conversation because you so called "pandang" him. Drinking here in Malaysia gives you a very negative dark aura. While there you see people laughing mingle around making friends. Its a total contrast. It was definitely helpful in making new friends and feeling welcome.

Day 3 which was on a Monday was the day to register myself for the competition . There was a mixed up by the organizers when they wrongly registered me in a different category. I was suppose to be in the student's competition category but due to a mistake I was placed in the category for master,phd and industry people's competition. I took positively as it a chance to compete on a higher level although it means it will hamper my chances of winning. One memorable thing about the day is about the small small games and trivia the booths were organizing while registration was going on. A simple wheel of fortune game was taking place where by you win something when the wheel stops spinning. My luck of the day was me winning this little Mr.Einstein. On the other side there was a mini competition where by you have to build a structure using clay. Using your best engineering idea come up with a structure and you stand a chance to win a shirt. The best was there is a booth with a game station where you could play virtual golf. Ended the with the usual packing of dinner and the evening spent in the bar having some beers and meeting new people. The most common topic of conversation is about how I was able to withstand my long flying hours.
Virtual Golf

The Clay Structure

Pinball Chemistry Style

Wheel of Fortune
Day 4 was spend fully on sight seeing. It was the only day where I was free for the whole day. Woke up 7 in the morning and decided that today I am going to walk the whole of Downtown Pittsburgh. Walked my way to a doughnut/baggle shop and had one of the most amazing hot chocolate in my entire life. Thick chocolaty heaven like hot chocolate. My day was of the a perfect start despite it was drizzling I continued to walk mile to mile around Downtown Pittsburgh. First stop was at this beautiful amazing park with a fountain nearby the river. One of the most beautiful sight to be at in the morning at Pittsburgh. After admiring the beautiful view of Pittsburgh, I headed to the Pittsburgh Museum and spent a couple of hours there learning from things on the Fort Pitt to Tamaqua to the Wars that took place there. Spent nearly 3 hours there and came out feeling a little more connected to Pittsburgh than before. From there I walk may back to the Toon Museum whereby they were having a display on superhero. Perhaps that was my most favorite museum I have ever been in my entire life. That took my whole till evening and I called it a day at the bar with my dinner and to early night sleep.
River Front Park

Overview of Font Pitt at Pittsburgh Museum

River Front View

River Front Fountain
The Heinz Stadium

Toon Museum- Batman

Toon Museum- Magneto

Day 5 was the day where I was finally able to put up my poster  and spend some time walking around the convention center before we were given free lunch that day. Everyone had their lunch together and I was able to make a couple of friends from India and France while we were having lunch. With that I headed back to room before coming back to the convention center in the evening for the Happy Hour Session. Alcohol was on sale with different types of snacks being offered around. There was music and the aim of the session was to allow us to interact with each other. I got my self a beer and join in a table with a guy from Czech Republic and was later join by two lovely ladies from Austria. We all hit of to a decent conversation as we all had one common incident between us. We have all had our luggage misplaced by the flight airlines before. It was day of laughter before we all prepared for our presentation the next day.

Day 6 comes the big day where I had to be there the whole to present my project to everyone who stops by my booth. Initially there was not much people stopping by but it slowly started to hit off. People from different countries came by and I explained about what STATS Charger can do and what potential it has. Many of them were left impressed and highly encouraged me to work on this idea as there is a huge potential in it. It mainly caught the eye of Indian guy who is currently doing his research in U.S.A. He was very supportive of my work and even started calling his friends around to come see my work. It was a priceless moment to feel that all the hard work you and your team has put all this while being acknowledge. He wanted me to continue my Masters in U.S.A and told me to ensure my Final Year Project is based on Modelling so that it's easier to be accepted for a program in U.S.A. This was perhaps my proudest moment being in Pittsburgh. After the session was over I spent some time at Macy's to shop some items for my loved one before calling it a day

Day 7 was my final day here and I had packed my stuffs and checked out of the hotel waiting to be brought to the airport. While traveling to the airport, I was filled with some sorrow because the beautiful dream is coming to an end and I am going to be flying back to reality of a hectic university filled with final year project. No matter where I travel around the world after this, Pittsburgh will always remain the most beautiful place I have been more so many personal reasons and for so many first time.

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