Monthly reflections of 2017

Hi all! I know, for many times I said I want to get back to writing more. But I have been more busy writing manuscripts for my PhD thesis and preparing for my first Christmas in the US! I chose not to spend Christmas at home for financial and adventure reasons. Anyway, I have my own “Portuguese MIT” family and some of us are staying, so we will have a Christmas party! But enough with that for now!

2017 was the CRAZIEST year of my adult life. I moved to a new continent and love it here despite a few hardships I faced! I totally challenged and crushed to pieces what the “old” Cátia was and I am in the process of building a new Cátia. Therefore, I am in the most intense year regarding personal growth that I faced. Of course workwise I had a lot of new challenges and, while I sometimes feel I’m slacking, I have a lot to be proud of. Also, travelwise, I had experiences like I never thought and I’m dying to write about them! But, due to the lack of time I can devote to this right now, I’m doing a monthly recap of all this.

January

This month was spent buying appropriate clothing for the cold and snowy weather in Boston. I am planning for ages to write a post about the essentials to move to Boston! Also, I was facing the completion of a big side project, the webiste of my research lab in Portugal. Can I call myself a web developer? No. But I put all the experience I gathered from the blog to good use for scicomm purposes. In the meantime, I also traveled by train to the countryside and saw things about my country that I loved! It was a great chance to test out my gear to Boston and it did not disappoint! All the final goodbyes done, and on February 3rd, let’s go to Boston!

Covilhã, Portugal
“What do you feel? Butterflies.” All I was feeling in my stomach before leaving to Boston. Covilhã, Portugal

February

Just landed in Boston! Moved to my house in Cambridge and started exploring. No snow could stop me! Going to many events, enjoying all the free food, and getting in awe with the level of diversity and knowledge MIT has to offer! Also, my personal transformation would start and seeing a new world forced me to reevaluate my values and beliefs about research and life. I started feeling way more outgoing than in my first year in the lab, which was a huge positive. I soon realized it was hard to manage all that I wanted to do, but I still kept going.

Killian Court, MIT, Cambridge, MA
The first picture from Killian Court, MIT

March

I turned 28! First birthday outside Portugal and it proved to be quite a nice day. I tried ballroom dancing in my birthday night and it was quite a fun experience. I realized I dance better than I used to think. I started feeling the pressure of being here and overwhelmed with work and life events. I had a lot of meetings by this month to help me shape my model, for which I feel incredibly grateful for, and these unsettled my routine. This is something I had to learn to deal with since it would happen a lot for the remainder of my stay here.

Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
An after meeting stroll around Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

April

First travels outside Boston! First, we went on a roadtrip to New Hampshire and Maine coastlines all the way up to Portland. Then, we went on a day trip to New York City. Also, I was preparing some work for conferences and having more and more meetings! Things were turning out that I had to change my model quite a bit, but all in good spirits 🙂

Chelsea, New York City, USA
New Yorker much? Amazing day in NYC was starting back then!

May

May was a particularly difficult month. I remember I had a hard time concentrating workwise, having some personal life issues and feeling demotivated, but still I have pretty good things to remember! I attended my first health economics conference (ISPOR 2017) here in Boston, leading to the transition of my work to this field which is complimentary to my work in manufacturing models for cell therapies. Travelwise, I went on a roadtrip to the Pioneer Valley in Central Massachusetts, having visited college towns like Northampton and Amherst. Then, I had the chance to go to NYC again, this time now for 5 days. I did a lot of things in NYC that time, but that will come to a later post. But the main highlight might have been being able to watch the sunrise from the Boston Aquarium. It was a crazy idea I engaged on and it paid off having woken up at 3:45am to witness this! 🙂

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The most beautiful sunrise from Boston!

June

June was one of the best, but also one of the worst months here. I started the month by going to Providence and Newport, Rhode Island, and also to Concord, Massachusetts, to visit the Walden Pond. I also did the famed Freedom Trail here in Boston for the first time! Then, I had ISSCR2017, where I co-organized my first Twitter meetup with attendees from the conference with the amazing Samantha from science.sam! It was an incredible conference which launched an important collaboration for my PhD. I will have advice on how to take advantage of conferences in another post! It was also this month when my previous dating situation, which lasted for the last 5 years, had come to an end. But to make things better, my sister came to visit me! We had so much fun, going to Salem, Massachusetts, then NYC for another 5 days, where I let my inner K-pop fan status unleash at the Kcon2017 convention I went to with her (I’m writing this listening to K-pop, no joke. I’m very eclectic musicwise)! Since I was staying in Newark, New Jersey, one of the days I went on a solo trip to Princeton, where I visited the campus and had a great peaceful time!

KCON2017, Newark, NJ
KCON2017 doesn’t seem that crowded here. Believe me it was, and I didn’t even go to the concerts.

