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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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Friday, December 12, 2014

15 Facts About Life In Grad School

Lets talk about some truths about life in Grad School. So here my 15 Truths About Grad School that you may no know!

I will say that as a wanna-be forever student, I enjoy college life for the most part, but let's not forget all of the BS that comes along with my self-proclaimed title!

So with the real impending doom of my college career fast approaching I wanted to share the dirty truths behind grad school. Of course there are things that make grad school an amazing experience, but I prefer the blunt and brutal truth about it all.

  1. Grad School sucks the life out of you, day after day, but still it ends up being an amazing 2-5 years. 
  2. First finding the 'RIGHT' grad school seems to be a never-ending task, so then you take the best offer ($<$$)
  3. Having to find your first off-campus house in fun and exciting (hello Pinterest worthy living spaces) until you have to pay a deposit, rent, and all the utilities bills and get stuck with a shitty landlord. 
  4. Finding your advisor 'can' be fun, that is until the advisor you really want to work with tries to talk you out of it 3 times at an hour each and all of the grad students warn you against him. But my advice: go with your gut, chose someone whose research interests you. 
  5. Accept the fact that after your done with your degree, you will be a semi mini-version of your advisor. I now listen to Reggae music when doing research, have a constant supply of snarky comments to share, and respond with the word 'check'. I am now a mini version of Coach and while I pretend to hate it all, he has really helped/taught/mentored me!
  6. Classes are not all that bad, although there will be moments where you swear off another semester of grad school. Push through, it gets better!!!
  7. You will get very close with the other grad students in your program and ones that are in your lab. They will understand the bullshit request of Dr. E and the crazy revisions requested by Dr. H. They will be there for support, nights out, the good times, the bad times, and there to celebrate with you when it is all over. 
  8. Grad school is like a full time job, except with a longer winter break. Yes only a winter break because during the summer you will be at school working away! Trust me though you will probably be way more productive during the summer, no other students to deal with. 
  10. Speaking of beverages to survive through grad school, add in some beer. De-stressing is necessary and alcohol helps with this. So find a local bar and enjoy! Trust me the hard times require some liquid encouragement to go back the next day and get shit done!
  11. You will need to stop being a procrastinator. Shit does not work in grad school. Sure you will have to pull all-nighters, but generally it is because you research has failed for the 10th time and you have a presentation to get ready for. 
  12. Grad School will teach you that it's ok to fail and that you should be damn happy about the few successes. 
  13. Speaking of failures, you will think of dropping out. It's ok, I did it on a bi-weekly basis, until I was working on my thesis and it was the daily basis. School is hard, especially grad school, but stick with it and you will make it through, eventually.
  14. You will have to take steps back every now and then and press refresh, burnout is a real thing. Learning to push through burnout however is part of the learning experience. 
  15. Lastly, while I joke about how grad school is terrible, that my advisor sucked and that I wanted to drop out. In the end you will look back (most likely at your completed thesis) and say suck it grad school, I kicked your ass! 
So if your thinking about life in grad school,  I hope that this gave you some insight and if you ever want to ask questions just let me know! I would love to help/give advice/a honest opinion! 

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

10 Things that terrify me about moving abroad

Visa application sent in - Check
Visa application approved-  Check  
Freaking out about actually moving- More than I imagined. 

Now with everything done, as to what I needed to do for actually moving to Scotland, I can focus on the actual moving part. Which happens to now be absolutely terrifying. It wasn't until everything was sent in and accepted , but I no longer have that problem which is why I am absolutely freaking out about moving abroad. 

