Is science an attack on religion?

Short answer: No. Science is not an attack on religion.

For this post, you are going to hear a lot about Carl Sagan. He was a brilliant astrophysicist who had a way with connecting the public to science. Neil deGrasse Tyson was taught by Carl Sagan. The movie Contact (that has major religious undertones!) with Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey is based on Carl Sagan’s book Contact. He wrote several other books including The Variety of Scientific Experience which focuses on the two topics and how they relate: science and religion. I recommend reading this book if you are interested in a different perspective on how to embrace both. 
This is not a celebration of my faith or anyone else’s. This is an essay discussing a different outlook on science and religion than what we popularly know of. Carl Sagan was one of the American scientists to really capture the beauty and human empowerment that we can achieve if we can learn to embrace both science and religion together.
Sources today:

Science is not an attack on religion. I’m going to make some hard-to-swallow statements:The Big Bang theory (not the show) does not suggest there is no God.

The evolutionary theory does not suggest there is no God.

After all, Pope Francis himself suggests these theories don’t prove there is no God but rather that these theories require that there be one. I think that is a very powerful thought. These theories are still being developed, too. This isn’t the final hour but rather just the best guess we humans have at understanding what we have observed. What we provide in these frameworks is what is consistent with what we know and what we observe – there is always room for improvement and even change.

Science is the pursuit of knowledge and truth. It seeks to understand the world around us. For many individual scientists, their pursuit is inspired by their desire to get closer to God and to understand the Heavens. For some it is a quest to understand God’s existence. For others it is a journey of fulfillment; seeking to understand everything they sense, regardless of what religious realms they might uncover.

Scientists often feel a deep connection with science. We may even describe it as a religious experience.

The term [‘God’] means a lot of different things in a lot of different religions. […] To others, for example, Baruch, Spinoza, and Albert Einstein, God is essentially the sum total of the physical laws which describe the universe.
— Carl Sagan

It would be fair to point out that some scientists may even interpret the laws of nature being either the consequence of the existence of a God (i.e. gravity belongs as a inner working to a God) or as the essence of their God (i.e. their God’s powers emerge in the form of nature’s laws).
I would agree that it would be too soon to mark all scientists as athiests. Scientists tend to have minds that are swayed when presented with empirical evidence.

No decent scientist will try to convince you there is no God.

Because we simply do not know enough about the Universe to make such a statement!

If we say “God” made the universe, then surely the next question is, “Who made God?” If we say “God” was always here, why not say the universe was always here? If we say that the question “Where did God come from?” is too tough for us poor mortals to understand, then why not say that the question of, “Where did the universe come from?” is too tough for us mortals?
— Carl Sagan

But in order to be able to embrace both religion and science, we have to be open to learning new information and most importantly, we need to be comfortable not having all of the answers.

We are only human. We do not know anywhere CLOSE to everything there is to know. We may never know it all….

I am extremely uncomfortable with dogmatic atheists, who claim there can be no God; to my knowledge, there is no strong evidence for that position. I’m also uncomfortable with dogmatic believers; to my knowledge, they don’t have any strong evidence either. If we don’t know the answer, why are we under so much pressure to make up our minds, to declare our allegiance to one hypothesis or the other?
–Carl Sagan

For some of you, faith is all you need and I think that is beautiful. You are someone who is so loyal and confident to your God and your God is lucky to have someone like you on their side because you show strength and power. However, I urge you to always remind yourself of the extent of what you put your faith into. Let’s not forget that the Bible was written a very long time ago. It was written and edited hundreds of time since its creation. There are some things we have gotten wrong in it. Just like how scientists have gotten many things wrong before, too.

Remember when we found Pluto and we thought it was ten times the mass of the Earth? Today we understand it to be 0.2% of the Earth’s mass! And remember when we thought that because the Earth is made of dirt and rocks, that the stars had to be made of it, too? Today we understand that stars are hot balls of hydrogen and helium! Remember when we tried to measure the speed of light by taking lanterns on top of mountaintops and trying to time the on/off of the lights? Haha! Today we understand that light can travel the Earth’s surface in seven seconds! Remember when we legitimately thought the Moon had intelligent alien life on it? And then Mars? I mean really. Very distinguished and beloved scientists believed plenty of outlandish things. Not to mention we have used science for really, incredibly inhumane things (ahem, nuclear weapons, biological warfare, etc.).

