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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, April 23, 2018

The end of an amazing adventure

Today it's official, or at least the papers have been signed, the tickets are getting booked, and real plans are starting to happen - today is the day that I am sad to announce the end to my time in Edinburgh.

Over the last 3 years, I was fortunate to have a student visa and the opportunity to live abroad. Edinburgh was the first place that I could call home since moving out of my hometown and heading to Wingate University for my undergrad. Edinburgh is a place that opened my eyes to life outside of the US and life as a kinda adult.

I had the pleasure of living here with the BF in our one-bed flat that we have called home for the almost three years. We have explored Scotland, travelled abroad and kinda made life as real adults here. Sure I was (and still am) a student, but the move to Scotland represented a place where home wasn't a quick drive or an easy plane ride away. Scotland was the place that allowed me to figure out what I want in life, that a PhD with all its magnificent plans goes terribly wrong and that I have a love for life anywhere that is new.

It was last Wednesday that the BF told me today was the day that we would find out about the visa, his company offered to keep us here with a Tier 2 visa, keeping my life abroad as an option for a few more years. Well while I never thought about the what-if options, it happened. There was an option to re-apply, requiring us to head back to the States and wait it out, but life in limbo wasn't really something we wanted. Then there was option 2 - he could transfer within the company to either California, or our soon to be new home Portland, Oregon.

So with a little under 3 weeks to go before our time in Scotland is officially over, I am taking in every moment, every view of the castle on the hill, and every cobblestone street that I walk up. Scotland will forever be a place that I am in love with.

As for what's next, all I know is that Portland will be our home for a bit and that I still have my PhD to finish, which also means I get to come back and visit Scotland. With everything that has happened, and the swiftness of figuring out whats next I am kinda in a shock. Sure I felt myself stroll through the gardens just a little bit slower, and I find myself just looking around and observing a tad bit more than usual meaning that I know my time is here is coming to an end, an end that is a bit too early for my liking.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

North Coast 500 Day 2

The day we planned to wild camp on a secluded beach for our North Coast 500 Roadtrip.

We started off the morning heading down to the only place for food in the village where we stayed in Big Sand, the local campground. The breakfast was delicious. The weather was even better, as the sun was out and not a cloud in sight. A rare sight in Scotland.

Once we finished our breakfast, we headed down to the beach, enjoyed the view and then hopped in the car and headed onto Day Two of our trip.

Inverewe Garden

Our first destination - a tropical garden in Scotland! With possibly the cutest story of its origins -- a father-daughter team made this paradise in the 19th Century from barren land. Now a site that includes plants from China, Nepal and India, Himalayan poppies, Tasmanian eucalyptus, and California redwoods. 

One of the most enjoyable things during our visit here included leisurely strolls around the gardens, you can spend as little time as you would like by taking one of their shorter paths, or explore all the gardens have to offer as we did.

We strolled the gardens for close to three hours, with the final bit including a succubus garden (hello flat inspiration) with the far end of the gardens having fabulous views overlooking the sea.

Bone Caves

With all the driving (which I had been doing) and the beautiful weather, we wanted to stretch our legs and try out one of the hikes I had found when pre-planning. We decided to go on and explore the Bone Caves or at least try to. We managed to head along the route for close to 40-ish minutes with no caves. Now I am slightly impatient and not the most interested hiker, so we turned around to head back. The cave would have been impressive to see, although if anything you can head to the National Museum of Scotland and check out the collection of bones ranging from wolves, bears, lynxes and arctic foxes  that have been unearthed in the cave.

Fun fact about Bone Caves: a 2000-year-old walrus ivory pin was found in one of the caves indicating that people were here by the Iron Age (~700 BC to AD 500)!!!

Smoo Cave

Partially created by the sea and part freshwater also happens to be one of the largest cave entrances in Britain. We were 'fortunate' that we got here and needless to say we were having typical Scottish weather - rain. That meant that we pretty much had the whole cave to ourselves and it was a nice stop to see along the way. 

Important note: Be aware that crossing over the footpath in the cave leads to where the fresh water enters the cave very forcefully - aka you will get sprayed by the water. 

