Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Take a Sick Day

Let's face it, sometimes your day just sucks and you have to say screw it and stay home.  I got hit with a monster cold this week and after a few days of pushing through it I stopped and asked myself "why they hell am I making myself so miserable?"  The answer was "for no good reason" and I decided to take a break and stay in bed all day today.  I must have needed it because I slept until 4pm!
So while I was originally deciding to do a "what's in my bag?" post, that clearly never happened.  So here are some of my essentials to getting through the plague.

Warm Throw Blanket:  Heat is your best friend when you're sick.  While you may be sweating, be sure to keep bundled!  Your body heats up to basically cook the virus out of your system, so keeping warm will speed this.

Lemon Tea:   As with the blanket, warm tea will help heat you up.  It also has an added bonus of soothing a sore throat.  My go to is Bigelow's I Love Lemon tea with 100% of your Vit. C.  2 Cups of this a day and you'll be better in no time!

Moisturizer:  Your skin really takes a beating when you're sick.  Wiping your nose all day can do a number on the area around it.  In addition to that, just being sick can alter your skins oil content.  Take care of it with my favourite, Burts Bees Moisturizer

Strong Meds:  While I hate to be the one pushing drugs (ok maybe not :P) this stuff is amazing.  Sudafed 12 Hour with Pain and Pressure relief is the real deal.  You have to get it behind the counter (but you don't need a script, they just want to check if you're cooking meth), so I normally keep it on hand because who wants to go out when they're sick?  They have a decent amount of naproxen, which is like ibuprofen, so it keeps your fever down and relieves your sinuses.  Only downside is that for your sinuses to feel better, the mucus has to go somewhere (read: out your nose) so be ready with tissues!

These have been helping me and I hope they help you!  Let's get through fall with no more diseases!

Friday, September 26, 2014

You're never alone

This has been a hard week for the MIT community.  Two days ago one of my neighbors died in her room and it seemed like MIT came to a standstill.  I didn't know her at all, but I could sense how the institute was tipped on its head.
I'm not writing to break news or tell you about it, I just want to address the topic for students everywhere that you are never alone.
There's a strange stigma attached to be sad and being depressed.  It's isolating and the feeling that you're a freak for you emotions can drive you further into your own mind.  The first leap to telling someone how you feel is terrifying, especially for students, and even more so for "elite" students.  Here I think people are so used to being "perfect" that any deviation from perfection is terrifying.
We are human.
Guys, we're a squishy sack of chemicals.  We make mistakes, we mess up and sometimes our chemicals get out of whack.  
This is when you need help.  It's not your fault; you're not crazy, you're sick.  It's no more your fault than getting the flu.
I don't even hide the fact here that I get super stressed out.  I used hide it and it was the worst thing I ever did to myself.  The feelings feed themselves and you retract deeper and deeper into yourself until every day is miserable.  I let my illness compound and never got help.  Like avoiding the doctor when you have strep, it only makes it worse.
Seek your friends, seek your family, go for a walk or hug someone.
If you tell people about your anxieties you'll be surprised to find that the vast majority of people feel like you do, especially in academia.
So please, reach out to people, especially in times of sadness like these.  You can even anonymously message me; I've been in dark places and I know how it feels.
 Just know that you are never alone. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

West Point

If you've never been near the West Point Military Academy, I feel bad for you.
Back when I was on my high school's science team we used to have competitions on their campus and let me say I have never seen a more beautiful place.  Normally the campus is completely closed off to civilians (it's a functioning military base) so once I graduated I said a teary goodbye to one of my favourite places in the country.
Two weeks ago I was incredibly privileged to go back for an Army football game.  My cousin recently married a West Point grad, and since I wasn't able to make the wedding I jumped at the chance to meet my new cousin and their daughter, as well as go back to West Point.

It. was. a. blast!
First off I went straight to the statue of Eisenhower to recreate some pictures:
Doug and me in high school

My little cousin Emma and me
I'm a huge sucker for doing the same picture with different people.  To me it's the best kind of tradition.
My new cousin gave me a tour of campus and I even got to see some obstacle courses (sorry no pictures!)  We hung around all day for parades

a football game

and some quality cousin bonding time
Edward and Megan are selfie pros
New cider buddy!
This little girl loves her selfies
I think Emma may grow up to be me.  She is a Let It Go singing selfie taking Iron Man fan that does not stop talking.  Somehow she'd sucker me into carrying her on my back with a sunburn and she'd sit on my lap while we ate.  I have to update my resume with new certifications because apparently I'm like the pink power ranger because I "have brown hair and am awesome"!
This really meant a lot to me because I'm 16 years older than Emma, and Megan is 16 years older than I am.  Growing up with an older cousin was awesome!  She would take me to movies, buy me candy and make grown up jokes in front of me.  Whenever I hung out with Megan and her sisters, I felt like the coolest person in the world.  I can't wait to take Emma out, buy her dinner and candy, tell her dirty jokes and make fun of our parents like I used to with Megan.  If I can be even a fraction as cool to Emma as Megan was to me I would be so, so happy.  This little girl really touched my heart in a way only your family can.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The rest of my trip

