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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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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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