Being an academic involves constantly uprooting your life and putting on a face to the world like you are totally okay with it. It doesn’t bother you to have to pack up your life every other year, rent a storage unit, leave most of your belongings at your family and friends homes because you LOVE SCIENCE and love what you do. It’s okay when you make amazing friends and then abandon them to go find new ones in far off lands. The truth is, so far I’ve been lucky with my moving. After undergrad, I moved back to NYC and was able to stay there for graduate school and my first postdoc. I am lucky because my family and friends mostly all live in that area of the country. Life was pretty easy and fun in New York.
When this opportunity arose in Edinburgh, I couldn’t turn it down. This fellowship is more prestigious than one I ever dreamed of getting, and if I play my cards right with a lot of luck, I can likely find a more permanent job in the next few years because of it. I got the email that I was in on November 21st and immediately started wrapping up my life in NYC. I was beginning to grow fairly stagnant there, especially staying in the same location after graduate school, I was more than ready for a change. Over the years I’ve avoided moving because I’ve been too afraid to leave, but I finally felt like it was time. Plus, I knew I loved the UK, so it was such an exciting opportunity for me.
So less than two months later, visa in hand, all moved out of NYC, furniture stored in my parents’ garage (they are not happy about this), I was on the plane to Edinburgh. This is an incredible city. I’ve been in my flat for one week today and in the country for about two weeks, and I’ve already had some amazing adventures and met some cool people and been to fun parties. But damn, it’s hard! I’ve always been a very easygoing traveler, staying in other countries for months at a time, rarely missing the USA or my family. Probably because I knew I’d be home soon. This is a different beast. I know I will be home for a visit in 7 months, and only have a two year post here, but I’m really LIVING here. Got a bank account. Got a new phone. Got a flat. Paying taxes, the whole nine yards. Coming home after work to the weird new flat (that doesn’t have internet yet) and the time difference between here and my whole life on the East Coast is just so bizarre to me. As usual, I’m anxious to get it all done. I want to buy all the supplies for my flat. I want to join the yoga studio right now. I want to be immediately productive at work. But it all takes time. People tell me this, I know it, but it is hard to really GET. I came from a really established life and now it is all up in the air. I even get annoyed having to buy all those little things for the apartment that cost mad ££. “I already HAD all of these things!” I think to myself. But I gave them all away to friends in the US and now I need to buy them again.
It doesn’t help when other people in your life don’t understand the academic lifestyle. “You should have just stayed in New York” they say, not fully understanding how important this opportunity is to my growth and my career. I WANT to be here, I love this city, it is amazing and beautiful. I love NYC but I was ready for a change, it was a lifestyle I’m not sure I wanted to keep up forever. But when you hear these negative statements a lot, doubt does creep in. It would have been easier to stay, that’s for sure, but I know deep down it was really time to go.