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Starting DClinPsy Year Two

September 30, 2014

A year ago today, it was the first day of my doctorate of clinical psychology, and I was feeling quite nervous about all of the upcoming changes. I was feeling sad about leaving my old job and the people who had helped to make Sheffield feel like home, and I was feeling uncertain about going into a new group and starting in a new role. I remember trying to hold back the tears when my old colleagues texted me to to wish me luck on that first morning, and wishing that I could just walk back into my old office and get back to doing the work that had become so familiar and comfortable.

And now here I am today…I have learned more than I ever thought possible in just a twelve month period, I have been stretched in ways I didn’t know I could stretch, I have rediscovered my love of research, and I have met the most wonderful group of people. Those friendly people who seemed lovely but who were quite scary at the social a year ago have become some of my best friends, and I can’t imagine my life without them.

I have still managed to keep in touch with my old colleagues, and they have been an ongoing source of support and learning. However, I have been reminded again about the value of trying new things, of continuing to learn, and of stepping outside my own comfort zone. Looking back, the past year has not been easy, but it has been one of the best years of my life.

One year of training down, two to go!

P.S. I am currently in the process of making some changes to the hosting of this blog, as I have run out of space for photos! I still have several trip posts to add, but these will have to wait until I have space to upload them. Hopefully it won’t be long.

London, Portugal, Paris, Peak District…Part 3

September 22, 2014

After a fun day in Sintra, we headed up the coast. Our first stop was a little beach/surf town called Ericiera, which was idyllic.







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London, Portugal, Paris, Peak District..Part 2

September 21, 2014

After an adventurous start to the trip, we arrived in Lisbon. Just seeing this picture of Mom, Dad, and Aunt Jane walking off the plane makes me desperate to go back to Portugal. There are only a few places in the world that I have fallen in love with immediately, but Portugal was magical. And it wasn’t just because of Ben’s incredible proposal, or because we got to spend a wonderful week with my parents and aunt and uncle. There was something about Portugal that you couldn’t help falling in love with. In addition to being beautiful and having a certain feel that is difficult to describe, it was also a really easy place to travel. Call me crazy, but I like a place with gorgeous weather, friendly people, cheap wine, reasonable prices, delicious food (which was nearly all dairy free!), clear road signs, and clean bathrooms! It made travelling there delightful and almost entirely stress-free. It also helped that my mom and aunt had done lots of research in advance, and had planned a wonderful itinerary for us!


Anyway, after saying that it was a nearly stress free trip, I need to backtrack slightly, because it didn’t start off entirely stress free. First, when we got to the car rental area, the company we used was nowhere to be seen. We were directed to an area with people holding up little signs. None of the signs said our names or the company’s name, but when we asked around, one of the people holding up someone else’s name said that she was there to meet us. In spite of feeling slightly confused, she did know all about our reservation and have the paperwork ready for us, so we followed her and filled in all of the forms. After this was finished, we followed her outside to our minivan. The problem was, this ‘minivan’ was a Fiat Doblo….which probably should have fit either six adults or the luggage for six adults…not both. Thankfully, we had an engineer (thanks Uncle Steve!) with us, and everyone chipped in to cleverly position the bags so that we could squeeze (and I do mean squeeze) all of us and our luggage in. We had to go to extreme lengths, for example, tying the luggage in with a seatbelt to avoid it toppling over on the passengers. And after one journey, we realised that the back of the car had popped open slightly. I can’t believe it, but I don’t think that we took any photos of the car, on its own or packed with people and luggage.

My dad had kindly volunteered to be the main driver, and as soon as the doors were closed to the little Fiat Doblo, we were on our way to Sintra. We spent a while at a gas station trying to fill the car up with diesel along the route, but then we really were on our way. It was a short drive, and we totally lucked out with a free parking spot just outside our little hotel. We piled out of the car and went to have lunch and explore until our rooms were ready.

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We stayed at the Hotel Nova Sintra, which was gorgeous and spotless, and the owner and staff were incredibly welcoming and accommodating.

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After checking into the hotel, Ben and I explored more of the town, and my parents and aunt and uncle hiked up the very steep hill that you can see in the picture above (partly behind the umbrellas).

Sintra was a very scenic city, and we soaked up the sights, the sunshine, and the dairy-free gelato!

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After a fun day out exploring, Ben and I picked up some food and Portugese wine from the local supermarket, and we all had a picnic on the terrace….complete with Ben’s first taste of double stuff oreos!

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The picture above shows the hill that Mom, Dad, and Aunt Jane climbed up (although it was even higher than it looked and the ground was far below the level of the picture).

