How do you compare pursuing a PhD in Europe vs a PhD in USA?

Answer by Sathyamyla Kanthabhabhajeya:

Being a PhD student in Sweden, I think, I can write my views on Scandinavian Schools. Because, it is even different system within Europe.

In Sweden and other Scandinavian countries, a PhD study extends from 4 to 5 years. And this length varies if additional teaching duties included. In these countries, according to the school, a PhD student is considered as employee. So, the student will receive a monthly salary which is taxable. It is not scholarship. In Sweden for example, a PhD student pays approximately 28% tax to the Government. And the salary, is utmost equal to the grad students earning from industry.

The school also provides work space other than the lab. Usually, one will get access to a Desktop or Laptop and a working area with internet. The student gets hold of all publications from any publication society for free, since the schools pay for them. Necessary software, or other resources for the research can be purchased through the project funding from the research group, one is working for.

A PhD student is allowed to either present or simply attend at least one conference happening anywhere in the world. And the expenses for the travel, registration, etc are taken care by the research group. And depending on the research group, there may be a need for some course credits to be obtained during the study years.

In Sweden, there is one more half-way degree called Licentiate. It also varies between different departments that in some, this degree is mandatory. For this degree, one needs to write a thesis, and defend his/her research work so far. An opponent will be present.

The nature of research is more self motivating. Since the number of years of study is more, the student gets the freedom to take time and involve in the problem and analyze different possible solutions to it. A supervisor and a co-supervisor will be there to guide you.

To sum up, it’s challenging in a different way, and less stressful on the funding and economical part, able to travel and meet people who works in your research field, one can also go for study visits, a better office setup, gain employee status in the schools and better research environments.

From what I heard from friends, not in all universities in US help in scholarships & funds. The students need to spend time in project/scholarship applications.

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Posted in Educate, India, PhD, Quora, Sweden | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Women’s Day Special – 2014

This blog, I would like to dedicate to all the women in this world. Being a young woman, I come across many inspiring & successful women in different fields. Here, I want to point out few, who I met, spent time with, talked to, worked with and so on..

ImageTo start with My Mom! She came from the time when education for girl child is considered waste of time & money. She completed her MBBS, MD, PhD! She is now a successful Head of a Dept, running many researches and leading a team. By nature, she is Silent but a Powerful woman. Her Boldness to face any hard situations in life, her Self-confidence to challenge any circumstance the world threw at, her Optimistic thoughts on every step she takes forward, her Practicality to observe the real world, her Simplicity to make the world a better place and her Independent nature on decision making are all just astounding. Making the family run with two kids, and exploring new things in her career, she managed both in a fantastic way. The way she handles problem is polite but strong has made me think. She is just who she is, nobody can replace her. None of us would help her in home. She enjoys what she does. Each morning, she listens to music, she dances, she sings along, she cooks (breakfast & lunch), she clean the home, she help me & brother get going, she chit chats with us, she sometimes do yoga and get ready to work. And in the evening, again cooking, watching TV, preparing for next day work, closely watching all of us & sleeping. With all these, she is the one giving best advices even to relatives. These days I wonder, how did she really manage?! I admire her to be a perfect woman. She is a real super-woman for sure. I’m always proud of her. My Mom.


Another woman in my life – my Mother-in-law. Her character is astonishing. Though she didn’t get the possibilities for higheducation, her boldness to talk to any people is wonderful. She is more Expressive, her face can easily tell what she is thinking, her knowledge to talk to different people about different things, her bold Straight-forward answers to the face and all the cooking techniques she hold. The fast learning capability that she bears make me wonder. Either it can be car brands, or local political system, or up-trending news, she will know about. Just with her broken english, she made a beautiful conversations with a Swedish friend of ours. I have many more years to come to learn from her. My Mother-in-law.

