Saturday, December 15, 2018

Doctor of Philosophy

I successfully passed my PhD defense yesterday! And best of all, my committee passed me with no revisions, so I'm done as soon as I submit my paperwork on Monday! The defense itself went very smoothly, about as well as I could have hoped for. I was a little nervous before the actual presentation, but I felt prepared, and once I got going, the nerves dissipated. I was able to start strong and finish strong. During the closed session, my committee mostly asked clarification questions about my research, which I was able to answer easily. After my defense, one of my committee members (a more junior faculty member) told me that he thought it was one of the best defense presentations he had ever attended, which made me feel proud. Overall, I'm very happy with the end result, and I'm glad I can finally close this chapter of my life.

Right now, everything still feels pretty surreal. The best way I can describe it is by comparing it to that feeling you got when you lost a baby tooth as a kid. Your tongue keeps returning to feel the gap over and over again, because it's so strange and unfamiliar. I think it'll take a while for the reality to sink in. Yesterday after my defense, J and I got dinner with a couple friends who attended my presentation to support me. Then he and I went to our favorite cocktail bar to enjoy a celebratory drink. Today we're throwing a post-defense/holiday party, so hopefully things will feel more real after that.

For the rest of this month and also next month, my plan is to be a total bum! I'm going to sleep in every day, do all of the fun stuff that I've wanted to do but didn't have time for before, watch way too much TV, read all the books on my reading list, catch up on the maintenance/chores that I've let slide for the last couple months, and clean up our place. Also, I want to lose my extra dissertation weight and get back in shape (in time for J's family ski trip in early January). There's a bunch of other stuff I need to do before I start my new job in February, but I'll worry about that in a couple weeks.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, December 10, 2018

Exciting News

I have a couple big announcements. First of all, my PhD defense is this coming Friday! If all goes well, I will be done with grad school forever (minus paperwork and hopefully minor revisions). This has been a long time coming, and I'm really excited. So far I'm not too nervous yet. My dissertation is done, my slides are done, and I already held a practice defense. For the rest of the week, I'm planning to polish my talk some more, make paper copies of everything for my committee, and figure out what I'm going to do for refreshments. We'll see if the nerves hit later.

In other news, I accepted a job offer! The whole thing came together really quickly, much faster than I had anticipated. I did three rounds of interviews with this company in the span of about a month. It was grueling, but I'm pleased with the end result. The work sounds interesting, challenging, and flexible in scope. It's a bit of a stretch for my current skill set, but I think it'll ultimately be a good move for me career-wise. The compensation is fair (maybe even more than fair), and the benefits are good. The only downside is that first I have to relocate to a small East Coast city for 6 months of training. Then I'm moving to the Seattle area! (I'm already dreaming about all the hiking, rock climbing, and skiing I'll be doing in the Pacific Northwest...)

Last but certainly not least, J is going to move with me after all! When we had talked about it before, he thought it wasn't a good time in his career to make a move just yet. However, after we came back from our trip to Europe, he said that he had given it a lot of thought, and he felt that it was only going to become harder to move later on. We still need to work out the exact details and timing, but I feel really good that he agreed to come with me. Right now our tentative plan is to do long-distance for 6 months and then move together. I think long-distance will definitely be challenging, but at least we have a target end date.

You know, I'm amazed how everything came together in the end. Just a month ago, I was stressing out about well, everything. Now it's all pretty much settled. I feel like there's a lesson in here somewhere. I should learn to trust that things will work out, because they usually do. Now I'm looking forward to starting a new chapter of my life.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

November 2018 Budget

November has been an extremely eventful month! Between wrapping up my dissertation, submitting it to my committee, traveling to Europe, getting sick, doing interviews, and trying to schedule my PhD defense (it's in 2 weeks!), I've been very busy. I've also been (over)indulging in retail therapy. I already know I tend to shop more when I'm stressed out, so that was definitely a factor, plus I picked up a little souvenir while I was in Europe. At least most of my purchases were pretty practical. Let's take a look at what I bought this month.

Banana Republic washable merino wool boyfriend cardigan (burgundy red XXS) - I love this cardigan! If my size wasn't sold out, I would buy it in more colors. It's the perfect boyfriend fit without being oversized. It's long enough to cover my bum but not so long that it overwhelms my frame. I like the lightweight merino and the fact that it's washable. I've only tried to wash it once so far in cold water and laid it flat to dry. It turned out fine albeit slightly wrinkled afterwards. Next time I will most likely handwash and use a cool iron. If you like cardigans as much as I do, I highly recommend it. I found it to be true to size. Originally $78. Paid $40.91.