And, as the sun was setting, I couldn’t resist requesting lots of group photos.


The hiking group with the hill they conquered behind. ūüôā

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After a fun day and a much-needed night of sleep, we woke up to an amazing breakfast spread and planned our route for the next day.


The ultimate destination was Obidos, but there was lots to see along the way…



London, Portugal, Paris, Peak District..Part 1

August 21, 2014

I have already written about my favorite part of our trip to Portugal, but there is a whole lot I haven’t written about! It was such an incredible trip, and it is difficult to sum up in a few photos and a few paragraphs. Therefore, it is going to take at least two posts. This first post actually feels like it is more like the pre-trip, but I don’t want to forget a thing. ūüôā

Ben and I headed off to London on the train in the morning on Saturday, 28th June. We had managed to get first class tickets for just a few extra pounds, so we started the trip off with a bit of luxury!


I love this statue at London St. Pancras…


We walked past the hotel where Ben and I stayed on our first trip to London over five years ago.


Iconic London…and although you can’t see the iconic rain, it was there too.


We had a delicious lunch at Wagamama, and I discovered free all you can drink green tea.


And after lunch and wandering, we headed to our hotel. We had planned to have a relaxing evening and watch Brazil play in the World Cup before meeting my parents and aunt and uncle at the airport. However, when Ben called his parents to let them know we had made it, and to see how they were settling into their holiday in Devon…we found out that Ben’s dad had badly injured his achilles tendon. Luckily, he wasn’t in too much pain, but Ben’s parents were at the emergency room for many hours, and we were obviously really worried and hated flying out of the country when this was going on. They insisted that they would be okay, so we headed to Heathrow to meet my family while checking in with Ben’s parents regularly to see what the doctors said. After a long wait, Ben’s parents finished at the emergency room and headed to their apartment in Devon…and at around the same time, my family came through customs. We took a few minutes for hugs and catching up, then ran for the free shuttle bus to our hotel. We missed it by minutes, and ended up taking a very expensive taxi ride back to the hotel for a few hours of sleep before heading back to Heathrow for our flights to Portugal.

The next morning, we set off early for the airport, and after a short flight, we made it to Lisbon.



More of the adventure to follow… ūüôā


July 2nd, 2014

July 28, 2014

I met Ben on July 9th, 2008. And although I never could have imagined the years that would follow, I remember telling my friends after our first date that I was looking forward to seeing him again. And after the second date, I was doubly excited to see him again. And somehow, although we had some ups and downs along the way, that excitement to see each other again continued to grow to the point that we were spending virtually every day together and decided to move in together.

The ups and downs in our lives have not gone away, including navigating my visas to stay in the UK, figuring out where to live and how to juggle time with families on two sides of an ocean, several career direction changes for both of us, spending down savings to make those career changes possible, followed by lots of watching every penny while we have both been retraining, lots and lots of applications and interviews and rejections, times without our own space, times with a tiny cold space, moving into a comfortable space, fun times together and with our wonderful friends and family, lots of trips back to the US, and times with huge amounts of stress from some combination of these and other day-to-day factors. However, through it all, I have known that I could get through it with Ben by my side. And I hope that he has felt the same.

All of this background is to set the scene to explain why my heart nearly burst when, nearly four weeks ago today, during an amazing holiday in Portugal, Ben asked me the question I have been waiting for him to ask for a very long time. Standing just inside the balcony of our Lisbon apartment, under a gorgeous night sky and looking out at an incredible view of Lisbon, Ben got down on one knee, took out the most beautiful ring I have ever seen, and asked me to marry him. The exact words were amazing, and I will always remember the sentiment and the way it made me feel, but I can not remember anything Ben said. And after I had asked him about ten times how he had managed to get a ring and carry it with him through security and passport control, and then keep it safe during our previous five days travelling – all without me knowing – I said yes!!!

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Ben’s proposal was particularly special for me because he managed (with quite a lot of difficulty) to find a time just for the two of us, but to ask me while we were away with my parents and aunt and uncle. Ben had asked me a long time ago how I would feel about getting engaged and being so far from my family…and I think I had said that I would at least want to know that we would be seeing them soon after getting engaged so that we could celebrate with them in person rather than just having a telephone call. He had obviously remembered this and taken it to heart. It was so much fun to be able to celebrate with Mom, Dad, Aunt Jane, and Uncle Steve. I can’t imagine a better setting or situation for such an important occasion in our lives.DSC_0321DSC_0324DSC_0492DSC_0497DSC_0569DSC_0571

Although our lives are not always easy, and our relationship, like any other, takes work… I still feel excited to see Ben each day, even after knowing him for six years, and living together for about five of those. I look forward to waking up next to him each morning, and I look forward to seeing him after work each day. And now, although thinking about a wedding has been a lot more stressful than I first imagined, I think again about all of the things that we have managed to figure out together, and I know that we can handle anything that comes our way. And I couldn’t feel any more excited that no matter where it is or when it is, I get to walk down some sort of aisle in some part of the world at some point in time…and to know that Ben will be there waiting for me, for us to spend the rest of our lives together.

