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Studying abroad: the adventure of a lifetime

By Jenika Katz - Posted on 26 November 2020

Moving abroad to study may seem like a big step but PhD researcher Jenika Katz did just that and she says that move began an adventure of a lifetime. 

Moving always feels like a fresh opportunity. No matter what kind of roots I’ve laid down, every five years or so I start looking for the next big change. I moved from Los Angeles, California to Orlando, Florida in 2015 to continue my career with Universal Parks and Resorts, where I’d gone from ride operator to safety graphics editor and finally to planning facilities. My flirtation with volunteering in L.A. turned into full-fledged love in Orlando, where I spent my time as an English Language Instructor for the Adult Literacy League and a Princess for Give Kids the World Village. Orlando was wonderful, but I was ready to look for something new. 

Visiting Scotland in 2018 with friends was an absolute dream, and I knew I had to return. I started looking into possibilities and I found Strathclyde Business School. I’d never heard of a department like Work, Employment, and Organisation before but it fit all of my interests so perfectly. Moving to another country to pursue a PhD however seemed unrealistic…unless I were able to fund my studies through, say, receiving a Fulbright grant. I floated the idea to my husband: if I were theoretically able to receive an extremely competitive award to earn my PhD in Scotland, would he want to come with me? His answer was a resounding yes, and we started researching how to move our three cats if the stars were to align. He never doubted me for a moment. 

I submitted my PhD research proposal to Strathclyde in August 2019 with the absolute certainty that I would be rejected. I didn’t think it would happen - my master’s degree was in a different field! I would only be able to go at all on the very slim chance that I received the Fulbright! Surely I was not the kind of person who could get a PhD! Imagine my surprise when I received an enthusiastic response a day later introducing me to my two new supervisors...

With Strathclyde welcoming me with open arms, I started the Fulbright application process and the long, anxious wait to hear back. I turned in my application in October 2019, found out I was a semi-finalist in January 2020, and received my offer in May. Since my programme began in October, there was a bit of a time crunch, but we’d thankfully been living in a sort of optimistic stasis since the semi-finalist announcement and had already started reorganising. 

Moving internationally was stressful, but the people of Glasgow have been lovely. Everyone has been friendly, helpful, and willing to teach me how to pronounce street names to avoid making a fool of myself. My programme is wonderful. Starting a new course in a new country during a pandemic isn’t ideal, of course, but the faculty and students are making the best out of it. We have frequent Zoom calls about our research and also just to socialise. It feels like a safe place to ask questions and admit knowledge gaps, and I feel like I have a strong network I can go to for the challenges ahead. 

If you find yourself looking at an unlikely opportunity, my advice is take the chance and apply! You too might be able to go on the adventure of a lifetime. 

To find out more about PhD research at Strathclyde Business School please click here. 




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