The group of my professor and another professor from a distant Asian country have signed a cooperation agreement.

As part of the cooperation, me as a rookie graduate student have to visit the other professor. Unfortunately, the proposed days of the visit interfere with a few days of a personal holiday. On some other time-frames it is either too late or the host professor has deadlines to work on.

The only time-frame which fits all is the one which infers with my plans.

Both the host professor and my professor in their email communication asked explicitly whether the proposed date fits me. Of course it doesn't, but I don't know if I should say that or should I simply sacrifice my plans (a weekend + two bank holidays), lose a few days of personal traveling, and opt for the visit?

3 Answers 3


Have you already made arrangements for the holiday? Do these arrangements involve other people or major nonrefundable payments? If so, the holiday takes priority due to financial reasons or obligations to third parties.

On the other hand, if you can easily cancel all the arrangements and move the holiday to another date, be flexible. In this case, the visit is probably more important to you as an academic than the holiday would be to you as a private person.

Of course, I come from a background where PhD students are employees of the university with the same rights as any other employee. The answer might be different in a country where the student is subject to the whims of their supervisor.


How important is the research to you? And how hard is it for you to replan?

An enthusiastic grad student probably would jump onto the opportunity, but if you see it as a chore, and you do not see direct repercussions (after all, they asked you whether it works), you might decline it.

Of course, you may still be enthusiastic, but it may mean losing out on a pre-booked, expensive trip to the outback/jungle/mountains/etc. (or something else that requires a lot of organisation and/or money to arrange). In this case, the decision will be less clear-cut.


Depends exclusively on your priorities.

No one can help you but you!

Notwithstanding that, since you are the part of a team, IMO the best is not to mess up with plans of your team leader if you find the plan is good for both you and your team in the long run. A moral obligation exists, at least have an open discussion with your supervisor, random people is of no use here.

A personal side note: I would jump in to the opportunity if I were you! Well, I must say it depends a lot on the cumulative trust factor between you and your supervisor among other things.

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