I’m sure that the above is a question that a lot of researchers ask themselves at some stage during their projects. I’m just a newbie in terms of starting my PhD, but I’ve already found myself asking, as I look up at the beautiful Gothic spires of my University, how I got here. This time last year, I hadn’t even contemplated applying to Glasgow. So how did I find myself in this city, five hours away from home?
There was no exclusive reason as to why I find myself studying here; rather, a myriad. Several things influenced my decision to move from England to Scotland and take up my place. I doubt I would be here without the question my MA supervisor posed in one of our early sessions, when she asked where I was thinking of applying, and suggested Glasgow as a possibility. I had thought about applying to Edinburgh, but at that point, Glasgow hadn’t even crossed my mind. I took the forty five-minute long train journey home that day contemplating the decision, and the next day perusing possible lecturers at Glasgow to approach with my proposal.
I found the said lecturer rather quickly, and when she expressed an interest in my project, I formally applied (my only opportunity to do so fell on the morning of Christmas Eve, sandwiched between end of term essays and a trip to Australia). The next few weeks were a waiting game, but I soon received an offer – my first for PhD study from the few Universities I’d applied to. I was given two of the country’s top Virginia Woolf specialists as my joint supervisors, and was over the moon with this result. The very fact that Glasgow’s offer was unconditional after I’d only completed the first term of my Master’s and had no conclusive grades, was fantastic; it took a real weight off my mind as to where I’d be ending up in September, and allowed me to make plans far before I received my results. (NB. I still haven’t received my final transcript. Yay, academia.)
I applied to King’s College (where I did my MA) with the plan of continuing to commute from home, but was told that there were no academics there who were well versed in <i>all</i> of the authors I was looking at. There were Woolf specialists, yes, and whilst I was told that my project was interesting enough, there was nobody who could help me through the process as well as others at other Universities could.
Added to this was the fact that my boyfriend was willing to move with me wherever I chose to study. We had been travelling by train to one another’s houses (a forty minute journey by car, but as neither of us drive, it often took over two hours to get from A to B), and felt ready to move in together. He was happy with Glasgow, which was another bonus. He was able to apply for and secure a job early in the summer, and we signed the lease on a flat at around the same time. Despite how smooth our transition to Scotland was, I doubt, even with the wonderful offer, whether I would have moved this far by myself; I’m a self-confessed homebody, and being just over an hour away when studying for my undergrad degree was worse enough.
So, those are the reasons as to why I’m in Glasgow. I feel that I made the right decision for me. The campus is beautiful, and all of the staff and students I’ve come across thus far have been helpful and kind. The city is a great one, and whilst I’m incredibly far away from home, I know that my parents are only a phone call away, which helps rather a lot. I’m unsure as to whether we’ll stay in Scotland once I’ve graduated; much as we like it, it just depends where the jobs are, and I do miss easily being able to travel to London, and to see all of my friends at the drop of a hat. For now though, this decision feels right, and I can only hope that I continue to enjoy my time here as I have thus far.