Studying Abroad in Graduate School
Author: Adile Nexha
Grad school comes with many unique opportunities and challenges. One of the greatest skills required for a student is adaptability. It allows you to be a sort of jack-of-all-trades in academia, where you learn hard, soft, and other transferable skills. One of the most important aspects of graduate school is collaboration. Levels of collaboration range widely, with some involving just student-supervisor, while some extend to other lab members, and some to external research teams. If your lab happens to collaborate with researchers in a different city or country, there may be opportunities for you to work with them in-person. This way, you can gain perspective of what it is like to work in a different lab environment and, at the same time, how it would feel to live in an entirely different city while still continuing the same work you have been doing.
I have taken the liberty to gather information from three graduate students (including myself) on the process and experience of doing graduate research abroad. This article will cover the driving forces behind why the students decided to do this research, how this changed their professional trajectory, the technical aspects of the process (e.g., routes of applications and necessary documents), as well as the students’ personal views on the journey and advice they have for those who are considering studying abroad.
First, a brief introduction of the students interviewed for this article. My name is Adile Nexha and I am a 4th year PhD student studying subjective perception of rhythmicity in mood-related symptoms and behaviours and its relation to mental health. Many of my projects are in collaboration with researchers in Porto Alegre, Brazil, at the Hospital de Clínicas de Porto Alegre, which is where I am currently carrying out my research term abroad. I interviewed Mario Simjanoski, a PhD student in his final year, who is studying the importance of lifestyle behaviours for improving clinical outcomes in mood disorders and anxiety. He completed his research term abroad at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, France. I also interviewed Dr. Jee Su Suh, a recent PhD graduate and alumnus of the neuroscience program, whose thesis was on structural neuroimaging biomarkers of antidepressant response. She also researched in Paris, France, with researchers at the NeuroSpin Facility and INSERM.