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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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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!




Gelato

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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Monday, October 24, 2016

Thinking Ahead To 2017

WTF, thinking ahead to 2017 sounds insane, but not joking I am looking forward to 2017. 

2016 was just not my year, not saying that it was terrible just didn't go as well as I could hope for. While the year started off not so well, I am getting things back on track and things are looking up! 

That is why I am excited for 2017, a year which means the last portion of my Ph.D., the last full year in Scotland, the last year where I can call myself a full-time student and lastly a year which I plan to continue working on me! With 2017 approaching faster than most of us would like I have already thought about  Things that I plan on in 2017!



Personal

  1. No Shopping in 2017- This is a MASSIVE GOAL - but I will explain about this in a later blog post.
  2. Run a 5k. Run a 10k.
  3. Actually, blog and share content that I love. This blog is something that makes me get out and explore, take photos and share what I think (plus it helps me get into the writing mood). 
  4. Figure out a morning routine, one that involves waking up between 6-7:30am each morning. I need to start making time in the morning to the gym and then head to uni all before 9:30ish
  5. Set 3 weight/workout goals for the year and achieve them all! (Again another post coming)
  6. Read 12 books. 
  7. Dress for success & myself. I am not talking about a full on business suit, but I do feel better about myself depending on the clothes that I am wearing/how I look. So stepping up from my usual leggings and t-shirt shouldn't be too much of an issue. 

University

  1. Set goals (weekly/monthly/quarterly) - in particular, writing goals to finish out my Ph.D. 
  2. Publish TWO papers before the end of the year (or at least have them in review)
  3. Make connections in my field over the next year ---- because when it's time for a job it's all about who you know!
  4. Head to 3 conferences. 
  5. Figure out the best Uni Work schedule for myself. Of course, this will vary depending on the events each week, but I need to figure out how to manage my time and have that include working at the University. (Hopefully at my actual desk/office if they get that all arranged)
  6. Learn some basic coding skills. Not sure what language, but I know that the more skills that I can learn now, the easier it will be to apply in the future if needed. 
  7. Try out different working methods (Pomodoro Technique, Getting Things Done (GTD), Don't Break the Chain, Action Method) and figure out what works best for me!

Travel

  1. Explore Paris , Vienna and Prague (trips booked for 2017)
  2. Learn basic Spanish and French. I want to be able to communicate some of the basics! 
  3. Use my Historic Scotland pass and visit 10 sites! 
  4. Visit the Royal Yacht Britannia. Visit Holyrood Palace.
  5. Weekend break to a new city in the UK. Any suggestions, please let me know! 
  6. Rent a car and head up to the Highlands - possibly a long weekend getaway.
  7. Each month explore a new section of Edinburgh(ish) --- Dean Village ; Stockbridge ; Duddingston ; Royal Botanic Gardens ; Waterway of Leith ; Inchcolm ; Forth ; Scottish National Portrait Gallery/ The Georgian House ;  Royal Observatory ( Blackford Hill) ; Belhaven Bay & Portobello  ; Lauriston Castle. 

So there you have it my 2017 Goals planned out in October (insane I know but I am glad that they are out there now!)

Does anyone else think about the next year this early, or I am the only one?

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Dissertation Writing Guide : Getting Started

One of the hardest things (to me anyways) during my academic career is being motivated to sit down and put words on the paper (aka writing up my research). As with any degree, and especially postgraduate degree, one of the most important aspects to finalising that you have enough to graduate is your dissertation/thesis. The dissertation is your defence that you have done enough to prove you know what you are talking about and that at the end your research had a 'valuable' contribution to society (or the academic world).



As for me, my biggest challenge for my masters was producing the 104-page document, better known as my thesis. It was a challenge that included multiple revisions, edited content, constantly doubting my self-worth as a student, and finally, the thing that stood between me and starting my PhD.

 At the end of my thesis defence, I still had revisions to do, but my committee felt confident that I had done enough and presented my research in a manner which made sense. The hard part was done, words were on the paper, chapters were formed and my story worked. 

Now I am at the point in my PhD where I need to start thinking about the writing portion. My research is still not finished, but I need to start forming 'the story' (aka the dissertation). This is the hardest part of the whole postgraduate degree to me, I love research and I love looking into new theories, but I HATE writing it all up.

Writing is the pain in my ass, the one reason why keeping up the whole student forever situation is a doubt in my mind. Unfortunately is the one thing that you can't say 'screw it'. You have to write research reports, you need to write publications, and you most defiantly get to write a dissertation before you get to wear any fancy academic regalia and call yourself a doctor.

So starting today I am going to really focus on writing up my research, getting words on the paper, chapters drafted out and forming my story. Along with this goal, I want to share my tips and tricks that I am using to get the dissertation drafts done, reviewed and hopefully in a little over a year submitted for review.

Dissertation Writing Guide -

 A new series to help anyone who struggles writing up their thesis/dissertation/research!



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