July

So, what to say about July? Lots of BBQs! 4th of July fireworks, amazing time whale watching, going to public swimming pools for free to sub for the lack of beachtime, a roadtrip to Cape Cod, Massachussets in a day when it almost rained, realizing I had to change my dataset for work, Queen and Alt-J concerts, and I guess that’s it. July is a pretty calm month around Boston.

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August

The first part of the month was pretty busy. I knew I would go on vacation in the last two weeks, so I was pushing myself too hard to finish some data for the manuscript I was preparing. I also had the amazing opportunity of writing an editorial piece to a well known outlet in Regenerative Medicine and Cell Therapies. Also, I was trying to return in strength to the blog and did a BEDA (Blog Every Day August) at some point. However, I had to give that up after realizing how close I was to burning out. Having to repeat simulations countless times was not helping. However, I had a blast on my vacations! First, I went to meet my cousins in Finger Lakes, Upstate New York. Then, I met with friends in Niagara Falls, then with more family in Toronto, and off we went towards Route 66! What an incredible roadtrip that was, being able to see so much of the continent and drive in the US!

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Favorite place in the world thus far! Niagara Falls

September

On the first day of September, we ended our Route 66 adventure and I stayed 2 additional days in Los Angeles. Then, I flew back to Boston to start the Fall semester. I spent some time preparing for an additional conference endeavor I had in Boston, where I had the chance to attend Biotech Week 2017 and present a poster there. This conference launched my love for science journalism and medical writing in a more serious way, having led me to attend some seminars of the science journalism group here at MIT. Travelwise, I went to Montreal, Canada to watch my first ever serious figure skating competition and engage on a 4 day solo travel trip that was so enjoyable! Then, I also had a quick stop in Burlington, Vermont.

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First taste of Fall in Montreal, Canada!

October

What the hell did I do in October besides working for my cost effectiveness model? Well, I went to the Berkshires (Western Massachusetts) to witness the amazing Fall foliage, then back to NYC again (twice), with a stop in New Haven, Connecticut to visit Yale University. Alos went to the beautiful town of Marblehead, Massachusetts to visit my cousins. Blogging wise, I had the chance to volunteer at Blogging Camp in Brandeis University as a Twitter reporter. Sportswise, I watched the Bruins (ice hockey team) and it was so fun! And of course, I dressed up for Halloween as a corpse bride.

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Fall street art in Brooklyn, New York!

November

November, for me, was all about Thanksgiving since I came back from Portugal, where I spent the first two weeks. We had so much fun cooking our turkey and it came pretty good! I worked for my first publication, finally coming across in a way that we deemed good for a future publication. Also, with Winter coming, I managed to travel to Acadia National Park in Maine and to Plymouth, Massachusetts, to learn more about the history of Thanksgiving!

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Plimoth plantation recreation site in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Located in the site of the settlement of English Puritans who made contact with indigenous tribes, creating the Thanksgiving tradition.

December

I finally delivered the first draft of my first manuscript from my PhD thesis and I’m so happy, since it means being able to progress to other new projects! I also am preparing myself for exciting projects for IAP (Independent Activities Period) here in MIT in January but, most of all, I never thought in my life I’d go to the beach in Hawaii in December. We went to the Big Island and did things as unique as hiking on the Volcanoes National Park (it’s incredible to witness an active volcano) and snorkeling with the huge manta rays! Also, the green sand beach (one of the four in the world) is incredible, and the 50 minute hike to get to the beach is worth it! There is still a lot to do this month and I want to close this eventful here in a great note!

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Kilauea Iki Crater, Hawaii

From this recap, it indeed seems an eventful and awesome year! I want to take the good memories to be able to move forward to the final year of my PhD, which will not be easy! I’m excited for what this year will bring me. However, this was not an easy year by any means. I had to come to peace to some decisions regarding who I want to be, personally and professionally. I saw what is it like to have a sexist and discrimination culture by some people in academia. I had all my routines change and even had to go to call 911 and go to the hospital for a minor kidney related problem. I also learned how to be a more forgiving person, with myself and others, and to let go a bit of my perfectionism. I’m still doing this.

For the blog, there will be new exiciting things coming! I know this post is very long, so I just want to wish you a Happy Holiday Season and thank you for reading and following me, even though I haven’t been as regular as I would like. Thank you!

Cátia

 

Comments

  1. vania duarte

    2017 foi mesmo um ano cheio de aventura para ti, mas no final de contas acho que te ajudou a crescer ainda mais e a acreditares nas tuas capacidades. E só por isso já valeu a pena. Quanto a mim fico mesmo feliz que 2017 nos tenha apresentado, espero que 2018 não só nos traga mais postais trocados como também um abraço apertado e boa conversa 🙂 um grande beijinho para ti e feliz natal.

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