LIFE UPDATES! EXCITING FUTURE PLANS

I haven’t done a life update since this, where I went into a lot of detail with my future graduate school plans in Australia.

So if you haven’t read that, or haven’t been keeping up with me over on my instagram, then head here to get more of a back story on what I’m about to get into.

Gold star to those who have been keeping up with me and my life.

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Before we get into the exciting graduate school update,

What have I been up to the last month?

I live in New Jersey in the States and we have been one of the worst states with virus cases due to the close proximity to New York City. So I have been on lockdown since March 16th I think… super close to THREE MONTHS!

There have been some positives to all of this mess, I’ve gotten to spend a lot more time with my cat, my parents and my brother (I go into this a lot more here). I’ve also gotten the time to really reflect on myself and my values and how I want to be a better friend to myself. Increasing my self awareness has really helped with that!

Has quarantine given you a lot of time to self reflect?

Besides family time & self reflection I really haven’t done a terrible amount. I have been working on this blog a lot over on pinterest and also trying to keep up with all my content over on my instagram. There’s been some baking here and there, ooo and some Chloe Ting workouts!!!! fun stuff!!

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Okay, now for the exciting part.


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My Masters Degree Plan

As I’m sure so many of you can relate, the virus has altered my future and left a lot of unknowns.

Last I spoke to you guys over here I mentioned that the original plan (as of early March 2020) was to move to Tasmania, Australia this coming July to start my two years masters program by research. Of course with the current state of the world and the endless border closures/travel restrictions, there is a slight hold on all of it.

soooo how is the virus altering plans exciting you might ask?

Well, it’s not. The exciting part is that with all of the extra time I’ve had, I’ve been able to finalize my research proposal and officially SUBMIT IT to the university in Australia. This research proposal was the FINAL step to submitting my application.

This application process was super weird to me where I technically got accepted to the university in Australia last year where I was told I qualified for this degree program. But once you qualify, the next step is teaming up with a professor to be your research supervisor. Once doing that, the student (that’s me!) comes up with the research plan from scratch! My proposed supervisor, of course, helped me but it was all on me to decide what specifically I wanted to research.

If you’re familiar with the scientific research world at all, it is very rare for a student who is fresh out of their undergraduate to get to specifically propose the research they want to carry out. Typically, especially with masters programs here in the States, the student will just tag along with an already existing project that the supervisor has already planned out.

So, for example, my back up plan was to work with a professor out at a university out in California and create a masters thesis with a data set that was already predetermined. It would have been a great opportunity, and a full ride scholarship, but at the end of the day it wasn’t what I was specifically interested in researching. In Australia, and I’m almost positive New Zealand too (correct me if I’m wrong), I was told we get to choose what we want to research and from there determine if it’s feasible.

So last year I was asked:

what do YOU want to research? what are YOU interested in?

& immediately I was so overwhelmed, yet so grateful. So grateful to feel trusted and capable of creating a two year full funded research project from scratch.

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Okay, okay, I’ve completed my application and I get to come up with my own project. What does that exactly entail?


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To sum it up:

My plan is to research the baseline thermal physiology of Australian fur seals using infrared thermography. We will be using infrared thermography (heat cameras) to see how heat is transferred around their bodies in their natural habitat.

At the moment, there is barely anything known on how Australian fur seals react to thermal stress. This becomes increasingly important with the growing need of answers due to climate change. In order to predict how our ecosystems will be altered in the future, we need to first understand how it is in their natural environment.

The hope is that Australia will open their border to international students by September (as the Australian economy really depends on us for their economy) and go from there. Of course nothing is certain, but I’m hopeful that I will be able to move to Tasmania by September the latest. This could work out as the Australian fur seal breeding season (so when I will be collecting data in the field) wouldn’t be till October anyway. Even if I can’t get into Australia by then, we have multiple backup plans (which really helps with my anxiety).

I hope that made sense.

I have a couple more mini life updates, but I didn’t want this post to be 2098092 paragraphs long as I could really talk forever.

Thanks so much if you read all that, I know it was a lot of words. I’m sorry to anyone who has had their future altered due to this pandemic mess. It’s a hard one.