  1. Trying to book the perfect plane ticket. I don't want to leave to early ( I have to make sure to say all of my good byes) and I want to leave early enough so that I can kinda settle before orientation on Jan. 12th. Oh yea and I also depend my leave date based on ticket prices #cheapcollegestudent
  2. PACKING..... What can I say, I am moving for 3 years meaning that I will need to pack things for all 4 seasons, books/research stuff, holy technology (3 laptops, 1 camera, phone, etc) and all of the other things aka clothing/shoes. Plus I have to pack it all in 2-3 suitcases...
  3. MONEY like any other poor college student, the money conversion and being broke terrifies me. Yes I have quite a lot in saving, but I know how quite a lot (for me anyways) may not go that far. As for figuring it out, I think for at least 6 months I should be good to go and then after that will be interesting! 
  4. Finding a place to live. This is actually number one, but I was trying to go in some type of chronological order. And yes you read that correctly, I have no place to live yet! I have been looking on a couple of websites for flatshares, but until I am there it is just hard. 
  5. Starting a PhD program. Yikes, another degree, school and advisor. All of these things are terrifying. Questions like- What if I am not what they expected? What if I am not smart enough? What if I just suck in general? are just a few of the ones in my head. 
  6. Navigating Scotland. Being from America and where I grew up, public transit was not something that I ever used! Personally I am excited about the idea of not having to drive, but the idea of making it everywhere via walking/public
  7. Meeting people. I love to have a social life, a very small one, but none the less a social life. I am hoping to find a place that will have roommates open to social nights out and helping to show me the city. 
  8. Being alone. I guess this should have higher as well. I am moving away from family and away from JC. For the last 6 years I have had an amazing support with JC always being there to push me and of course my family has always been there. 
  9. Travelling. I personally want to see everything and anything that I can. I want to utilize my time in Scotland making sure that I not only explore Scotland but other places. While this is something that excites me, it is also something that scares me. My love for adventure is both expensive, exhausting and exhilarating. 
  10. Seeing how I will change. I am not sure that this scares me, but I do know that my life outlook will change. I am moving to a foreign country, I am starting a PhD and I honestly have no idea what is in store for me! 

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Finding the 'Perfect' Carry-On

Travel post #1 as I start prepping for Scotland involves searching for the 'perfect' carry-on tote. Yes a tote bag, that I will also use as a carry-on, but I also hope to get something that can be used for future travel and possibly on the day-to-day basis. What exactly do I want in my carry-on: a bag to hold my computer, pockets for my wallet/passport/tickets, shoulder strap so I can wear it as a cross-body, and space for all the extras. There are of course some bonus bags that also have a separate compartment for shoes, making those bags ideal for weekend trips!

Finding the 'perfect' bag seems to be impossible, but I do have 7 that I am debating between. I personally love #2, the Lo & Sons OG bag, and  #6, the Longchamp Le Pliage tote.  

Top (L-R) 1 || 2 || 3
Middle 4
Bottom (L-R) 5 || 6 || 7
If any of you have the perfect carry-on tote, let me know, all advice will be appreciated!!!
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Monday, November 17, 2014

Ten Things To Do Before You Graduate

One of the most exciting/scariest/saddest parts of your college experience will be graduation. This one day puts an end on all the late night, study sessions, and sleepless nights that you have had in order to get a piece of paper. It's a crazy experience but also one that you and the people close to you will cherish.

One of the best parts prior to graduation is making sure to enjoy every last moment that you have at your university. For me it was great because we had a week in between exams to spend time with the people who were there for me over the last 4 years (and then 2 years with my Masters). This meant lounging by the pool, having some drinks and sharing all the memories that we had made.

So before you toss your mortarboard into the air and say peace out to the place you've called home for the last few years, here are some things that you should consider doing! 

  1. Go out with friends/host a get together/go to a tailgate. Whatever floats your boat, make sure that you spend time with the people who make you smile, make you laugh, and people that you will miss once you leave college. Believe it or not, after you leave getting together with everyone is exponentially harder. 
  2. Make a badass resume and a general cover letter that you can use for applications (jobs, internships and graduate schools included). Have a professor look over it this way once your out in the real world you will be ready to get the job you want! 
  3. DO SOMETHING THAT YOU WILL REGRET. Drink on the roof of a building on campus; go out with that guy who you have a crush on; go out to a party and enjoy it so much that the morning after is miserable. Whatever it is, make sure it is something that you have been wanting to do and haven't had the guts to do. 
  4. Head out and support a sports team or a school activity. Believe it or not going to a game is not miserable, there is a pre-game tailgate! Plus showing school spirit is part of college. 
  5. Talk with your professors, the ones that have had an impact on you, and tell them that. They will be the ones that you will need for recommendations letters and possible job connections, so showing them that they impacted you will pay off. 
  6. Take a last minute weekend trip/ road trip with your friends. Rent a cabin, go camping, head to the beach and watch the sun rise. Moments like those are the ones that you will remember 
  7. Break into the campus pool and throw a senior pool party. I did this at Wingate and although the water may have been freezing, the thrill of breaking in and then running when the campus security guard broke it up, I will forever say it was 100% worth it. 
  8. Clean up your social media. While I totally prefer the 'fun' things on this list, making sure that you are ready for the adult world is a necessary thing to do. And it is 100% true that some bosses will Google and check up on you before your hired, it happened to me in Indy
  9. Go through all of your coursework and books and figure out what to keep. Creating a college reference binder will help for graduate school and reviewing things for your future jobs.
  10. Learn how to write a proper 'Thank You Note'. Not only will you need these for all the graduation gifts, but they are also nice to give as one final Thank You for your professors. 

