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Thursday, June 25, 2009

PhD comics - smile some grad students :)

Every graduate student in North America especially in the Engineering stream would have heard of the PhD comics. When I first saw their website, I spent a couple of days reading back through their archives. There was this immense sense of relief when I read the comics, to know that every student goes through similar phases. I could totally relate to another reader's comment: you feel like laughing and crying at the same time when you read them.

Some of the best ones -

There is a distinct difference in the way PhD students are treated in North America and Europe. In the US and Canada, you are still pretty much under the mercy of your supervisor and you can take anywhere between 4 and 10 years to complete your PhD(probably longer, I am not sure). The pay is certainly above a set minimum, but may vary depending on the supervisor's will and whimsies. In Europe though PhD students are treated more like employees, bonus, increments and all. After the first year, there is an evaluation to check your performance after which the contract is extended for 3 more years. So after 4 years, you are out.

The creator of the comics was at TU/e last week. I din't realize, the guy in the blue shirt in the comic, who is also the creator is Chinese. A PhD from Stanford, he started drawing the comics for his University paper for pleasure. It got very popular eventually and rest as they say is history. He talked about the power of 'procrastination' and urged the students to have fun and pursue their passions. The guy had the audience literally rolling on the floor with laughter! He tried hard to get a few Dutch words out! But the audience was in such mood that we kept laughing and cheering over every word he said. Good fun! :)
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