Moving away for PhD


I am moving away from home and friends who I did my bachelors degree with, to start my PhD at QMUL. I don't really know anyone in London and my fear from reading some of the posts on here, is that I could become easily isolated. Since I accepted the offer, I have heard that QMUL doesn't really have a big PG community which it's making me further worry about moving away from the midlands.

I know this sounds completely stupid but has anyone else had the same problem? And how did you overcome it?


Hi Elmo, I have the same problem as you, I'm moving 500 miles away from friends, family and my partner to start a PhD at a research institute which is in a smallish town, it only has around 10 other PhD students and is 12 miles away from the nearest big towns and cities! So I have no words of advice yet but you're not alone at least!


hey Elmo and Caro... I know exactly what you are going through because I had to move a long way when I started my Phd to the smallest town that should even be allowed call itself that ever!!! the key is to get involved in other stuff besides phd work .. take up an random fencing for example.... I made a really  good friend through this, also speak with your sups. to see how much time you actually need to physically be at the Uni. it may turn out that besides term time you dont actually have to live over there and as you get nearer to the end of the course if you show them that you can work independently then they may let you move back to family and friends because in this process you need all the support  you can get and they know that.. thats what I did!!......I dont know what else to say... keep coming on the forum as well! it really  keeps you going ...discussing with other people(albeit virtually) they become your virtual support family ... anything you will go through I guarantee someone on here has been through the same if not worse....

All the very best and look  at it in a positive way .. it's a new experience and the best you can do is learn from it



My advice would be to join clubs/societies. If you enjoy sports then a local sports team is instant new friends. Aside from sport how about joining the photography society or something? My friend and I started a science communication society at our uni and I've made lots of friends that way. All unis have societies and stuff and it's not just for the undergrads!


Some good advice there thanks!  Although I'm not based at a uni, my uni will be 90 miles away as I'm based at a research centre, i've had a look for local clubs but most aren't my cup of tea! I thought about the local hill walking club but I looked at their photos online and I think I would be the youngest member by about 30 years.  Hopefully I'll find something once I get there.

Also it's a science PhD I'm doing so would have to stay in the area to do all the field/lab work, plus I'm awful at working at home, hence why my part time MSc has taken me so long! I'll survive though, it's all an adventure! 

Sorry for hijacking your thread Elmo! And I'm sure QMUL will have loads of clubs etc you can join! Plus you're in such a good place to find clubs etc outside of the uni, maybe think about volunteering once a week, there are things like green gyms, helping in the community etc that will be sure to introduce you to loads of people. =)

Avatar for AndyP

Hi Elmo

It will depend on your area of research, but as far as I'm aware QMUL has a thriving PG community of around 2500 students, so I don't think you'll have any problems meeting other postgrads.


Hi Elmo,

I moved from London to New Zealand to do my PhD. I didn't know anyone in the whole country or even in neighbouring countries! It was tough at first, I admit. I think what others have suggested about joining clubs etc is good advice. I joined a running club and I was quite proactive in trying to make friends. For the first year it was quite hard as a lot of the other postgrad students were older and had children etc so not entirely at the same stage of life as me. But in the second year new students came through to start and I have lots of really close friends now who really helped me get through the final stages of my thesis.

Really you aren't moving too far so visits from friends and family shouldn't be an issue. As long as you make the effort to chat to people (become a tea/coffee/hot choc addict - no PG I know can resist these substances!) I think you will make the transition just fine. It's always more daunting before you get there.

Good luck :-)


I moved from the US to UK to do my PhD. I moved to a uni that did not have a large or active PG population. The first few months were hard, but slowly over time I began to feel more at home both at the uni and outside of it, and began to get to know people. I got to know people that were members of staff, and people outside the uni, and other PG students...just slowly over time, saying hello, having coffee, attending events, etc. Having moved again to a new city to start a job, the same process just takes time to get to know people but now feel as if I have made some solid friendships and am happy. I have also learned to be content with my own company, so for those times I am on my own, I am happy with that as well. My best piece of advise is to not worry about it--you will naturally make friends over time just as part of being at the uni and doing studies!