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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 3, 2015

3 Long Distance Relationship Truths

Moving to Edinburgh meant that I would now be in Long Distance Relationship (LDR) for the 4th time since I have been with the BF. Since we met when he was in the Army, there was the year-long deployment followed up by my 6-month move to Indianapolis.

We met when I just turned 18 and was about to head off to college, with myself having no interest in ever dating an Army guy I met the tall guy who got a turkey with me in bowling. Little did I know that after meeting him, my no dating Army guys rule changed and almost 7 years later I am still stuck with the tall guy.

To be honest, when we said to goodbye to each other as he deployed after knowing each other for a little less than a year and dating for about 4 months I didn't see where the relationship would go. I was 18 in college and saying goodbye to a guy that was absolutely fantastic but still I was saying goodbye for a year. The deployment made our relationship what it is today, and while 18 years old me had no idea that we would stay together, today I look at that year as something that has made all the other LDR moments easier.

To start LDRs make you really learn to communicate. While the communication aspect was a little tricky when he was deployed we relied on the random phone calls, sometimes Skype, lots of Facebook messages and a journal for each of us that we sent back and forth every month or so. I learned how to actually listen and realise when he was in a lousy mood, exhausted, or needed just to talk. I also figured out that while he may have been 5,000 miles away in a war zone, he was still there to hear about the things that I would tell him if he was there next to me.

The next thing that I think we have managed to take from every moment of our LDR is to appreciate the moments that we do have together. When the BF came home for R&R during deployment, we managed to have a jet-ski incident leaving me with 15ish stitches in my nose along with some severe bruising. Every bone in me wanted to stay out of the public because I looked terrible, yet I knew that in 1 week the BF would be back to Iraq. So instead of staying in and ruining the last week together, we still went out and did all the things that we planned on. While I did get some terrible stares, we enjoyed every awkward moment of that week and am glad that the BF stuck with me even with the bruised face and messed up nose.

The last thing that I realised from being in an LDR is that having a life outside of being the relationship makes things much better. I have seen couples who seem to only be happy when they are together, they are always the people sucking face on nights out with friends, they are the ones who bail to spend time in bed with each other rather than celebrate a birthday with friends. While there is nothing wrong with loving to spend time with each other, you have to have a life outside of being a couple. I love having the BF with me and yes I would prefer to have him with me all the time, but I realised that to be happy you have to have a balance.

In the end, I know that an LDR is hard, it is filled with moments of doubts, tears, happy moments that make your face hurt from smiling so much, and a person who you can spend 365 days apart for the one day that you are back together.

If you have/are in an LDR what are some things that it has taught you? I would love to hear what you think about being in an LDR!

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

5 Tips For Staying Motivated

Moving to Scotland and starting my PhD program is much different than I imagined how my PhD would go. To start things off my advisor week one told me to 'relax and get settled' meaning that Week One of school I aimlessly wandered around or on cold days binged on Netflix. Then there is Week Two, the week we were supposed to meet, but thanks to an old roomie from the IMA in London, I made a quick trip to visit! Meaning two weeks into my PhD and still nothing! Finally Week Three came, and I finally met my advisor/supervisor and my secondary supervisor, fears about this meeting deserve a whole other blog post.
After the meeting, I was handed some readings and told that research would be done when the weather is nicer. This meant that my only assignments were to read, read, and read some more. Know I love the being in a lab/doing the research, the other aspects aka the reading nonstop, not really my thing. 

Year One of a PhD student = Lots of Reading..... 

With this new life of nonstop reading and taking in the knowledge, I have had to learn to trick myself into getting shit done. Which is why I have figured out 5 Tips that keep me motivated to read on or just do work in general. 

1. set a goal for the day/hour/30 minutes. 

Yes, 30 minutes... Working towards an end goal is much easier than just working. So an example of this is saying I will read one chapter and take notes in 3o minutes. I then move on to tip 2. 


With a piece of chocolate, a coffee, a new Kate Spade bag, whatever... Of course, the reward size should be based on the amount of work you do. For me I say reading one chapter means I get 15 minutes free time, reading three chapters is one episode on Netflix. Finishing year one will be a Kate Spade bag or a trip, probably both being honest. 

3. blast your favourite playlist or have your favourite show/movie on. 

#1989 seems to be my jam lately, and I have it on repeat when I need to focus and get work done (no lie listening to it RIGHT now as I am writing this post #getblogpostdone). Sometimes I fall back to my Harry Potter marathon, which means I can crank out 4-5 solid hours of work without distractions. in a group.

One advantage to living with undergrad chemistry students in Scotland is the amount of work that they have, which means group work-together happen in the living room at least twice a week. Telling each other to get shit done is much easier when there are multiple eyes to catch you not being productive. 

5.get out and do work.

Lastly, head out and do work. This could also be a reward for one full day of working at home. I personally love to head out to a coffee shop and do work, of course, it is one with free wi-fi. Not only is getting out to a new environment mentally stimulating, but it also gets you out of your typical anti-work habits (aka laying in a cosy bed and watching Netflix #alldaylong). 
Well, there it is, the list of 5 things that have been helping me to be a productive PhD student or at least a semi-productive PhD student! Now that I have this blog post done, I am off to read another chapter about historic window glass! 

Any tips that you have for staying productive? I would love to get advice that others use!

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