I have been offered a tenure-track position in Sweden starting this September. I am very excited. Due to both cultural and working system differences, many things are unclear to me. I do not want to ask them to reveal my over-excitement. Besides, some of my ideas as you can see below might be silly and premature.

Can you narrate a typical appointment procedure?

For example, I have these silly questions:

  1. Is there any formal inauguration? Do I need academic gown?
  2. Do I need to deliver a lecture about my previous works?
  3. What documents should I give to the administration? Should I give my awards and other certificates of merit?
  4. Should I teach a course right in September?
  5. Will I immediately given a space to set up my lab?
  6. When can I get graduate students to start research?

Sorry for the silly questions but you have no idea about the combination of over-excitement and chaos in my head right now.

I was wondering what universities in Europe have English-taught PhD/doctoral programs in art history (among those which are worth attending)? Apart from the English speaking countries, of course. I could have visited the website of every single well-known European university, but this will take a lot of time, and I thought there are some knowledgeable people here who can share their opinion.

Background

My life had (and still has) difficult problems (chronic disease and its consequences: social isolation, anxiety, having to take extra measures to take care of my health…). As a disclaimer, I am in psychological therapy right now.

That being said, I managed to finish my bachelor’s degree (mathematics, with a very uneven transcript with both very high and very low grades) and after that I did my master’s degree, this time with very high grades. I did my master’s thesis and then I was offered Ph.D. admission by the same research group in which I did the master’s thesis.

To the point

Now, the problem is that I am constantly reevaluating if I should do my Ph.D or 1) either find another program or 2) move outside the academia, and I am unable to make this decision due to the fact that I think personal issues are interfering. I identify several more or less objective problems:

  1. The Ph.D is in an applied department (biology), which is formed by specialists in the area, I have been told the research group is good in its area by a professor from another department (from the same university) which I trust, but since I am a newbie and have little knowledge about the area, I cannot test it myself. I have been here for 6 months.
  2. I did not choose this Ph.D. They chose me. I think ph.D students are actually scarce where I live, and that is a reason why they hired me. I feel I could be in a more satisfying Ph.D program or area.
  3. It is likely difficult for me to get funding in other Ph.D programs due to the problem stated above. This Ph.D is the comfort zone, I have funding (this is Spain, where even in private companies salaries, for graduate students with no experience, are not that high).
  4. I feel like academia is a good fit because it allows me to work without a fixed schedule and in a non stressing environment. Note that I have not really worked outside academia.
  5. My Ph.D supervisor is great, I like her as a person. But although she is a mathematician, I sometimes feel like she left mathematics and now she is a biologist more than a mathematician. This is leading me to think she not the right person to supervise a mathematician, past Ph.D students are happy with her, but most of them have biology related studies. Also,
  6. She chose a Ph.D subject which is now in stagnation. I warned my Ph.D supervisor about this likely outcome several months ago and she told me to trust her, up to a point where we showed we could no longer apply the technique (a particular machine learning technique) we were trying to apply to the topic, leading to now being trying to publish a result so that the time employed is not lost. I now feel as if we were trying to desperately find something to publish from a technique that has proven not to be effective. Not to mention that reading through papers in biology is difficult, as I find myself not understanding lots of things.
  7. I have enjoyed research, but not most of the time, I fear this has to do with personal problems not letting me concentrate, when I should be reading papers, I end up procrastinating with the phone or forums. I can concentrate when I like what I am doing, but not right now. I also do not feel like I have a strong passion for researching in a particular topic.
  8. I am also concerned about overspecializing in a particular topic that leads me to not being hired afterwards.

So the question is, How can I make sure I want to pursue a ph.D?, i. e. pretty much what title says, I want to avoid personal issues interfering with the decision.

Background

My life had (and still has) difficult problems (chronical disease and its consequences: social isolation, anxiety, having to take extra measures to take care of my health…). As a disclaimer, I am on psychological therapy right now.

That being said, I managed to finish my degree (mathematics, with not very good grades, actually my grades have very high standard deviation, with very high and very low grades) and after that I did my master’s degree, this time with very high grades. I was offered a ph.D by the same department in which I did my masters thesis, and after that the department offered me to join them to do a ph.D.

