SLIDER

Hello There!


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!

Follow on Bloglovin

Direct to your Inbox!

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.


No comments

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?

No comments

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!



No comments

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!?!

No comments

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! 



No comments

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Coffee Talk #1

Happy Tuesday Morning Everyone! I hope that your week started off as planned and that the rest of your week will be amazing!



As another way of getting this blog back on track, I am going to share my monthly plans here with everyone! Considering we are already over half-way through the month, I am a bit late, but I am just getting back into blogging. Still, to start things off right I wanted to share the stuff that I hoping to work on this month (or more like 2ish weeks of September).



University Related

I recently went and presented my research at a conference and taking feedback from that I am now trying to complete a few things that will allow my project to progress! 
  • Plan out the interviews with individuals for a portion of my research. While this shouldn't be  difficult, my schedule is flexible around when is best for each individual, planning with others seems to be impossible. I am hoping to schedule 5 interviews, which should be completed by the end of the year. 
  • Get feedback about my NEW dissertation outline. With the whole change in my project focus, I have had to shift my dissertation outline/goals. I am hoping to get some feedback about how everything lines up before getting too deep into the writing process.
  • Make a timeline for my computer based research. A huge chunk of my research now involves going through online applications. While I can do this anywhere, it is a bit of a pain and way more time consuming than I originally thought. 

Personal Related 

Like the post before this, I was unhappy with myself, but I have found some ways to try and fix that. All of these personal related things are goals that not only help with my happiness by are personal challenges that I wanted to try for the month.
  • Track my eating for the rest of the month. I want to do this in order to understand/realize what all eat during the day, plus I want to try and optimize my whole 'get fit' goals.
  • Watch my spending/wasteful shopping habits. While I love to shop and buy new things, I am trying to cut back until the end of October.
  • Get on a SCHEDULE. It's a new university term and while I am technically full-time, all year long, I want to make sure to get on track and try to manage my time much better than I have been doing. 

Well, there they are my goals for September! I can only hope that at the start of October I will be able to update everyone on how I did. 

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


No comments

Monday, September 19, 2016

Being Happy & Being Me

It's funny how well plans of mine seem to play out. I thought I was ready to get back into everything, jump in head first and kick ass.

Turns out I was wrong. The long silence (multiple ones at that) from the blog could be blamed on many things, but the one thing that I think it really came down to was being unhappy with myself.



My Ph.D. was not going great, my dreams of working in the lab and visiting sites were slipping into a research plan that never had a chance. Looking at myself in pictures and all I saw was a person I was unhappy with. My weight, my body shape, just me, in general, turned into something that I was unhappy about.

Well while I thought I was ready to step back into the blog world, the 'your life is together' world, I was mistaken.

It has been 4 months now of me working on myself, my Ph.D., my happiness and I would like to think that I have finally got my life back on a path that I am happy with.

I have been going to the gym, working out, eating better(ish) and trying to maintain a more active lifestyle. This led to me just being happier in my own skin.

I have finally reorganized my Ph.D. project into something that 'will contribute to the overall knowledge of my field'. I even managed to share my new research twice at conferences, both with overwhelming support from experts in my field.

While I am still not where I want to be, I am getting there. I am happy with the progress that I have made over the last few months and I can't wait to see how things continue to progress over time.

With this whole post, what I really want to say is that I am back. I am planning on sharing my life as a misguided Ph.D. student, my life as a person trying to be happy in their own skin and someone who plans on getting their act back together.

Hello and welcome back to ChemGradBoom.


 A blog full of nonsense ranging from the life of a student who doesn't know when to stop, a person who moved to Scotland on a whim (and dreams of being a conservation scientist) and a person who is know taking life one coffee at a time (or on most day 3 or 4).

No comments

Monday, July 11, 2016

Travel Cheap : Accommodation

When I moved to Scotland I pictured that I would be non-stop busy with my PhD and site visits. Well truth is that I have time on my hands, or at least I can not sit in the office at University for 8 hours a day doing my research.

Once I realized that my dream PhD was a bit lackluster, I had to re-evaluate my time here in Scotland. I needed to find ways to have a balance in my life, something that I am still working on today. My solution to this 'need for balance' was to get a job.

I would be able to meet people, have some set work hours every week, and of course making money isn't a bad thing either. When I was on the job hunt I had no idea what I was looking for. I simply put in my CV into a few places and waited to see what happened.


I am now sitting here with almost a year under my belt working at a Hotel, the golden ticket to cheap accommodation when traveling . 


Yes there is my extra money that I make by working, but the absolute best part about working at a hotel is the

STAFF RATES WORLDWIDE. 