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keep updated

with me on my journey

5 things you NEED to make the best coffee at home

Let’s be real, making coffee at home can get intimidating. There’s so many different products and techniques to go about brewing at home. You could just go the simple route and use a keurig or another kind of machine that makes the coffee for you but where’s the fun in that?

I’m here to help make it simple.

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My method of choice is pour over. It’s as simple as it sounds: you pour hot water over coffee grinds and that’s it for the most part. Of course there are actual techniques to do the pour over method properly (like wetting the filter before hand, letting the grinds bloom, etc). If you’re interested in a detailed post about pour over techniques let me know!!

First and foremost you’re going to need to choose if you want to tackle whole beans or already pre-ground coffee. Pre-ground coffee does really decrease the flavors and quality of the coffee (in my opinion). I chose to purchase whole beans and ground them by the cup before each use.

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1.Coffee Scale

I use the Hario V60 Drip Coffee Scale.

HA! you can tell I don’t clean mine very often… oopsies.

A battery-powered, lightweight scale that precisely weighs out my preferred coffee bean to water ratio. It is a bit pricier but after the amount of people who recommended this to me I couldn’t help but want to test it out. I didn’t use one for the longest time (as you can also weigh out your beans and water by volume) but this has been a GAME CHANGER in increasing my precision.

I felt that doing pour over by volume instead of weight was really just me eyeballing how much water to use and crossing my fingers hoping it turned out okay. Furthermore, measuring coffee by volume didn’t make much sense to me (here comes my science background) because different roasts and beans of different origins have different densities. Anyway, do what makes you happy!!! This is just my methodology of choice.

2.Coffee Grinder

I use the manual burr coffee grinder by Zulay Kitchen. Although I have worked with them in the past over on my instagram, this is not affiliated in any way.

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The perfect, balanced cup of coffee starts with accurate tools so I can definitely recommend this grinder for you to try. It’s the perfect durable and budget friendly grinder (its only $14 right now). With the adjustable grind settings it’s helped each bean grind consistently so the flavor gets captured evenly throughout. It’s also super quiet so it helps when I’m up early in the morning for my first cup of the day.

In the past I used a different grinder without anyway to adjust the settings so I was kinda just spitballing it. As you can guess, that didn’t turn out the greatest for me as each grind was a different size and shape…… so let’s stick to a grinder with settings shall we!!!!

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3.Cleaning Brush

I use one by Bretani.

Don’t you just get frustrated when you can’t get the last of the coffee grounds out of your grinder?

This cheap $5 purchase has really helped me fix that issue. It’s super budget friendly and obviously aims to clean your grinder as well! Just a little tool to help you out along the way.

4.Pour Over Coffeemaker

I use the Chemex 6-cup glass pour over coffee maker.

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When I first started really caring about the quality of my coffee at home, I got a much cheaper pour over maker to start. But once the day came where my brother accidentally shattered it, I knew it was a sign to drop a bit more money to get the one that was better quality. My thought process in choosing a Chemex is that I always saw them for sale at my local coffee shops, so I guess that planted the seed.

Nonetheless, I have only good things to say about it. Chemex does sell smaller ones (like 3-cup) and also larger ones (like 8-cup). They are made of a super sturdy glass. I’ve had mine for months now and I never ran into any issues with scratches or cracks or anything. It’s just a great classic coffee maker.

5.Pour Over Filters

After trial & error, I can whole-heartedly recommend purchasing the paper filters made, in fact, for the Chemex.

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Unfortunately it seems they are sold out on amazon but I get mine at my local whole foods! These filters are super sturdy and I’ve never had them fall through or break in the middle of a pour (which has happened to me with other filters).

Also there is a much more sustainable route with reusable filters but I have yet to find one of those I like using. So any recommendations let me know in the comments!!

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There you have it! My 5 must haves to make the perfect cup of coffee at home (besides the coffee)!

*NOTE* the amazon links are affiliate links! So using them does support me and my coffee addiciton.

Let me know if you’d be interested in a detailed post of my favorite roasters and blends to enjoy at home! I did a mini one over on my instagram.

What are your essentials to have at home to make your morning cup?

