Here’s the converse of having fairly clear expectations of the future: suddenly having to start thinking about all sorts of long-term choices with no confidence about where in the world I will be after a certain date.
It may be that I will be leaving the PhD program and, in that case, I really don’t know what I would end up doing with myself.
When I was trying to leave Ottawa, I applied to jobs in the U.K., Canada, and the U.S. When none of those worked out, I applied to a bunch of PhD programs. Coincidentally, I was already living in Toronto when I decided to attend U of T.
Toronto is quite a high-cost city, but I am also in a pretty fortunate situation here, with a very nice place to live which can be afforded on even a grad student’s income. Being near Massey College is another plus (as is feasible bus travel to Montreal, Ottawa, Boston and New York), though my five years as a junior fellow come to an end by September. Affordable housing would be hard to find in Vancouver, which would be a natural alternative home. It has been a long time since I have lived there, my family is there or nearabouts, and it’s a beautiful part of the world (where important climate activism is ongoing). A third option is another big round of job applications, with the relocation decision to be driven by what comes up.
Nothing is certain at the moment. It remains possible that I will complete my PhD at U of T. From the perspective of the research itself, I am strongly inclined to stay on. Having done so much to develop a method for studying all of Canada’s campus fossil fuel divesment campaigns, it seems a shame not to carry it out. Theoretically, I could recast it as an independent research project, and potentially seek funding from NGOs that would be interested in the results. It may also be possible to reach an agreement with the university to write an independent research project and use it along with my courseworks and comprehensive exams to award a lesser degree.
One option to handle the next few months is to try to apply for summer TA positions, complete my current teaching work and grading, and prepare for the two conferences where I am presenting in the next couple of months. By the end of August, it will be definitively settled whether I am continuing with the PhD.