ImageMy Chechi (Sister)! She is not just my sister, she is kind of Guardian Angel for whoever knows her. I first met her in her bharathanatyam performance. By birth she is Swedish, by soul she is always more Indian. The beauty, the perfection, the smile, the warmth, I felt all at my first meeting with her. Later her friendship, made me just fell inspired with her characters. The full fledged energy, always the smile in her face, the love she holds in her eyes, the way she make her home, the motherhood she bears just amazing. She is multi-talented woman. She speaks many languages, she dances many different types of dances, she run, she sings, she directs movies, she is very creative, she is a beautiful mother, she loves all, she is very artistic. Positive, Bold and Energetic. I used to wonder always, How she gets this much positive energy everyday!!


Coming from an orthodox Muslim family, the knowledge and rational thoughts she hold was just remarkable. My friend Abu’s Mom. Luckily, I had the possibility to spend a week with her. The hunger to learn new things everyday can be noticed at her eyes. She is unfortunate to give-up her dream to become a Doctor. Her passion to educate herself until the latest technologies, to study from the environment, to observe the culture, to analyze from lives of others and many more. She follows her religion in an intelligent way. Her independent nature, the way she looks into life and future are just phenomenal. Self-employed, simple, and extraordinary. I learnt the strive for learning new things and a woman can be bold & independent in any circumstances.

The list doesn’t stop here. Each woman, I come across has their own speciality & uniqueness. And I always want to learn from them. I will be very happy to mention a few with their personal best (my opinion) here. My grand ma (aachi) – For her consistent Love, My two best chithis(aunts) – intelligent home makers, Preethi – beautiful communicator, Aarthi – unselfish love, My besties Jaysh – Authoritative & Sundu – search for your passion/purpose, Abu – being independent, Deepthi – dedication, Malin – organized (again how she gets time for all?!), Monica – being always sweet, Nina – Football player, Sahar – friendly, Mahsa – daring, Dipti – expressive and many many many more..

I also like to note that with all these women, it is also the man, part of their life who supported! A humble thanks to all Men.. During this Women’s day, I wanted to remember all the women who made impact on my life. My LIVE examples are more cherishing than reading from dream women in books! Happy Women’s Day 2014!

(P.S: The names are selected in this way, just to add some variety while reading 😉 )

Posted in Educate, Life, Non-fictional, Women Rights | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Still an Incredible India!



It is most common with citizens of any country that they realize each country carry its own culture, only when they travel out of their borders. Carrying 1.2 billion people, speaking 22 official languages, following 6 major religions, occupying 7th largest area of the world, INDIA establishes diverse culture even within its own boundaries. Coming from a very small town in the south, I try to post my experience on the culture, nature, history and the pride of India.

With my unawareness to the external world and strange cultural difference, my friends have also questioned me, if I’m coming from some other planet! Indian culture might look strange and crazy to any people (including Indians themselves), who forgets to look at its deepness. Indian culture is strong and modern to travel these many centuries and still alive. I throw few examples of some of the so called strange cultures. No matter what religion or belief one follow, Indians always think food as medicine. One such food, is the use of ‘Turmeric’ which has a high medicinal value and being used by Indians for more than centuries, in almost all its main dish. A funny note – that recently, a US company has patented this! A sore throat – take food with pepper, Indigestion – Crushed ginger with jaggery, Nausea – smell of Lemon and so on. I am not claiming all the natural remedies originated from India, but I’m just claiming a point that Indian culture is deep rooted since 1000s of years and is still hard to be completely uprooted to follow the western modernization.

Recently, a friend shared an article about 108 ways to tie a saree (the traditional Indian dress for women). Added to all its diverse nature, is the diversity in dresses. Even with all the diversities, some common characteristics we share across the country can be taken like this.. With a strong sun in most of the seasons, we Indians have a strong communication pattern; we show our love aloud, we fight aloud, we cry aloud and of course we laugh aloud. Drinking hot coffee or tea will be the favorite option to do when the sun’s heat is just above the head. It is always very easy to communicate with a total stranger in a bus/train journey. It is also the case that we pray for our country to win a match of cricket. Celebrities from film industries are also praised equivalently. A family is never small; it always includes at least one circle relatives. Parent-children is a never ending bonding with children being always the first priority for the parents. Respect to the elders and mostly believe that elders and teachers know better than an individual. We celebrate all religions’ festivals. It is a public holiday for most of the main festivals. I believe, no other country in this world prioritizing any minority religions’ festive seasons!