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Study Abroad: Where to start?

Now that I am officially done with my thesis, aka the most stressful event in my life so far, I can now focus on actually getting to Scotland. Now I am pretty sure the second most stressful even in my life will be all the fun that comes with actually getting to Scotland. With this joy of an application process, I thought that I would share all that I have figured out as both a guide for anyone who plans to study abroad in the future and also to anyone who has done this and can point out any tips that they have! 

1. The first thing to do is find where you want to apply to. This search/process should start about a year before you would be starting there. Graduate Applications for me were due at the start of February with a Fall start, that I then pushed back to spring. 
2. Once you apply and GET ACCEPTED, the fun stuff starts. Now you will need to work towards getting you unconditional offer. An unconditional offer for me meant that I had to have proof that I have my Masters degree, for others this may mean proving that you have your bachelors. Whatever you need for you unconditional offer make sure that you try to get this done asap. 
3. Once you have an unconditional offer, you then get your CAS. This is what you need for applying for you visa.
4. Applying for your visa. Things differ from place to place but here is the rundown of what I am doing for mine. 
  • Online application and the information that you need for the application.  
    • CAS Information
    • Passport Information
    • Parents information, where they were born and birth date.
    • Traveling plans aka why you need a visa. 
    • Financial information
  • Pay your online fee (about 500 USD) and schedule your appointment for fingerprints at a biometrics center. 
  • Send in your application to finally be processed. This includes sending in:
    • Passport
    • 2 passport sized photos
    • CAS letter
    • Biometric Information
    • Printout showing that you paid your application fee 
    • Shipping label to be used for sending back your passport to you.
  • Wait and hope that you pass. They may also request that you submit additional information, so be ready to submit anything that they may ask for. 
5. Plan your trip and get to packing. 
Of course you also need to include finding an apartment/place to live, anything that your university may require that you do, and saying your goodbyes. 
Well hope this list gives you kind of idea about 'Where to start when you want to study abroad'.
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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Roadtrip: Mystic Connecticut

I am back finally. I am really bad at getting on a schedule with all of the roadtrips that I have been on. Lucky me though today I head back to school and am back to writing, research and prepping for the start of the semester! Well this past week I headed Connecticut for my little brothers Navy Sub School Graduation. There will be a post showing the graduation and the sub museum in Groton, Connecticut!
First I wanted to share the amazing seaside town of Mystic Connecticut! It is home to Mystic Pizza the pizza shop that inspired the film Mystic Pizza with Julia Roberts and Matt Damon.  Some amazing ice cream shops, a charming drawbridge that you can sit by and watch the boat pass under and also some of the best seafood I have ever eaten! So hope you enjoy all the pictures and I am so glad to be back blogging!!!!

Dinner with a view and the place to go in Mystic!
Food at The S&P Oyster Company!
 (L-R) Stuffed Poblano Pepper with crab, shrimp, cheese and some other yumminess. Fried oysters. Veggie Quesadilla.
We didn't eat at Mystic Pizza, but this photo proves we we're close!!!
The Drawbridge and my mom bombing a photo, which was her thing this trip!
Shopping and art around the town! This whale was at the local bookstore!
Note to self - Having your brother and BF take pictures for you tends not to work well!

Well there they are Mystic Connecticut told through photos! I must say I loved this town and wish I could live there in a houseboat!!!!
Question for everyone----
 Who has seen Mystic Pizza? My mom continually told me to watch it (I still haven't seen it) and yet she said it was a popular movie.
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Friday, February 21, 2014

Chicago in 25 hours!

Another short trip to this amazing city, but it was totally worth it. I finally made it there after my mishap with transportation, read all about it Getting to Chicago. Taxi Fails and Missing Buses.

Once I finally got there I decided to walk to the hotel I was staying at, The Inn of Chicago to be exact. According to my phone gps it was supposed to be 30ish minutes. Well that was wrong...

Yep, 50 minutes away and lucky me I was right by the water. I said screw it though I wanted to see the city and experience it all. I slightly regret that now, but it was amazing none the less. I finally made it and just in time because I was losing feeling in my legs. That wind chill was no joke and I was there on a warm day. It was in double digits and there was no snow storm in the forecast. 

On to the fun stuff, what I actually did besides freezing----

1. Head to a mall, I went the the Water Tower Place. It was 7 stories and I could not turn up an opportunity like that. All I bought was postcards to mail home, but still if I wasn't broke I would have left with a lot more! 