Bettyhill Beach 

Last but not least our campsite for the night - we finally decided to stop when we drove past the beach. A bit secluded, blue water, and amazingly calm as it was kinda hidden away in its own little cove. 

We pitched our tent and cooked out our meal for the night! We had the beach to ourselves (minus the midgies) and had a fantastic time. It was amazing to wake up to the sound of the ocean just outside of the tent door. Even better is we made it through the night with very little rain (a rare and appreciated treat in Scotland). 

The end of Day 2 and halfway through the NC500 road trip! Possibly one of my favourite days as it ended with a secluded beach campsite all to ourselves, there is nothing like falling asleep and waking up to the sound of the ocean!

Have any of you ever tried wild camping? Camping? or do you only stay in hotels?

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Monday, April 9, 2018

90 Day Lifestyle Challenge Update #1

Day 30. Somehow I have managed to make it through 30 days of my own personal lifestyle challenge. Today I review what I originally intended to do, how I have been doing, along with what I want to improve on for the rest of the challenge.

Life Challenge, Goals

My Three Goals are

  1. 30 Minutes of exercise (Going to the gym for a workout or cardio)
  2. Writing / Editing / Revising my thesis (Goal 500 words or 30 minutes of substantial revision)
  3. To ''Try'' every day
I mentioned in the original post that I needed to address these three for various reasons, but mainly because I felt that I was in a slump and 90 days was kinda perfect as it leads into my 10-year anniversary with the BF.

I felt that these three goals would help improve my overall happiness, my overall mood and in all honesty just help me to start some healthy realistic goals in my life. 

So how have I done...

30 Minutes of exercise (Going to the gym for a workout or cardio)

Happy to say this is the one that I have crushed. I have got a 30-minute workout every day over the last 30 days - including having to do an at-home workout during a mini snow storm we had. I have been doing 5 days of weights and 2 days of a full body or cardio routine. 

As for what I plan on changing - not much really. I enjoy weights, the idea of getting strong keeps me going. For cardio, I am going to try and add in two runs per week. I have an idea to run to a bridge and back and keep track of my times, eventually, once I can fully jog there and back add some distance. Side Goal -- Run a 5k

Writing / Editing / Revising my thesis (Goal 500 words or 30 minutes of solid revision)

This was probably the goal that I was the worst at. But no worries another plan that I have in place to get this going. The 100 Day Thesis... 

Now this is a bit longer and in truth adding to this challenge, but I have been reading/listening to how to just get the first (and complete) draft DONE. This is the biggest hurdle because after that there is feedback, revisions, and corrections - but the primary thing is done - the complete draft. 

To ''Try'' every day

I again didn't do the best at this one but am feeling pretty confident where I am headed. I have done a few things - like leaving my naturally curly/wavy hair as my go-to style. This means no more straightening my hair, only to have it up in a ponytail, I just wear my hair down and its natural style. 

I PURGED my closet, with the goal to figure out my own 'Capsule Wardrobe.' 
Now I am nowhere near done and on my way to the stylish Capsule Wardrobe that seems to dominate the blogging world, instead, I am working to figuring out how to wear what I have and make sure that it is not Jeans and a T-shirt every day. 

Overall Day 1-30 

I am pretty excited that I have somewhat stuck with what I set out to achieve, I still have work to do mainly on number 2 & 3, but I am getting there. My main goals over the next 30 days include 
  1. Watching what I eat and add in the run days
  2. REALLY write and track my progress. Start a writing habit (first thing in the morning or a pompadour technique)
  3. 3 days a week (when I am headed to university) try some outfits that I usually wouldn't wear (aka no trainers, jeans and t-shirts my usual go-to outfit.)
Of course, I would love to crush all of these for the next 60 days but I just think that looking at setting up sub-goals to achieve major goals works best for me.

So there it is an honest update, along with what I want to focus on next. Of course, if there is any advice that you have on how you have set out to achieve and succeed your goals, please share! I love hearing what others have done to work on their own goals. 

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