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What would you do with an extra year before grad school?
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Quote From pm133:
Your research should essentially start today. No need to wait for the funding to kick in. I would even be tempted to ask to start today and maybe work a few days a week etc. Pretty sure that space-permitting you would be allowed to get going. Why waste a year?

Great suggestions, thanks! I'm not sure I got that last part, tho. Given that I didn't get into a graduate program yet (MA-then-PhD) and I'm not currently located in the target city/country, how could I get started in any semi-official capacity? I was mostly just thinking to work independently, maybe reach out to a few potential advisors for feedback (but that's it).

What would you do with an extra year before grad school?
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I plan to enter graduate school (MA+PhD) in September 2018, which means I have something of a ‘gap year’ ahead of me. I want to use this unstructured time, this opportunity to develop and prepare on my own terms, the best way I can.

If you were in my position, how would you spend these spare 12 months before grad school officially begins? How would you prepare for what’s ahead, what would you focus on?

It goes without saying that I have already given these questions a lot of careful consideration, but I’m very curious to learn how others would approach this topic; especially, current PhD candidates, postdocs, and lecturers/professors. Knowing what you now know, if you could go back, how would you spend a spare year like that?

Some background:
- My field is social/cultural anthropology.
- My ultimate goal (grad school and beyond) is to prepare a CV and a research portfolio, which will aid me in launching an academic career in Europe.
- I have a BA in anthropology and an unrelated MA,
- I currently freelance (unrelated field); I have plenty of spare time, and can arrange my schedule in whatever way I see fit.
- I live in a mid-size European city (not a capital); can’t move anywhere this year, but can likely do some limited traveling.
- There’s a small anthropology department here, but I’m not affiliated with it, and never was. My degree is from the US.
- I can speak the local language fairly well.
- The grad school (next year) will be in a different county, and learning the new language will be one of my objectives this year. The language of instruction will be English, however.

Note: Not sure if I made this clear, but I’m not looking for answers such as “travel for fun,” or “get a new hobby.” All of these are fine, but I want to use these 12 months to prepare for the demands of grad school and the grueling academic job hunt ahead.

Academic Job Mobility in the European Context
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In the United States it is not uncommon to apply to academic jobs all over the country. Personally, I do not know a single person who limited his or her search to just one state (i.e. Massachusetts). That being said, the language of instruction and the key aspects of academic culture remain the same coast to coast.

In comparison, what is the situation like in Europe, particularly Scandinavia and Switzerland?

For example, given that the population of Denmark is comparable in size to that of Massachusetts, how does this affect the academic job market? Is it standard practice for PhDs & lecturers/postdocs located in Denmark to search for their first career placement across Europe [and beyond]? Or do they search for employment primarily on the national academic job market? How do the national differences in language/academic culture fit into this equation?

Background: I’m considering PhD/Academic Career in Europe. Ideally, I would like to learn the local language and assimilate as much as possible during the PhD. Given this long-term effort, I would prefer to continue on in the same country following graduation.

I’m especially interested in hearing from those with experience in the social sciences and humanities (working or studying in Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, or Switzerland). However, please consider contributing even if you do not fit this particular set of criteria. My own experience is in Cult/Soc Anthropology (USA).