Summer 2018, I am looking back at my first year as an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota. In June 2017, I defended my dissertation at the University of Amsterdam. After that, I moved overseas, to a new country, a new culture, and a new educational system. In the United States, you have to move to another university after graduating when you want to stay in academia. In Europe, this is less common. I graduated in Europe and had the opportunity to move to a different university in a different country. I grabbed it with both hands. Looking back, I realize how much I have learned already in one year.
Besides looking good on your resume, it will help you grow professionally and personally. Professionally, it helps you to understand different systems. I noticed, for example, that many things work differently in the United States compared to the Netherlands. I am not saying that one of the other is better, but it is interesting to see that different approaches work and have their own advantages and disadvantages. Moving to a different university – whether or not in a different country – will also help you build your professional network, it can give you new opportunities, help you build new collaborations, and may give you new (research) ideas.
Personally, you learn a lot from different cultures, make new friends, and become more independent. You also learn more about yourself, for example, what things you value the most. Moving to a different university in a different country can be a very scary thing to do – I was definitely scared at first – but it was totally worth it. I do not regret it at all and if I had to make the decision again, I would do it in a heartbeat. Therefore, I would highly recommend other (early career) scholars to look for opportunities beyond their ‘safe’ environment. Moreover, if you do not want to move yet, you may want to seek for opportunities to do a short research visit at another institute first.
Fig. 1 Original column published in EAA newsletter No. 40 (August 2018)