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Happy 2017 – PhD, travel and blogging resolutions!

Hi all! First of all, I wish you a super 2017! Even though 2016 was a pretty good year for me and for some of the closest people to me, I know that it was awful for many people too. So let’s all hope for the best year possible for all. And in case you noticed, this is my first post on my new home! I moved over the blog to a self hosted domain and, while there are still a lot of things I want to learn and some things that are still not completely moved over, I am super excited for this new phase of my space. Bear with me!

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I like using the new year to make some resolutions and invest on my year. This year I’m a bit late though! With some work to do, the transition to the new blog, and running around to buy the needed things for my stay abroad, I had virtually no time to sit down and reflect. This year I’m going more freestyle and I’ll do my resolutions on the fly, here on the blog. Who knows if these are your resolutions too? I will not make an equal number of resolutions for each of the three areas listed, but you’ll get the idea. Since I’m going public about my resolutions, I’d better commit no? Let’s go!

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PhD

1. I will make time for writing every week

I’m one of those with a very broad PhD topic. The ultimate goal is to develop a new tool for both manufacturing and cost planning for two different types of stem cells. As you can imagine, I have a lot to learn and I read a lot of articles, but after a while, even when taking notes on Evernote, if I don’t compile everything on the same document and in my style, I feel super lost. Therefore, I already started the Introduction of my thesis to keep me grounded. What has helped me is the Shut up and Write UK hour on Twitter. The first and third Tuesdays of every month, at 10AM UK time (which happens to be Portugal time too), I write a few words using the Pomodoro technique (25 minutes full focus + 5 minutes break). There are even live meetups in some locations! I can’t believe how focused I can be during these hours. You can also find the Australian and North American times if they’re more convenient. If I used all the chances in the month, I’d have 6h of writing per month. So, here’s my goal: every week, I will write 1 to 2h to make the goal of 6h of writing per month. I will keep the Tuesdays, 10 AM UK schedule in January (and move to 11 AM EST when I move to Boston so that I can join the North American hour) and add wildcard hours to the schedule also on Tuesdays. Who’s with me? So that I don’t get a caffeine overdose by the end of my thesis trying to write everything before the deadline (which only comes in December 2018).

2. I will keep on avoiding social media during work times

Last year I decided to give up social media at work. It worked pretty well for me and I felt a boost in focus! However, with the rise of my blog on the ranks, and the fact that I discovered travel chats on Twitter, it’s pretty tempting to join these travel chats during my time at the campus office because yeah, most of them occur in the mornings for me. I may or may not have done it multiple times :p So, this year I will keep on avoiding social media, and if I join any Twitter chat during my time at the office that I find really interesting, I will vow myself to work one extra hour that day. Anyway when I move to the USA some of my favorite Twitter chats will be at like 4AM for me, so I’ll have to say goodbye to them anyway.

3. I will up the ante on my programming skills

Last year I went to so many events! I learned about HTML, CSS, Javascript and Ruby, apart from being super savvy about Python now, my language of choice for the PhD. I even joined an hackathon at Pixels Camp and loved the experience! However, I’m not a programmer by training, even though I’m fluent in like 3 programming languages now. I feel my programs can be more efficient, so I’ll keep on learning a lot and not be shy to ask for help!

4. I will keep on improving my presentation skills

Who goes to academic conferences and goes to a talk with lots of promise but execution is not there? And who already saw posters on interesting topics that are so full of text and with not so appealing graphics? I did, and I am trying more and more to be less this type of person. I have been reading more about advice on this so that I can improve. I recently made a poster which I think is my best ever and will be pretty innovative from anything I ever did. I am waiting for some feedback on it, but I can’t wait to tell you how my approach worked out in a couple weeks! I also hope to be less nervous when presenting my work in oral communications and meetings.

5. I will make breaks from the chair more often

Currently, I work all day in the computer. Also my colleagues are all in the lab, so it gets pretty lonely and sedentary! I know how bad sitting all day is for health and I even made a standing desk here at home for a week, so I will force myself to walk away from my desk for at least 10 minutes every 2 hours and take a walk.

