Archive | January 2013

Step 2: Where to start?

The weekend in Prague I had always dreamed of, but not with THAT suitcase. Talk about a nightmare, 24 kg and a broken wheel on cobble stones. We checked into Jury’s in Karlin, just north of the old town (astronomical clock). We were straight back outside to walk around the city. With James’s first time in Prague, I knew he would be astounded by the beauty of the architecture. His facial expressions didn’t disappoint! On the back of my mind I knew, once this trip is over its out to our new home in Pardubice, and I didn’t know what to expect. We had dinner in Pizza Colleseum (chain of retaurants), and they do really good pizza, fyi. Stopped in Billa on the way and picked up some beers and snacks. Sipping beer and nibbling on paprika snacks we snuggled watching tv, it was bliss.

So then came Monday morning. To the train station, with the dodgy suitcase. We bought our one way tickets and popped on the train, amidst the screams of the local weirdo. We chugged out of Prague towards Pardubice. Along this train line (towards Budapest), outside Kolín, there’s a massive facility which is home to thousands of old army tanks, trucks, migs, you name it! One of my favourite sights here. We were met at the station by a colleague and brought to check in at our new home, a dormitory studio apartment. First impressions? OMG what have I done?! We had stepped into the time warp and arrived in the 1970’s. Home sweet bleugh. Luckily I picked up a few homey bits when I was packing, some things from our old place, and as gifts at Christmas. Now, 2 weeks on, its home sweet home. It really grew on us, and its very comfortable.

With the move out of the way, I plan to focus on my work (obviously), but I also want to change my lifestyle, and my attitude to life.

Step 3: What’s the first big change?

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Step 1: getting out of dodge

We left our lovely apartment, which we had called home for 2 years. Many parties were had, as well as movie nights, and after pub sessions. After leaving home for a number of years, you tend to collect a lot of stuff, mostly crap, but some of it you’re attached to. We packed our stuff up over a week, with about 6 hours sleep during the final weekend. I had my very first McDonalds breakfast, it was alright, definitely an experience!

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Bye bye awesome apartment 😦 

So we moved home, and spent the entire month of December with our families. Christmas was extra special that year. Decorating the family tree for the first time in years, and baking with my mother. It was the picture of Christmas. On Christmas day all the family were over for Kris Kindle, and we had a whopper of a day!

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The clan, having a banter and some snacks. 

The time spent at home made leaving so much more difficult. I knew at the airport it would be hard, I didn’t think it would affect me so much.

Tears and hugs were had, as the time passed in front of that stupid gigantic horse painting in terminal 2! God, I hate that horse. Walking away we looked back just before we entered the door to security, and waved one last time.

So what did we do then? We went to the champagne bar in T2, with the aim to calm our nerves. Then I started to cry again, then he started to cry again. This was the biggest challenge we had undertaken, of course it was going to affect us.

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 Jim at the airport with our champagne. Twas yummy! 

So we were on our way, and we had no idea what to expect when we got there. We took a weekend in Prague to get used to the Czech way, and of course to sight-see in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

It’s the little things

The whole reason I started this blog was to view the changes in my lifestyle post PhD. The scene has been set. Unlike some people I absolutely loved the topic I researched over the 3 and a bit years. I used to go out Thursday and Saturday nights downtown, and I would be out most other days between volleyball and just chilling at home or with friends. As my work started to consume my soul, I knew that I would have to lose some things to make it work. My social life took a whack, although in hindsight, it was a sincere blessing (wrong crowd kinda thing).

When I started college originally I heard of the fresher 15, thinking it was a lie. Thankfully I avoided it, until my PhD. I had to drop most activities to fit in extra work time, and then because I couldn’t afford gym membership etc. It’s very easy to get into a routine and become a creature of habit, as it is to be lazy. A little too easy. Now on the other side I’m going to try to reverse this, try to be more adventurous and outgoing, and to try to get a smidgen of my personality out there.

So, when the opportunity came to go to Czech Republic, I couldn’t say no. It was a crazy idea to move to eastern Europe when there’s an influx of eastern Europeans at home! All I can say is sometimes, it really pays off to break the mould, and to get out there and to do something bizzarre 🙂

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Prague, one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever seen.

Step 1: Get the hell out of DODGE!

Step 2: Where to start?

Let’s start at the beginning…

It was a very busy final year of my bachelors degree.  I almost tore the meniscus of my knee a month before my final exams, lucky in a way, as I couldn’t run out the door and avoid studying. So we went through the motions, I did my research project, and finished with my ideal result. I was approached during my undergrad research project by an older colleague, apparently funding had come through for a 3 year PhD. Sweet, this could be my way in.

I was offered a masters position at the beginning but within the month my supervisor changed his mind. Luckily for me, I was in. Eighteen months later I had my first publication, which was just pure elation for me.

During my time as a post grad I met some amazing, and not so amazing people. I traveled to some amazing places for conferences and meetings of different sorts.

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Boston, HPLC 2010. Such an awesome place!

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Euroanalysis, Innsbruck 2009

Doing a PhD is like when you get a puppy for Christmas, its a long commitment and it will change your life, not always for the better (the latter is mostly in short term). For three or four years your life is turned upside down, you will find inventive ways of keeping up with results (all nighters), and you will definately have in your desk drawer tea/coffee, UHT milk and a pack of low calorie soups or noodles by the end.

Even a bad result is a result…

Aah the mantra of research postgrads everywhere. Hi. I have just had the honour of finishing my doctorate in chemistry. I am 26 and from Ireland. In 3 years of experiments I completed all the work, and in the subsequent 3 months my thesis was borne. During the 3 years, my life went through an upheaval, and now after finding work and my first post doc, I am trying to get my life back on track. From the anxiety attacks last summer to moving to the Czech Republic, I want to map my progress. Maybe this may be helpful to those who are currently beginning the post graduate life, as I’m sure it will offer many cringeworthy lessons. Image

The monolith snake. This was not a good result, but it changed my method of approach.

I promise, this blog will NOT be science heavy.