In Dec. last year, I got admitted to CUHK as a PhD student, and have chosen my 'future advisor', with whom I had been emailing for several months. Three months later, I recieved HKPFS (Hong Kong PhD Fellowhship Scheme, HK$20,000/m, big award). Currently, I'm waiting for the result of visa application. If nothing happened, that's the university I would like to go, for the award and its academic achievement.

However, after the time having accepted the admission offer, I met a few guys, and gradually realized that I am homosexual and what I want is a place to live freer. I also have applied several American universities before CUHK's interview. Two weeks before, an offer was made by one of them. From my birth, I have been living in Mainland China. This could be an opportunity for me to seek a change in my life - date a guy and get married eventually. So, after months of struggle of my identity, choosing which university to go is not a problem. No matter how CUHK outperforms the american one, I would like to go america.

So, the question now is what and how I should write to my CUHK advisor? I know making excuses untrue or creating 'irresistable event' is not a wise idea. But telling him that I am homosexual and decide to go america instead would make things better? CUHK has rather early admission, and they have made all the admissions long time ago. I think they would get mad/annoyed no matter how. :(

Another problem is that my teachers from my undergraduate college heard about my story. (They thought why I chose America over HK is that I have a crush on a girl there. But the rest they know is the same as the truth.) They all want me to write back to CUHK asap. So, what I should do these days to make them not thinking less of me?

My problem is not typical. I'm not serving 'being homosexual' as an excuse. I know many people are not OK with it. But it's the truth I have to deal with. Any advice is appreciated, :)

  • 7
    What about something simple like "for personal reasons, it's important to me to move to the US"? Commented Apr 16, 2015 at 3:34
  • 1
    That depends on that CUHK advisor. I would not be annoyed if you just said for personal reasons if I were your CUHK advisor. Note that I am a Chinese (in my sixties and I am not a gay). Is he also a Chinese? A westernized one?
    – Nobody
    Commented Apr 16, 2015 at 4:06
  • 2
    Don't worry people don't really want to know your true reason (cause they also may not know how to respond and end up we got another question here in academia)...
    – ceoec
    Commented Apr 16, 2015 at 4:06
  • 2
    On the other hand I would suggest you to think twice if your plan to america is just for a "freer" environment, that is not necessary the situation. There could be even more discrimination there depends on the city you live.
    – ceoec
    Commented Apr 16, 2015 at 4:08
  • 3
    I agree with @NateEldredge that you should just keep it general. If you state that it is 'for personal reasons' then frankly it's none of their business what those personal reasons are (at least that is the general view in the english-speaking countries in which I have lived - things might, of course, be quite different in China). It could also backfire if you try to explain your circumstances in detail and your supervisor disagrees with your reasons, which presumably is a possibility if you are leaving the country to escape the intolerance towards homosexuality.
    – user49483
    Commented Apr 16, 2015 at 4:11

1 Answer 1


I would suggest writing something like this:

For personal reasons, it turns out that I cannot attend this university after all; I will be moving overseas. I am sorry I will not be able to work with you. Thank you very much for your time. I apologize for the inconvenience and late notice.

It is possible that he may be a little disappointed or annoyed, or suspect that you are moving because you have another offer that you prefer for academic reasons, but I don't think it should be a huge deal. You've exchanged some emails, but it isn't as if he has invested years of his time in working with you. It's generally not a good idea to go around alienating people in the small world of academia, but I don't think one slightly annoyed professor will cause any real harm to your career. Anyway, clearly this decision is important enough to you that it's worth the risk.

It's possible he would be more understanding if he knew the real reason. It's your decision to whom you want to come out, and I can't offer any advice on that. But you should only tell him if you're really comfortable with doing so; I don't think the academic consequences of keeping it private are significant enough to enter in the decision.

The phrase "personal reasons" is intended as a polite signal that you don't intend to discuss those reasons, and that it would be rude for him to press you. There is some cultural context there (I am in the US) so it's of course possible he won't take it that way. If you know a better way to express this to him, by all means use it. If he is rude enough to demand more information than you want to share, you can just repeat that "it is a personal matter".

  • 1
    +1 For the last paragraph. I understand it and I think that advisor would also understand it (at least I hope so). To @aidenio, I believe more and more Chinese understand it in these days. It just takes time, that's all. Good Luck to you.
    – Nobody
    Commented Apr 16, 2015 at 7:14

You must log in to answer this question.