While budget travel often means that you need to stay via couch surfing, hostels, or on the outskirts of town--- those options simply are not my idea of a holiday.

Instead I simply search up to a year in advance for room availability anywhere and everywhere. This means that I can book a room in Bali for our anniversary for under $50 USD a night!!! A visit to Rome to stay in a 5 Star hotel at only $62 a night and visits to London for as little as $16 a night!!!!

These staff rates even include breakfast and breakfast and half price drinks and food during the stay!

Sure there is the issue of not having complete control of where and when you will get to visit a destination, but for rooms this cheap, I follow availability. 

So if you are ever looking for a part-time job that allows you to travel, my advice ----

Work at a hotel! 


If you have any other tips on how to get deep discounts on holiday, I would love to hear them! Also if you have any questions about working in a hotel or using the benefits feel free to ask! 

No comments

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Spain Mishaps

Another country down and another easy city break from Edinburgh! To start off I will say this trip has taught me some important lessons about travel planning with the BF which will come in handy for future travel.



To start the trip we landed in Barcelona with an hourish drive ahead of us to Girona. We rented a car for this trip.... This is the first interesting tidbit that happened!

The Rental Car

I was very diligent when planning this trip and knew that we would have over an hour drive away from Barcelona and a very early morning flight. This meant that the best option for this trip was renting a car, which also meant that we would be able to explore a bit of the coast! Win Win! 
Well I originally rented a automatic, but then was persuaded at the rental counter that if we were OK with a manual they had us a free upgrade. Well thing is our last car was a manual and I thought for sure that it would be no problem hopping back on to drive a manual. 

ANSWER - Wrong, I freaked out, I panicked, I absolutely fudged up trying to leave the parking lot. After a 20ish minute meltdown, all me, with the BF laughing. We decided to go back and get the automatic. Which is when my manual driving skills came back and I perfectly pulled the car back into its original spot! Oh the joke is on me it seems....

One thing is for certain if we would have been filming my car meltdown, I would forever be known as the crazy American who freaks when trying to drive a manual.

Another fun fact is that when I went to get the new keys, the guy even said I knew that an American wouldn't be able to drive a manual, enjoy the automatic! 


Barcelona Pick-Pockets

As you can imagine from the heading, another shenanigan that happened was the BF getting pick-pocketed... 
We were strolling outside the city center trying to make our way to the Arc de Triomf, when all of a sudden I hear the BF behind me saying 'No Espanol, Lo Siento' or No Spanish, I am sorry. This is when I then hear a loud bang, and the BF getting much more upset with the guys harassing him. I turn around to see a much smaller guy pushing the BF up against the door and consistently kicking at his feet. After a moment or two of more non-sense we turn around an begin to head the direction we came from. Following that a moment later, a guy stops us and returns the BFs wallet. Nothing was taken, although nothing was in there to begin with.

Lesson - Don't head outside the main parts in the city, keep a lookout for stupid guys that begin to pester you and always keep a check on your stuff. 


All in all, that moment slightly ruined Barcelona for us, which is ok because Girona was amazing and the beaches surrounding it were better than imagined. 
No comments

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Weekend Getaway: Brussels

My first adventure in 2016 was a weekend getaway to Brussels in mid-April. Yes we went to Brussels even after the attacks and one thing was for certain I NEVER felt unsafe or scared in anyway. So today I am sharing the spots that I recommend you to see, how much everything cost us while there and waffles!


Getting to Brussels - EDI - CRL 

We flew with Ryanair (yay for cheap flights) which took us to the airport which unfortunately doesn't have a direct train line to the city center.

Total cost for a return ticket booking with Ryanair £60 per person.

What we opted to do was buy a return ticket with the Brussels City Shuttle, which runs every 30 minutes or so to the city center. In total it was about a 50 minute bus journey, but was overall very comfortable. One thing I recommend is pre-booking your ticket to avoid long lines, save money, and be able to directly hop on the bus when you arrive.

Total cost for a return ticket booking online  28 per person.


Once we got off the bus we were a short walk (15 minutes) to our hotel. We stayed at the Hilton Brussels Grand Place. This was right in the city center, directly across from the main train station and a 2 minute walk to The Grand Place. Our stay here was amazing and I can not recommend a city center hotel more highly!

Total cost for a 2 night stay €121.16 (or 53 per night) on staff rate .


As for what we did, we honestly just strolled the city. We did head out to visit the Atomium, built in 1958 for the Brussels World Fair. It is a model of a iron crystal magnified over 165 billion times and is now used as a museum. Now we decided not to head up into the spheres in the Atomium and instead just strolled around and admired how massive it is. To get there we took the metro, it was easy and convenient and cost about €9 for a return ticket for both of us. Now if it is a nice day and you are headed out that way I suggest packing a picnic and visiting the park right outside the Atomium




Like I said we strolled most of the time we were in Brussels, it was nice-ish weather, minus the occasional hail storm. No worries though they only lasted a minute or two and you were fine as long as you could find shelter from getting pelted with ice balls! 