Everlane the authentic stretch mid-rise skinny (washed black 24) - As I mentioned in this post, I've been looking for a new pair of grey skinny jeans. I tried to find something at the usual suspects (Nordstrom Rack, Amazon, J.Crew), but nothing fit my criteria (true grey, no weird embellishments, small ankle opening, mostly cotton, 28"-29" inseam). Then I read Kimi's review of the new Everlane skinny jeans, and I immediately ordered a couple pairs to try out. I chose the mid-rise, which turns out to still be relatively high rise. Also, the sizing is inconsistent between different colors. The washed black colorway seems to run large. I ordered both the 24 and 25, and the 24 is a better fit (I wear 25 in most denim brands). It's a hair tight in the waistband (I'm a little overweight at the moment), but the 25 was too large overall and felt loose/stretched out. However, I later ordered the true black in size 24, which I couldn't even get over my hips. If I were to order another pair, I would probably go with my true size 25. The interesting thing about these is that they look like real jeans, but they kind of feel like yoga pants. They're not stiff at all and are actually pretty stretchy. The material is not the thickest, but it's also not paper thin. I think they're worth a try if you're in the market for denim. Originally $68. Paid $50.

(not pictured) Chelsea28 jacquard side button tank (grey micro XS) via Nordstrom Rack - This tank was an impulse purchase. I went to Nordstrom Rack to return a few things and then of course had to browse around afterwards since I was already there. I've been looking for some pretty camisoles and tanks to wear under cardigans, and this seems to fit the bill. The pattern kind of reminds me of a Chinese qipao. I was surprised to see that it was made of 100% rayon (I had assumed it was polyester), so I do have to be a little careful in terms of laundering. Originally $49. Paid $6.12.

J.Crew tartan scarf (red multi) - I purged the majority of my scarves before I moved in with J, so I only have one winter scarf. I wanted a new plaid scarf that would go well with my winter coats, and this fits the bill perfectly. This white, red, and green Christmas plaid somehow "matches" my red lady day coat, my camel cocoon coat, and my navy peacoat. It's also very soft and pretty big. Originally $59.50. Paid $30.61.

J.Crew ribbed beanie with faux-fur pom-pom (ivory) - I bought this hat for my trip to Europe and ended it wearing it every single day. It's not the warmest, so I wouldn't wear it in the depths of winter, but it did keep my head warm when the temperatures were in the high 30s to low 40s. It fits my big head pretty well, and I love the large faux-fur pom. Originally $39.50. Paid $20.32.

Madewell medium perfect leather belt (pecan S) - I've been wearing my cognac leather pieces nonstop, so I thought it would make sense to also add a cognac leather belt. I instantly knew I wanted to buy Madewell's version, because it matches my bag perfectly. I'm really happy with the purchase. The leather is very soft, and the width of the belt is perfect. Originally $45. Paid $36.75.

Longchamp large le pliage neo (black) - I purchased my first Longchamp Le Pliage Neo back in April 2014 (when it was still called the Planetes), and it instantly became my everyday tote bag. I used it for school, and I also used it for conferences/interviews/career fairs. Earlier this year, I noticed that it was starting to look shabby after 4 years of nearly daily use. The bottom had little holes, there were permanent scratches on the nylon body, and the leather trim was dotted with tiny teeth marks (my ex-fiance's cat used to like chewing on the corners for some reason). I decided to replace it after graduation. However, when I found out that we were going to Europe, I researched the price of buying it overseas and realized that it was considerably cheaper. For example, the bag costs US$190 while it only costs €115 right now. The current exchange rate is €1 ≈ US$1.13, so that comes out to about US$130. Once you factor in the VAT refund (varies by country but usually 10-12%), it definitely made more financial sense to buy it in the Netherlands versus in the US. My VAT refund ended up being €12, which has already gone back on my credit card. I was worried about going through the VAT refund process, because I had never done it before, but it ended up being pretty fast and easy with GlobalBlue. They do take a cut, but they also streamline the process, so I'm okay with it. Anyway, now I have a great souvenir from my trip! Originally $190. Paid $117.13.

RETAIL: $529.00
PAID: $301.84 (57.0% MSRP)

SUMMARY: During Q2, I spent $453.82. During Q3, I spent $549.52. For Q4, I have spent $776.48 to date, making me officially over budget for the year, and there's still December left.

How did you do on your budget this month? And have you ever bought a handbag in Europe, because it was cheaper?