Science is not perfect. A decent person won’t tell you that science has it all figured out and that religion has it all wrong. Though we have presented evidence over time that says, “Hey, you know how we’ve been interpreting the Earth as being merely a few thousand years old? Well we just found evidence [tons of it] that suggests it is much more exciting and dynamic than we thought!”

This evidence in no way suggests there is no God. It just means we are learning about our world. We are learning that we are only human and therefore, we do not hold all of the answers. If you want to think of it this way, God has given us clues along the way to help us grow closer to him. He has given us this information. He is helping us understand our own, collective purpose. Sometimes he even does things to save us from ourselves.

He can manifest himself as laws of nature. He can manifest himself as the Big Bang that led to the existence of this Universe. He can be the divine intervention in the evolutionary theory that ignites genetic mutation. He can be all of these things.

Science doesn’t say He can’t be a part of this newfound evidence. ​

My guess is that there has to be some deeper explanation. But that doesn’t mean the explanation has to be what the people themselves report—that they went to heaven and saw a god or gods.
​–Carl Sagan

Do you agree that worshipping can be different for everyone? Do you agree that branches of christianity stem from varying interpretations of statements in the bible? This is the same thing. Science and religion are not mutually exclusive pools of thought and the two topics have quite a lot they could learn from each other.

For one, religion can provide science a deeper meaning in research endeavors. Human values and scientific goals should be at the forefront of any endeavor, and never with malice.

Science has something to share with religion in how to interpret evidence and seeing beyond the surface, revealing the inner workings of life itself, its beauty, and what it has to offer us. Science can help awaken our religious experience as we walk through life.

This is a learning moment for us all. Not one of us has all of the answers. We are simply all searching for the answers in different ways.

Merging science and religion can be a powerful, unstoppable force. But currently the two are at odds globally, which can have devastating consequences. Over human history, religious conflict has killed so many and scientific advancements have been taken advantage of costing the lives of many more.

This is not necessary.

It is not the teachings of any God and it is written nowhere in the scientific method. Moving forward, let’s be mindful of our experiences and the information we absorb. Whether you are a religious scientist or a religious science skeptic, keep these things in mind to help yourself (and others) to grow their relationship between science and religion:

1. There are many real mysteries that not even science can explain. Go deeper. Keep asking questions. But most importantly, be okay with not having an explanation. Do not invent explanations that have no support.

Imagine our ancestors looking at the moon, the planets, the stars and making up stories to answer their need to understand. In many cases, the stories involved deities, such as the moon as a god. Now is that myth about the moon deeper because it was wrong? Should we waffle, and say, “Well, if we can redefine what we mean by a god, then we can still call the moon a god?” No. Let’s admit that the moon is not a god and move on. It seems to me that it is a much greater achievement to understand what the moon is really about—4½ billion years old, cratered by enormous explosions in its earliest history, a desolate world on which life never arose.
​–Carl Sagan

2. Be kind to others even when they don’t think like you.
3. Be skeptical. Ask for verification (constantly!).

 If someone claims a thing happens in a certain way, you do the experiment to check it out, to see if, in fact, it works as claimed. You examine the internal coherence of the idea. You test its logical structure. You see how well it agrees with other things which are reliably known. And only then do you start accepting new ideas.
​–Carl Sagan

4. Be more open to science and religion. After all, just look at all the advancement we have made in science. We have extended life expectancies, developed life saving equipment for thousands of medical conditions, developed communication that has made the entire globe more connected than ever before, we have sent humans not only into space but on the moon for Christ’s sake ;-). Religion has brought us a deep sense of purpose, community, and morality. We are in touch with what is right and wrong. We discuss what is right and wrong and how to establish moral code all of the time. We grow as a species in both respects because of this.

In short, ​pursue truth while practicing love. 

