I am currently doing a fully funded PhD in a European country. I just finished my first year. The topic is ok but i dont feel very passionate about it. I dont feel i connect with the topic even though my supervisor is a nice person. the uni is depressing and i feel lonely. Both me and my partner do not really like the country we are living in.

I have another PhD offer from a better uni, in another country( i have close friends there) and in a field that i care much more about. The immigration status after graduating is also very important for me and in this country, i would have easier and faster ways of becoming a permenant resident.
I am very tempted to leave my current PhD and go for the second option. However, i have just finished my first year here, have been getting paid and my supervisor has been putting time and energy into helping me. I feel awkward talking to him about leaving and dont know how he would react.

What should i do? it is a very difficult decision for me. I am also worried my current supervisor would get angry and try to destroy my academic reputation. I know the funding i currently have is very generous and my supervisor worked hard to secure it for me. Im just simply not happy with what I am doing and where I am living...

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    "I am also worried my current supervisor would get angry and try to destroy my academic reputation." Do you have this fear based on previous vindictive behaviour of his? Have others suffered at his hand in this way? If not, I would not worry about this happening. Most academics behave professionally and would be pleased to see you moving somewhere you will be happier. Jan 13, 2021 at 16:58

3 Answers 3


The comment of astronat is good. Most people would support you.

But there is more. If you are happier, then you will probably do better work. Being in something that you aren't happy with is not good place to be.

If there is any sort of retaliation it would be, I think, short lived and can be overcome. Other than lying, the person has no real way to say you are not suitable for academia.

Everything seems positive about the switch, both personally and professionally.

But, it would be worth the effort, unless you have contrary evidence, to have a conversation with your advisor giving two messages. First that you are happy with their guidance, but have both personal and professional reasons for a move. They may be disappointed, but that seldom results in harmful action. Clean up joint work before you go, of course.


Honestly, if I were in your shoes, I would just be upfront about it with my advisor. It seems very clear from the text that moving to the other country would benefit you immensely and I believe that your advisor would both see and appreciate that.

I have a question for you however - how come you got another PhD offer while you were on the verge of finishing up your first year? Was the whole thing postponed or were you actively searching for PhDs in the mean time? If the latter is true, then once again - you should definitely move.


It seems that the offer provides several advantages over your current position. Thus, it is a good idea to move. Just make sure to explain clearly to your supervisor why you are leaving so that s/he could understand your decision. Try to stay in good terms. Also, if you can tell your supervisor a little bit in advance that you will leave and if you can finish the work that you are doing (e.g. writing a paper or doing an experiment) before leaving (if not too long), your supervisor may appreciate that. It is possible that your supervisor may be mad a you for leaving but it should not stop you from doing it because in this end, you want to do a PhD for yourself.

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