💼 PhD Candidate
⏳ Aug 2017 — Aug 2021
📍 New York City,
✅ Student Visa
📍 New York City,
💰 100% Financial Need Met
🤓 31,000 Students
🌏 35% International
I graduated with a Bachelor's degree, or rather two degrees, from University of Pennsylvania in the city of Philadelphia. The first degree was in Physics and the other in Material Science and Engineering. I studied to become a research engineer. I spent every summer working in the nanoparticles laboratory.
Having two degrees from UPenn, I turned my nose up and applied to the top 10 universities in the US. Only 3 accepted me: UPenn (but to broaden my horizons for a PhD it’s better to change universities), Columbia and one more, which was my safety school. Therefore the choice was clear, and the thought of laser research really got me excited.
Financial Aid for PhD
If you are accepted for a PhD, you are usually considered an employee (doing research) and you get paid a salary. In addition, the university fully covers the cost of tuition and housing. You can’t save up for a yacht, but it’s enough to cover living expenses!
There are no classes during the summer, so research work is in full swing. In a few days I'm going to try to collect all data for writing a scientific article. I come to work at 9AM and plan my day during breakfast. Then, at least until 5PM, I collect and analyze data, write sections for the article. Previously I spent a lot of time setting up equipment and debugging parameters in order to extract the necessary information from lab samples.
It gets harder while studying. You have to constantly switch your brain and remember to go to classes, even though research is the main goal of PhD. At the same time, the requirements for research work are not reduced, so you have to balance both. Generally not very easy.
You need to be able to adapt quickly, have great discipline and goal-oriented mindset. But the alternative is to sit at home and do nothing. And that doesn’t sound fun.
Life in New York
Probably the hardest thing about living in New York is high cost of living and the fact that New York is huge. It's true that everything is available, but to find something you often have to go ridiculously far. By the way, private transportation system, especially the subway in New York, is a complete disgrace compared to Tashkent and Philadelphia. Here the subway is dirty, the routes are confusing and the stations are often shut down for repairs.
In addition to studying, I explore city on weekends. I often go to Central Park, museums (with a Columbia student ID many museums are free), or just hand out with my friends.
Advice to PhD students
Don't be discouraged and don't be afraid of change! By nature, PhD is exploring something no one else knows. So you need to be open-minded, be prepared for unexpected results, but at the same time rationally assess the situation and your own understanding of phenomena. If research hits a dead end, you need to either break through it or look for ways around it.
If you're interested in developing skills of adaptability and working towards results with the top professionals in every field, then PhD is for you!