My deeply held belief is that if a god of anything like the traditional sort exists, our curiosity and intelligence are provided by such a god. We would be unappreciative of those gifts (as well as unable to take such a course of action) if we suppressed our passion to explore the universe and ourselves. On the other hand, if such a traditional god does not exist, our curiosity and our intelligence are the essential tools for managing our survival. In either case, the enterprise of knowledge is consistent with both science and religion, and is essential for the welfare of our species.
​–Carl Sagan

Search for



Yes, it is possible to travel on a budget! ​

A really, really tight one even. Many of the details I’m sharing I learned from Kirsten, one of my dearest friends from high school whom I visited in Europe in summer of 2019 (and she’s pregnant with their first child!! Due in August 2020). She really knows how to get the most out of traveling and being a tourist and it helped me immensely when I came back and wanted to explore my new area in Cambridge. Much of this will apply to travel plans to outside of the country but a lot of the tips and apps I used are still very relevant in your home country. I used the apps a ton when I first moved to Cambridge!

Step 1: Start saving!

Depending on your income, you’ll need to sit down and figure out how much time you need to save up before planning a big vacation. It’s doable, you just need to have a little self control with a temporary tight budget anticipating future travel expenses. 


For example, I started saving up in January 2019 and spent two weeks in Europe in June 2019. I saved about $3,000 after having bought plane tickets which were ~$800.00 per ticket, round trip, and that did not include checking baggage or meals. It also did not include airport parking expenses which I also paid ahead of time to reserve a spot. So, in total, I spent around $4,000 to travel to Europe for two weeks. I paid for the plane tickets and parking in February of 2019 and continued to save (and be incredibly frugal) up until June. I managed to have saved up about $5500, which got me through Europe, miscellaneous expenses, and that odd summer gap when Clemson stops giving graduate assistants a stable income (so I was able to pay all of my bills on time, yay me!). Side note: Yeah – Clemson pays their TAs a yearly salary but within a nine month period, so we do not get paid over the summer unless our supervisor has funding. Luckily, my supervisor had funding so I was a part time research assistant over the summer and it helped me scrape by until school started back up (and thus, the stable income started back up, too). It may sound awfully daunting to save up that much in a short period of time if you consider yourself already living on a tight budget but trust me when I say having these experiences abroad are unforgettable and totally worth it! Also, if you can plan even more ahead of time, you can give yourself ample time to plan a really nice, luxurious vacation. 



Don’t feel guilty either. You deserve this.

Step 2: Begin a detailed itinerary.

Write down where you want to go, how much transportation, hotels, meals, and miscellaneous expenses will cost; make a section that reminds you to do certain things like check to see if your bank charges foreign transaction fees, call your cell phone service to make sure you don’t accidentally run up your bill while roaming. In the same itinerary, list all of your expected expenses and overestimate them all. Tally them all up and use the total figure as a marker to save up for in preparation. 

Example Itinerary



Now, the itinerary serves many purposes. If you’re traveling alone, share this itinerary with loved ones before heading out. If you’re traveling with a group, you can make sure everyone is on the same page with plans by sharing the itinerary around – even better if everyone contributes! If you’re traveling in a group, you should still share this itinerary with loved one before heading out. You just never know. For example, on my itinerary I listed all of the places (including hotels) where I was staying, phone numbers and addresses of friends I was staying with, just in case. 

Step 3: While we are on the topic of safety, make digital copies of your proof of citizenship, plane tickets, and plane itineraries.

I made digital copies of our passports, state-issued IDs, and airport itinerary. I had a copy, Noah had a copy, I printed out a copy, and I share these with my family as well, ya know – just in case. Did I go overboard? Yes, let’s remember ya girl has OCD but still, these are good things to do. What if you lose your passport? What if it’s stolen? You’d like to get back home, right?!

This ends the segment of preparing for travel. Now, you’re somewhere in Europe. How do you get around? How do you know where to sight see and explore?



First of all, your cell phone, while traveling abroad and whether you like it or not, becomes your best friend. You’ll probably want to invest in two things (but are optional, I made it without one but sometimes, barely):


1. Mobile cell phone charger. Get a cheap one from Walmart for ~$10.00. The one I had is small enough it fits in any size purse. It’s good for just one full charge but I would just be sure to charge it each night before another day of adventure.

2. Mobile hot spot. You might very well want to get this and do everything only on wifi. This way you have no worries of running up big cellular service bills for roaming when in Rome. I did not have one at the time but some AirBnBs we stayed in let us borrow complimentary mobile hot spots (one was a Wuawei!!) but I wouldn’t bank on that being a norm. Most United States cell phone carriers bill A LOT for roaming. You can Google your provider and their roaming policy. For example, Verizon does a $10 “Day” pass that lasts 24 hours and lets you use your regular mobile plan anywhere in Europe. But, if you there for 2 weeks, $10 per day adds up. So, I only did the day pass on days I was traveling (flying from U.S. to Belgium and back) and that was it. Otherwise, I only got connected when I was on WiFi. There are other options but I found the day pass to be the most convenient.

