Boys Brunch: Anggoro Seto – From Indonesia’s Golden Boy To European Graduate

As this world that used to be bigger is now getting narrower, the hunger of exploring and experiencing new cultures is becoming more exciting than ever. Many international organizations offer ways for us to walk in their shoes, especially for us in Indonesia, a country where the world is somehow paying attention to.

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Up north in Europe, there’s a scholarship program called Erasmus Mundus – an opportunity for people around the World who aims to enhance quality in higher education through scholarships and academic co-operation between the European Union and the rest of the world. The program has been popularly prestigious among Indonesians aspiring international students due to its amazing study programs and university destinations that is spread all across Europe.

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Credit: Anggoro Seto

Anggoro Seto who calls himself a life learner felt like the program suited his objectives of life – fruitful international experience by learning real way of living from our Blue-continent counterparts. This long-time friend of mine just graduated last year and shared his excitement of studying in multiple European cities and living European ways during our brunch in his hometown Bekasi, for our Boys Brunch April/May/June 2017.

Feby (F): Long time no see, Anggoro! It’s been a while, eh. Congrats on your graduation. How’s everything?

Anggoro (A): Yeahh, too long! Thanks, Feby. Everything’s great. Of course, they need to be great. Lol. Europe was fun, being back home is also amazing. You told me you wanted to visit when you were in the Middle East but you didn’t. I could have brought you to places you would love.

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(F): Shit obviously happened. Lol. But that’s alright, there are still plenty of timed ahead. But it’s all about you now, and first thing’s first – Tell me about your study and Erasmus Mundus Scholarship

(A): So yeah, as you know the past couple years, I’ve been busy with my study that I took with Erasmus Mundus Master Course. As most of us also know Erasmus Mundus is a pretty well-known program from that aims to promote Eurpoean universities’ education for International students outside Europe. Continuing my bachelor study and my professional experience, I was accepted in this program called AFEPA – Agricultural, Food and Environmental Policy Analysis – Well, the program’s name speaks for itself, and it is something I’ve been doing for quite some times.

As all Erasmus Mundus programs, AFEPA also aimed to promote European universities, as well as strengthening relationships among involving countries. AFEPA also allowed me to study in 2 universities, each in Bonn (Germany) and Barcelona (Spain) respectively, along with 2 summer schools in Barcelona and Belgium. This whole experience would definetely be one the highlights of my life – ever. Many good things came along with it, from the study to the idea of living in a total different cultures up in Western Europe.

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(F): That sounds too much fun and the best part was that you got to do it without paying any cash. Why did you think the committee grant you the scholarship?

(A): Yeah! To be honest, this program was always something that I anticipated the most eversince I knew it existed. I could say that I tried really hard to receive what I received. I actually applied this program back in 2013 for the first time but I only made it to reserve list. I was obviously not a quitter so I came back in 2014 and finally made it. I felt like they could see how consistent and persistent myself was as an applicant, reflected in the whole process of application. I did lots of research and practice which I think are the key of succeeding any scholarship programs. We gotta show that we’re being serious and are able to handle the responsibility of being an awardee.

(F): Couldn’t agree more. But why were you so obsessed with Erasmus Mundus? How did you think studying in Europe was better than in any other continent?

(A): In this era, I believe that being a student doesn’t only mean that we can only get the learning process inside the class. The world offers too many things we can learn about if we’re aware enough. I don’t know though, but I somehow felt connected to Europe to fulfill my curiousity and to experience myself of what life is about in the continent. This was probably affected by the fact that I’ve experienced living in North America so I kinda wanted somewhere new for me to explore.

Just like Asia, Europe offers endless diversity but somehow they’re also united. One country is different to another and that excited me a lot. As a person who value cultures and diversity, I felt lucky enough to finally experience a whole new point of view in multiple European cities and I don’t regret it.

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(F): It’s all about the travelling too, isn’t it! So when studying, do you choose the school first or the city first?

(A): Honestly, city first. LOL. As I mentioned that my objective was to learn from every aspect instead just what I would get from school. And of course selecting countries and cities will be one of the really important keys. I’ve got Belgium, Sweden, Hungary, Germany, and Spain on my list and I finally got two of them. Now that I have to share these things with you, the more I actually miss everything that happened back there. HAHAHA.

(F): HAHAHA. Congrats to you, bro. But from those two, how different are lives and study environments between Germany and Spain?