Most of our time was spent in the area around The Grand Place. Strolling around the main square meant lots of food and beer options, both of which we enjoyed to much of. As for things to see/eat/do I've included the Google Map that I used for all the things to see.

Must see sites

A peeing boy statue, better known as Manneken Pis. No joke this thing is a must see. We were lucky enough to visit when a parade was happening to honor him, for the local mustache club.


You can then visit the peeing girl statue, Jeanneke Pis, which is conveniently located right next to the Delerium Cafe aka the home of the The most varieties of beer Commercially available coming in at 2,004 in Delirium Cafe, Brussels, Belgium When counted on 9 January 2004 -- Guinness World Records.

While there we also headed to visit the Royal Museum of Art & History (called the Cinquantenaire ). While there we visited the Egyptian exhibit (the one place the BF wants to visit) which at the very end included a working research lab (aka the thing I want to do when done with my PhD). As for the rest of the museum it was in a beautiful building that seemed to be rather empty while we were there. Even if museums aren't your thing there are some amazing views around the museum that I suggest going to see. 

Final Thoughts 

This was the first 'weekend break' that we have taken and as for a Brussels I would have loved more time to explore. We had some amazing weather (compared to Scotland at least) which allowed us to enjoy the city by foot, while remembering that when we needed a quick pick me up we could hop into a pub! Overall I think that we spent right under €200 for all of our food, drinks, activities, transport (minus the flight) and souvenirs. A bit more than we had hoped for, but we really did enjoy all the beer, chocolate, and waffles! 

Just to give you an idea of some of the prices that you can expect around Brussels. 

Average Cost of Things Around Brussels

Return metro ticket : € 4.20 per person

Beer in a pub : € 3.75 

Waffle with chocolate: € 3.00

Meal  from a local street vendor: € 5-7 

Sit down meal: €10-15 (We had mussels and frites)

Fancy truffles from a chocolatier shop: €1.20 a piece or a box with 32 for €25 (great as gifts to share with people)






Anything that I should have seen in Brussels and missed? 

No comments

Monday, May 23, 2016

Arthur's Seat - Edinburgh, Scotland

Well this will be more of a photo diary with some oh some important points that I thought I would share from my adventure heading up Arthur's Seat the other weekend.

First off Arthur's Seat is an ancient volcano that provides the BEST views of the city! There is also the ruins of  St Anthony's Chapel, a 15th century medieval chapel.

The hike itself is not that bad, we went up on a day with clear blue skies and the sun beating down on us! Needless to say it was nothing like the typical Scottish weather that we are used to.


As for the the hike there are 4 ways to get up to the top ( a better idea of the routes can be found here).

When we decided to hike up, we unfortunately went mid-day and on a day that the top was filled with people. So Tip #1 GO EARLY, especially if you want some decent pictures at the top!
Like I said the place was filled with people making a photo impossible to take at the top!

We also decided that we would take a different way down to get a view of what all we missed on the way up! So if you can Tip #2 Take 2 routes, one on your way up and one on your way down! 

The ruins of  St Anthony's Chapel, a 15th century medieval chapel. 
Tip # 3 Pack a lunch and enjoy the view at the top! Seriously when the weather is amazing you should enjoy it to the max, plus the views at the top are AMAZING



View of the Castle

The Palace and the Parliament Building
Lastly, make sure to enjoy a ice-cream when you get down to the bottom, there is always a convenient ice-cream truck there!
No comments

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Living Expenses in Edinburgh

Finally stepping back into the world of blogging and writing on a daily basis has inspired me to reevaluate the information that I share here. One of the first things that I looked into when I was accepted to do my PhD in Scotland, was trying to figure out how much it would all cost.
So here it is a breakdown of what I have spent during my time living here! If there is any questions relating to anything that I may have missed just let me know!

Living expenses in Edinburgh

Housing:

Rent: 

When I first moved here I lived in flat leased student house, it was close to the city center (10 minutes bus or 15ish minutes walking) and right on the bus route going to Uni. I shared the house with 3 other girls, which helped me really get to know the city/university life! Total rent per month was £ 300. I know live in a 1 bedroom flat rather close to my old flat. In total our rent is £ 575 a month.


Gas/Electric: 

Back in the shared flat on average our gas and electric/gas bill was about £ 25-30 a month (note this is my cut of the bill not the whole thing) . Now living in the one bedroom flat we pay  £ 60 a month all year which will then be adjusted accordingly at the end of the year. 