By just listing a positive aspect, will be a biased blog. India is not a perfect country, it has flaws just like all other countries in this world. First thing to remember is that India is the biggest Democratic country. With this population and all the diversity is never an easy task to Govern and move economically stronger in a short time. If all European countries are joined and formed as a single country, then it can be India. There are rivalry within the country, poverty still persists, more than half of the population are not reachable to basic amenities, infrastructure of the country has to be improved a lot, in addition a big scary path against women and corrupt system. This just being the 66th year of Independence, isn’t the world expecting too much from a democratic country with about 1/3rd of the world’s population to grow drastically? Of course, with better politicians, things can be much better, but still this is never the worst.

With sharing the borders with Himalyas, Bay of Bengal, Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea, India has distinguished geographical regions. In all these extreme cultural differences, we are one single country always proud of. I will ask people from west to travel, explore Indian culture to see the other world. India is developing in economy, technology, infrastructure, and soon will be there where you are expecting us!


Kanyakumari (Southern tip of India)

Posted in India | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

The Knot

It is the rituals, mantras, slogans in sanskrit
giving no meaning towards it to me,

Maybe because I grew up in such a culture
they fueled some thoughts in me.

It is a guava in my father’s hand, together
holding also a hand of mine,

Then comes a gentle hand along with
touching as a third to mine.

Kaniga danam as they called, my dad
giving away my hand to him,

Quickly recognized the ritual, my eyes
having a sharp look towards him.

It is now the sacred thread in a plate
entering the stage with a look on me.

Heart pumping high, eyes flickering fast
body sliding towards
and the soul feeling wonderful
which can never be explained!

-The Knot

Posted in India, wedding | 1 Comment

Cultural Emergency

A terrifying incident which made many Indian citizens to think, talk and discuss about women rights, equalities, socio-cultural change in society is the Delhi Gang rape of a 23 year old girl. Though there has been so many brutal and similar rape cases we come across, I honestly agree this is the one which made me as a girl to think, talk, discuss and now to write. There has been many discussion forums from media, different points from politicians, police officials, women welfare organizations, and more over so many blogs by common people like me discussing this issue of safety for women in our country.The first feeling that I experienced after this news was anger later followed with sorrow. An extreme anger to execute all the men responsible for this brutality. Once I started to think further in this, is it just enough to execute these men and will this change the current status of women in our country? The answer came to my mind is definitely, NO! People might start to argue, “then should these men not be punished at all?”. I am not opening an argument here about the level of punishment to be given to these men, but how to take a deeper understanding on why these problems arise in our society?

To give a glimpse of an example from our country’s own history, during the EARLY Vedic period, women enjoyed “Equal Status”. Equal in every field as men! Literature, Archeological evidences and more documents had proved this fact. Women were good at education, arts, self defense, and in so many skills. Women were allowed to choose their husbands, and the parents who gets a girl child were treated like the blessed ones. To give examples from recent culture which we are following now in Hinduism, the Goddesses who represent power, nourishment, creativity and the stories of these Goddesses giving example of being equal to men. Only during the late vedic period, we as Indians started to deteriorate women in the society.

Until a few years back, I had a presumption that girls who tend to take alcohol, or smoke, or dress up illegitimately, defines her as a bad cultured girl. Not just me, I bet there will be lot of girls even now thinking it is the victim’s fault to travel in a bus late evening. This is the way we grown up. This is the exposure we have acquired, our parents had taught us in this way, we learn that never a girl can outperform a boy. With this poor exposure, as a society we are tie-up the girls knowledge, power to think, being strong and creative to the level of her own kitchen. Even today, if the women is a Boss to 10 to 20 people at her workplace, still kitchen is her soul room to share her anger, knowledge, power, creativity and anguish-nous. There is a quite an emergency situation here in our country for a cultural change.

Not the dress, Not the late evening hours, Not the fact that she is alone, it is the ATTITUDE of all men and women in our society that led to this case. I am not blaming just the men, it is also important for every mother to teach and make her son understand how important is a girl to the society. We as an outsider has no rights to question their freedom or no rights to certify their behavior. Still today, there has been many men, not letting their wife to work. We are still in a society were men (husband/brother/father) beats the women of their house. We are still making fun of girls, teasing, analyzing them in front of our own kids.

