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Hey Loves! I’m Caitlyn the girl behind ChemGradBoom. A blog about taking life with a little salt, a slice of lime and shot of tequila or life of a graduate student, whichever version you prefer!

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Monday, February 19, 2018

Hello 2018 ...

Well so much for the 'I am going to be back to regular blogging which I put well over 6 months ago'. Yep, I am terrible or maybe just lacked the motivation to get back into the habit of blogging.

Well really I just lacked the motivation for quite a lot in my life - PhD, getting healthy (gym life and eating habits), along with the blog all kinda fell by the wayside.

Not really sure how to explain it but the lack of motivation, but it seriously sucked these last few months. Not only the lack to push through with all the work that I had to do/needed to do in order to stay on track but I have just had an interesting last 6 month even if it hasn't been a productive one.

Let's start it off with a review of the last few months ---

  • I transferred jobs, after a discussion regarding my schedule/holidays with my previous job I was told that they weren't willing to accommodate my request. As someone who was there for almost 2.5 years and as the only part-time student employee it was disappointing, to say the least. In the end, I am now in a much better position and working under my old boss, so everything turned out for the better!

  • I spent a week in the hospital (yay for UK life). Towards the start of December, I finally headed to the doctor as I was having some lingering issues from a terrible migraine from a few weeks prior. Side Note: MIGRAINES SUCK!!!! Turns out a migraine was the first indicator that I had a blood clot in my brain - insanity. All is well though now, in fact, I am almost off of my blood thinner treatment and should be good to go. Will say this that while the hospital absolutely sucks, even more so due to the daily blood samples (I literally passed out on the first day when they were taking like 9 vials, and then the following day freaked out for 30+ minutes) everyone who treated me was fantastic.

  • I headed home for the holidays and it was amazing to see all my family and friends. It had been two years since I got to spend Christmas with my family and it was absolutely amazing to be there with them all, especially given the fact that going home was questionable due to the previously mentioned medical issues.

  • I have extended my PhD studentship til the end of 2018 (Dec 31st to be exact) giving me more time to get my ass into gear and finish writing. I literally have dragged it out for as long as possible, but recently seem to be on the up-and-up with writing. All I need to do is send off chapters and ask for legit feedback from my supervisors (or anyone who is willing to read my drafts). One of the main things I worry about is the 'argument' for why the research was being done and if the ''flow'' of the story is working. That is right -- the flow of the story, seems rather odd but that is essentially what the first few chapters of your PhD thesis is/needs to accomplish.

  • Lastly, I have been in the process fo applying for jobs/fellowships/internships. While I may not be done with my PhD just yet, I am well aware that if a position is available that is interesting to not let it pass by. Even more important hopefully the idea of getting a job will push me even harder to the finish line of submitting! 
So there it is an actual update of everything that has been going on over the last few months. Let's hope that now the first post is done that this will mean there is more to come! I do have some fun trips to share. along with the blog being a way to not only get in the writing habit but write about things that I truly enjoy writing :)

How has everyone's 2018 been so far? Also what tips do you have for getting motivated for when the spark is just gone, I would love to hear what you do to get inspired. 

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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

6 Month Update ...

Well lets not even make up some BS excuses of why it's been 6 months since the last post. I simply just stopped, felt a lack of motivation, who knows really I took a very long hiatus.
Needless to say, given that I am writing this, I am hoping to get back into the swing of things, share what travels I have been up to, how my Ph.D. is going, and what life has thrown my way. 

The first night of our NC500 road trip. 

Uni / PhD update 

Recently I have felt pretty motivated with Uni life, writing is writing, but hopefully, the gibberish I write on the page will come together in an amazing thesis. Dreams right, but a girl can hope. I recently presented at 2 conferences, both of which I feel went very well. The audience seemed interested in my findings, along with giving some valuable feedback of further research to do.
Window glass analysis using portable X-ray Fluorescence. 

A stroll around Cambridge! 

Travel Update 

Possibly my favorite part about living abroad - the ability to go out and explore. To start I spent my birthday weekend in Paris/Versailles. It was an insanely short trip, but an amazing city to say that I have been lucky enough to visit. We also spent 3 days in June on a road trip around the North Coast 500 here in Scotland. This road trip has been voted called 'Scotlands Route 66' and is one of the best ways to see the Scottish Highlands. Again this was a short trip, but I am hoping to get the chance to do it again because there are so many amazing sites to see along the route. I managed a quick day trip over to the west coast of Scotland to explore the Isle of Arran! Oh and last but not least was visiting Cambridge for a few days, while presenting at a conference there!