More trip photos to follow shortly!

Looking back…

June 23, 2014

I have been telling myself for months that I would get back to blogging. And I am sure I would have got around to it eventually. But…over the weekend, I was pretty under the weather with a terrible cold, and therefore, I needed a job to do that would feel productive while allowing me to stay on the sofa and do very little…so I worked on organizing and backing up all of our photos. This forced me to stop and think about everything that’s happened in our lives over the past few years, both good and bad. And it made me realize how much I enjoy¬†looking back and reminiscing, and it made me think about how much has happened that I haven’t written about. Therefore, even though I still have long lists of things I should be doing instead (e.g., writing birthday thank you notes, washing up the dishes in the sink, cleaning the bathroom), I wanted to pause and at least attempt to say a little bit about what’s been going on for us in the past ten months or so.

It feels very daunting to try to write about everything we have done since I stopped writing regularly… After a year of working every waking hour of every day, Ben has finished his MBA and received all sorts of awards, he has been offered a job and also a funded PhD opportunity (and decided to go for the PhD), I have completed my first and started my second DClinPsy placement, I have handed in several assignments, and chosen a thesis topic, and we have had a couple of wonderful holidays. In spite of working very hard and being quite busy, we have managed to have a lot of fun. So….get ready for tons and tons of pictures and a very long post.

My last longer post was about starting the Clinical Psychology training programme, but I didn’t really say much about finishing my job in neuropsychology. I wish I had written more about this at the time, but I remember having very mixed feelings. I couldn’t believe how much I had learned and I felt like I had a lot more to learn there, but at the same time, it was an amazing feeling to know that the thing I had been working so hard to achieve was actually¬†happening. I felt scared to be starting something new and I felt really sad to be leaving the people and the place that had given me a start in the clinical psychology world, and I was totally spoiled with an amazing send-off including a lovely meal out with everyone, lots of cards and good wishes, and¬†an incredible¬†bunch of gifts.

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Although I didn’t really have a break between finishing my job and starting the DClinPsy, I used my last two days of annual leave for Ben and I to have a little mini break. We headed up to Northumberland in the northeast of England for a night, and I had big plans to explore an area that I had driven through once soon after I moved to England. I also felt an emotional draw because before I moved to England, my parents had spent some time in Northumberland and¬†said amazing things about it, so I was hoping to get to some of the areas they had loved on their visit.

We stayed in a tiny village called Beadnell, which was right on a gorgeous beach. We went for a walk there on our first afternoon, and enjoyed a beautiful sunny September evening walking on a nearly secluded beach.

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Now, what I haven’t mentioned yet is that I had come down with a terrible cold in the days leading up to our trip, and I woke up on the day we were leaving feeling pretty rough.¬†I had some daytime cold medicine with me, and we had¬†planned to stop for some night time cold medicine on our way, but we didn’t manage to in the end, and I didn’t realize until after our beach walk that I was going to really struggle to sleep (or even breathe) without some stronger¬†medicine. So, we went in search of a pharmacy, only to realize that they had all closed unless we drove about an hour and a half to one which stayed open late. I decided to deal with it, but I spent the whole evening feeling miserable and spent most of the night lying awake wishing we were at home.


The next day, I was determined to still go out sightseeing, and we had a full day planned. We headed to Lindisfarne/Holy Island, which you can drive to, but only when the tides allow. Therefore, you have to check the tides schedule very carefully! It is a very surreal experience driving on roads that spend most of their time under water, and it is a beautiful island with a gorgeous old castle. We had a nice walk and I took far too many pictures.

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We got tired of serious pictures and took a bunch of jumping ones…

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And then back to serious…

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I had big plans to go to Bamburgh Castle on our way back to Sheffield, but by the time we got a few minutes down the road, I was totally exhausted and just wanted to get home. I burst into tears, and Ben kindly promised me we would go back to Bamburgh Castle another time, and drove us home.

Okay, so I have just realized that I have already basically written a whole post, and I have only managed to talk about one week. However, it felt like quite an important week for me, given that I was in the middle of finishing one job and starting something new, and given it was a mini break to Northumberland that I had planned for a long time. However, I am going to have to pick up the pace drastically if I want to finish writing anything meaningful about the other ten months!

