Oh the Places, You'll Go!
Dr. Krystal Warmoth, Valparaiso University Psi Chi Alumna
Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Psychology Applied to Health
University of Exeter Medical School
When I was a psychology student at Valparaiso University in Indiana, I would have never thought that I would be where I am now. Seven years after completing my undergraduate degree, I am conducting National Health Service-funded research in England.
I ended up in England as a result of an impulsive notion, really. The summer before the final year of my undergraduate studies, I worked at a summer camp with international staff. We discussed university—as you do with other students—and I found out that it only takes a year to obtain a masters degree in the United Kingdom. For the heck of it, I decided to apply to a couple programs in England for the following reasons:
- the short time requirement to get a graduate degree,
- no cost to apply (unlike in the USA), and
- an interest in studying abroad, which I had not done before because of other responsibilities.
I was accepted and started the following autumn at the University of Exeter. Over the course of the year, I studied social and organizational psychology with leading researchers, and fell in love with applied research. I knew that I wanted to pursue a PhD and was starting to look at openings back in the United States when my supervisor said that I should check out the openings in the medical school. I applied and was offered a PhD studentship in collaboration with the medical school and psychology department.
After three and a half years and countless cups of tea (yes, I drink tea now), I received my PhD in psychology. My student visa was coming to an end, so I applied for jobs in the United States. I worked in Houston for a year, but I missed the life that I had created in England. Consequently, I left my position and returned to the United Kingdom. I am at the University of Exeter Medical School again.
Looking back, I cannot believe what all I have accomplished. And there are several things that I have learned.
First, travel and/or study aboard. It is a life-changing experience. I truly loved my time studying in the United Kingdom and encourage others to do it.
Second, do not be afraid of starting over. I have had to do it several times in my life already. For example, when I went to college, studied in the United Kingdom, and moved to Houston. It is a part of life, and you learn a lot about yourself doing it.
Third, create a supportive social network. As psychologists, we all know the importance of social support. When I moved to England, I arranged regular Skype dates with my family. I actually talked to them more when I went to the United Kingdom than I ever did when I was in the United States. I also sought out different activities and groups in order to make new friends.
You never know where your journey will take you. As my fellow doctor would say (i.e., Dr. Seuss), “oh the places, you’ll go!”
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