I set some goals at the beginning of this academic quarter in January. Here’s how it all went down:

  • Stay on top of my reading assignments: While I probably have around 50+ pages of assigned reading a week, I try my best to at least read the abstracts and understand the figures. It’s simply not realistic to read them thoroughly every week.
  • Save 75% of my work paychecks for my move: I have done well to do this, sometimes saving 80% into my savings from later paychecks.
  • Get academic help as soon as it’s needed: My courses have been pretty straightforward so far, but I’ll keep this in mind as we get closer to finals.
  • Use social media less: Some mornings when I don’t have class until the afternoon, I will be lying in bed on my phone for God knows how long, so I’m going to start setting a timer to make sure I don’t get sucked into it on those types of days.
  • Don’t nap as often: Aside from this last week with my depression flaring up, I’ve done well to stay productive.
  • Stay on top of this blog with three posts a month: I feel like I’ve stayed on top of this blog well, but not as much as I’d like to.
  • Read for half an hour everyday: The book I’ve been reading is a bit dry at the moment, but I’ll try to get into the habit again.
  • Listen to new music (two albums a week): I’d say I listen to about one new album a week or three albums every two weeks.
  • Get into a workout routine that includes running, stretching and weights: I do cardio about four times a week on weeks I don’t work, but other than that, I haven’t been stretching or doing weights as often.
  • Volunteer once a month: Academics and paying work has taken priority over volunteering, especially when I have worked every weekend (often all day) these last few months.
  • Apply for graduate school programs in the United Kingdom (one a week): I have applied to three universities already and am wrapping up two more this week. I didn’t apply to as much as I originally thought because I would like to be based in Brighton, so any university further than London is not very practical for commuting.
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At the end of February of last year, I was lucky enough to go to three concerts in London to see some of my favorite artists. First, I saw Marina and the Diamonds with Ben and visited some tourist attractions while we were up, including Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Hyde Park and Trafalgar Square (where they were filming Wonder Woman, set to release in summer 2017). Seeing Marina in a standing venue was a lot more fun than seeing her in a seated venue as I had the previous December. We had a blast dancing and singing along at the final show of a special tour.

A few days later, I saw The Used in London with my friend Dylan, where they played their most iconic album, In Love and Death, in full. It was also the lead singer’s birthday and I’m glad he let us celebrate with him!

A few days after that, I saw Enter Shikari in London at Alexandra Palace, a large, historic venue in north London. It was incredible to see an independent band fill a venue of ten thousand people with their music and awesome stage presence, including quadraphonic sound and a light show. Additionally, the show was recorded and a live album of this performance was released a few months ago so now I can relive that amazing show anytime I want!

A few days after that, I saw Enter Shikari again as they played a DJ set in Southampton. Ben, Dylan and I, coming from Brighton, partied through the night, met the band members, and took the first train back the next day.

Great music and great friends made for some awesome nights out last year!

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Towards the beginning of the month, my dad, my brother Kyle and I visited my extended family in Southern California for a baby shower for my cousin. It was great to have (most) everyone together for this joyous occasion with great times and great food.

My classes have been going pretty well. My favorite classes are vertebrate zoology, where we do dissections, and animal behavior, where we basically just learn cool things about animals. Aside from classes, I’m still involved in all my academic extracurriculars (Wetland Ecosystem Ecology Lab and The Society for Conservation Biology) and was also recently appointed secretary of the School of Life Sciences Ambassadors! (As if I didn’t already have enough on my plate…)

The show at work this month was Matilda. I didn’t care much for it, but seeing all the kid actors and kid patrons was adorable. For this show, we rented 1,000 booster seats for the large amount of child patrons we anticipated, so that was a pain to remove from the seats and stack them a certain way then bring them down to the main level only 6 cushions at a time from the balcony level with no elevator once the run was over.

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After spending the holiday season at home last year, I returned to England to take my exams and finish out the year, but not before visiting Ben and his family in the midlands. His hometown of Great Malvern is quite quaint and surrounded by hills. There’s not much to do there but it was nice to meet his family.

Final exams in the U.K. are so much more difficult than in the U.S. At American universities, I feel the work is evenly distributed throughout the semester (with the “final exam” usually just being assessed like other exams in the term) so you can assess your understanding as you go along. In the U.K., your final exam can be worth from 50-100% of your final grade. No pressure, right? After my exams, I got to take a wonderful trip to Germany with my grandpa.

We met in Munich and spent our first few days exploring Bavaria, including the Zugspitze, the tallest mountain in Germany and the Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein “Disney” Castles. While based in Frankfurt, we visited Trier (birthplace of Karl Marx), Luxembourg, Wurzburg (my mom’s birthplace) and my personal favorite, Rothenburg ob der Tauber. My grandpa left from Frankfurt but I went on north through the country solo, first stopping in  Giessen to see my friend Amy. I then stopped in Cologne for a day before heading on to Berlin, my favorite city on the trip. I really enjoyed the walking tours, where we explored the history, art  and counter culture of the city, the East Side Gallery (which I walked up and down several times as my hostel was right near it) and meeting new people, both locals (who worked at the hostel) and travelers. You can read more about my Germany adventure here.

In mid-February, I took another holiday to Budapest, Hungary. Although I had really limited time there, I enjoyed the walking tour, spas, ruin bars and meeting up with my Irish friends, Rachel and Craig. Budapest was one of my favorite cities and I wish I had more time there. You can read more about my Budapest trip here.

From about mid-January to mid-February, I challenged myself to be sober for a month. Spoiler alert: it’s very anti-climactic as I found that my drinking habits (or lack thereof) don’t seem to influence my academics, health or sleep patterns.

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I rang in the new year with my boyfriend, Dan, who visited for the holiday season. Much to my dismay, he left a few days later. A few more days after that, it was time to get into the swing of things with the new semester.

For my final semester of my undergraduate degree, I’m taking population ecology, urban ecology (the teachers who teach those two classes are husband and wife, actually), vertebrate zoology, animal behavior, ethics and continuing with research as well as starting my own mini-project. I really like animal behavior and vertebrate zoology, both of my teachers have cool accents (French and Zimbabwean) and we get to dissect a different animal every week in vertebrate zoology. However, I don’t like the fact that their exams are always within a few days of each other. Aside from school work, I’m still involved with the Wetland Ecosystem Ecology Lab, where I do field work measuring vegetation early in the morning a few times a month. Additionally, I was granted an officer position (social secretary) in The Society for Conservation Biology. I’m excited to meet new people and bring fun event ideas to the table!

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