I just started a PhD at a US top 10 uni on the east coast. I'm studying for my generals in January right now and recently got situated in a research group.
During my applications to grad schools, I intended to go into a certain subfield of physics. I narrowed down my choices based solely on which faculty in that subfield were at which universities and eventually chose my current location because of the brand-name recognition (I intend to go into industry after graduation). When I got to this university this fall, I switched subfields entirely.
The thesis project my advisor has for me is interesting, he is rumored to be an excellent advisor, and the lab dynamic is actually great. But there's something unsettling about knowing exactly how the next 6 years of my life will be. I am getting really anxious about being stuck on the east coast (which I find to be miserable, no offense) doing exactly what I see his current graduate students doing, 2 weeks off per year, in the same tiny shared office and lab space.
I am really getting the urge to transfer to UC Boulder or San Diego where I feel like I can live my life in an enjoyable way outside of the lab while still getting a great training. I also have deep regret for choosing this school based on its faculty for a subfield I am no longer working in. I feel like I would have chosen a uni at a better location had I known this.
I'm not sure what to do. Is transferring the right move? How different will my career prospects be with a PhD from UC Boulder vs Harvard/Princeton/Yale if I'm going into industry? If I wanted to transfer to a different program, would I need to apply for Fall 2017? (Application deadline in one week). Am I expected to explain why I am transferring? What would I do over the summer? Do I need letters of recommendation from my current institution, given that I haven't done much here?