To the point

Now, the problem is that I am constantly reevaluating if I should do my ph.D or 1) either find another program or 2) move outside the academia, and I am unable to make this decission due to the fact that I think personal issues are interfering. I identify several more or less objective problems:

  1. The ph.D is in an applied department (biology), which is formed by specialists in the area, I have been told the research group is good in its area by a professor from another department (from the same university) which I trust, but since I am a newbie and have little knowledge about the area, I cannot test it myself. I have been here for 6 months.
  2. I did not choose this ph.D. They chose me. I feel I could be in a more satisfying ph.D program.
  3. It is likely difficult for me to get funding in other ph.D programs due to the problem stated above. This ph.D is the comfort zone, I have funding (this is Spain, where even in private companies salaries, for graduate students with no experience, are not that high).
  4. I feel like the academia is adecuate because it allows me to work without a fixed schedule and in a non stressing environment. Note that I have not really worked outside the academia.
  5. My ph.D supervisor is great, I like her as a person. But although she is a mathematician, I sometimes feel like she left mathematics and now she is a biologist more than a mathematician. This is leading me to think she not the right person to supervise a mathematician, past ph.D students are happy with her, but most of them have biology related studies. Also,
  6. She chose a ph.D subject which is now in stagnation. I warned my ph.D supervisor about this likely outcome several months ago and she told me to trust her, up to a point where we showed we could no longer apply the technique (a particular machine learning technique) we were trying to apply to the topic, leading to now being trying to publish a result so that the time employed is not lost. I now feel as if we were trying to desperately find something to publish from a technique that has proven not to be effective. Not to mention that reading through papers in biology is being difficult, as I find myself not understanding lots of things.
  7. I have enjoyed research, but not most of the time, I fear this has to do with personal problems not letting me concentrate, when I should be reading papers, I end up procrastinating with the phone or forums. I can concetrate when I like what I am doing, but not right now. I also do not feel like I have a strong passion for researching in a particular topic.
  8. I am also concerned about overspecializing in a particular topic that leads me to not being hired afterwards.

So the question is, How can I make sure I want to pursue a ph.D?

I am currently looking for a PhD in computer science for the fall in France, Germany and Switzerland. Although I still find some offers, I think applying in June is quite late.

What are the common periods to apply for a PhD in those countries and in which month do people usually start their PhD? Is it common to start it at the beginning of the summer semester?

I just started my PhD in an interdisciplinary research lab. For the research I wish to pursue, I am missing some methodological skills, particularly in statistics and machine learning. Are there any suggestions APART from taking online courses? How can I fill this knowledge gap whilst doing all the other (European) PhD duties?

It is frequently mentioned that PhD students are employed in Europe (e.g. the Netherlands, Scandinavia, etc). I still don’t understand how this affects a PhD program.

What is the difference when one enrols as a PhD student in the US or has a work contract in the Netherlands? Is there any specific difference in responsibilities, expectations, freedom, etc?

Please make a tangible comparison rather than listing various possibilities. If a student enrols in a PhD program in the US or in the Netherlands, how will their work and life be different?

It is frequently mentioned that PhD students are employed in Europe (e.g., The Netherlands, Scandinavia, etc). I still don’t understand how this affects a PhD program?

What is the difference when one enrols as a PhD student in the US or have a work contract in The Netherlands? Is there any specific difference in responsibilities, expectations, freedom, etc?

Please make a tangible comparison rather than listing various possibilities. If a student enrol for a PhD program in the US or in The Netherlands, how will his work and life be different?

In some European countries, PhD programs are free. As I understand, PhD opening depends on the research funds of the supervisor. In other words, PhD research is funded by a national agency or EU.

Some countries offer the programs for free and an international student in the UK should pay about $20,000 per annum?

In addition to the research cost (which is funded through the same routes), a PhD student has other expenses for the university, which is provided by the tuition fee in the UK, while in countries with free PhD programs, the governments provides the supports (correct me if I am wrong).

My question is: Why/how such governments support PhD education of international students? And if it is reasonable, why isn’t it the case in the UK?