January featured spending the Christmas holidays in school helping the Young Scientists and attending the BTYSTE, studying really hard (I actually studied more for the Mocks than I did leading up to the Leaving; it meant that slots for the information already existed in my brain by the time I started revising hard again in April. Highly recommended.), and some cool time with friends at reunions and such. I also spent a lot of time in January creating my website to help Irish people of all ages and interests find opportunities, Tigertunity.
Here's my face for much of January but also for most of January-May (bored studying long hours every day. Yes, that is raw spaghetti I'm holding).
Honestly haven't the foggiest what happened in February, and I didn't write a February review for some reason. I do know I had the Mocks, which were exhausting. I got 540 points in them though, which was reassuring because it was 25 points over what I needed and people usually go up from the Mocks. I also did a lot of work on that month's project, which was studying experimental design. That was fun.
Finally, some excitement!
March was pretty cool. I went with Chloe and Gabi to speak at the World Youth Organisation's International Women's Day Summit in London, then to Birmingham for a meeting of the Youth Panel of the British Science Association. I also attended a Particle Physics Masterclass in UCD. I did my Irish and French mock orals and studied LOTS, and did some cool freelance writing work. I also worked on my Scifest project, and had some fun with my whiteboard. I spent a lot of time with Ben, Alice, Chloe and Gabi.
When you claim the kitchen table as your desk pic.twitter.com/V5yRPyrfWd— Elle Loughran (@frizzyroselle) March 3, 2016
April was an unexciting month, again full of studying. I felt I did pretty well in my French and Irish orals (overall, ended up with an A1 in French and an A2 in Irish). I spent the month doing a ton of labwork for my UVC/bacteria/antibiotic resistance project. I also found out that I'd won National Runner-Up in the Drugs.ie writing awards for my age category, but since I won it the year before...
May was essentially two things: studying for the Leaving Cert (and being stressed about it and then less stressed when I started powering through exam papers), and Scifest. Scifest was at the start of the month, and I won the highest prize I was eligible for being in 6th year, which I think was the best senior biological project prize. Study study study.
Yet again with the Leaving Cert stealing my year! Obviously the Leaving Cert, which went well, dominated my month. After that, highlights included hanging out with Ben, speaking at and attending Inspirefest, and working on stuff in an international collaboration of talent centres for high-ability students as chosen representative of my national talent centre, the Centre For Talented Youth Ireland. The lowlight was the massive burnout I experienced days before the Leaving Cert started, which took months to start to lift.
Amazing panel! Coding is creativity and Outbox is amazing. #Inspirefest #OutboxFam @AccentureIrlJob @InspirefestHQ pic.twitter.com/dfG2OUTEbC— Christine Costello (@c0slo) July 1, 2016
July held the end of Inspirefest and a lot of resting and recuperating from the Leaving Cert. That said, I did get to see a lot of friends, including reuniting with some Outbox pals and an English CTYI friend, plus I crashed CTYI, attended my Debs and was voted Most Likely to Become a Billionaire, redesigned the blog, read several books, did a bunch of freelance writing, got into the final round of consideration for a TEDx talk and partied quite a bit.
Things are more exciting from here on out, I promise.
In August, I got my Leaving Cert results (600 points), celebrated my 18th birthday, celebrated Gabi's birthday, went to an Ireland 20 under 20 meetup at Dogpatch labs, was offered and accepted a place in Trinity, did lots of prep to speak at TEDxDrogheda, Zeminar and TY Expo over the next few months, hung out with friends plenty, went to CTYI reunions and figured out my goals for the next year.
Good month! Spoke at TEDxDrogheda and TY Expo. Taught 80 kids about antibiotic resistance and what they can do about it. Won a Naughton scholarship and went to that awards ceremony. Started college. Moved out. Was elected to the Physoc committee. (Lowlight was my planned accommodation falling through at the last second; highlight is hard to choose.)
Also a good month! Flew to Manchester for Think Digital Manchester thanks to the Emerging Talent Fund. Flew to Budapest for a meeting of the European Talent Support Network representing CTYI. Spoke at Zeminar. Attended an event with Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. Went to CoderGirl Hack Day briefly. Went to a TEDx preview party. Hung out with my wonderful new college friends.
Obviously, the world, and by world I mean US election, went to shit. Apart from that -- academically, college went pretty well. I had a fun time with my friends. I went to Pink Training in Cork for a weekend. Got promoted on my main freelance writing platform. Was awarded my Trinity Entrance Exhibition scholarship. Got some exciting news that is currently under wraps. Went to the MathPhys ball. Wrote for Trinity News. Tried sports and got a genuine diagnosed concussion (not the most co-ordinated).
Academic stuff improved further so I now have straight 100s in my last 7ish college assessments. Friends continue to be great. Went to Dunsink Observatory with Physoc and hung out on a friend's boat. Worked with squad on Syndicalab (soon to be renamed) survey, which is now out in the field. Was reelected to the Council of the Youth Platform of the European Talent Support Network. Went back to the family for Christmas.
2016 has been, in the words of many, the Year from Hell in terms of world politics. It was a bad year to get engaged in politics, as we were delivered disappointment after crushing disappointment, from the small-scale (Aodhán Ó Riordáin not being re-elected to the Dáil) to the global (Brexit and the US Election).
Personally, though, it's been a pretty different story. Professionally, this year has been pretty good, with lots of new experiences, including 8+ conferences, work-related trips to Birmingham, London, Manchester and Budapest, the start of my antibiotic resistance project, freelance writing progress, developing a love of public speaking, good results in various competitions and more. Personally, it's been pretty rocky with family stuff and battling perfectionism and anxiety but I've definitely grown up and I've loved moving out and becoming financially independent. Academically, it's been good, with 600 points in the Leaving Cert, receiving a Naughton Scholarship and Trinity Entrance Scholarship and getting (almost exlusively) firsts in college. Socially, there's been a lot of change with the transition to college, but I have wonderful, wonderful friends in my life and I really appreciate what they've brought to my year.
I suppose, more than anything, this feels like a year of getting things started. I think I've laid good groundwork this year -- I'm going to take the last few days of 2016 to (a) figure my head and plans and priorities out for the year ahead (b) have some fun.
Happy holidays, everyone!