There were 3 apps I used religiously in Europe. 2 out of the 3 are free.


Seriously a must. Here’s everything you need to know about CityMaps2Go:


  • Download free city maps. Yes, the entire city.
  • First city map is free. After that it is $20 for unlimited free city maps forever. One time $20 purchase. I recommend this route.
  • Once the city map is downloaded, you can mark any restaurants, memorials, tourist sites, beaches, whatever you want on the map and it will save it for you to come back to. 
  • After downloading the city map, it is accessible with or without data or Wifi. This is a huge plus if you’re traveling abroad! It also accesses your saved locations without having connection services.

It saved my life so many times. I used these maps as GPS for most of my time in Europe which is how I got around without using data so often. I really recommend this app when traveling abroad! Since I’m a pro customer for life with that $20, I used it when I first visited Cambridge, too. Oh, and when you are connected to Wifi, you can browse the other tabs in the app to see popular places people like to visit like famous artwork, where Van Gogh lived, what house Anne Frank hid in during the Holocaust, and more.


Have you ever caught yourself in a new city, wanting so badly to explore, but coming to a halt because literally all you can think of to do is go to a new restaurant to eat? But you just ate. So what else is there to do? I did the same exact thing until Kirsten showed me the way with these two apps, the first being GetYourGuide. Here’s everything you need to know about GetYourGuide!


  • Absolutely, 100% free!
  • Requires you to use either data or Wifi
  • Browse guided tours, boat cruises, brewery tours, Holocaust memorials and tours, museums, horse back riding through beautiful landscapes, those really popular hop-on hop-off bus tours, and more on this app. Of course, if you decide you want to go a on boat cruise or any other of the available activities, this will cost you money. But the app is great for comparing prices of a certain activity and, once you’ve decided, you can book your activity through the app. 

I used this app to book an Anne Frank tour in Amsterdam while we were there (and Kirsten used this app to book us many other tours and activities!). It was a guided tour that took you throughout the city to major spots where history took place in the resistance against the Nazis. The tour ended in front of the Anne Franke house, where she hid for the last two or so years of her life, before dying (likely of an illness and/or starvation) in one of the concentration camps. Maybe you’re not into history, and that’s fine too, there’s plenty else to do like visit tall towers and castles that are beautiful and loom over their ancient yet prosperous cities. I found it especially heavy that Amsterdam would make golden stones to place in front of the old locations where Holocaust victims’ houses sat. Not all of the homes still remain, though a few still do, and the golden stones are a part of the walkways directly in front of the buildings, new and old. The golden stones include their names, birth and death year when available, and the concentration camp where they died. It’s an awful yet necessary reminder. In fact, here’s an example of the golden stones below.



Well, ok, I guess they’re bronze.


This app is particularly useful in getting around in any city you are in. You can plug in where you are and where you want to go and it’ll check all of the available public transportation options in that city and help you get there! Here’s everything you need to know about Rome2Rio:


  • 100% free
  • Requires Wifi or data
  • Works like Google maps but pulls from all local public transit and ​gives suggestions on where to explore at the final destination.

These are the things that got me through Europe on a budget with a United States cell phone plan. I hope these help you in preparing your next trip! Maybe one day you can share with us all of your favorite experiences, too!

A few nostalgic photos are shared from my Europe 2019 trip below!





I had a really exciting, productive last year! I hope you did, too. Let’s celebrate together!

2019 was a wild ride from start to finish.


In January of 2019, I began writing my application for the Chandra X-ray Center predoctoral fellowship (subdivision of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics) that I was offered later in May that I accepted immediately and then prepared for the rest of the year, and now am just days away from starting! This same month, I had to prepare to re-take the one written qualifying exam that I failed the first go-around in August 2018. It was my second (and last) attempt to pass the classical and statistical mechanics exam – and I did! This meant I could continue to pursue my Ph.D. I almost forgot – this was the same time my first paper was published!

That same spring semester of 2019, I prepared to defend my Master’s thesis on a candidate for cosmic ray acceleration (I’ll do a post on that very soon!). Additionally, it was my first semester as a full time research assistant which means NO teaching duties of any kind! 

