“More than I love life itself”

I don’t believe that Love Conquers All. I certainly don’t believe that Love Is The Answer. I’m intensely skeptical that All You Need Is Love. Love doesn’t solve or erase life’s problems. 

But a splash of love makes overcoming life’s hurdles worth it, and shows you what you should fight for. 


I’m not necessarily finding it easy settling in to Basel. Same as I didn’t always find it easy to settle in to Philadelphia. Things are slightly more complicated here in Switzerland by the following factors:

– I don’t speak the local language(s), and probably won’t be proficient/confident for many more months yet. This makes it harder to meet new people and navigate the unknown.

– The cost of living is more expensive in Switzerland than it is in the UK or USA. Meaning I have fewer funds for travelling, hobbies or “general cool stuff” that would make my life so much more interesting.

– Thinking about what comes next is quite distracting. GRE revision, reading journal articles, drafting applications all take up time (weekends) and effort. You battle with uncertainties, doubts and change your mind several times a week. Am I doing the right thing? Am I thinking about this in the most logical way?

– The new academic year at the University of Edinburgh has already started. I’ve seen the Status Updates on Facebook and had to click ‘Not Attending’ for the cool events set up. Meanwhile, the friends in my year group are heading off around the world…enrolling in their postgraduate programs…reporting back on their new jobs. The world moves on, with or without me.

It feels so tempting at times to just…give up. Quit the job and move back to an English-speaking country. Stay indoors and hang on to friendships via the internet alone. Give up on the idea of a PhD altogether and just fire off CVs until somebody, anybody agrees to hire me.


Then I hear that quiet voice in my head:

Stick with it. Stay in Switzerland: Basel’s worth it.

(Copyright Christian Stöcklin)

…I know it’s worth it when I walk over Wettsteinbrücke at night and look back to the Münster.

(Copyright Angelo Gasparro)

…I know it’s worth it when I look a little further down the Rhein towards Les Trois Rois Hotel and the Mittlerebrücke.

(Copyright Eric Anderson)

…I know it’s worth it when I swim down the Rhein on a warm, lazy Sunday afternoon and get to admire the old town floating past me.

Yes, somedays I go to bed frustrated and weary. But I wake up at 6am every morning wanting to get out of bed and go to work. Because I really enjoy my job, and because I like the people I work with.  That’s not something I ever take for granted: there have been several jobs so far that have made me dread entering the workplace, for which getting out of bed and out the front door was a miserable act indeed. I know that this kind of job is where I’d ideally like to end up, based upon the fact that it actually seems to make me happy. That’s motivation enough to stick with it – to go after the PhD, read all the damn papers and chat to my work colleagues about how best to write up a Personal Statement.

I’ll attend the language classes, join the conversation groups, go out to the socials I’m invited to, drink enough coffee and read journal articles until I find a professor doing interesting work. I’ll save carefully during the week to make sure I can afford the weekend adventures. Whatever it takes. And when I start to have doubts I’ll go and stick my feet in the Rhein until they’re washed away.

Living in Basel is difficult. But totally worth it.



One thought on ““More than I love life itself”

  1. I really ❤ this piece. I'm glad you've got work you enjoy doing and people you enjoy doing it with!

    And you seem like a clever nut so I'm sure you'll crack the language barrier really soon! 🙂

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