Managed to stroll to the Louve right after a 'attack' needless to say a facetime with my mom = a very upset mother! 

Explore, see the sites and eat all the amazing french food! 

Ferry ride to the Isle of Arran.

Life Update

Everything has been well to fast. My time in Scotland is dwindling down, my PhD is (hopefully) coming to a close, and now the next question is 'What's Next?'

Well as of now the BF thinks that he is ok with sticking around for a bit longer and is taking up an offer from his company for a visa sponsorship! This means that even though my time for being done here, or hope that I find a job and stay, is no longer that much of an issue. Plus the best part means that if there is a delay with finishing up my PhD, I will have be his 'dependant' and will still have a visa to stay in the UK.

So there you have it - pretty much that is all that I have going on. My main goals over the next few months include WRITE WRITE WRITE - aka PhD life, continue to travel a bit more ( a trip to Germany/Oktoberfest is happening along with along weekend down to London and Harry Potter Studios, and last but not least try to figure out what exactly is next for me!

Well, that is it, a 6-month update and an attempt to step back into blog world! What have y'all been up to on my long hiatus?!?

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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

When your partner doesn't enjoy travelling....

So I have a dilemma - the BF HATES travelling. He finds it to be a waste of money and in general finds locations to all be the same. This is minus Rome - which was filled with talks of gladiators, too much pasta, and gelato.

The problem is I love to explore, I love to see new places, just live in the moment of the location which we visit. None of this appeals to him and it seriously sucks.

We recently had a 'chat' after our weekend trip to Paris for my birthday and in the heat of the moment he said that the trip was no fun at all and he didn't enjoy it - minus seeing the Eiffel Tower - but everything else was a waste. This CRUSHED me, it ruined the memory that we spent the weekend away for my birthday strolling the street of Paris and spending a night in Versailles.

So what do you do when your partner hates to travel and all you want to do is see more of the world?

 You compromise

Explore locally 

With our time running short in Scotland - I knew we needed to see more of the country. Like a road trip through the highlands, exploring some more Historic Scotland (or HES now) sites, and in general exploring more of Edinburgh (and close by areas).

Make the BIG trips count

The best example I have of this is the trip we are planning to visit Germany and Octoberfest. This is something that the BF will enjoy (beer and more beer) and it is a chance to spend a week of travel exploring Germany. There is something that he looks forward to, thus making this trip something which he will help plan and should enjoy his picks on what to do/where to explore. 

Find friends to explore with

If all else fails - plan a trip with your girls -it'ss an easy way to tell your partner that you are headed off on another adventure and its a way to not feel guilty about not going somewhere with him.

Explore Alone

This brought up the discussion of a 'planned' trip to Lisbon for a conference that I have in June. I thought that this would be the perfect trip to take for our anniversary, somewhere warm and somewhere with a beach. All of this while my portion of the trip being paid for by the university (hopefully). Well after a chat, he doesn't want to go so this will be a solo trip for me. I will explore the streets of Lisbon, swim in the ocean and mark off another country alone. In the end, of course I would love him there, but I also want to explore and see what is out there with no worries of dragging the BF around doing things he doesn't enjoy.

What tips do you have for travelling when your partner doesn't enjoy travel? (Or am I the only person who has this issue?)

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Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Final Year & Self Doubt

My time here in the UK is dwindling down, it seems that my time for my PhD is now fastly approaching its end date. With project changes, lack of planning on all parties, and my lacklustre enthusiasm of the changes - I now approach the LAST YEAR of my PhD.

This year will be filled with writing, discussions preparing me for my viva (hopefully), painful revisions and lots of self-doubts. As I sit here now, I am headed down to London to assist a colleague with some glass analysis. Sure this doesn't have anything to do with my research but it does give me the one thing that I am missing in my PhD, time in a lab.

With any research project, the likely hood of everything going as planned is extremely improbable. In the end, that is research, which is something that I have struggled with grasping during my time in Scotland.