In March of 2019, I turned 25. Woo!

In April, I successfully defended my Master’s thesis. However, I forgot to apply for graduation at the beginning of the semester so I didn’t actually earn my Master’s degree from Clemson U until just a few days ago (I applied for graduation in fall 2019). I should receive my diploma in the mail in the next couple of weeks!

In May, my parents made the big move to a new neighborhood in Williamsburg. My sister and I grew up in the suburbs of Hampton, VA where my parents’ lived up until this spring. They had been itching for something new and a little more along the lines of their needs and they seem really happy where they are now!

In June, Noah and I travelled to Europe for two weeks to visit and explore with our two good friends and we visited over five countries! I planned this trip for us as a way to celebrate the many accomplishments I had in the spring semester and to wish us all more adventure, fun, and progress for the rest of the year to come. It was our first time ever leaving the United States and it was awesome to get out of our comfort zone and experience completely new things.

From August to November, I finished my last semester of electives towards my PhD and prepared for the move and new-ish research project in Cambridge, MA. During this time, my sister and her husband got new army orders to prepare to be stationed in Kentucky in spring 2020. This is great news as they have been stationed so far from us since Dale, my brother-in-law, has been in the military. They first lived in Fort Drum, New York and later Alaska. Now they are back on the east coast! In addition to their moving closer to us, they have a wonderful new family with the Brantley addition, my nephew. That little twerp is seriously awesome. He is so well-behaved and good natured about things. He smiles pretty much all of the time. He LOVES dogs and animals and his Auntie Jordie (me)!

In December, I officially moved my pack, Noah, Ruca (the beagle), Mars (the tabby cat), and Bella (the black cat) up to Cambridge. Noah was offered and accepted a job with the USPS in Cambridge. So we are still transitioning but things are starting to wind down as everything falls into place. Most of all, we get to spend time home with family for the holidays.

I’m so grateful for so many people and opportunities that made this year so special to me.

My family and friends kept me sane. My parents helped me financially, emotionally, mentally, etc. with this move. I don’t know if the move would’ve been possible without them. Noah has been a great, loving, and supportive partner through it all. I have amazing mentors in my field: Marco, Stefano, and Dan to name a few. They have taught me what I know and continue to work closely with me on my PhD research. I am also so thankful for the ladies in our departmental office and the department chair for all of their hard work and help in getting me transitioned with the fellowship, both in person and with the paperwork. I have been blessed with an outstanding support system in my career! I can’t wait to see what my new research community at the CfA has to offer.

New Year’s Resolutions & Continuing Goals

I know. It’s a little cliche and sappy but it’s always good, in my opinion, to share your hopes and dreams with others to help keep you accountable and to even remind yourself of why you want certain things for yourself and others. I’m sharing goals that I want to accomplish in the next year (or maybe more) as well as goals that have been carried over from 2019 (and maybe earlier) into 2020. 


  • Keep cooking meals at home and branch out with new recipes (please, no one take that as a hint to get me a recipe book. It takes up space and I just use a Google kitchen display for recipes!)
  • Keep studying. Even things not pertaining to my field. I already don’t do much theoretical (aka MATH) work in my field. I want to stay sharp so I’ll need to make sure I do this in my own time.
  • Become fluent in Spanish. I’ve taken Spanish all of my life and I STILL cannot speak it fluently. I’m getting there-ish though (not really). Spanish books for learners would be an awesome gift though instead of a recipe book….
  • Publish 3 new papers by 2020. I have 2 still in the works but should be wrapped up very soon, I hope, and one more that should manifest from my CfA research project early on.
  • Maintain good health and diet. I have been an avid runner since I was about 19 years old. Ruca and I run regularly now, about 4 miles 4 days per week in addition to a 30 minute work out routine that I developed myself over the years. I am not the greatest when it comes to diet so I’d love to work on that through cooking at home.
  • Stop complaining. I’ve realized I’ve gotten stuck in a rut of complaining. a lot. I’ve also noticed it puts me in a worse mood by focusing on the negatives so much so, in 2020, I’m gonna zip my lip and go with the flow. 
  • Join the equity and diversity group at CfA. As always, I find it hugely important to speak up for your marginalized peers and to make sure you understand how you can actually help. 
  • Find new ways for educational outreach in Cambridge area. Being an active scientist that engages with the general public is another important note for me. I want to keep actively fighting against misinformation. If anyone has ideas on this one, that would be great! Shoot me a message on the contact form or even include it in your response below.

