Keep calm and take a leap across the pond

Arriving at City University of London to begin my Master’s of Organizational Psychology

Arriving at City University of London to begin my Master’s of Organizational Psychology

At the age of 28, I quit my safe and well-paying corporate managerial position in Dallas, TX to move 4,500 miles to London, England to pursue an M.S. in organizational psychology full-time. Not only did I quit my job, but my supportive (and maybe crazy)husband quit a position that he was very happy in to join the adventure too.

Why did we do this? Allow me to explain.

I’ve always been passionate about Psychology. My grandfather is an accomplished academic at a large university where I spent many of my summers interning between middle school and college. As you can probably guess, I eventually earned an undergraduate degree in psychology, and I was determined to stay on that path. After college, I was accepted to multiple master’s degree programs, but realized that I needed some time to find which area of psychology I really wanted to pursue. In order to pay the bills, I joined a large health insurance company as a claims manager. To my surprise, I was pretty good at the role and eventually moved up the corporate ladder into various supervisory roles. 

During this time, I used my psychology degree on a daily basis when interacting with colleagues and customers. I soon began to observe areas of opportunity within the organization to increase efficiencies. I theorized that by empowering and motivating employees, our company would see long-term gains in effectiveness of our workforce. While I was cognizant of this gap, it was quickly evident that I didn’t have the research to back up my theories or the tools to solve for it. 

I began to research ways to better equip myself and stumbled upon the field of organizational psychology. It was the PERFECT marriage between my corporate work and my undergraduate degree. I was thrilled and became laser focused on how to get this skillset under my belt. 

Let me pause here for a moment to give some additional context that influenced our decision – 

Along the way in this story, I got married to the aforementioned crazy husband. We dreamed of going on many adventures together, such as a road trips and international trips, really anything to broaden our horizons before we settled down completely (you know – white picket fence, 2.5 kids, golden retriever, the whole lot). And one evening, it dawned on me.

Why can’t we combine our adventure with the pursuit of a master’s degree? 

Now back to the main story -

I swiftly expanded my search internationally and, to my surprise, after submitting multiple applications, acceptance letters began to come in. Ultimately, I chose City University of London, which not only had a strong reputation in organizational psychology, but also a location which provided an excellent launching point for us to explore and travel. After a litany of logistical concerns were solved - it was official -

WE WERE MOVING TO LONDON!

Waiting for our flight to move to London!

Waiting for our flight to move to London!

While I had spent a few weeks in Austria, Hungary, and the Netherlands when I was an undergrad, I had never been to the United Kingdom, let alone the huge metropolis that is London. And my husband had only been out of the country once…to Mexico for our honeymoon – being from Texas, this BARELY counts. Needless to say, the decision felt risky, stupid, scary, smart, and exciting all at the same time. 

Neither of us knew what to expect,and our friends and families had understandably mixed emotions of support and worry. They asked, “Why would you leave your comfortable lives here?” “Can’t you do something more local?” and, my personal favorite, “Why are you asking your husband to walk away from his career?” My husband and I grew closer than ever through the ideation, planning and execution portions of our journey.

We presented ourselves as a united front to our friends and family. We acknowledged the risks, but remained strong in our convictions and the reasoning behind our decision. 

We lived in London for 1.5 years and have since relocated back to the U.S. with even more fulfilling career opportunities than when we left. Our horizons were broadened, we grew closer as partners, and we even gained international working experience along the way. Taking the huge leap to REALLY invest in ourselves culturally and academically has paid off ten-fold.  As cheesy as it sounds, we both often say in unison we wouldn’t trade the experience for the world (no pun intended) and are huge advocates of others embarking on similar journeys!

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About the author

Amanda aka “Gilley” graduated from Texas Lutheran University with a Psychology degree in 2011. After working in financial services for 5 years, she decided to follow her passion of exploration, knowledge, and corporate culture by moving across the pond to London, England. There she earned an MSc in Organizational Psychology from City University of London. She has since relocated back to the states and currently works in IT for a large international retailer as an Organizational Change Analyst.

Gilley loves to travel, push herself out of her comfort zone, animals, and supporting fellow femmes through their unique personal journeys. She is passionate about local politics and gender equality. In her spare time, you’ll find her volunteering, working out, taking her dog (Emmit) to the dog park, going to local drag shows, and getting down on the dance floor with her husband and friends.