What you’re about to read isn’t a blog post so much as a stream of my consciousness that I’d like to set down somewhere. A lot of what’s coming next for me is still undecided. However, I believe my plans are like unfolded protein chains: one section folds at random and the rest start folding almost automatically and consecutively until you’re left with a folded, working protein. Thus I am only one decision/event away from a full plan for the next 12 months. Here are my various options.
It’s a sad state of affairs…but if I want to do anything at all during the next 12 months then I need an accumulation of money. And if I need money, then I need a bailout from my parents.
…No, wait – that last sentence should read ‘And if I need money, then I need a job’. I don’t like being a dependent on others, so first things I must do is look for jobs. Luckily (a) as a UK citizen (b) spending the summer near Edinburgh, the Festival Capital of the world I shouldn’t have much trouble finding casual summer employment. Or I volunteer in a charity shop and apply to jobs after I’ve acquired some “recent retail experience”. I’m not against the idea of another scientific internship, but my suspicion is that as a chemistry graduate (+1 year) I’m more eligible for permanent jobs than I am for internships. I’m not against the idea of permanent science job either, but I would prefer to get the PhD before I enter the job market.
So, I hope to be working in some sort of casual unskilled labour. Maybe in housekeeping. Maybe in a coffeeshop. Maybe in some kooky clothing store. Enough to get cash flowing inwards rather than outwards.
Firstly, I fully intend to re-apply to the USA for graduate study. I will keep my eye on the UK and Europe, but my first instinct is still the strongest one. If that is going to happen then between now and December I have to (a) re-sit my Chemistry GRE (b) set aside ample revision time for my Chemistry GRE (c) apply to scholarships (d) apply to the programs (e) do all the drafting, form-filling, CV checking, referee contacting the applications require. There’s a significant investment of time and money into this, a lot of planning must be done.
It will be obvious from my applications that I’m re-applying to the grad schools – my online applications will still be in the system, and several grad schools will look at BOTH your applications when re-considering you. Thus…I need to do stuff. Stuff that has to be chemistry related. The main decision I need to make is if I think my application would be strengthened by another science internship. I have a good amount of full-time research experience, it might be the case that more wouldn’t benefit me much. The alternative options include chemistry outreach, non-matriculated study, attendance at conferences/talks, involvement with the RSC in some form. Anything that I believe would make me a better scientist.
I’ve got a two-week trip back to Philadelphia on the cards. Which is good because the withdrawal symptoms were starting to get on my nerves. If I’m over on that side of the Atlantic anyway I wouldn’t say no to a California visit, allegedly to have a look at some grad schools.
At some point I will want to go back to Basel, if only for a long weekend. I’m leaving a portion of my life behind when I return to the UK, I don’t want to totally abandon a place I called home.
While I would love to do some sort of crazy gap year adventure…I doubt I’m going to be able to afford it. Crazy adventures will have to take place in the UK. Maybe I can squeeze an Easyjet trip to another city on the Continent, though – I still feel that there is too much left to discover in Europe…
I’ve still got my Mountain Leader UK Award to obtain. I’ve got most of the requisite experience (days spent on the hill and working with groups), though a week in the Lake District or in the Scottish Highlands wouldn’t go amiss. The residential 5-day assessment is something I would aim to complete in late Autumn or early next Summer.
My two main hobbies, running and dancing, shouldn’t be forgotten. Dancing has been on a backburner whilst I’ve been in Switzerland (too expensive to have lessons, language issues, neither a social ballroom scene nor a fun university club to join), but I suspect if I’m in the right location it will make an impressive comeback. I’m open to new activities and hobbies, it depends on where my free time falls. Gymming, Pilates, rock climbing, cycling, bellydancing, writing…whatever.
Being completely without a solid plan isn’t ideal, but this time around I don’t want to tear myself up over the process waiting & hoping & getting disappointed. I will work hard, think carefully and take things as they happen.