Internet:

Again back in the shared flat my portion of the internet was only  £5 a month for very semi-decent internet. We went with a cheap company and got what we paid for! Now we spend quite a bit more in our own flat  £ 28 a month but this gives us the best internet that we could get. For example, I can stream Netflix while the BF plays LOL and we have no issues!


Council Tax:

Being a student you are exempt from Council Tax, which saves anywhere from £ 1200-1800 a year. Determining council tax is all based on where you live and the type of flat that you are in. It is defiantly something to keep in mind when looking at places if you are not a student. 


Transportation:


Now I have no idea on the expenses related to owning a car in the city. I do know that parking is a bit of a hassle especially in the areas close to the city center so keep that in mind if you plan on getting a car when you move here. 

Bus Pass: 

The city is very easy to get around via public transit, so having a bus pass especially during the colder months is a necessity. A one month student bus pass is currently  £ 45 a month (adult cards are  £ 50 a month). On the other hand you can stick with buying single tickets at  £ 1.60 or a day pass at  £ 4 . 

Bike:

A new purchase to enjoy the sunny days that we have recently had in Scotland. A used bike cost anywhere from  £ 80 -  £ 300. I went with a used bike that cost  £ 120  and have been riding it to and from work along with other places around the city! Of course I would recommend spending some extra money on accessories (helmet, bike lock, bike basket, bike lights, and some basic repair kits) which will cost about  £ 30-70 in total depending on how fancy you go!


Food:

Groceries per week:

When living on my own and eating very basic meals I could get away with only spending  £ 30-50 a month on groceries. Again that was eating lots of cereal, pasta, and sandwiches. Now living with the BF we have been trying to eat better, lots of fresh veggies, fruit and fish! On average our weekly grocery bill is about  £ 45-60 , this includes food for an actual cooked breakfast, packed lunches, snacks and a real dinner! 


Cost for a meal out:

The BF and I love a good meal out. On average a brunch will cost us  £ 20 including a fancy coffee for myself and a tip (we always head to our favorite spot and the waiters are amazing). A lunch out without beers runs us at  £ 15ish, while a lunch with both of us getting a beer cost us  £ 25. As for a dinner you can expect to pay anywhere from  £ 15-25 per person for a nice sit down meal. 


Cost for drinks out:

Again being a college student at heart I love meeting up for a quick drink. A pint of beer will cost just about  £ 3, while my favorite cider in a bottle runs  £ 3.50 and if you fancy a cocktail depending on where you head to it will cost anywhere from  £ 5-10. 

Phone Services:

The BF and I just switched to a year long sim only plan with unlimited data and the ability to use the phone abroad in total costing us £20 each. Before this I was on a pay as you go plan costing £10 per month which gave me 2GB of data and unlimited text. 


Beauty Services:

Hair Cut:

For the basic wash, cut and style it cost  £ 30,  while the BF gets his hair cut for  £ 8 at an amazing barber right around the corner from our flat. 


Eyebrow Tint and Thread: 

One of the only maintenance things I am consistent about, costing a total of  £ 14.


Health Insurance:

The UK now requires anyone entering on a Tier 4 Visa Student Visa to pay a Healthcare Surcharge at  £ 150 per year, which in turn allows you to use the NHS Healthcare system at little to no cost out of pocket to you. 



All expenses above are a direct reflection of what we paid while living in Edinburgh, Scotland.
No comments

Monday, May 16, 2016

A Year Away

What the heck its been a year since I've thought about posting. A year since I thought about the need to constantly share/comment and be active in blog social media.

I stopped writing here because Scotland and my PhD weren't everything that I had hoped for. Being here alone made me miss and desire things that Edinburgh and my PhD wasn't providing.

Stepping away from this for a year and the constant reminder of being a 'Grad student exploring NC to Scotland' helped me to reevaluate. Well in all honesty the reevaluation was a recent development.

Things are starting to get a bit better in my PhD life, I'll write on that later. Things in my personal life are better now with the BF here. I myself am working on just getting better in general, from my health to my head, I needed a wake-up!

Scotland was supposed to be this dream of a lifetime, a PhD project that was going to be badass and a chance for me to explore, grow and figure shit out. After 16 months here I am finally getting around to all of those things. Hints the new blog start, the refresh, the saying 'Hello' after a year of nothing!


So welcome back to ChemGradBoom, if anyone still remembers the blog!

I hope you stick around to see the new CGB, the new travel adventures, the new PhD madness and all that I have to offer!

No comments
© ChemGradBoom • Theme by Maira G.