Girls are not dumb! Girls are not stupid! Women has the power to excel in Men in all field. Thats the reason, in this short period from women getting education, now they are the bosses. Respect the women around you! Your son will learn from you. And being a women, respect yourself and proud to be a woman, your daughter will top the world one day! This is like the seed we sow today, and hopefully will get the fruits in the future!

Posted in Culture, India, Women Rights | Leave a comment

Beauty of Gothenburg

After discussing some strong topics, this is time to take something light. Beauty of Gothenburg, the second largest city in Sweden from my first sight which is now before 4 years and plus. Ofcourse I was young and my first time flying out of India. My feeling was very new to me, scared, excited, anxious, confused all at one time! My first thought was, I didn’t wanted to make the common mistake of almost every passenger flying first time in flight do with the seat belts, so I was very careful listening to air-hostess ! Flight journey was good and I realized Frankfurt airport is really huge. With my window seat, clouds, blue sky, bright sun, increased my level of excitation. There came the announcement of landing, lucky me, with deep right turn of the flight with a view of the coastal line of the city, my expression was just wow, literally open mouthed! Until now, that flight ride was the best.
Getting touch with my visitor, the bus ride from airport to city, with all the colors of the tree during autumn is still in my eyes. I was the only one taking pictures of the trees and the road. It was a bright day, with clear sky, lined up with tress in different colored dresses like yellow, orange, red, pink, some with light green, and so many more. Once reaching the city, first time confused with the traffic rules, since all cars and buses go in wrong direction, no one maintaining Left, later realized Right was right! Trams are super cool, running in normal speed along with the buses and cars. Everything was so new, no ticket checkers in trams and buses, city roads are super clean, no one looked at me strangely, trams had airconditioner, peeped into  entrance of Chalmers (my Univ) from the tram, dogs just sat next to me and i was not sure if I am supposed to get scared or not!
With the moment of enjoyment of my first tram ride, started enjoying my room with beautiful view from window. Getting to know things by myself was lot of fun than someone teaching us. This is the time I started enjoying learning from mistakes formula. It was quite fun! Almost everyone spoke English except the public service officials ;). Sometimes if I have no clue on what is happening, I blindly followed the crowd and figured out. Photography became my hobby, started loving nature, long walks and discovering new routes were my free time activities. Sweden became more interesting with my two first swedish friends who helped me to socialize with others, I bet they both should had lot of patience with my innocence! Everyday was a new experience. Amazed with how expensive things are, people are interestingly kind, helping natured. One lady just walked with me for 5 mins to show me the right direction, while she need to go back where she was from! Anyone would give you a smile, if you smile at them.
My First snow, which actually was just a hail. Months pass, darker days started, even then my excitement for Gothenburg never faded. When the days get darker, I started the enjoying the chill, cold, winter and the beautiful christmas decorations and lights everywhere. I tend to see the decorations in each house I pass by, which brings bright smile in me. And when time went back for one hour the first time, oh wow, now we change the time! After getting snowfall, I tend put my foot where ever I find a pile of snow and take a picture. Snow adds brightness to your day. Slippery  roads, rainy winter, windy rain are typical nature of Gothenburg, each proves its own beauty of the city. “Any weather is good weather, if you dress up accordingly” – is a swedish proverb, which makes total sense to this city.
All climates change in exact one or two days. It was quite a cold winter, and after some two days in the month of May it was Spring. Flowers everywhere, colorful flowers, the pink tree season is the one still I love to be in Gothenburg. Life of this city can be felt in the seasons of Spring and Summer. When there is sun, people tend to come out and show their face to the bright sun light! First I laughed watching them do it, later I started following it. Summer was next best season with lot of activities, even the city crowd will be less because of vacations, it is wonderful to enjoy the green Gothenburg. Colorful dresses, fashionable accessories everything pop out when there is sun. It feels like everything happened just yesterday, my first snow man, snow ball fight, bike ride, liseberg theme park, birthday gifts, surströmming, trip to copenhagen, best Da Gang, along with this beautiful city, made my initial days of Sweden, most memorable ones.
Posted in Autumn, Christmas, Gothenburg, Lights, Nature, Photograph, Sweden, Winter | 2 Comments

