The year flew by so quickly. It was on 21st September 2001 that I first beheld the magnificent castle-like Royal Holloway University of London main campus at the top of Egham Hill, Surrey, around 40 miles west of London. And now in Oct 2002 Iím here again, back in Jakarta. Yet it didnít feel like one whole year has passed, so full and rich with events and new experiences it wasÖ..
I was there, financed by Premier Oil, to study for an MSc degree in Basin Evolution and Dynamics in its well-known department of Geology. The full and hectic year started right away after the registering day. After the introduction by Dr Chris Elders, the director of the course, the course began. Daily classes of Geodynamics, Exploration Geophysics, Tectonics and Structural Geology, Basin Analysis and Sequence Stratigraphy filled my weekdays, and the homework and reports filled the nights and weekends. Lecturers and Professors such as Dave Waltham, Ian Davison, Derek Blundell, Ken McClay, Robert Hall, Cindy Ebinger, Dan Bosence and Gary Nichols took turns in cramming our heads with geology. A field trip to Somerset and Devon, looking at the grand chevron-folded cliffs, provided the only break from classes we had at this term. The term ended in mid December with a two-week Christmas break.
The cold winter wind in January didnít prevent the second term to start. It was now the turns of guest lecturers from various oil companies, including Chris Johns from Premier Oil and BPís top-notch explorer Dave Roberts, to fill our daily life. A field trip to Dorset provided a chance for us to learn about petroleum system, and included a visit to BPís Wytch Farm oilfield, in which Premier Oil also owns shares. Then a pace change; from the daily classes routine, it changed into a fix-your-own-schedule activity, as we began the group project. With three other friends I was assigned to interpret a set of 3D data over Forties field in North Sea using the Landmark interpretation package. This phase included spending several nights in the workstation lab of the department, in order to turn out the best interpretation and report we could do. By the time we handed in the report for the group project, winter has given way to spring and daffodils and daisies have dotted the lawn around the campus, providing it with colour. The two-week Easter holiday was revising weeks for us, when we studied day and night in preparation of the exam. Then the exam came. A grueling week filled with two three-hour exams and a six-hour one. Two days later with mixed feelings - glad because the exam was over and yet worried with the results - we flew to Barcelona for a field trip over the Pyrenees.
We came back from Spain welcomed by the squirrels and rabbits running around under the sun in the green foliage of the campus area. It was the beginning of an arduous summer filled with work for the independent project, the project for our dissertation. Opting to take the advantage of the interpretation facilities of the department, which has 8 units of Unix workstations with 4 Landmark package licenses and 2 Geoquest (IESX) ones, I began my project in the university. Working on Premier Oilís Guinea Bissau data set enabled me to learn about passive margins and salt tectonics, things that were new to me. I watched sunny summer days went by through the workstation lab windows, and when the autumn wind started to rustle the leaves again, we all wrapped up our reports and presented them as talks and posters in a symposium attended by around 150 people from both the academia and the industry. A day after that the course was brought to end, with an interview with the examiners and the announcement of results. To pass the course and obtain the degree, we have to satisfy the board of examiners in five course elements, i.e. course work, 3 exams and the independent projects. Of the 18 people in both MSc in Basin Evolution & Dynamics and MSc in Tectonics classes, 2 failed. Another 6 failed one component and will have to wait for the board of examiners meeting to know whether they will pass or fail. I was lucky, I flew home the day after the exam knowing that I have won the fight. The fight for the degree. And I brought it home.
So the year ended. Of course it wasnít only work and work. There were parties, picnic, games, sun bathing, multi cultural lessons from European and Latin American friends, French and Spanish lessons, and errÖ. drinking lessons in the pub. But more than that, there were a lot of tears and laughter, togetherness, and the friendship.