Accommodation, Culture, Review, Sightseeing, Transportation, Travel

Solo holiday in London: Food & museums in Covent Garden and Kensington

London Covent Garden Balloons
Clusters of clouds at Covent Garden

Sometimes when I feel like traveling but don’t have enough money or time, I like to go to TripAdvisor, pick a city I want to visit, and look at the hotel rankings for that city. Maybe it’s my researcher side, but I like to see what hotels have available rooms for a timeframe I wish I could visit, like near my birthday or for a long weekend, and then research online to see if I can find the best prices. It’s kind of like when people use pretend money to invest in stocks, sometimes you win or lose money, but it’s all pretend.

However, there are times where I’d find a great deal on a nice hotel, but the flight to that city might be too expensive, negating any savings I might have had with the hotel deal. But on the rare occasion when the hotel is within driving distance, I might throw caution to the wind and say “why not?” – and I’d book the hotel for a much needed escape!

This is exactly what happened when I was feeling mentally drained from my PhD. I had just submitted my PhD thesis and was now in the middle of studying for my viva, which decides whether or not I earn my PhD. To take my mind off my stress, I went to TripAdvisor and looked at the top hotels in London just to see if there might be any good deals. Well, lo and behold, that day I found one!!

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Save Money, Sightseeing, Transportation, Travel

An inexpensive (yet comfortable) way to travel around the UK, specifically South Kent & London

When I’m feeling stressed from working on my PhD, I like to take a break by walking around Canterbury’s City Centre and browse the shops, get a snack, or read in a lovely park. Sometimes, though, that’s not enough and I need a proper mini-holiday away, or at least get away from Canterbury and any reminders of my studies! Since I don’t drive in the UK, I have to rely on public transportation. However, since we’re in the UK, forget about any misgivings you may have about traveling by bus. In the UK, the buses are very clean, on time, AND they’re mostly double-decker! The British might be used to these factors, but to me, it made traveling a little more fun.

Paris in Boston Canterbury Stour River
Stour River in Canterbury

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Review, Sightseeing, Travel

First-timers' guide to attending the Olympics

I can’t believe it’s already been 4 years since the London Olympics! It was really fortuitous that my PhD plans coincided with London hosting the Olympics in 2012, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to experience the Olympics in person. Funny enough, I recently found an essay I wrote almost 20 years ago about what I want to accomplish in 20 years, and I wrote that I hoped to attend the Olympics on day!

Since the 2016 Olympics are starting this Friday in Rio, I thought it would be fun to provide some tips for those looking to attend their first Olympics – and maybe see an event for free!

London Covent Garden Olympics Signs
Colorful Olympic banners in Covent Garden

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Accommodation, Restaurants, Review, Transportation, Travel

Vienna Beyond the city centre: Advice, advantages, & reviews

I have to be honest, when planning a trip to Vienna, Salzburg, Prague, and Budapest, I was least excited about visiting Vienna. It was time to plan a summer trip to celebrate my submission of my PhD thesis (Finally!!!) and a friend’s PhD graduation/last big trip before she left Iceland so we tried to think of cities neither of us had been to but wanted to visit before we had to move back to the states.

We decided that Vienna, Salzburg, Prague, and Budapest were all close enough that we could travel to all of them in a little over a week. In our research, it looked like Vienna was the best option for traveling to and from the other cities. For me, Vienna was essentially the hub that would take us to more exciting destinations – boy, was this mentality totally wrong!

Vienna Schonbrunn Palace
Schönbrunn Palace & Gardens in the summer

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Getting a PhD, PhD Milestones

Throw away your Gantt Chart: Making progress on your PhD

Have you created a Gantt Chart to organize your PhD project into different phases and estimate how long each phase might take? This is suggested by many PhD supervisors to not only help PhD students break down each milestone into more manageable tasks, but it also helps PhD supervisors monitor a student’s progress. I admit, I think this is helpful at the beginning of the PhD journey as it forced me to think about the major milestones of my project and what each phase entailed. It also provided a guideline as to when I might reasonably finish my PhD. But as with all good plans, sometimes unexpected things happen and schedules have to be readjusted! Here’s how I was able to make progress on my PhD and finish early, without following my Gantt Chart.

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Getting a PhD, PhD Milestones, Study Abroad

Secrets for writing a successful literature review

After a few weeks focusing on traveling in Europe, it’s back to being a PhD student this week!

One of the first and probably last milestones you’ll work on in your PhD is the literature review. I say first milestone because within the first six months of starting a PhD, supervisors most likely will ask new students to submit a literature review for their  research topics, which will help them gain an overview of the types of related research that has been conducted and what research is missing or needs to be done.

I also say last milestone because before submitting a thesis, the literature review should be updated to include any new research that has been conducted. After all, you want your References section to have lots of recent publications to show that you know the current state of your research topic!

Based on my own experience and my colleagues’, the literature review is probably the most overlooked section once the main study and analysis has been conducted. Therefore, I offer you some advice when writing your literature review, either as a new PhD student or a PhD student getting ready to submit your thesis.

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