மாற்றம் ஒன்றே மாறாதது

We all know the saying of Shakespeare, “All the world’s a stage and All the men and the women are mere actors”! This has several meanings, one stating we humans tend to cross different stages of life, the other meaning is, even though, we humans think we are independent, in this world’s stage, we are performing our role that need to sync with the play! Whatever Shakespeare thoughts are about, in my colloquial English, I say, “All world is a stage, where All men and women perform different roles for the same play named ‘Life’.”
As a human, we never performed one single role through the entire time in this Earth. We switch roles, we imitate others roles, we steal other’s part of the play, we sing, we dance and move on. I now try to hypnotize you, and lets move to the ages of childhood. Now we at the age between 2 and 3, the one & only superhero of the world is none other than your Dad and the one & only angel of love of the entire world is your Mom.  The faith, hope, truth, love, passion and happiness (FHTLPH) has the same meaning as your own Parents. Ofcourse there were so many struggles during that part of your life, something like, ‘the ants are not listening to your words’, ‘the toys are not moving by themselves, you have to carry them by yourselves ALL the time!’, ‘some mosquito bit you’, ‘your sibling tortures you by not giving you biscuit’ and so on! Everyone faced these horrible struggles that are to be faced in that small age. Life is tough isn’t it?
Isn’t these struggles thinking now make us laugh? Is because, we are no more playing the same role in main play. We have passed so many clouds now. Lets go back to our hypnotizing session. Now lets see, where we are! And that be the age of our teens. Now our FHTLPH got shared between our parents & friends. Friends & crushes are the most important persons in life. “Man, how could one live without friendship?”, “I can give my life for my friend!”, “You are my ONLY best & true friend”, “We will be friends forever”and so many dialogues in these years (definitely got applauds during those years). We wanted to spend more time with friends than with family. Friend’s problem was our top priority problem that is to be solved. Suddenly, friendship is the best part of this play. There are many good friends even after we pass on this roles, but you will notice the change at the end of this article.
“Friends are my world”, slowly changes when comes the part of your role change during the ages of 21 and 28. Travelling towards this age, what we see is the fear of future, fear of career, fear of life. What job opportunities I have?, What am I going to do without job?, What a struggle to settle down?, Even if some got a job, Why am I here in this boring job?, Do I want to do this job for rest of my life?, How to save money?, My FRIEND got a better job! and so on and on! Little confused, not so many around to trust, already lost the hope on our parents (during our previous performance), being alone & confused. This is the time our role in the play is to shaping oneself. The number of years for this role varies between person to person. But the more your put good acting skills in this part of the play, you get better paid at the end.
Now the next part of the play with a new role, as a head of your own family. Between late 20s and 30s, a life partner comes into your play. This character might have entered in any part of the previous roles you have been performing before, but from now on, this character follows your role with their own scripts to the scene. Suddenly, you start to realize career is just part of life & so, it has to be double performance during the same time. Most difficult so far isn’t it? Even your life partner character doing the same, equally performing like yours. Home, becomes sweeter, lovable, and there exists some reasons to continue this play. As we are doing parallel performances, struggles both the sides and it continues, until, the next role turns around, is to be a responsible Parent.
Its time to concentrate fulltime, take care of your kid as your parents did. And just as recap, we already not thinking about our parents, friends, crushes, life partner but just kids and career.  All of them are still in part of this play, performing their own roles just like you, everyone thinks about each other sometimes and move on.
CHANGE, The only thing that NEVER changes. In these roles it is not just FHTLPH that we carry along but also Ego, Angry, Greed, Selfish, Sad, Hate (EAGSSH). Lets try carry our memories filled with FHTLPH and face the rest of the roles, while leave behind the rest. And share FHTLPH to all our beloved ones while we travel in different roles of the play..
Posted in Change, Life, Nature | 3 Comments