Marking the End of an Era: I Graduated!

A post that has been long overdue.

After three long years of hard work, sweat, tears, resilience, and hanging on to the dream of achieving bigger things in life, I graduated last summer with a First Class Honours degree in Medicinal Chemistry & Neuroscience from Keele University.

That day, six months on, still remains so oddly embedded in my head – but hopefully, it’ll prevail as one of the proudest and most treasured moments of my life!

 

First things first. I’m not going to lie. Quite frankly, if you had asked me four years ago what I wanted to do with my life, what universities I had already applied to at the time, or what subjects I was most passionate about, I would simply have laughed, blurted out something random, and awkwardly walked away.

 

But what I’ve learned over the past few years is that if I had chosen that stereotypical path that everyone else had pretty much concluded was the ‘best’ option for me back in 6th form (i.e. Russell Group, or a gap year abroad), I would never have taken that ‘leap of faith’ everyone was so concerned about, I would never have chosen to pursue my UG studies at Keele, and I wouldn’t have ever gotten the chance to build such amazingly strong and lifelong relationships with those who tremendously challenged me, changed my life, and helped me forge an amazing 3 years at Keele!

 

I learned how to appreciate how precious time is, how to embrace different lifestyles & cultures, and most importantly, that I still have so much more to learn about the world!

All-in-all, I would never have been as happy as I am now, and I most definitely would not have been able to accomplish the incredible things that have now shaped who I am today, had I chosen another route for myself. Because of all these unique experiences, friendships, and opportunities I’ve endured within the past few years, I’m so happy with where I am in life now! I can’t wait to ‘put a dent in the universe’ and to finally build my own career (edit: well, if you’re able to call #phdlife the real world – more to come!).

 

Then came a decision that changed my life forever.

So let us all gather here today, on my blog, to reminisce on some of my favorite memories (and yes, I’m currently watching Season 7 of #Friends of Netflix)…

 

The first time I ever experienced so much snow…

 

Being a Londoner, born and bred, snow to me was just another day of traffic, commuter rudeness, and just inconvenience. But it was only when I was at Keele, did I actually notice how pretty snow looked on the trees, on the ground, and just how nice, pure and fresh the air was. To be honest, I’d do anything to enjoy another day back in Keele!

Having missed both my Year 11 & Year 13 proms, I finally got to dress up for the Keele University Life Sciences Ball…

 

Studying abroad brought out the best in me, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Then came a decision that changed my life forever. Having always ultimately loved the idea of studying abroad at some point during my undergraduate degree, I was actually stunned and over the moon to be offered a place to study abroad at the University of Victoria, British Columbia (Canada)! So at the end of August 2015, I set off to Victoria for a semester!

 

If there’s anything I miss most about Victoria, it would be the amazing people I met, and all the fresh seafood! You definitely can’t get ANYTHING like this back in London – that’s for sure! If I could dedicate an entire walk-in freezer in my house just for Canadian bacon, I would do that. In a heartbeat. Yep. Moving on…

 

How pretty was autumn in Victoria? Stunning right? The University of Victoria campus is huge, believe me! Walking between classes took ages – but hey, I did manage to get to most of them on time!

I just fell in love with their culture, great originality, respect for themselves and others, faith, and most importantly, their manners!

Within such a short time period, I stumbled across many different people with so many different life experiences and stories to share, and eventually, I just fell in love with their culture, great originality, respect for themselves and others, faith, and most importantly, their manners! To date, as you might be able to tell, I’m still pretty much #teamCanada – bring on #Vancouver2018!

 

I am happy to say that everyone that I have met in my life, I have gained something from them; be it negative or positive, it has enforced and reinforced my life in some aspect.
Walter Payton

I loved being part of something bigger than myself. Here, I was part of a wonderful and high-achieving community. I learned how to motivate others, how to challenge myself and others to greatness, and be inspired by other people’s success, and vice versa! I’m definitely not saying that studying abroad, in a place I had never previously step foot in, changed who I was. Definitely not. But my time abroad taught me so many things, and ultimately has shown me how to be proud of what I want in life, how hold myself to a higher standard, and how to strive towards what will make me a better person, inside and out. And to quote Walter Payton, ‘I am happy to say that everyone that I have met in life, I have gained something from; be it negative or positive, it has enforced and reinforced my life in some aspect‘. Studying abroad brought out the best in me, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

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#throwback…gonna miss this one!@taytaylor_07

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Oh, and the Canadian’s definitely do Christmas so much better than we do! Whether it was just because of the gorgeous lights on the British Columbia Parliament Buildings, or whether it was those in the VanDusen Botanical Gardens, I have to admit, I was unbelievably excited to spend Christmas in Vancouver (Winter Break – Part I)!

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#throwback #vancouver #christmaslights

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I learned how to appreciate how precious time is, how to embrace different lifestyles & cultures…

I never fully mastered the ‘Language of Love’ (French) during my time abroad and never went skiing (the thought still terrifies me), but it was upon returning home did I realize just how real and impactful my experience had been. I learned how to appreciate how precious time is, how to embrace different lifestyles & cultures, and most importantly, that I still have so much more to learn about the world!

 

A few days after landing back in London, I was still on a travelling high… Luckily enough, I got to spend Winter Break (Part II) in Copenhagen!

 

But I stayed with it, and embraced that odd and new kind of confidence that I had…

I was mind-blown and felt quite challenged with reverse culture shock when I arrived back to Keele. More so, everyone else had thought that I had dropped out since they hadn’t seen me in so long! But I stayed with it, and embraced that odd and new kind of confidence that I had…

Later that year, I was:

  • Elected as Vice-President of the Keele Chemical Sciences Society
  • Promoted to the Lead Editor of Science & Technology at Keele Concourse
  • Voted to represent the MedChem cohort as their Student Rep!

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#chemball #dress #secondyear #keele #uni

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A simple hello could lead to a million things…

 

So then final year really got underway, and it was then when I really came to terms with who my true friends really were…

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#chembesties #chemball #keele #finalyear

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#chemfam #besties #chemball #finalyear #cute

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#lifesciball #finalyear

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#squad #finalyear

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Absolutely worth it!

I don’t ever regret taking a dual honours degree. Sure, it was difficult at times to do two separate research projects at the same time, but I have to admit, it was 100% worth it. All those sleepless nights? Constant proof-reading? Endless lectures? Days of data analysis? The endless rewriting of random sentences in my dissertations? Absolutely worth it!

 

Never be too busy to meet someone new.

I honestly didn’t think that I would get the chance to meet anyone new in my final year… You hear all these stories about everyone going psycho because they are all trying to get their dissertations submitted, all their exam prep done, and their various graduate jobs all lined up – so I just naturally assumed I wouldn’t have time to meet someone new. I did. But hey, that’s a story for another time.

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#datenight #what #cute #finalyear

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It’s definitely nice to finally share the last 3 years with you all! There’ll be more to come as well!

Happy New Year!

Natalie

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