It is not commonplace for doctoral students to transfer graduate programs, but, occasionally it happens and I'm a rare instance of this occurrence. Today marks one year, five months and fifteen days since I moved to San Francisco from Madison. Yes, nearly a year and a half ago I condensed the entirety of my belongings into two suitcases, a keyboard case, and a backpack, to move across the country with a singular focus, a fresh start in science.
My desire to leave my institution was motivated by a culmination of wanting new intellectual challenges, to pursue a new field, the lure of being in a big city, and a lingering curiosity about living in the Bay Area. I’d often asked myself, what would it be like to live at the heart of technological advancement and scientific breakthrough? My mind was always racing considering the possibilities. However, for some time timidity and fear got the best of me, and my desires remained illusory.
Starting conversations about wanting to leave my program was perhaps the most difficult for me. The culture of academia can sometimes be intimidating. At times I’d feel indebted to my advisors and mentors, who invested so much into my professional development. I feared alienation by the department, and association with a slew of other nonsensical Ph.D. taboos, whether real or imagined. In addition, I was kind of reluctant to give up the time that I had already invested in the program, especially because there was no real guarantee that I’d be happier elsewhere. Spoiler alert, that was not the case.
Since moving to SF, I have excitedly delved into a new field of study that I completely adore, seamlessly integrated myself into a fantastic community, and learned the joys of In - N - Out burgers. Pro-tip, double-double, animal style is always the way to go. But, delicious burgers aside, I can now confidently say, without hesitation that I love what I do! I have just finished my first year of graduate school at UCSF, and I couldn’t be happier to be pursuing science. I undeniably re-discovered my scientific enthusiasm in the Bay and this has been integral in keeping me grounded and motivated. So now, here I am, thankful to be establishing my footing in this scientific world and moving forward with genuine interest.
Cheers to the next few years!