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Travel

1. I will visit one new city in the USA every month

As you know by now, I’m moving to Boston in early February for my PhD work. I expect to work a lot there, but I also hope to take the plunge to travel, even if it’s a day trip from Boston on a weekend day. Of course I have some cities I really want to go to, but I’m pretty flexible since I am looking into all possibilities. I already planned some ways to save money and time so that I can work out this goal! This will include a lot of cooking and eating at home and working some longer hours sometimes.

2. I will make my 2017 travel vision board

On Christmas 2015, my sister gifted me a board to make my vision board there. I shared the idea a couple weeks ago on Twitter and the idea was quite popular, so I will repeat it! Why not make your own too? Most of the things I put there came true, sometimes in ways not like the literal ideas I put on the board. Hang it somewhere you can look at, like on the top of your desk at home, that’s where I have mine.

3. I will make at least one solo trip

I made a few solo travels in my life: one to Berlin just to visit, which was life changing, and some for work related issues and conferences. However, lately I have not had many solo travel moments and I am a bit scared! I can’t always expect that people will want to go where I want to, so I will go anyway. Of course I’ll always have safety in mind, but I believe solo travel opens a world of possibilities and self discovery that no other form of travel offers.

4. I will join the American holiday celebrations

All my life I heard of 4th of July celebrations. So there’s no excuse to join the fun! I will likely come to Portugal for a visit in July, but the 4th is out of question 😉

5. I will keep on traveling on a budget style

Moreso that the USA is much more expensive than Portugal! I will buy a piggybank there so that I can keep on saving my pennies, I swear!

6. I will incorporate more hiking into my travels

Because being around nature is great to balance the mind and body after so much work! And also because hiking can be quite thrilling. I have always associated the USA with hiking as well due to the numerous National Parks, so I’ll check this out myself.

7. I will make one last trip in Portugal before going away

Time is running out! I think I’ll do in on the 3rd weekend of January, since I think my country has beautiful things to offer without spending much money. I’m still researching where I’ll go.

8. I’ll go in and out of the USA with only one checked luggage

And one carry on bag of course! This year I got much more minimalistic and I expect to continue this trend. I am only buying the things I really need, like a good Winter (real Winter! We don’t have real winter here =p) coat and snow boots, so that all my life fits into a suitcase. That’s a challenge, I can do it.

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Blogging

1. I will interview and promote other bloggers!

I really like that the blogging community, in general, is quite supportive. My first interview will go live tomorrow, I really liked interviewing another blogger. Once a month, I will release interviews to either two types of bloggers:

  • Fellow travel bloggers who are students of any degree
  • Fellow PhD students who are bloggers in any niche

I am also open to guest posts! If you are interested on an interview or on a guest post, send me an e-mail!

2. I will stick to two posts a week

This schedule has been good to me but sometimes I lack the organization to release the travel posts really on Tuesdays and the PhD and work events on Fridays. However I really like writing, so I’ll keep this schedule! Hopefully I’ll stick with it.

3. I will improve my photography skills

This is both travel and blogging related. I feel, particularly in the travel blogging niche, that photos are key. My boyfriend is very aware of this so he offered me for Christmas a night photography workshop that we are attending next Friday here in Lisbon. I have a bit of shame in saying I know close to nothing about photography. So yeah, this will improve definitely! I am not interested in buying a DSLR at the moment, so I’ll stick to my lovely compact camera, but maybe I’ll invest in a better phone. Stay tuned! I will be more savvy in Instagram too so that you can get inspired by the photos and places that inspired me.

4. I will improve my awareness of Pinterest

Yes, this is the social network that I find really useful for travel bloggers, but that I don’t know much how to get engagement from. I also want to dedicate myself to make different attempts with pinnable images so that they look prettier!

5. I will keep on vlogging

I recently created a Youtube channel so that I could post vlogs I made from my trips to Norway and Belgium, since I believe some things are not well explained by a still image. I am not one of those vloggers who likes to appear much on camera or speak a lot, so I’ll try to continue with this more silent style, but with gusto! Give me all the tips!

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So yeah, these are my resolutions! I have other resolutions on a more personal level of course and even one regarding lifestyle that maybe you’ll know about later. Tell me your resolutions in these areas and maybe one of your resolutions is one of these. I wish you a year full of happiness and adventure!

Cátia

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