Personal experience

- First off, apologies for the sheer simplicity of the page! As I have to be in compliance with this policy for personal webpages. That is why the rant contained within this page is not part of my main page. Also because, in future, I would be very uncomfortable to be dragged like Zuckerberg and his Facebook fiasco.

♦ [Post first year]: And yes, about the actual experience of Cambridge/PhD, well---Cambridge can be quite a challenging place! First year of PhD (in particular to international students like myself) involves quite a few mistakes (blunders in my case) both socially and academically. Also, one has to fight for one's doctoral funding which can be bit of a daunting thing as well! Well, in short, a few hickups and cultural-shock episodes later I would say I managed to tackle my PhD's first year in a reasonable manner. For me this video sums up quite beautifully how one usually tackles one's PhD's first year while juggling quite a few things at the same time (of course, AT-AT in the video is analogous to my PhD's first year!).

[Post second year]: What I feel at the end of my second year (still faltering a bit, making quite a lot of noise, and faking quite a lot of stuff without knowing if I ever be able to fininsh in time. BUT still having some direction and perspective at the same time).

True grit: A PhD supervisor's advice!

.................................................................... Advice dose .......................................................................

♦ At times, in my experience, it has helped me to stand in front of the mirror and say something like this to myself. This is because, in my opinion, a bit of self discipline seems imperative in this PhD's debacle!

♦ In my experience so far, the sooner one makes one's peace with the concept of boggart the sooner one's life becomes easier at a place like Cambridge.

♦ Do have a look at Varsity (a brilliantly run Cambridge's Independent Student Newspaper since 1947) that covers some of the prevalent issues at the University which the students strongly feel about. Their latest edition.

Effective graduate procrastination examples:

Staying loosely connected to your research topic: I learnt about "How can we understand and effectively intervene in interconnected complex adaptive systems?" [Joi Ito's PhD thesis]. This is how it happened:
I learnt about MIT DCI through MIT Tech Review's Chain Letter newsletter (or it could have been the other way around as well). MIT DCI has a podcast called Grey Mirror. Then (with a relatively statisfied conscious) I listened to (or procrastinated with) Joi Ito: Applying a Systems Paradigm to Cryptocurrency and learnt about Ito's Practice of Change concept. Finally, I think writing this bullet point is sort of a mini procrastination session in its own as well!

🕵 Central intelligence bureau-Box (CIB-b) [Sources: MIT Technology Review; Twitter]      

🍺 German sandbox: I recently completed a Lower Intermediate German course. In order to avoid getting rusted I have decided to practice my German in this German sandbox. Achtung!: Please take everything with a grain of salt!

♦ Or, if you have already been through the purgatory and managed to complete a doctorate then why not procrastinate further (or maybe learn a few things!) with this video series?. If, however, you want to procrastinate more efficiently (keeping your cool developer vibe intact---which seems to be imperative if one is at a public place) then codereddit is a place to be (which basically renders the main page of reddit into something that looks like a programming project!)!

Some (relevant) comic relief:

In search of THE quote: Reason:: Well, almost all the PhD theses that I have come across so far start with an inspiring quote and I do not think that I have a similar suitable quote that could qualify as the opening thing in my own PhD thesis. So I have decided to keep a record of such (possibly insipiring) quotes I come across as I go (well, most of it is from Peep Show, not sure if any of it would qualify as THE quote as some are here just for motivational purposes) :

🎓 [PhD application process]: If rambling through so far aspires you to be a doctoral student at the Computer Lab (or the lesser-known Department of Computer Science and Technology (CST)) then please have a look at this very detailed and helpful PhD degree page.

German learning experience: interesting observations

Literally translated German words to English

The fact that sometimes, when translated to English literally, German words can sound a bit funny to the non-native speakers. I have a few personal favourites:

Zum Beispiel (for example):

Khülschrank = Khül (which translates to English 'cool') + Schrank (which translates to English 'box') = Cool box (literally) = Fridge (actual translation) in English!
Handschuhe = Hand (which is basically 'hand' as in English) + Schuhe ('shoes' in English) = Hand shoes (literally) = Gloves (actual translation) in English!

German and Urdu

♦ When I started to learn German then I was actually caught by surprise after observing the similarities between these two languages! It could be because of their common origin! Zum Beispiel, in Urdu there is a concept of genders as well (like in German, there is no Neutral gender in Urdu though!). Also, there is a distinction between formal and informal 'you' as well. Zum Beispiel, the informal you in German is 'du' and in Urdu it is 'tu' (weirdly enough it is the same as in Spanish!)! There is, however, one MAJOR difference that I have noticed between Urdu and German which has something to do with the gender of the word banana. In German it is feminine!? I think Urdu got this right. However, luckily enough, I stumbled upon the product review of this German learning hat and I think it would now be quite difficult for me to forget the gender of die Banane any time soon!

♦ Talking about similarities between Urdu and German then, once again (noch mal), it came as a surprise to me that Urdu is phonetically diverse enough to cover most of the phonetic sounds in German pronunciation! Zum Beispiel, Urdu has the sounds that are required to pronounce 'ich' ('I' in English), 'drei' (the number 3), and 'acht' (the number 8), which I think are not present in English. But one sound that is not there in Urdu is the sound of the German umlaut Ö. Zum Beispiel, I am still struggling with the correct pronunciation of Döner macht schöner!

♦ One very pleasant, or maybe a bit quirky, similarity is the fact that Urdu speakers (mostly young in an informal situation) use as well and it exactly means what it means in German!! Although it is pronounced a bit differently than the German ; in Urdu the pronunciation ends with a nasal sound of N (not a hard N but something similar to the way the word Pardon is pronounced in French) so it really is Hän (pronunciation starts with German and then ends in a French manner!) in Urdu.

🍺 German (und Javascript Übungen) sandbox

Ein paar Vokabeln zu meinem Forschungsthema.

Vokabeln Geschlechter

Have a look at this presentation which I gave as part of my mündliche Prüfung for my recent German course. This is the transcript of what I said (or tried to say) when I gave this presentation.

Back to procrastination.

♦ My intention is to keep expanding this page and maybe in near future migrate to a relatively visually pleasing world of Medium.

Responsible person for this page: A. Ali | aa980 | My main page | Back to top