A Dive into the Unknown

By Andrew Fenn
PhD student at the Centre of Maritime Health and Society, University of Southern Denmark.

Original photo by Andrew Fenn, edited using befunky.com (cropped and colour-adjusted).

My route was long and sometimes painful, but I would not change a thing.

My PhD journey has been interesting, and not necessarily conventional. I always wanted to pursue a PhD but never thought it would happen. I was raised in the UK. I did not have any particular plans for a career when I was growing up, and I was not exactly “gifted” academically at school. I was even told not to think about going to university, as my writing was so bad; that just made me more determined.

I went to university at 18 and studied food sciences and microbiology, which I loved because it was applied science and when science has a context it is a lot more accessible, to me anyway. After university, I went into the food industry, and one way or another I ended up pursuing a master’s degree in law. This was really interesting, and a world of options seemed to be opening up to me. I lost my job due to a restructuring. I got a job in food law quite quickly, but I had lost my house, and really did not like my new job. I stuck with it before being made redundant again – less than 18 months later. Life was getting me down and I started to get serious depression, my relationship failed, and life was pretty bleak. I decided to do some consulting work with a long- term plan.

My plan was to earn money, sell everything and then become a commercial diver – living out my boyhood dream. This was either going to work and be great or fail spectacularly. I went to Scotland and retrained. Eventually after many jobs in nasty places (and some nice ones too), I ended up in Denmark, building offshore wind farms. The gamble had paid off.

Eventually, I was offered a permanent job in Denmark after my first summer of diving here. The contract arrived on the day my daughter was born. Three months later we moved to Esbjerg. Eventually, I moved out of diving and worked in the offshore oil and gas sector, where I took another master’s degree, this time in occupational health.

A year ago, I saw a PhD Position to study motion sickness among offshore wind farm workers. This was the third PhD I had applied for, and this was the right subject, the right place (SDU), and the right time. My route was long and sometimes painful, but I would not change a thing.

Author Bio
Andrew, 47 yrs, is English and based in Esbjerg. PhD Student at CMSS-SDU.
He has 2 children aged 12 and 13. He keeps bees, he sails, and he’s a fanatical sea kayaker. He’s working hard to gain a Danish passport.