I studied/did research in the biological sciences and seriously considered doing a PhD at one point. Generally, from what I know, PhDs in the biological sciences will run 5-7 years. When you finish is really dependent on your thesis.
Hey again, wow it looks like you have a great opportunity if you’re willing to take it!
I will start off by saying that first of all, see my reply to Mrs.LemonDrop above, I don’t know where you’re getting 2-3 years from. Are you sure you’re not referencing a Master’s degree (MS)? Generally, people will pass their quals at the end of year 2 and then start doing the research that will grant them their PhD. Before that there are classes to be taken and research rotations in different labs to figure out what lab fits you best.
I’m currently in an LDR and might be separated for a while due to schooling. SO and I have had conversations about it, and we are committed to seeing this through. Of course it would be easier if we were closer to each other but LDR isn’t necessarily as bad as some people make it out to be, once you get used to it. Sure, I miss my BF and get sad about it and it’s not nice to have to sleep alone so much, but at the end of the day we are committed to making this work despite the distance. Of course, I have to admit our current distance is a little less than half of what yours would be and not international/intercontinental.
Still, what I am trying to get at is that if your relationship is meant to be, you will both make things work in order to be together. Couples make sacrifices–it’s not about doing what one person wants, it’s about what the best situation for each person and how you can make things work.
What does your SO hate about the US? Has he ever been here? I could understand this because when my family and I moved to the US from Europe in my adolescence I also had misgivings about the USA. However having spent a number of years here and living in NYC for most of them, I can say I very much appreciate this country and its people. NYC is a great city, you’ll meet lots of different types of people and I’m sure you’ll have more great opportunities coming your way.
I assume your SO is worried about distance affecting your relationship and whether he could handle it as well. Or the possibility of him even getting a job in the US. Despite the fact that Spain is in hot water where jobs and the economy are concerned, as an EU citizen it would be easier for him to get a job in another EU country (if there is a job available) as compared to getting a job/visa in the United States. Would he be able to get a job in the US that will sponsor him?
I don’t know what the academic institutions are like in Spain, but is the opportunity equal to or better than what you would get at Columbia? Realistically, how many doors would it open? I know for a fact that Columbia is a world-renowned institution and the connections you make attending a doctoral program there are most likely going to be valuable for the rest of your life. Is the Spanish program on the same level?
If I were you, I would go where the best opportunity presented itself. You’re young and you need to seize it now, because if you don’t someone else will take it and you might not get as amazing an opportunity later. Right now you need to invest in you. I cannot emphasize this enough. You’re young, you have a lot going for you–keep that steam rolling. Don’t give up an amazing opportunity for a boyfriend. If he really wants the best for you, he will make it work. I’ve seen love like that in real life–that’s what my parents have (if you want you can PM me about this story), and that’s what people deserve. Go live your dreams and let the situation work itself out.