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Navigating a New Environment

September 2021

September is a time of transition for incoming students. Starting a new program, meeting new people, and often moving to a new city. Even for current students, there are new environments, situations, and placements to navigate at the start of the academic year. It is completely normal to be nervous about these transitions, but there are ways to prepare that can lessen those nerves and promote a smooth transition.

In this month’s module, we will discuss navigating new environments by planning for costs, preparing for an international move, and finding a community.


We hope that you continue engaging with this content beyond the end of the module.

Packed Moving Boxes


Cost Associated with Moving
September 4 - 10, 2021

Never moved before?  That’s okay! This week’s topic is all about the costs of moving whether it be a domestic move or an international move! Even though we might make the checklist to go over everything, sometimes we just miss things.  So whether you are a graduate student that’s already dealt with moving or becoming one and expecting a move, here are some tips for a smooth transition.

Domestic Moving
  1. How am I moving?

  2. What will I take with me?  

  3. What will I buy when I get there?

  4. Changing vehicle registration/insurance (if you have a car)

  5. Will I live alone or with people?

International Moving
  1. How much does my flight cost?

  2. How much will my visa cost?

  3. How much can I take when I’m flying?

  4. What will I take with me?  

  5. What will I buy when I get there?

  6. Will I live alone or with people?

1. Cost of living and moving will vary depending on where you’re going.  Best to research how much living spaces cost and how much will it cost to bring your things with you! 

2. You probably won’t be getting that first paycheck in a while, so calculate how much you would need to have without your stipend before it comes in affect

Other things to note
Walking on Campus


Transitioning to a New Environment as an International Student
September 11 - 17, 2021

Moving to a new environment, whether it is a new country, or a new university can be overwhelming, but it can also give wonderful new experiences e.g., making new connection and experiencing new cultures. At PhD-Stronger-Together we have gathered some useful tips and useful information, that might make the transition easier: 

  • When moving to a new country, be sure to have all practicalities planned out e.g., finances, grants, housing and living costs, visas and permits, taxes, banking systems, currency, insurances, driving license, vaccines, education costs  etc. For more info view this checklist

  • Moving to a new university or country can be easier if you move together with another person. If you are moving alone,  consider moving into a shared apartment with other international students who are in the same situation as you

  • Find a mentor from your university that can help you with the transition – check our previous module on how to find a good mentor

  • Reaching out to people with similar background or from same country can be helpful.

  • Look up if there is a student council or graduate office - they might be able to help out with housing

  • Ask your colleagues if there is a way to get notifications about for social groups and activities that is happening at the university

  • Research what types of social networks and upcoming events your university provides. Develop communities around your hobbies in your local community. Perhaps the city you are moving to has teams or facilities that supports your  hobbies?

  • Be prepared for a culture shock / get to know the culture e.g., by learning the basic lingo especially if you move to a non-English speaking country. Your university might have language-courses to join.

For more info on the topic, listen to our previous recorded Grad Chat sessions where guests share their experiences of being an international student:

  • Being an international student and culture with Anwesha Dasgupta

  • Living in another country with Gúlsún Demirezen

  • Being Abroad with Thiago Arzua

  • Tips for a smooth transition to a new academic year

Also a big thanks to team member Suyash for helping with input to the content 

Best Friends


How to Find Your Community
September 18 - 24, 2021

Whether you’re moving across the world or attending the same institution as you did for your undergraduate degree, it’s important to start building a community as early as you can.

Surround yourself with people who will support you when you’re struggling and will cheer you on when you achieve a huge milestone. Shy away from getting too close to people who might cause you to develop an unhealthy work ethic or might fuel any underlying mental health distress.

Seek out people who have similar interests or identities, both personally and professionally:

  • Gender, race, ethnicity, religion, etc.

  • Hobbies (sports, trivia, cooking, karaoke, volunteering, etc.) 

  • Area of study/research

  • Career/professional goals

  • Family

Look for these people in a variety of places:

  • Social media

  • Your department/program

  • At conferences

  • In the community (yoga studio, bar, dog park, etc.)

Image by Christina @


Advice from the PhD Balance Community!
September 25 - 31, 2021

Check out the content below for advice on navigating a new environment directly from PhD Balance community member!

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