Now it’s your turn!




Or something that you overcame this year. Celebrate your malleability, adaptability, and willingness to improve, change, and embrace the good and the bad!


What are your hopes, dreams, and goals for 2020 and beyond?


Honestly it’s been really stressful.

Because it’s mainly just a dozen or more errands I have to complete to get settled in! I have been on a hiatus from the blog the past few weeks because I finished classes a week early and started making the move from Clemson to Cambridge. Having such a big move and moving to a completely different place than anything I’ve experienced before, I have a few things I want to say. 

Moving to the big city from the small town is scary. It’s scary as hell. It’s also expensive. I’m used to friendly smiles whether or not you meant to make eye contact, the “Hi, how are you today?” as you pass by strangers, and just the general friendly banter. You don’t get that quite as often here. I’m not saying I’ve never dealt with a rude person in the South before but I can tell you their attitudes toward you are totally different. I’m also not saying I haven’t had plenty of friendly encounters since being here but it’s certainly a slightly different interaction. 

The expense is also a huge adjustment. Noah and I rented an entire house (2 bedroom, 1 bathroom) with a large front and backyard for $725 per month which included our own private driveway. Here, I pay nearly $1,000 per month for a single bedroom in a four bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment that has off-street parking granted that your car is registered in the state and you have a city residential parking permit. I got all of that done my first few days here; I went to the RMV (Registry of Motor Vehicles, I guess Mass is SpEcIaL) and registered my car and converted my license for about $250.00. Then I had to go to city hall in Central Square to pay $25 for the city residential parking permit. Additionally and lastly (I hope), I need to get my car inspected within the first 7 days of having registered the car with Mass. I have that scheduled for tomorrow at the local Honda dealership and should cost no more than $35.00 per Mass law. This isn’t including the cost for shipping my things here, driving here from Clemson, SC, or else. It’s been so financially consuming my bank account has CANCELLED Christmas. I simply cannot afford it, sadly. Luckily, my family and friends are wonderful and awesome and simply ask for my presence this holiday. Which is all I can give, lol. So, the financial burden of getting up here and getting adjusted has been a large part of the stress I have been under.

Maybe you’re wondering why I am even sharing these dull errands with you. Well, I want to share my experience with a big move, especially for anyone who may have been too worried, concerned, or fearful to make a big move that they have always wanted to do or maybe feel like they need to do. Especially to those of you who have been born and raised in your hometown and, perhaps you have never lived anywhere else. It’s probably pretty terrifying thinking about a big change like moving to an entirely new city. I’m here to help you sort through the overwhelming tasks that come along with a big move. I want to share my pain, my stress, my anxiety, and my homesickness with you all. It’s hard making a big move. I already miss my friends back in Clemson. I miss my yard and being able to be as loud as I want in my own home, cleaning and keeping things exactly how I like them, and only having my fur babies and my partner as housemates. I miss the inexpensive life of the South. I miss my research group. And I have no clue what to expect with my new co-workers, peers, or hosuemates. The uncertainty stresses me tf out. Add a sprinkle of crippling social anxiety and OCD to add as the cherry on top, why dontchya? 

But hey, if I can survive, you guys can, too. I’m not gonna lie. I have no idea if this whole big move was worth it. I really hope it is and I am genuinely excited to experience the city and this new life once I get past the transition. Even though registering your car in Mass is a goddamn nightmare (P.S. I went to the RMV two separate times before realizing my auto insurance company didn’t properly complete the RMV-1 form and then when I went back a second time, they complained that the RMV-1 form was completed in handwriting as opposed to being typed up. Which, by the way, is not specified anywhere online or on the forms so like…..No. Take this form before I cry). But don’t worry! I added tips below. 