Lots of love,

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Moving to Tasmania for Grad School: why Tasmania?

I mentioned I was going to do this sort of explanation post here and this is inspired by my explanation of why I chose New Zealand to study abroad here.

Quick back story: I graduated from the University of Maine with a bachelors in Marine Science (concentration in marine biology if that matters) last May. The last (almost) year I’ve been living home saving up and waiting to head to graduate school to get my masters.

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Okay now that we’re caught up let’s get to why Tasmania out of all places.

The story starts back in October 2018, my fall semester of my senior year of college. About this time is when I knew for sure I wanted to go get my masters in marine research and I sort of had an idea on what kind of research. I sent out emails to maybe 30 different professors all around the world asking if they had any room in their labs for a masters student. Over the course of couple months, probably over 100 emails including circling back to different people, I heard back from a couple professors.

Along the lines of me wanting to move to NZ for a semester (here) , moving to another country or across the world was definitely in the question for me. When researching what professors to reach out to, I was the most interested in the poles (Arctic & Antarctic). I always had a fascination with the colder, more desolate places (hence, me vacationing to Alaska almost every summer with my family growing up). Those areas were almost always the least studied, and had the most questions to be answered. Furthermore with climate change and all that jazz, the poles are going to be the first regions to be severely affected.

I became determined to research in the regions that still had so many unknowns. I want to conduct my own research that will make a difference in the world (cheesy but true).

Okay, so now we know the cold areas are the way to go, but why Tasmania, Australia then?

Amidst searching for professors to contact, and going through insanely cool publications, I came across the University of Tasmania. For those who are unsure (it’s ok if you are), Tasmania is an island state of Australia. The University of Tasmania has research connections to Antarctica.

How much more cold and desolate could you get than Antarctica?

Many professors in their Marine and Antarctic research department have conducted their very own research in Antarctica, and also have contributed to many publications surrounding extremely interesting topics.

More specifically, the interesting topics they conducted research on was seals. I have grown an extreme love and fascination for seals. It grew especially when I had the insane opportunity to be a summer intern up in Alaska and take care of harbor seal pups and sea otter pups. It’s still insane to me that I got to do that as a freshman in college, a time when I was so naive.

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*these are New Zealand fur seals i saw in Kaikoura, NZ*

Anyway, go past me! wooo!! I came across a few professors at the University of Tasmania who did research on seals, sea lions, penguins, etc. all around Australia, NZ, Antarctica and the sub-Antarctic Islands.

Not only with seals, but will many many organisms, not much is known on how they are, or will, cope with climate change (the rising temperatures, increased storms, etc). Which creates an even bigger need for scientists to have some fun in some and figure it all out. Because if we don’t know, or can’t predict how organisms will cope to the change, we could very easily screw up every ecosystem in existence (dramatic but true).

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So long story short: I have been talking with a professor at the University of Tasmania since October 2018 about conducting my masters degree in Marine & Antarctic research alongside her. More recently we’ve determined that for accessibility purposes it would make the most sense to start researching Australian fur seals in my first year of my masters. Then, in my second year of research, depending on the results of the first round of data, maybe include other species too. It’s taken this long to figure out everything because….

  1. If I want to research seals in the Southern Hemisphere (specifically Australian fur seals), their breeding season, aka their most active time of the year, is in October
  2. It makes the most sense to start my degree at the beginning of semester & Aus/NZ semesters are not Spring/Fall they are semester’s 1 & 2. Semester 1 starts around Feb and semester 2 starts around July.
  3. I wanted enough time before the seal breeding season starts to prep my methodology and background
  4. I needed enough time after I graduated from my undergrad in May 2019 to get a student visa and move across the world
  5. I wanted enough time to breathe

*breathe*

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Hence, I will hopefully still be starting my Masters by Research in Tasmania at the start of their semester 2 this coming July. I am planning to research the baseline thermal physiology of Australian fur seals and maybe their heat flux. –> So how they handle temperature changes & heat, how they produce it, how they get rid of it and how they cope with it.

I think this is the most cohesive way I’ve ever explained all this so gold star for me! I hope this makes sense.

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