2. Eat at The Purple Pig. Being a party of one got me right in at the bar. I able to watch all the dishes get made and also watch the two drunk girls next to me flirt with the bartender (who had a ring on!). He played along though and I in return had free entertainment. After the perky two-some left I then had some amazing conversations with two other travelers. One with an British accent who lived in Manhattan, but was previously in California. And the other an older man, who came to The Purple Pig everytime he was in town, you know a place is good with that! 
At The Purple Pig I had a few to many Crown and Cranberry, they didn't have the green stuff to make the oh so amazing Washington Apples. But the drinks were strong which is just what I wanted.
Then there was the food. It all looked so good, the cheese plates, bone marrow, EVERYTHING!! I had the Eggplant Balls and Meatball Slider. Two small dishes that helped with my liquid diet. 
 Eggplant Balls//Kitchen View and ofcourse drinks! // Meatball slider to die for

3. After leaving The Purple Pig, I knew I had a few to many. It was a quick vaca, its allowed. So I decided to take a taxi to Eataly, a block away from my hotel. I have a love for the Food Channel, cooking shows, anything with food in general. So stopping at this place was a must. 
Hello the place is run by these people! A few should look familiar for all you foodies out there like: Joe Bastianich, Lidia Bastianich, Mario Batali... After walking around this place I wish I had room to eat. This place is like a grocery store with places to drink wine, eat dessert and sample the cuisine. AMAZING.

4. Head to the Art Institute of Chicago. My final destination for this trip and the place where the conference was. Not only is the museum amazing, it is also right by the BEAN! I was walking to the museum trying to find the correct entrance to go to and walked right by the bean. No one was there, it was 8am and it was slightly cold, but it was magical. My first time seeing it and I was pretty ecstatic to say I had finally seen it!
The bean// Front of the Art Institute// Another amazing piece of art

Well there it is what I did in 25 hours in Chicago. I know it wasn't alot but I'll be back to see more of Chi-town, so no worries with that! 

Have you ever been to Chicago? If so what is on your must do list?

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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Getting to Chicago: Taxi Fails & Missing Buses

I have been to Chicago before for a matter of about 24 hours. It was a trip to see my little brother finish the Navy Basic Training which was exhausting but worth it. I even got to meet some of the BFs high school friends that currently live there.

Chicago was the first place that made me fall in love with the idea of living in a big city. We walked to dinner, then a few blocks later we headed to a pretty awesome bar. All of this was within walking distance from the BFs friends apartment.

I was amazed. And I knew that I wanted to come back to Chicago! Lucky me I am now a 3 hour bus ride from the city and got to head up there last week for a 1 Day conference.

To start off this post have even of you ever taken a MegaBus ride? I suggest it if you ever don't feel like driving to a large city that has public transit that you can use. Also they say there is WiFi but on my 3 hour trip there was none, so keep that in mind. 

 But on to the real story, lets start from the beginning ....

I had a megabus ticket for Tuesday at 10:45am. Meaning I needed to get downtown by 10:30am for the bus. Luck would have it this trip is the first time for quite a few things.

9:30am called to arrange a pickup and thought all was set up. Taxi should be here within 35-40 minutes is what I was told.
10- I went to sit in front of the museum to wait.
10:10- No Taxi still, I called and asked where it was , it should be on its way I was told. 
10:20-Called again, still was told it was on its way.
10:30-Called and was told 'No taxi is on its way'. Excuse me & WTF were two thoughts running through my mind. So I asked to speak to a manager, she was extremely nice, but still nothing came out of the talk, except that  I should have informed them I needed to go to the bus station then they would have rushed. Didn't know that taxis had priorities on their list for pickups. 

At this point I was upset that this trip was off to a horrible start. And I was out another $18 for a bus trip to Chicago.

I was determined to make it to the next bus. It left at 2:15pm and I made sure that I would be there. 

I decided to take the bus, even though Indy has one of the worst public transit systems. After figuring out that a bus would run right by the museum at 12:14pm and would take me 3 blocks from where I needed to be I headed over to the bus stop. Unfortunately there was a 3 foot pile of snow blocking the bus stop and I was out there early to make sure I didn't miss it. 

In the end I made it downtown with enough time to head to Starbucks and find the pickup spot for the Megabus.

I made it to Chicago even after missing my first bus, a horrible taxi experience and my first public transit experience in Indy. So overall it worked out.... 

Come back to hear about my 25 hour trip in Chicago including to much to drink, getting lost and finding the Bean and a 6 story mall... That will all be tomorrow!

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