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Welcome to England – Working at Foster and Partners

I worked under my senior partners in Foster and Partners London, and his name is Gerard Evenden. I never imagined that I was accepted to work in London. At that time, I prepared my portfolio. I sent the portfolio to several studios. Many of them got rejected. I was anxious at that moment because I spent so much time preparing the portfolio. It’s six months in total. I printed 10 Copies in the Geylang area. It’s the place when there is one printing company that can print double-sided paper in outstanding quality. So far, I was proud of the portfolio because this portfolio has the theme of transformation. I have designed the cover, content, and story in the portfolio based on the timeline.

One morning check my email. I got the letter that I got the interview schedule. The interview was uncertain in how it’s going to conduct. I read in the letter the name Martin Castle. Yes, he is one of the associates in Foster and Partners. Then I went to the bookstore. I bought a book title “how to face interview in English.” The interview went well, and he asked me the last question. I answered, “How come that Foster and Partners is so big but still have a high-quality body of work? What is the secret of it? I want to learn.” He then told me that Foster and Partners is 1000 people more, and they are discussing each stage rigorously. The process will affect the result. He asked me, “How much do you want to get paid ?” I said, “it’s up to the standard; I don’t care; I just wanna learn in there.”

He then, continued “if you got accepted, what you Are going to do ?” I said I want to meet you in person and greet you; how grateful I am. He then laughs. And, my acceptance letter came two weeks after.

“Welcome to England – Working at Foster and Partners”

I did not know anyone in London. I tried to find a home, but I could not find any. Many people said in a digital forum that I should join PPI (Indonesian Student Union) in the United Kingdom. I tried to contact few people, like Indonesian architects in the UK, but nobody responded. Until I found out, a couple with two baby girls looking for a babysitter, and they have an empty room. Even though the location of Foster and Partners and Borehamwood, which is 1.5 hours from Battersea, it’s a precinct beside Thames River in south London. Their home was my best option. Then I flew to London after saying goodbye to few friends.

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I arranged with Ka Ari and Ka Lia to meet me in Hendon station because they have a church meeting. The trip From the airport to Hendon took 45 minutes. I realized that London is so damn cold. I carried two huge bags on my hand and my back.

In the station, I found a phone Box. I called kak Ari, but no answer. The night was freezing, I did not use it, and I don’t wear any cold sweaters/jackets specialized for cold climates. “Realrich,” a guy shouted at me. I saw a man wore a black coat, “I am Ari, nice to meet you. Let’s go and meet our church group.”

I felt warm, and his smile made me feel welcome in this cold climate. I met few new friends on my first day in London. I had a decent dinner with simple food, chicken Soto (an Indonesian dish) Made by one of the group leaders. Suddenly I felt dizzy, and I remember that I had just spent 14 hours on the trip from Jakarta and had not had a good sleep. Kak Ari Patted my shoulder and said to me, “come on, Realrich, let’s go. You should have a rest.”

I looked at his family, and he has two baby girls. Shoot, I am officially baby sitter now.

Oleh Realrich Sjarief

Founder of RAW Architecture

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