Moving From Academia in the US to the UK

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Dr John Troyer has worked at the University of Bath since 2008, having previously worked at Ohio State University in the USA. He is currently Lecturer in Sociology in the Department of Social and Policy Sciences and is also Deputy Director of the Centre for Death and Society, at the University of Bath.

He recently talked to about his experiences of the move from the USA to the UK.

“Undoubtedly the biggest part of the process of moving to England is the visa application via the UK Border Agency. The University of Bath helped me with the necessary administration, although I had to complete a lengthy online application. You have to assemble lots of paperwork including bank statements and salary slips, and the whole process took around four months from start to finish. I had to pay for the work visa myself, which amounted to a few hundred dollars. In the end everything all seemed a bit last minute - my flight was booked and I was due to leave the States within days – but I was still waiting for my passport to be returned.”

John needn’t have worried- the passport arrived in time and he was able to board his flight for the UK. And this is a journey he has never regretted.

“The move to the UK has been a very positive one for me. I love my job here at the University of Bath and I’ve had opportunities to expand my networks back in the States that wouldn’t have happened if I’d stayed there. The Centre for Death and Society is the only place of its kind in the world, and working here has enabled me to work collaboratively with colleagues in the State and to speak at conferences there as well. Lots of doors have opened for me since I arrived here.”

The settling-in process also went very smoothly for John, partly as he already had contacts at the Centre for Death and Society. He also enjoys living in the City of Bath, with its varied cultural life.

“I love the fact that you can walk or cycle around the city. Since arriving here I haven’t needed a car, and in fact parking is difficult in the middle of the city anyway. Bath is a lovely place, and there is so much going on. My parents just love to visit me here!”

Finding accommodation in a new country can be a source of concern, but again John had no problems with this. The fact that he already knew people working at the University made things a little easier.

“Some colleagues told me about a perfect one-bedroom flat right in the centre of Bath, which was ideal. I stayed there for about two years, and then moved to a larger rented flat. I am not in a position to buy at the moment, and obtaining a mortgage can be affected by your visa status. When my current visa shortly runs out, I plan to apply for leave to remain in the UK. I have no plans to return to the US at all. Bath is quite an expensive city, although I have found that I can manage perfectly well, and I find living costs are generally similar to those in the States. And I’ve saved lots of money by swapping my car for a bicycle!

“As soon as I arrived I found my colleagues to be friendly and helpful. The University of Bath organised an induction programme which was very useful. I find the university systems in the UK and the US to be very similar. The main difference that I have noticed is that the teaching periods in the US are two or three weeks longer than those in the UK.

“My advice to anyone wanting to move from abroad to work in the UK is to plan everything very carefully, including all the paperwork for your visa application. Make sure you get all the details of the job lined up. I’ve had no regrets at all – the job has been perfect for me and I’ve not been homesick once!”

Words by Sarah Marten

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