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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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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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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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Monday, October 3, 2016

Coffee Talk #2

Happy October everyone! It is crazy to think how fast 2016 has been going! As I mentioned before I am back(ish) to blogging and part of this is to do the things that make me happy. I was in a bit of a slump before but after quite a bit of 'me' work, I am happy to say that things are back on track.

One of the things that I enjoyed when blogging at the very start, was sharing my goals and plans for the month. Not only did this make me plan out what I wanted to accomplish, it allowed me to put them in writing and 'out there'. So starting off October the right way and sharing my goals and reviewing how I did in September!

Feel free to share any goals/tips/advice you have yourself if you would like to!

coffee-talk-goal-setting



October Goals ---

University Related

  • Finalize my meetings/interviews and my outline for my dissertation and a paper. Two goals very similar to last month and two things that I need to finish! Hints they are back on my to do list! 
  • Schedule time with the p-XRF and SEM. A small portion of my research requires some lab analysis of samples and I finally have enough to make it a full day of working, hints why I need to get into the lab! 
  • Finish reviewing FOUR Planning Authority Districts. The largest portion of my research involves reviewing applications for replacement of windows, aka over 10,000 for the last 3 years. To start I want to nail down how I organize and present the data by going through FOUR districts. 
  • Write 500 words a day. 

Personal Related

  • Get on a schedule. A repeat from last month, but I finally have my work schedule under control, a 5 times a week workout program and of course Uni related things all scheduled and planned. So if any month I could start my new routine its this month! 
  • Gym 5 days per week, early morning on Uni days and before work on work days. Part of the get on a schedule goal includes getting in time at the gym. This month I want to crush my gym sessions and try to make most of them early morning!
  • No takeout/chocolate/fried food till Rome (because Holidays are freebies). Since this month is all about being the best me possible, I want to try and challenge myself by eliminating some of the unhealthiest items that I go to. Yes I am giving up takeout, fried foods and my all time favorite chocolate! 

Blogging Related 

  • 2x post per week. Since getting back into blogging I want to make sure and stick with it, plus having a goal of 2 post per week pushes me to explore new places to share with everyone!
  • Learn some social media skills. I SUCK at sharing on social media (Twitter, Facebook, IG, Pinterest -- yep that is all of them). This month I want to try and share more throughout the week with everyone .... TIPS/ ADVICE appreciated :) .

Lets review Septembers Goals ---

University Related

  • Plan out the interviews with individuals for a portion of my research. Epic Fail, although I do have all the contact information collected meaning I just need to email everyone and plan it out. 5% Accomplished
  • Get feedback about my NEW dissertation outline. Outline is revised and meeting with my supervisor this week! So semi-accomplished at 75% Done! 
  • Make a timeline for my computer based research. I have gone through and saved all of the data that I need to go through, I am working on making a timeline, but have some things to discuss with my supervisor before I finalize it! 25% Done

Personal Related

  • Track my eating for the rest of the month. I tried logging both with MyFitnessPal and writing everything down. I managed to do this for about 85% of my meals, so a 85% success rate!
  • Watch my spending/wasteful shopping habits. I was so proud of myself regarding this. One day after the gym on my walk home I stopped into some shops and bought NOTHING! 100% Accomplished!
  • Get on a SCHEDULE. To try and get on the 'schedule/get things done mindset' I stared a semi-bullet journal. While I wasn't able to get on great schedule I feel like I am on track, so I give myself a 50% accomplished on this goal.

If anyone has any tips on how they stay on track with goals, please do share!?!

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Monday, September 26, 2016

My Workout Gear Wishlist

Since starting the consistently going to the gym/working out over 4 months ago, I have grown to love it. I used to be a gym hater/idiot/quitter, never having any idea what to do, hating every second of cardio, and consistently ending my goal to 'get fit'.

Now with my new found happiness and my regular gym date during the week, I am on the hunt for some new workout gear. One of the perks of having a new routine is making sure that you have enough gear to cover you for the full week because doing laundry every other day is not fun. So here it is my Workout Gear Wishlist, also if you have any recommendations on your favorite gear please let me know!



 Foam Roller // Gym Team Bag // Training Tights // Resistance Bands

Workout Clothes

2. A go-to gym jacket.  Most of the time after leaving the gym, I have no desire to put something extra warm on. A light-weight and stylish jacket would be an amazing and I personally love the colors on the one above!

5. A new pair of gym sneakers and I am loving the above options. I managed to grab a pair at a Nike outlet a few months ago, but would love to add another pair to my options. 

6. You can never have enough gym tights to pick from! I need to add 2 or 3 more pairs that way I have enough for the whole week. One thing that I am always on the hunt for is tights that I could also use on my casual weekend days. 

7. A proper sports bra so I no longer have to double up on sports bras. I currently have a few not so great sports bras that I use, the only problem is that I have to wear 2 for each gym session. Having a proper sports bra would fix my problem and make sure that I can do weight training, HIIT and everything else all while my girls are taken care of! 

8. Possibly one of the biggest holes in my gym clothes wardrobe is shirts. I have 2, yes ONLY TWO, real workout shirts. I have some over t-shirts that I use for my other gym sessions, but having a few more shirts must happen soon! 

Workout Gear / Extra Items

1. My own personal foam roller to keep at home! Since starting focusing on weights at the gym sometimes my muscles are just dead at the end and killing me for days after the workout. That was until I started foam rolling, a painful and amazing thing to add to my routine! 

3. A new gym bag that will work for my early morning gym sessions meaning that I need to pack my 'get ready essentials' , shower essentials, and a change of clothes. I have been using a combination of a backpack and a tote bag to carry my uni and gym essentials. Something that I could constantly have ready for the gym would be perfect!

4. One of the newest wishlist items that I have added is resistance bands. Most of my workout inspirations have been coming from watching YouTube fitness people and most of them utilize resistance bands during their warm-ups , workouts, and stretches. 


So there it is my Workout Gear Wishlist like I mentioned before if you have any recommendations on gear that you love just let me know! 



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