As promised, I won't ramble about the rest of my trip.  Here are some pictures so you don't have to try to facebook stalk me for them ;)

Shakespeare's house in Stratford-Upon-Avon


Lake Windermere in the Lake District

Wild Swans at Lake Windermere

View from Edinburgh Castle

Oldest Building in Edinburgh

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

Dreams can come true

outside Edinburgh

Made a trip to the holy land ;P

Learned how to properly pour Guinness

My masterpiece

Cardiff Castle

Cardiff Castle

WWII Bunker under Cardiff Castle

Library in Cardiff Castle


Royal Guard at Windsor

So I tried to pick and choose a "best of" so you guys are bombarded with my pictures, but I hope you enjoyed them!  I had an immense amount of fun and I can't wait to go back!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

My Own Vacation

So I went on and on about planning my trip and never actually said what I did.
Well, everything.
Doug and I spent 2 weeks in the UK and only stayed one night in each city with the exceptions of London, Edinburgh, and Dublin.  It. was. exhausting.  I'm never doing a 2 week vacation ever again.  From now on 1 week max.  I got homesick and tired which was miserable.  Additionally since we weren't really stopping, we never took a day to just relax and sleep in.  It was always go go go go on to the next sight and next city.
But it was amazing.
We started in London and the first day after our overnight flight we decided not to sleep, but just push through the day.
I had been up over 24hrs at this point
Being exhausted, we tried to only do things that required walking, which did work out.  We went to Buckingham Palace and then walked over to Big Ben and Parliament.
Big Ben is gorgeous, just absolutely amazing.  Picture never do it justice and I could have stared at the clock tower all day.

We hurried to our hotel, which was in South Harrow (aka the hood) and immediately fell asleep.  We woke up bright and earlier and headed straight to the Tower of London.  We took a tour of the tower and saw the Crown Jewels, which was really neat.  However waiting in lines at the Tower took FOREVER and ate up most of our day.  Since it was too late to do any other tours, we walked along the Thames and saw the outside of the Globe Theatre.
It was a nice day and we had fun walking and joking while we saw some sights from the outside.
This is not London Bridge
By the end of the day we were completely exhausted again, so we went to sleep fairly early.  The next day we dedicated to the British Museum and Westminster Abbey.  This was by far our favourite day in London.  If you'd like to see most of the world's treasures, you only need to go to London.  I nicknamed the museum the "how Britain ransacked their colonies and some others" museum.  I almost cried when I actually got to see the Rosetta Stone in real life, it really was that amazing.  We walked through the other exhibits and took some time to sit near the Elgin Marbles (aka things the Brits stole from Greece.)
It was truly awe inspiring.  I've always been a fan of Greek art (I studied Classics for 5 years), but I'm always blown away by its beauty.  I think we spent almost an hour just looking at the sculptures.
By the time we were both satisfied with the museum, we had just enough time to run over to Westminster Abbey and make the last tour of the day.  I was so glad we made it because Westminster Abbey is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited.  Unfortunately I don't have an pictures because they don't let you take them inside, but trust me, definitely worth the visit and the little bit extra for the tour.  The tour takes you into some of the back parts of the Abbey and you can see some really beautiful tombs.
That's the coolest part, the tombs.  It sounds weird, but it was really neat to see the number, variety and notoriety of the people interred there.  You'd be walking and the guide would be like, "oh yeah, 5 paces ago you just walked over Winston Churchill" or Isaac Newton, or Laurence Olivier.  It was wild.  Doug and I were beside ourselves being at the resting place of so many great individuals.  After the tour we wandered around a bit ourselves and just stood in awe at the people who had the honor of being interred in the Abbey.  It was really quite incredible and I highly recommend you go if you have the chance.

Ok I realize I may have bored you, so I'll cut this one off.  The plan is another full post on our time in Edinburgh, then pictures from the trip.

Look forward to telling you more!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Getting a schedule

I feel like I've finally settled back into MIT, which is good and I can finally relax.  Surprisingly my classes haven't been bothering me.  Being a senior you'd think I'd be even more stressed out but I'm not.  For the first time in three years, I feel prepared.  I feel prepared for my classes, prepared to find a job, and prepared to graduate.  This new feeling of readiness has inspired a new level of confidence in me which I'm definitely tapping into.
I've begun to go on trips, stay out with friends, and just generally enjoy my time here in Boston.  This does have some downsides, the one being that with all my new found time I've actually been struggling to get into a routine.  After a few weeks though I think I'm settling down.
Which brings me to Bottom of the Top's new schedule!  I'll be writing more posts and scheduling them for Tuesdays and Thursdays and I promise I'll keep them going.
I realize I still haven't finished talking about my trip, and I've actually gone on a couple more since the semester started.
Overall though, being a senior is wonderful.  I finally have time to leave campus (which I do pretty much every weekend now) and I actually go to bed late!  It's so exciting to not be a grandma and go to sleep at 10pm every night (it's way past my bedtime as I write this at 11pm).
I have a good feeling about the things to come.  This semester is starting off well and I can't wait to see what's coming.