(A): Oh man, they’re completely different. People in Bonn were much more discpline as the germans are known as. And starting my program in Bonn first was the right decision. Not that I didn’t enjoy Germany, but as Indonesian, I was more sociable and Spain was the place for it. People in Barcelona are more loose, open, and outgoing. I enjoyed both places so much as I needed those “social rules” Bonn shaped for me to start the year, and ended the experience with more relaxing environment that Barcelona gave.

(F): From every knowledge and experience that you’ve gathered through Erasmus Mundus Master Course program, how do you think they will be useful for your life?

(A): I feel like I am more developed – as I should. And it is probably obvious when I say  that the past two years experience I had was really eye opening. I kept collecting puzzles to be an open minded, mature, and independent person. And the program truly exceeded my expectation. I have the knowledge from school, get to know lots of people, and I traveled to many places during my break too. It was like I was prepared to received 100% and they gave me 1000%. I think you obviously know how them-experiences will be useful for my life.

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(F): You sound really on fire. But as we had lived in Canada 5 years ago for an exchange program, what do you think is the most significant difference between living abroad for an exchange and for a master program?

(A): Obviously really different. Back then, our program was set and designed with really specific instructions of how, where, and with whom we should live. We were given schedule, activities, and we understood that the program would somehow end at the exact designated time that made us have to go back to real life. But master study was something I needed to figure out by myself. It was a big chunk of my life that I would continously carry – not that exchane program wouldn’t – but school is more like a “real thing” if that’s even the right word. I designed myself and took full responsibility of that. This thing will affect my life in a really big portion, such as my future job – simply. I am proud that I have experience both. You should get your master soon, Feb!

(F): HAHAHA, thanks for encouraging! It does sound interesting. On the other notes, how do you think your experience will affect other people in your community, though?

(A): Just what I did to you, I always try to deliver the message. Everyone can and should experience the other part of the world the best way possible. As human being that was born and raised in the same country, I want every Indonesians who read your blog to understand that we have the same basic – we received same education system and similar social conditions. I know ‘everything’ is better most of the time in bigger cities but we do create our own opportunities. I encourage people to bring the best in them; we all should be thirsty of experiencing diversity and apply the good things in our community!

 

(F): Excellent enough. So now that you graduated, what is your next move?

(A): I just got married with the love of my life last month, and that was such a major move yet another milestone of my life. But also now that I have better knowledge especially in agriculture and environmental policy, I am really excited to apply that in real life. I would love to contribute and work in an environment where I can support, but at the same time still give me learning process. Learning is really that fun that I know I will never stop doing.

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Credit: Anggoro Seto

Anggi – as how I always called him was still pretty much the same person, but with a whole completely new spirit. He still had the same gesture, same goof, and same hilarious laughter but when I dug into his European experience, I could see how excited he was and the importance of that experience was clearly reflected by the way he told me the story.

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We had a nice mixture sundanese-western selection of brunch. Cireng, grilled meat ball, rice, lasagna, marshmallow brownies, coffee, and milkshake was served in the new restaurant called 3 Cooks in Bekasi. As we enjoyed our brunch, I remembered how I spend many meals with him back in 2011-2012, from a Subway outlet in downtown Charlottetown to a meat-ball and fruit soup stall in Cikajang traditional market. We maintained our friendship the last 5 years and I am proud of having a friend who could literally go miles to achieve what he’s always been dreaming of. Definitely looking forward to see more!

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Trivia

  • Who’s your favourite cartoon character?

Nobita

  • If you can, in what colour do you want to dye your hair?

Light brown

  • Where do you wish you can go for a honeymoon?

Maldives. Why the heck does it need to be so expensive!

  • If you’re asked to watch one movie for 3 times in a day, what would that be?

What’s that Bollywood movie called!? Ohh, 3 Idiots

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This or That

  • Bungee Jumping or Sky Diving?

Sky Diving!

  • Ballerina or Cheerleader?

Cheerleader

  • Ramen or Pad Thai?

Pad Thai

  • Edgy or Geeky

Edgy

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Credit: Anggoro Seto

About Anggoro

  • Anggoro Seto was born on 25 July 1989. He went to University of Padjadjaran (UNPAD) in 2007, one of the top University in West Java to earn himself a bachelor of Agriculture
  • Back in 2011 right after graduation, he was chosen to represent West Java in Indonesia-Canada Youth Exchange Program that spent 6 months of living in both Canadian city called Charlottetown and an Indonesian Village called Cikandang, in southern part of Garut, West Java
  • He was also active campaigning about positivity through pageantry. After winning Abang (Mister) Bekasi in 2012, he was dubbed as Jajaka (Mister) West Java in the same year.
  • Representing Indonesia wasn’t a new thing for Anggoro. Before Canada exchange program, he already represented UNPAD for Harvard Model United Nations back in 2011.

