I did my undergraduate thesis with a professor A in a foreign country X. It went well and he offered me a direct PhD in his department afterwards [1]. I was not too keen on accepting the offer due to a variety of reasons, and to avoid saying an unequivocal no (lest he feel bad), I ended up saying (untruthfully) that I could not join the PhD program as I did not want to settle in a foreign country. Having matured much more since then, I now realize in hindsight that this was perhaps not the best way to handle that situation. At the time, I instead asked him to recommend me for a different research job in my home country (I am currently at this position).

Presently, I am being considered for a research job in a foreign country Y, and it checks a lot of the boxes of the ideal job that I have in mind. It provides great opportunities for my future career as well. The recruiter for this new job has asked me to provide references. Professor A is a really good reference for this as the work that I did with him is similar to what I will be doing at this new job, and he was impressed by my work too.

The question is, would it be reasonable to ask professor A to recommend me for a job in a foreign country, when I had declined his offer to apply for his PhD program stating that I don't want to settle/work in a foreign country. If he were to ask me why I am applying to a foreign country, what could I possibly say to him as a reasonable explanation for this seemingly contradictory behavior? I have considered coming clean about it, but it seems that he would just be even more upset that I wasn't honest with him at the outset.

[1] Well, he not so much "offered" it as "suggested" it - he told me that they had a program to take PhD students directly after their bachelors if the students were deserving, and he said he liked my work and felt that I was deserving enough to clear the bar of this program to be selected.

  • 3
    Is this Professor a reasonable person?
    – user111388
    Aug 3, 2019 at 18:18

1 Answer 1


I don't see any issue at all. Just ask and be honest. What was true in the past may not be true now. You don't need to go into all of the reasons that you refused in the past, but changing your mind about going abroad is not an issue.

If s/he supported you in the past, they are probably a good person to support you now. Don't let this hesitation work against taking advantage of an opportunity.

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