PhD widow?



this is my first post, im so happy to find this forum.

Im a MSc student in the UK. I moved here with my boyfriend last Sept and we are both doing the same course. A significant portion of the course is research though its technically a taught MSc. My research project has been at a research insitute near the university. I have been there 6mths now and i hate it.

My supervisor is very nice but is a really busy guy and i have seen him a total of maybe 5/6 times in my time here. I am left on my own the rest of the time and have no other supervisor or higher up lab person to talk to re my project. I used to love my project, but now i try to get out of there as fast as i can every day. The research group I work with is predominantly guys who are a little older than me ( Im23, they'd be 25/26). They don't talk to me. They go for coffee breaks together, lunch together, play football after work, go out at weekends, nothing which i was ever invited to. I have lunch at my desk, and don't go for coffee. I really think they'd have a heart attack if i sat down next to them.

Needless to say, its been very lonely and isolating. My boyfriend on the other hand, works on a different floor to me and is part of a group like these guys. Hes having a brilliant time. As a mixed group, they go out for dinner after work a lot, go to a nearby pub for drinks, have lunch together etc. They got on really great with each other and its brilliant for him I know. They work hard, coming in at weekends sometimes and staying late but they play hard too. I realize its not his duty to be looking out for me, but it leaves me feeling sooo left out. Im literally sitting at our apt waiting for him to come home every day, ususally 7/8 but sometimes 11ish.

Well despite the lack of assistance, I have come up with some quite good results. And my time here is nearly over which I'm so thankful for.I feel like Iv wasted this opportunity, but thats a story for another day.
The thing is my boyfriend has been offered a phd in germany. He is half german so had a few family contacts. He will more than likely accept as it is a wonderful opportunity and he would get to work with a really great professor. Which leaves me thinking what will i do? Ideally id like to go with him but life as a phd student is much more work than a msc and i dont think i can sit at home anymore (obviously id try to get a job there, but in the meantime would be unemployed).I dont speak german, or know anybody there, it would be on my lonesome all over again.

Sorry for the huuuge post, but this something i need to get off my chest and talk to ppl about.
Has anybody here been in a position similar to mine? Or even been iin my boyfriends shoes?
Any advice or a fresh perspective would be so welcome.

Thanks for reading if you even got his far!


======= Date Modified 18 Jun 2010 16:12:45 =======
======= Date Modified 18 Jun 2010 16:11:53 =======
Just a brief post. I moved to Germany for part of my PhD and was able to become reasonably competent in German in a short space of time. I had some English friends out (a couple) there who had moved for a PhD, he and his girlfriend had learnt German fluently in 2 years through immersion. If you can learn some before you go it will make it easier.

The couple above, the guy was doing the PhD and supported his girlfriend for one year on his PhD stipend, she spent that time learning German by going to classes and self study. She now has a full-time job and uses German at work. So it is possible. At first she felt very lonely but being able to work made a big difference. Could you maybe talk to your boyfriend about making that kind of arrangement?

You wouldn't neccesarily be on your lonesome, though expat life when you don't speak the language well or understand the cultural norms can be isolating. Assuming your boyfriend is half-German and a native speaker, he could help ease you in - and I would assume that many of the people he works with at PhD level and meets socialy through work will know English.

Pretty soon you would be able to build your new life there - of course, this rests on whether you think the relationship is worth it. Best of luck. :)


Personal edit: Reading your post again, I have to say that when I got the fellowship to go to Germany I wanted my boyfriend to come to live with me very much. But he had PhD/teaching and was unable (unwilling) to. We saw each other every few weeks and it was I have to say rather difficult. Now reunited the time has changed the relationship and brought it close to the edge. I sense that a lot of your thoughts must be occupied on whether moving to Germany is what you want in terms of your relationship. I would say, if you do love him and see a future - give it a shot. I loved living in Germany, sure it was lonely and the grammar a bloody nightmare, but after a time I found myself feeling more at home and now back in the UK I still find myself thinking in German phrases sometimes :) I have a friend who did her PhD at the same institution as me in the UK, she now lives with her German boyfriend in Berlin /Munich (they are an academic couple) - she loves it. best of luck.


Talk to him. If he loves you, he will give u support as much as he can.


======= Date Modified 20 Jun 2010 11:56:05 =======
Jenn for different reasons, sometimes I sometimes felt isolated and lonely during my MSc but it was worth staying on until the end, so I'd advise you do the same, as you're already half way through, getting good results and this is only one year of your life that you'll be able to put behind you.

But, your boyfriend could make an effort to meet up with you at lunch and invite you out with his friends or allocate more time for you. Have you talked to him about how you feel? He has an obligation, it isn't like you're just housemates.

Also maybe you could join some socs or take some sport courses/language courses (like German) as this would allow you to meet more people. Even if you don't become friends with them, at least it'll mean more social interaction and activity.


Thanks a million all for your replies. It's given me a lot to think about. I realised I came across quite whingy in my first post so I do apologise for that! No major decisions have been taken yet as he has been interviewed at another university at home too and we are waiting on that outcome. Meanwhile I am writing up my MSc thesis which is all consuming:-( but Im proud of the work Iv achieved.

Actually, my boyfriend has an uncle who studied in the same field as him. He advised hiim to be very careful choosing which country to do the phd in as it would be very difficult to get a job (postdoc/whatever) in a different country afterwards. Particularly if its not an English speaking country. I found this very hard to believe as so many research groups are so international. Has anyone seen this?