I am moving to Dunedin, New Zealand in less than three weeks. It wasn't on my bucket list. I didn't have a crazy dream telling me to go to New Zealand. Nothing like that...
In fall 2004, I started applying to PhD programs. I was a psychology student and saw myself working with people who needed help getting healthier. My vision of the ideal career was fuzzy, but I thought by becoming a psychologist I could gain useful skills for counseling people to better physical health and well-being.
By early 2010, I had completed a masters degree in nutrition, submitted well over 20 applications to doctoral programs, interviewed at one school, and found myself on the wait list at two schools. Each year between 2004 and 2010 lead to multiple letters of rejection, but also pushed me to explore new options for next year.
That summer, I decided to contact a researcher to inquire if she would be accepting a student for the next fall; she developed the intuitive eating questionnaire I used for my master's thesis research and I thought she'd still be researching the topic. "No," was the response, "but I know someone in New Zealand who is conducting similar research." Not being a shy gal, I emailed the professor in New Zealand. My background in psychology and nutrition complemented the work they had begun on middle-aged women's eating behavior and she was willing to discuss the possibility of me coming to New Zealand to study nutrition at the University of Otago.
In 2011, I interviewed at a program in North Carolina for the second time, found myself on the wait list there and at another school and finally received what I came to refer to as the "Thanks, But No Thanks" letters. Game on. The next several months were spent putting together a research proposal, applying to the University, securing funding and obtaining a visa. Once the visa arrived, I booked a flight that afternoon.
And now you have the short version of how this adventure began.