Friday, September 5, 2014

TED Talks: Never Stop Learning

Every morning I get up kind of early for a college student, a full 2 hours before I have class.  I love mornings and time to myself.  A new thing I've been doing is every morning I watch a TED Talk.  They're really fascinating for me and the people they invite are incredible at what they do.  I've also recently decided that with graduation just around the corner, I'm not going to stop learning when I leave school.  
In fact, leaving school is a great opportunity to learn more beyond the realm of ChemE.  TED Talks are a great platform to dive into other topics of study that you wouldn't normally even know existed.  But even TED Talks can be a little daunting to get into if you start by looking at the thousands of videos on their Youtube page.
Well I like TED videos so much, I've decided to do the work for you!  I'm doing the work of finding the cool talks, the ones that are so applicable or really out there.
Visit my TED Playlist to check out what I've been watching lately!  Hopefully it'll inspire you to get into them as well.
Here are a couple of my recent favorites:

How Body Language Affects Us

Are Athletes Getting Better Over Time?

I can't wait to hear what you think!  Share your favorites with me as well

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Planning my first vacation

Like I said yesterday, to celebrate our last summer with no responsibilities Doug and I took a vacation to the UK and Ireland.  It was really exciting for me because I never got to travel as a kid.  I also paid for the entirety of it with my own money, which was a really satisfying feeling.  Not to mention it was on my 101 in 1001.
Planning this was kind of stressful, because we didn't have a plan.  I'm one of those people who needs to plan everything to the detail in order to move ahead with something, but for this we decided to just wing it.  We flew into London on August 10, and out of London August 24.  Between those days we had nearly no plans. 
Right now I'll give you the lowdown on how we structured our trip.

Before we left: We did plan a few things, just to make sure our trip went smoothly.  We bought a guide book for every area we visited, so one for the UK and one for Ireland.  These were probably the best thing we did.  We went with guides by the Lonely Planet (Doug had had luck with them before).  They were awesome!  They had tear out maps of the major cities, great suggestions on tourist activities and all of the prices and hours of operation listed.  We carried them around with us during the day and they were priceless.  I can't see traveling without them now.
Worth it's weight in gold

We also got BritRail passes.  This is essential to order ahead of time, because you can only have them shipped to a non-UK address.  As a non-resident, you can get a unlimited ride 15-day pass for around $500.  It sounds like a lot, but it's well worth it if you'll be traveling every day.  We did about 1 city per day, so we definitely got our money's worth on this.  It's also nice to not worry about buying tickets and making your train on time (we had a few close calls).  The rail system in the UK is wonderful.  The trains covered by the pass really go everywhere and they are so comfortable and convenient (It only takes 6 hours to get from London to Edinburgh).  If you're in the country for more than a weekend, definitely think about the pass.  The national rail also has an app so you can plan your trip and see when the next train is arriving.

The last thing we did before we left was get plane tickets.  After tracking the prices for months (literally months. crazy right?) they dipped below our budget cap in March.  The best way we could think to get the tickets was to set a bar for what we were willing to pay (for us it was $850 each) and then as soon as it hits that, just buy it.  After a but of research we found that usually trans-atlantic flights are cheapest around 6 months ahead of time.  Kayak actually has a nifty setting where you can put in a price alert for a max price and when it goes below that, they tell you.  We ordered our tickets directly from Aer Lingus, but it was nice to have Kayak help us.

Believe it or not, that's all we did before we left.  It drove me nuts, but it's true!  Look at me being all spontaneous, like a crazy person.

Ok this post got long, I'll put deets on my time in the UK in the next post.  Cheers!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Back in Black (ok not really)

It is so good to be home!  I realized I was being a huge flake this summer and decided to stop kidding myself with the blog and just take a break.  It was beginning to feel like a chore and I didn't have much to write about.  That's all in the past baby and I'm back for the year!
What a summer what a summer...  I was an RA in my non-air conditioned dorm (but hey, free living!)  It wasn't that bad, but I was pretty much just working in my lab all day and sitting and sweating all night.
Me in lab
Then I was actually out of the country for a while!  It's really exciting for me because when I was a kid we didn't have much spare cash to take 3 kids on vacation and board a dog for a week.  To celebrate our last free summer, Doug and I decided to go to the United Kingdom for 2 weeks.  It was quite the whirlwind.  As you can imagine though, not too much time with access to the internet for blogging.
I'm back from the land of tea and scones
I swear though, if I ever see a meat pie and potatoes again it'll be too soon.  We ate in pubs every night for 2 straight weeks.  I'll tell you more about that tomorrow though.  I really want to do justice to my trip in a longer post. 

So yeah, for those of you still hanging around my site, thanks for the patience!  I'm back for the foreseeable future, so get ready!