Although this post may not interest anyone, I wrote it all the same. You see I like to look back at my year toward the end of the year.
2016 has been a pretty bad year for me, and I think in general for quite a lot of people. However, in this post I'm going to look at the positives in the year too, since there were also many of those in 2016.
First off, January was a good month. I started working at Knox Academy for the first time, a school I'd always wanted to work at. I really enjoyed working here, as much even as at Ross High School where I'd been working before. I was doing something I really loved voluntarily every week twice a week. Fourth year of university was also one of the best years I ever had at university. My courses were really great and it looked like I was on target to getting a first class degree too. However, the loss of the amazing David Bowie was quite a big shock to the world. Then just four days later one of my favourite actors, Alan Rickman (Harry Potter, Love Actually, Die Hard etc.) passed away too. And let's not forget Sir Terry Wogan who since I was a child had been doing so many great things for charity, in particular Children in Need.
February came along soon and it was one of the worst months of my life. I was told on the 15th of February that my MRI results were bad and that I needed to get surgery. Towards the end of February I went through a bunch of tests. I was also turned down for teacher training by two of my three universities I applied for.
At the start of March a biopsy which showed that there was nothing to worry about. But the surgery did damage me, I had headaches for days on end and huge pains in my head over and over again. I also worried about how I was going to complete my degree. Admittedly, by the end of March the plan was in place to help me finish my degree and I was on route to getting it again. Also in March, Ronnie Balfour Corbett passed away,
April was not much better for me, I spent most of that month recovering from surgery. Although towards the end of April I did go back to teaching. I also finished my dissertation during April.
In May I submitted and presented my honours year poster, marking the end of my time at university. Towards the end of May I got an interview with the last of my universities for teacher training. The interview and presentation I had to deliver went very well and both of the two members of staff said that I was perfect for teacher training. As soon as I got the conditional acceptance from them, I went ahead and phoned up the college I was going to go to for catching up on my Higher English I needed to pass the conditional requirements of the university. Even after phoning them just two days before where they had 'plenty of space' they had completely run out. This meant I had a conditional acceptance that I could never meet the condition of. However, on the 30th of May the degree classifications for Computer Science were released. I was amazed to see that I had a First Class degree. It was honestly one of the most amazing feelings ever!
June was a good month, perhaps the best of the year. A few days after the degree classifications were announced our grades for our fourth year second semester and dissertations were released. I got 7 As and 1 B for my fourth year, and 82% for my dissertation. A couple of days later I was emailed by my mentor congratulating me but also asking me if I'd be interested in a PhD. Without thinking about it too much, I said "I'd be interested in a PhD so long as it matches what I'm interested in". I considered it a backup plan if I didn't get in to teaching. I also went ahead and started applying for jobs in the industry, just in case, although at that time (and things have changed now) my heart wasn't really hugely set on a job in the industry. I graduated on the 21st of June 2016 and it was one of the best, yet saddest days, of my life - I saw a lot of my friends for the very last time but we were celebrating. Also on the 21st of June I was told I would not be able to get in to teacher training without Higher English, and was given all the evidence to prove it. On the 29th of June I was officially accepted on to the PhD I had applied for.
July was another month of relaxing for me, and of course my birthday. I had a good July, admittedly too relaxed but I spent a large amount of time working on BalfBlog and improving it, with version 2.1 being launched towards the end of July. However, I also was told that the house I had the deposit on was now completely possible, since the mortgage I had applied to was now possible too.
August was another month of relaxing, and a week away up in Perthshire as always. It was an exciting month for me because I knew that I would be starting my PhD in a few weeks.
September was obviously the month I started my PhD. It started off very quiet, I did really know what I was doing. I felt quite lost. At the end of the first week I seemed to feel like I was part of it however, with my supervisor treating me to lunch and explaining how the first week always feels like that. Week 2 of my PhD and I was helping at my first ever conference. I really enjoyed this, plus I got to see inside the new gym at the university. The conference allowed me to see just how these things work and how they benefit the subjects of the research so greatly, with many of them praising the work of the researchers. I also met two really good friends in September; Lewis and Ana, who have both been very supportive of me over the last few months and I couldn't have stayed without the two of them (it'd have been very boring). I also began lab helping again, something I thoroughly enjoy doing
In October I was diagnosed with a form of dyslexia (which I have obviously obtained from treatment, which is what my doctor also believes also), which explains why I have difficulty reading for long periods of time. Dyslexia has not affected me in a huge way, since I can still write, spell and read, it just makes it more difficult for me to concentrate on reading for long periods of time. However, finding out that what I originally thought was true was very discouraging for my PhD. On top of that there was a nightmare and disaster going on around me, since there was a huge problem with one of my friends. I'm not going to explain it for obvious reasons, but it had a huge effect on me. For the first time in 2016 I was actually feeling depressed again. However, there were still some good things in October, with the Computer Science department celebrating 50 years, and a fantastic dinner and lovely evening (where I got to meet Alex Balfour, the man who brought the first Computer Science degree to Scotland at Heriot-Watt).
In November I felt I had to go back to my bank to double check on the mortgage. To my disappointment, the bank had now changed their mind and were not prepared to give me the mortgage they had been able to get me before. My PhD, paying in a net salary, was not enough for the house any more. As a result I started to get bad feelings and felt that this house was too good an opportunity for me to miss and that I need to think about myself rather than what others think for the first time. This house means a lot to me, and I may never get another attempt at such a good offer again, so I have to pursue it. On top of that, I felt really down because of the situation in October and felt like the PhD was no longer for me. After discussions with my parents, friends and a few others, I decided to stay with the PhD but apply to jobs. I made a promise that if none of the 20 jobs I applied to wanted me, I would stick with the PhD. I think a lot of that worry about the PhD did stem from the fact that I began to think about what I was doing and whether I could stick for the four years that I was being told it would take (when I applied it was 3).
December was a good month to start, with me feeling a lot more motivated about my PhD and getting on with it again. I got my scan results on the 7th and they were good again. I was also phoned by the bank to tell me that would be able to offer me a mortgage, but I'd need to increase my deposit by £3,000. However, on the 12th of December I got a seriously bad spell of a little bug. This bug meant I was unwell for a whole 2 weeks, and I actually had to go to hospital at one point because it was so serious. I finally recovered fully and was eating again on the 21st of December. It didn't end there however, because the bug had put me in to depression, and perhaps the worst depression I had ever had. I just could not shake it. We also found that our lovely little hamster, Henry, has a couple of tumours and not long left to live. We were all devastated by this news. Christmas Day arrived and I was still not feeling great. I enjoyed Christmas as always, but it was perhaps the worst Christmas ever due to my depression. Sadly also on Christmas Day, George Michael, one of my mum's favourite singers, passed away. On the 27th I went away for a night up north and it seriously fixed me. Just that one night away was enough to get rid of my depression this time and so I was cured. And here we are now. The end of the year. At the moment I am not working and not doing anything but relaxing and, as I do every year at this time, completing The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask once again.
I'm hoping 2017 will be a much better year, and as I once said, the odd years are always much better than the even ones for me.