I am used to instruments breaking, results not being what you expect and even project 'shifts' due to the nature of the research - I am not used to changing an ENTIRE project due to poor planning. It was halfway through my PhD when the 'official' word came down that the instrument I have waited to use would never be available to me. While I knew much earlier that I was (most likely) never going to be able to use the instrument for my research I still had hope.

So as I head into my last year of my PhD, a time of self-doubt, stress and lots of reflection about my project I plan to savour every moment that I have left. This project brought me to Scotland, it has expanded my horizons in terms of life outside the lab and most importantly this year will be the test of how much I can achieve.

So to all the self-doubters out there and whatever you may be working towards - remember that 'It always seems impossible until it's done' - Nelson Mandela

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Sunday, January 1, 2017

2016 - Year In Review

Let's have a big review of 2016.

The Travel List

  • Barcelona and Girona, Spain - June 
  • Sheffield, UK - September 
  • Rome, Italy - October 
  • London and the NFL Game- October 
  • North Carolina and Las Vegas- November
  • Cairo, Egypt - December - Cancelled (No cheap flights)

The PhD List

  • Conference in Sheffield September
  • 3 Chapters in my Dissertation finished
  • Submit one publication

The Personal List 

  • Work on my fitness/health
  • Exercise 3-4 times a week
  • Make a schedule and stick to it
  • Set Daily/Weekly Goals and review how well I stick to them

The 'US' To-Do List 

  • Try Korean BBQ/ Hot Pot Dinner
  • Go to see the Highland Games
  • Visit the Highlands
  • Visit: Rome, Brussels, and London
  • Trip to the Edinburgh Zoo
  • Go to see 5 Fringe Shows  
  • See a rugby game
  • See the Tattoo in August

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Thursday, December 8, 2016

Rome - Food Tour

Rome , the history, the ancient Roman architecture and of course the gelato - I mean all the food! Yes, when we ventured off to Rome one of the things that were on the top of our to-do list was to eat our way through the city and discover some of the best food spots which we would have missed without the food tour we went on.

So without further ado let me introduce everyone to the Taste of Rome - Trionfale Food Tour

A photo posted by Caitlyn Phipps (@caitlynphipps) on

Coffee and Cannoli 

We started the morning and the tour off with a typical Roman breakfast, a freshly made cannoli and a coffee. The cannoli was amazing and they piped the fresh ricotta right there in front of us at La Pasticceria Siciliana ( Via Cipro, 79, 00136). The BF enjoyed an espresso and a hazelnut cannoli and I sipped on a cappuccino and a chocolate cannoli. The cannoli were so good we even headed back for a midnight snack before heading back to the hotel! 

Pizza lovers dream but in real life!

The next stop, a short walk away, was the most amazing pizza place in the city, hell the chef has been called the Michelangelo of Pizza so you know it is good. A must visit a place is Bonci Pizzarium (Via della Meloria, 43, 00136). Every day there are different pizzas to sample with most days being over 80 different types to buy, so head there for lunch and for dinner all while having different options to try. We got to sample 8 different types of pizza, from classic mozzarella and basil, to anchovy and some with well whatever was inspiring that day. Every single bite was delicious, amazing, and oh so a perfect pizza.

The Trionfale Market ( Via la Goletta, 1, 00192)

One of the biggest and best markets in Italy. It has everything from cheese, fruit, meats, flowers, wine, and everything else that you could imagine! This is where we sampled fresh buffalo mozzarella , pancetta, and lasagna. Oh and the best thing was the house wine, which you could buy for a litre for €2 (holy crap it was amazing and so freaking cheap)!

Pasta, Pancetta, and Gnocchi

For the middle portion of the tour, we headed to Al Giardino del Gatto e la Volpe ( Via Buccari, 14, 00195 ) for calamari, pasta and my favourite thing Gnocchi. The restaurant was amazing, filled with a what I would imagine the typical authentic Italian place to visit!


What food tour would be complete, well really what trip to Italy would complete, without a gelato? We were taught how to find the real authentic gelato and OMGoodness can you tell the difference when you have had the real stuff. There were over 30 flavours to try at Fatamorgana Monti Gelato (00184, Piazza degli Zingari, 5, 00184) and of course I sampled over 10 of them.

So there you have it, finally a post from our Roma adventures and not a terrible place to start since everyone loves food. If you are interested in the tour that I took check them out here - Eating Italy Food Tours.

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