Tips to surviving a big move

  1. See if your employer offers reimbursement on moving expenses and what type of expenses would be covered. There could be a maximum expense amount they will agree to cover so be sure to plan accordingly.
  2. I used UPACK Relocube to ship my things. It’s not cheap but my employer will reimburse me luckily. I used a dorm/studio apartment sized cube. They come and drop off a large portable storage unit based on your needs and you pack it as you see fit. When you’re ready, they come and pick it up and deliver it to your new residential address for you within 3-5 business days! It was my first time ever doing something like this and my experience was awesome and I highly recommend it. You can track the shipment real time and always know where your things are. 
  3. If you’re driving and/or bringing your car, figure out if you need to be a resident in that state. If you’re a student, you can generally get away with not being a resident. However, in cities like Cambridge, it’s virtually impossible to be an out-of-state student with a car. It’s in your best interest to register your car and get a city residential parking permit. If you can get to a city like Cambridge without a car, you can live life without one. I barely use my car as it is because public transportation is awesome and I’m a southerner and terrified to drive in snow. You can plan ahead of time by doing this research before the move which will make it much smoother!
  4. Be sure to research the area you will be living in. Make sure you like the location, safety (street lights, crime rates, etc), local shops you will want to have nearby (pharmacy, vet, coffee shops, etc). Figure out how far your commute would be under different circumstances (inclement weather, public transportation or commuting, etc).
  5. What’s the price for a gallon of milk at your local grocery store? Bread? Eggs? This will be helpful in understanding the fluctuation in prices you will need to prepare for. 
  6. Reach out to friends on social media that might be in the area where you are moving to. They could be a huge asset in helping you find housing and getting your feet on the ground. I have reached out to TONS of old friends, acquaintances, peers, and they have all been so helpful in giving me advice and places to look for housing. 
  7. If you have animals, be sure to consider what they need to make this move as smooth as possible for them, too. For me, I had to get Ruca more anxiety medications because he is a nervous nelly. He hates car rides and has never flown with me but now that I am so far from my hometown, I must fly home for the holidays. So Ruca must fly with me (in the cabin) and he will thus need Trazodone. Mars, my tabby cat, also has issues, particularly with his cat carrier. If I put him in the cat carrier for long periods of time, he goes bonkers. He will distort his body and press up against the carrier as hard as he can and yoooooowwlll the entire carride. I knew I wouldn’t last with Mars in his cat carrier from Clemson to Cambridge so instead I invested in seat belt leashes. I used these:
And they are also linked here (P.S. They are only $10 for a pair of two and are currently Amazon’s choice).  I also used this cheap upholstery pet protector. I used the hammock design so it created a cozy space in the backseat for both Ruca and Mars. It kept Mars from trying to get up front (which he does try to move around quite a bit in the car and that makes me nervous he’ll make me get in an accident) and keeps the pets from bouncing around if I need to slam on my brakes. The leashes are especially awesome because they have the stretchy elastic near the clip so this helps absorb any sudden jerks the dog or cat may feel. It worked really well!
My nearly-final tip is as soon as you commit to a big move, start saving as soon as humanly possible. This will help ease any emergencies or unexpected expenses that will likely come your way. 

My final, final tip is to relax. Which is honestly really rich coming from me. I’ve been a basket case these past few days. But I’m here and alive and I’ve managed to get most of the annoying errands over and done with.

Enjoy the time you have in a new city. Explore, adventure, try new things! Acquaint yourself with everything your new home has to offer. Find your favorite take out place. Find your new running route. Before you know it, you’ll realize you just made this new place home and according

to Creed from The Office, humans just have a knack for making a place home no matter where they go.



Me posing in front of the mysterious historical observatory at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA). I’ve tried to do some digging on the history of this guy but with no success as of yet.

First of all, just wow. I visited Cambridge, MA for the first time ever to begin moving into my new apartment up there, in preparation for my predoctoral fellowship with the CfA. I begin early January 2020! I also visited so I could take it all in and start visualizing myself living here.
I was really nervous about visiting because it’s a city. I’ve always hated cities. I denied this for a long time but after moving to the Appalachia to pursue physics in undergrad, I came to terms with it. I hated Richmond when I visited for college tours. And that was apparently that. My love for the mountains and wide open spaces grew as I moved further south to continue my education in Clemson, South Carolina. By the time got here, I had done away with thinking about living in the city. I started picturing myself buying a house in South Carolina – far from civilization, no neighbors, no homeowner’s association; just rolling hills and wildlife. That’s what I wanted (and I still do!). But for now, we are taking a little detour.