Boys Brunch: Rico Polim – Asian Sensation of Penn-State

Coming from a developing country like Indonesia to compete at the International level is always challenging yet interesting as not really many people know in which side of Asia this big archipelago is. Or when they know, they will still ask you interesting questions that indicates how primitive we are. Moreover, if you come from a developing city like Pontianak where not only people worldwide don’t really know its existence, but also ignored by many Indonesians.

But Rico Polim turned the table 180 degrees. This long-time friend of mine is from Pontianak and proved the old proverb of “It doesn’t matter where you are coming from. All that matters is where you are going” to be true. He studied both Bachelor and Master study in the United States of America and earned himself the highest recognition an engineering student of Pennsylvania State University could get, as he was named as College of Engineering student marshals which is selected for their outstanding academic achievement and contributions to engineering student life, every year.

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As he and I had this little reunion after several years when we both were home for the holiday, I got the opportunity to interview him for the January 2017 edition of Boy’s Brunch so that he could spill every amazing thing he experienced the past few years.

(Feby): Hey Rico, long time no see! How’s everything going? Last time we met, you were still in High School, weren’t you?

(Rico): Hello Feb! Everything’s great. It’s really nice to being back home and catch up with you again. Thank you so much for reaching me. I also remember the last time I saw you that you were busy preparing your departure to Canada.

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(F):  Yeah, it was 2011. It’s been to long! So how did you start this entire amazing journey?

(R): Well yeah, as a Pontianak native I always lived here and spent my education in this cozy city. When I graduated high school, I was looking for a bit of a ‘fresh air’ and followed my passion. I moved out of the city to study at The Pennsylvania State University, and took dual Bachelor Study and Master Study in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research.

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(F):  Why did you choose to study abroad, especially in the USA?

(R): I can say that I am privileged enough to be able to have parents who can support my dream to study in the place that I desire. I feel that furthering my education abroad doesn’t necessarily mean that I do not trust our education here. We have equal level of education, and I would think that there are aspects of education in Indonesia that would excel compare to the US. But in my opinion, there are also some aspects in the American system of education that happens to be more interesting for me. And my parents thankfully support the idea of studying abroad. USA is a personal dream of mine, and I worked really hard to be accepted in where I studied.

(F):  Tell us a little bit about your study. How interesting that was to study Industrial Engineering in the US?

(R): I took dual degree in Industrial Engineering which is basically the study of optimizing and reading the system, where efficient processes are developed for the particular process. It was a study that I am really passionate about as in the nowadays society, we become more connected to each other. Nowadays, a technology can be brainstormed in the US, produced in China, and be exhibited in Mexico, and my study allowed me to be the part of the process. I enjoyed the study of optimizing and reading data for tons of interesting purposes. I was in this amazing program which they combine Bachelor and Master Study and I was focusing the Industrial Engineering to Operation Research. I basically learned the mathematical property of life, for my additional ability to understand life. HAHAHA.

I worked really hard and took that study seriously. I received more than 5 awards and scholarship including the most prestigious award to be named as the student marshal for the Penn State College of Engineering last fall commencement ceremony on Dec, 2016.

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Credit: Penn State

(F):  That sounds great. But how did you survive being an Asian at school, Especially from Indonesia and Pontianak as developing places?

(R): I knew the consequences and I was prepared to face the social life there in the US. I realized that I was Indonesian with Chinese descendant which made me do not only limit my involvement in the society to just with people in own ethnicity. I always tried to get out of my comfort zone and saw people from a lot of culture and background. I was comfortable with the diversity that I experienced as much as I was comfortable with adapting to them. I would say hard work and timing was really important to survive in a really diverse lifestyle. I needed to prove my capability of being a responsible person that I was independent and lived miles apart of my family. But being responsible didn’t necessarily mean to be strict. I liked to experience new things; it’s just part of the process of being nurtured by life.

And as a minority, I was doing pretty well. I was involved in this Schreyer Society – an honourable society in PennState where only crème de la crème students get to be part of. It was awesome, members of this society gets multiple privileges that we enjoy so much. HAHAHA. I also acted as a co-captain of this club named Penn State Formula Society of Automotive Engineers (Formula SAE) where I got to make an actual Formula 1 car. It is really challenging yet obviously so much fun.  Last time we showcased our F1 car in the 2015 Formula SAE Michigan series competition where we ranked 33rd out of 120 International teams, which was the team’s highest since 2008.

