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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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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!


  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. 


  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!


  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!


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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