Ugh ok. So I am an amateur photographer (for fun). This day, I COULD NOT get my camera to focus. This was the best I could get. Believe me though: with the moon out, the sparkling buildings towering over the park, and the colorful fall leaves, it was a gorgeous evening in downtown Boston.
And, oh man, was I in for a pleasant awakening. Maybe I still hate cities. I don’t know truthfully. But I do think I will love Cambridge. Where we live is a 10 minute bus ride to my work and a 10 minute bus ride to Harvard Square and from there, you can go anywhere! We have a grocery store just around the corner from our house. And, ironically, where we live in Cambridge is a lot quieter than where we live in Clemson. This is because in our Clemson house, the main road is directly behind us. We hear that traffic all day and all night. Only at about 3am does it cease momentarily for an eerie calmness. In Cambridge, I felt the same eerie calmness our first night in the apartment and then it hit me – it’s quieter ​here. Of course, that is some good luck. Oh also, we have a small backyard! That’s more than most city residents can say.
We have a fresh pond, literally called Fresh Pond, that is walking distance from our house, featuring a ~2 mile loop around the pond with both a dog beach and dog park so yeah – Ruca (the beagle) will LOVE it here. He also loves snow! Mars and Bella, the cats, on the other hand, have never even see snow. So that’ll be interesting to see.
And everyone is right about Cambridge. Even if you want a car, you simply won’t need one. Additionally, everyone is also right about parking: it’s a frikkin nightmare. I will have to become a MA resident in order to park my car on most any streets which should cost a few hundred dollars. Parking in general in Cambridge can be wildly expensive as well. However, my street is convenient. A $25 annual fee for a resident parking permit is required to be able to park pretty much anywhere in Cambridge and, luckily, my street is more residential and so there is plenty of parking. Anyway, I didn’t want my blog to focus on parking in Cambridge so, moving on.

Another somewhat out-of-focus shot from the local park right off the Park redline T stop in Boston.
So I hate most cities. What makes Cambridge any different? First, there are two things I noticed right off the bat:

1. It’s clean
2. People are nice

Maybe you have had similar experiences in other cities, and that’s great! I’m happy for you and I truly hope you love where you are located now. But personally when I visited places like San Francisco, Richmond, Anchorage, Atlanta, etc., I couldn’t help but notice how nasty the city and the people can be.

To me, people in the city look depressed. They look down and walk fast, never noticing the world around them. Trash is littered on every street curb and cluttered on every street corner. The traffic is, like, insane. No matter what time of day. People will honk when you slow down to take a turn! Like, they legitimately get annoyed in the city when you inconvenience them for you to safely try to make a turn. Are you guys aware it’s just part of being a responsible vehicle operator? I don’t get that, lol.
In Cambridge, I will admit, it doesn’t seem like a “normal” city. It’s compact and has skyscapers and all but it doesn’t quite have the living-on-top-of-each-other feel. It still feels open. Of course, it could be just me.

Though Cambridge still feels pretty city. Public transportation is well-developed and reliable. It’s expensive to live here. Housing is at least triple the cost what it is in the south and groceries, too. For comparison, Noah and I pay $725 to rent a 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom HOME with a nice front and backyard and a shed. In Cambridge, I pay nearly $1,000 per month for a SINGLE bedroom in a four bedroom apartment, shared with three other roommates.

Other things I really enjoyed about Cambridge:

  • Didn’t see a single confederate flag while visiting! (also great)
  • DOG FRIENDLY. People are not obsessed with rules on animals. People nonchalantly brought their non-service animals into food establishments regularly. I. Love. That. Ruca would hate it though if I tried to make him socialize like that but, I love that.
  • Public transportation is awesome
  • Beautiful city in the fall (Boston, too!)
  • They use the mail slots on the doors still like in Harry Potter. They don’t do mailboxes on our street. I know this might still be a standard in other places but it’s not where I come from!
Other things I did not so much care for in Cambridge:

  • Housing expense. Note: It is very hard finding pet friendly AND affordable housing. Not impossible though (cause I, afterall, found a good place satisfying both).
  • Car owner expenses. Yes, I am bringing my car so I can still do weekend trips out of town if I’d like and(or) for emergencies. I do not anticipate to need it regularly.

And, that’s really it for me: Juggling finances in the city. For me, that is going to be the biggest challenge. But as for the rest, I am SO excited!


I can see both of our cats getting a kick out of our mail slot.

P.S. I’m OK with snow.