The fall felt like quite a stressful time with me starting my programme and Ben deciding about next career steps. However, we had some very happy events too. Ben submitted his MBA thesis, which was a huge achievement!


And Ben had a birthday, which he is normally not very happy about, so I won’t tell you how old he is now! ūüėČ


Ben’s mom also had a birthday, but I don’t have any pictures from the day.

And… December, we managed to get back to the US for Christmas with my family! We had a wonderful time, but as usual, the time absolutely flew by. We had some really nice family time, we went for lots of nice snowshoe outings, we¬†did some extreme¬†sledding/snow tubing, we threw boiling water into the freezing cold air and watched it vaporize, we went to an NFL Minnesota Vikings game (an incredible Christmas gift from my brother and sister-in-law), we were spoiled with amazing food and incredibly thoughtful Christmas gifts, and we were very lucky to have such a warm house because it was VERY cold! There were lots of problems with flights, but we were lucky to get out eventually.

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Even though I have probably overwhelmed you with all the photos, I wish now that I had taken more pictures while we were at home. Each photo is such a wonderful reminder of my favorite people in the world, and a few pictures just can’t sum¬† up what it’s like to be home with family for the holidays.

When we got back to England in January, we had Ben’s MBA graduation to look forward to, and it was a wonderful day to celebrate Ben’s amazing achievements. I don’t want to embarrass him too much by bragging, but it was amazing to witness all of his hard work being recognized in the ceremony itself and in the award ceremony at the management school afterward. I couldn’t have been prouder.

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Other than a wonderful celebration, January and February were relatively quiet. Ben started working as a research assistant at the university, leading up to his PhD, we went for some lovely walks,¬†and we caught up with friends, including a really fun weekend visit from Chris and Iain. It was also Ben’s dad’s birthday.


At the beginning of March, we were thrilled to go to the wedding reception of a dear friend I met during my PhD. It was so nice to see him looking very happy¬†with his lovely wife, and it was also really fun to catch up with lots of PhD friends I hadn’t seen in a long time. I wish I had taken pictures, but unfortunately, I was too busy talking! We also got together with a bunch of my old housemates the same weekend, including one housemate who is currently living in France. It was such a fun weekend of reunions and celebrating. We also spent¬†a bit¬†of the weekend with our friends, who now live in Spain (part of the old¬†PhD group), and later that week, Maya and Jose came to stay with us in Sheffield for a couple of nights. It was great to have them visit!


March is our anniversary month, and although we don’t tend to do anything too major to celebrate, we had hoped to mark the occasion of making it to five years! In the end, I was stressed with deadlines and so we didn’t manage to do anything. However, about a week later, when I had been having a bit of a tough week, I came home on Friday after work (thinking that Ben was out for drinks with a friend) to find that Ben had actually left work early,¬†cleaned the flat top to bottom,¬†laid out a message¬†on the floor and gotten buses and taxis to buy me¬†an amazing spread of flowers, balloons, a card, and some of my favorite foods. I was totally shocked and¬†blown away!

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April seems to be a bit of a blur. I can’t seem to remember much about what we did, and I don’t really have any pictures to remind me. It was my university coursework deadline month, so that probably explains part of it!

May felt like a really fun, busy month. I can’t fully remember the order of everything, but we had a visit from one of my good friends, Claerwen, we went for some lovely walks, we witnessed Manchester City win¬†the¬†Premier League title,¬†Ben officially accepted his PhD offer…

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And at the end of May, we went away to Oslo for a long weekend, and celebrated my 29th birthday while we were there. It was sooooo nice to catch up with friends there, and meet their new partners and babies! I didn’t take nearly enough pictures, though.

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May will be a difficult month to follow, but June hasn’t been too bad so far! Other than being sick (which seems to come up a lot in this post even though I tend to remember being quite healthy), we have gone for some nice walks, we have started getting back into a better running routine, we went on a really fun Man City stadium tour for Father’s Day, just today I passed an assessment I had to re-take for my DClinPsy¬†programme, and we are looking forward to a really fun holiday with my family at the end of this month.

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I have probably overwhelmed everyone reading this post, but¬†it is really for my own benefit to have it written down. I should probably have split it up into separate posts, but I don’t trust myself to sit down and post again¬†in the next few weeks, so I thought it was best to¬†just write it and post it while I could.¬†I am sure I have missed tons of things that happened and that we did, and I haven’t talked much about my DClinPsy programme, but at least I am sort of caught up!

I’m making no promises, but hoping to keep posting….at least once in a while!

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