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Leaving it all behind: Moving away from home to start my PhD

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There I was standing in queue at the departure gate of the airport with my one-way ticket to Manchester getting ready to start my PhD course. On the verge of starting a brand new chapter in my life you would probably think I was completely ecstatic at that instance. However, as a 24-year-old recent graduate at the time, I can’t say I fully shared the same optimism as perhaps other prospective students. There was a certain hesitance towards the idea of leaving home to start a PhD course overseas that stemmed from certain factors which only a postgraduate international student can understand.

To begin with, I would say it was the whole idea of leaving the comfortable bubble, the notion of leaving everything that I was so familiar with back home. I remember thinking to myself I have already established my lifelong social circle throughout school and university as well as my professional networks; I pretty much know everybody and how the system works so what’s the point of giving all that up?1

Adding to the coziness of my comfort bubble, having recently received my bachelors degree, there were tempting job offers with promising salaries that made the idea of leaving home to start a demanding 3-4 year PhD course even more daunting.


Okay they were not offering that much money but you get the point

Then of course there was the emotional process of saying farewell to everybody before I left. Having those last gatherings and going down memory lane with my family and friends made the feeling of leaving home even more bittersweet.giphy

Basically it was fear of the unknown, the thought of leaving it all behind without really knowing what to expect. Till this day I find it so ironic because I waited for this moment my whole life and when the day finally came I was hesitant and dare I say even reluctant to leave home!

OKAY ENOUGH WITH THE FEARMONGERING AND ONTO THE INSPIRATION…. Ready for it? Let me comfort you by letting you know that the hesitance of leaving home quickly disappeared when I first arrived at Manchester. “Oh you will love Manchester, there always life in this city, there is always something to do”, those were the words of the taxi driver Mr. XYZ who picked me up from the airport and my God he was spot on! P.S his name was not Mr. XYZ, I forgot what it was to be honest but for the sake of this blog lets just go with that name.

After driving through the city center I was overwhelmed by the buzzing atmosphere and instantly in love with the city; people everywhere, the trams, the busses, street performances and the aromas of different foods. Especially that first glance, it was such an awe-inspiring moment that any way I describe it does not do it any justice. I remember thinking to myself this is the city life I grew up watching in the sitcoms/movies, but the only difference is that NOW I AM ACTUALLY LIVING IT! It was at that moment I remembered why I travelled thousands of kilometers from home to embark on a new journey.3

Sky view of Manchester

Let’s fast-forward to one month later and there I was going to socials, meeting people from different places around the world, going to football matches, taking cross-country trains to journey around the UK and attending a handful of events. WAIT WHAT? Yes, this is the same worrisome person I was talking about at the start of the blog. Looking back at it now if I were to know how the tide would change once I arrived at Manchester and started my new life maybe I would have been a lot calmer about leaving home, but then again as the age old saying goes “you live and you learn”.

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