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Credit: Facebook

(F): I am loving all of these stories. Were there any unpleasant incidents that happened during your study, though?

(R): There were obviously quite a few of them, but nothing big. During classes and assignments, group works could be really challenging. But everyone has their own battle, don’t we? For locals, it probably sucked that they needed to re-take some courses, but it was pretty demanding for me that I needed to re-take a visa in certain period. But the opportunity meant more to me than to them, so I guess sticks and stones didn’t break my bones. I focused on enjoying every moment and I earned my due.

(F):  I agree with the spirit. How do you think those experience will make you become a better Indonesian?

(R): Being lesser part of Indonesian community in the US, gave me the chance to being exposed more in the community. Man, our country offers lots of magnificent thing to the world. They can be amazed by even basic information of Indonesia and I enjoyed being ‘ambassador’ of this country at my school. Again, in the diverse situation, it’s always opportunity that we need to explore. I learned too many things this life could offer, such an eye opener. I got to know lots of people from not only US but also other International students and professors, and dealt with them. I became more mature of a person and I think every Indonesian youth should experience that in the best way possible.

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(F):  What do you think has shaped you as a person you are now? What made you this positive?

(R): My parents and family, shootout to them! They teach me more than I could ever think of to be the person that I am now. I am also a life learner and I feel like I learned many things from people that interacted with me as well. Like from many Indonesians at Penn-State, from the Indonesian Student Association in the early days who guided me how to survive and everything. And after all, I am obviously still learning and my graduation was just a beginning. I’m hungry for more –hopefully– great things to conquer now!

(F):  What will your next move be then? What big things are coming?

(R): I want to get a Job and continue my study to get Ph.D in the US because the excitement from graduation is obviously still there. I am coming back to US very soon, but I always want to be connected to Indonesia. I garner all these knowledge to contribute back to my community back home and help the society improve the current process. As a big Nation, our people need to embrace the digital era and seize the moment, and I believe we can. I want to tell the world that anything is possible as long as you work hard and commit yourself to what you love. Being honest and sincere to ourselves is the most important; those things are activities that I want to be associated with.

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Credit: Facebook

For a boy who will turn 22 years old this year, Rico sounded really mature yet still managed to show it in a really fun way. He ordered Bakmi Jawa (Javanese Noodle) as he seemed like he wanted to redeem his longing of Indonesian food. We had this brunch at the new hip-eatery in Pontianak called Botani, where his pure white shirt complimented the earthy ambiance of the café perfectly.

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Rico’s Brunch: Javanese Noodle

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Feby’s Brunch: Pan-seared Dory

I remember the first time I met him circa 2010 at a debating tournament where he was a debater and I was a chief adjudicator. His sharp and strong argument became the highlight that it brought him a ticket to a national level debating tournament. His evolution to be the person he is today does not surprise me and probably everyone who knows him at all. Rico is an Asian Sensation of Penn-State and as he said, this was just a beginning. Watch out, World. This boy is from Pontianak, the city that you do not really care about.

 

Trivia

  • What will you rename yourself?

Rico sounds good.

  • Who is your first Celebrity crush?

Emma Watson

  • Where do you want to get married?

Pontianak

  • What is your current jam?

Take Five by Dave Bruebeck

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This or That

  • Katy Perry or Lady GaGa?

Ahhhh I really don’t want to choose! – Katy Perry

  • Swimming or Bowling?

Swimming

  • Alpen or Machu Picchu?

Machu Picchu

  • Cappuccino or Espresso?

Espresso

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Credit: Penn State

About Rico

  • Rico Polim was born and raised in Pontianak, West Kalimantan on 11 Maret 1995
  • He was a club junkie in High School. He joined both Basketball and English Debating Club and his serious commitment in debating ranked him #16 out of 99 debaters who participated in National School Debating Chhampionship 2011
  • Grew up to be a physically active person, he lost 10kg due to his basketball routine throughout the age of 12 to 16 years old
  • He’s been in a long distance relationship since 2012 as he studied in The US while his girlfriend chose to study in Australia
  • In Penn-State, Polim was a recipient of the 2016 John W. Oswald Award, the President Sparks Award and the President Freshman Award. He also earned numerous scholarships, including the Harold and Inge Marcus Scholarship in industrial engineering, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers Education Foundation’s E. Wayne Kay Graduate Scholarship, the International Society of Automation Scholarship, the Material Handling Education Foundation Scholarship, and the Society of Automotive Engineers Long-term Member Scholarship. – a solid long list of award not a regular student could just receive