Last year I was doing a PhD in an area I happened to not be interested in after a while, and I decided to change PhD project which end up taking me to a different university and different country.

At the moment my topic is good, of my interest, but I don't like the way my supervisory team works, more specifically, I am not making too much progress on my PhD thesis, because I'm helping with other stuff and my supervisor already said that is the way in which the department works, so is either accept their system or quit.

Plus, I've been having a hard time to adapt to this place, my work is all in English but I am in a non-English speaking country so my life is not that easy in that sense. I don't speak the language of this place, and I am trying to learn it but it would take me a while, plus I feel isolated as well and with very few friends, therefore I am deeply missing the city in which I was doing my former PhD.

Due to those reasons I've been thinking on applying to a project of my interest in a city nearby where I used to be, but I don't know if this would be seen badly by supervisors. And instead of being helping myself, start being considered as quitter and not suitable for PhD research.

What is your advice? Should I just endure here and try to finish on time despite the way of working of my supervisors, and then leave?

If you were a supervisor and I tell you this story would you take me on for a project or you'd consider me as a student that is better not to accept?

  • 1
    Do other students who work with your supervisor/around your supervisory team tend to graduate on time? Helping with other stuff can be quite normal, an important part of training, and should only really be a problem if its not leading to graduation.
    – Bryan Krause
    Oct 23, 2018 at 15:18
  • No, people usually tend to submit a year or sometimes two years after the official deadline has passed. And I know some students here consider that quite normal, but I wouldn't really be happy to keep working on my thesis after the official ending date.
    – user99607
    Oct 23, 2018 at 15:22
  • 1
    Did you ask about that before you accepted a position there? Not learning about that ahead of time is kind of your responsibility.
    – Bryan Krause
    Oct 23, 2018 at 15:50
  • Wouldn't changing research groups and projects presumably also mean that you lose a year or so?
    – Anyon
    Oct 23, 2018 at 16:55

2 Answers 2


Only you can decide how unhappy you are in a given situation, so what action you should take is up to you.

I can tell you how such a CV would come across to me, though. It wouldn't be positive. It would look like your decision-making process doesn't have enough thought behind it, and that you're likely to make important decisions and then change your mind.

The quality of work you've done might get you an interview after someone has drawn such conclusions, it may not.

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    Once graduated, as a hiring manager of PhDs, I certainly would not get a warm fuzzy feeling about hiring the OP either. If they get 'not interested' in things so quickly and don't see them out it will be a major problem in the workplace.
    – Jon Custer
    Oct 23, 2018 at 18:33

You lay out a lot of the problems you would face. Most potential supervisors would be at least a bit skeptical of you and your commitment. You would have to find someone who would accept you and only he/she could make a decision.

Before you jump, you should talk to potential supervisors in person and lay out what your problems have been and what your potential is. Only they can really answer this question. It is likely that you would have to have some special skill that the professor needs.

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