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Student Stories

Jonathan Mitchell

Jonathan completed his PhD in Marine Biology in March 2019, at The University of Western Australia in Perth

I came to Australia to start my PhD in January 2015, which was a big adventure as I did not know anyone prior to arriving, and I had not even been to Australia before. Despite this, I was able to settle here and make friends very quickly. I particularly enjoy the lifestyle here in Perth – the climate is warm, dry and sunny year round, which is great because I enjoy a range of outdoor hobbies, including SCUBA diving, cycling and hiking. Perth and Western Australia more generally provides great opportunities for these activities, and I have been lucky enough to travel to a wide range of places throughout my PhD, including Ningaloo, Shark Bay, Broome, Cairns and more. One thing I absolutely love about Australia is the wealth of nature here, and the ability to get lost in wild places and amazing landscapes. My PhD course has been demanding and hard work, but also very rewarding as it has pushed me to gain many new academic and life skills. I have also made many friends and had some incredible experiences during my study, particularly during fieldwork. The University of Western Australia offers a great environment to study in, with a beautifully landscaped campus that is also next to the river, so there are plenty of nice lunch spots! The facilities are also of a high standard for marine science – I have been based in the brand new Indian Ocean Marine Research Centre.

After completing my PhD, I am now living in Perth and working part time for my PhD supervisor, as well as teaching undergraduates. I am also in the process of finishing off some research papers from my PhD and am busy applying for longer term jobs. I also aim to travel back to Europe in August and see my family. One of the hardest parts about living in Australia has been living away from family, so it is certainly an important consideration when deciding to move here, but on balance the opportunities and experiences I have had here have made it worth it, and I make time to travel back to see family each year. My long term plan is to stay in Australia for the next few years, and I have just applied for a graduate visa, which will allow me to stay here for another 4 years. I am in the process of applying for many different jobs, however it is very competitive for marine biology graduates, so I am hoping it will not take too long to get a long term job (although I’m sure it would be the same level of competition in the UK as well!). Overall, Australia is a fantastic place to live if you love wildlife and the outdoors, and particularly if you are interested in studying marine science. I would highly recommend making the move!