I don’t know, if it is an issue only of Polish PhD students, or it is also possible in others countries, that there are PhD students without any financial support from a University where they do their PhD studies….

I will picture a PhD studies financial background now.

To makes things clear – there are scholarships for PhD students at my University, and you need to apply for them every year:

  • One of it is only for 30% of PhD students which receive the highest amount of points in a ranking. There is special list of things which you can do to receive specific amount of points, then they sum up your “achievements” and points. Unfortunately some of my activities and achievements (as international scholarships) are not included into the list. (about 200 euro – average wage in Poland is now about 1125 euro, minimal wage is about 460 euro)
  • Second of it depends partially of your grades from exams – you need to have at least average grades 4.5 (5.5 is the highest grade 3 is the lowest it pass), and also other criteria. Unfortunately my grades average was always between 4 and 4.5, but never 4.5, so I could not apply for it. (about 175 euros)
  • Third of it was suspended by the University for last one or two years, because they said that part of people who received them in the end didn’t defend a thesis… This year they introduced it again. (about 360 euro)

During my first year I was sponsored by my lovely Husband. On the second year I received a scholarship on national scholarship competitions, financed by National Bank of Poland (about 625 euro). On the third year I was financed by DAAD (1000 euro – average wage in Germany is about 3612 euro, minimal wage is about 8.5 euro per hour, so per month it will be about 1360 euro). And now I am again sponsored by my lovely Husband. From January I will have a “salary” from my research grant, but even National Science Centre doesn’t call it the salary, they call it as “dodatek do uposażenia” (in addition to a salary), because of additional administrative responsibilities connected with your grant (about 250 euro), they expect that your University should secure your real salary. For all business trips, books, conferences, I needed to pay from my own money. Sometimes it is from 500 to 750 euro for conference fee, ticets and accomodation, because I prefer to invest in one good international conference per year. Exception was during my stay in Germany, because DAAD provide extra money from my German University to pay such costs. And now from my research grant I also can paid for conferences related with the topic of the project.  

So, half of my PhD student career I am not paid for what I do. And what should I do… Don’t work during this 2 years… Or stop working now, because I don’t have any money from it… and for it…

What is annoying for me? When people consider that I am just a student (because I was obliged to attend courses and pass exams), that I don’t work (I am not employed, I even don’t go out from my home), that I don’t earn money doing what I do (for some of them scholarship is not a salary). 

I treat my PhD as a full-time (sometimes paid) job. I invest most of my time, energy, and also my own money into it. I spend 6-8 hours every working day in my home office working on research to my PhD or to some “side projects”. Last 3 years I invested also a lot of time to learn to courses and to pass exams. Last year in Bremen I felt as in a “real job”, and even people from my close circle started to treat me more serious, because I went to the office, I was paid for that, I was involved into leading of lectures… And now I am back at home, and from some people I heard all the time – “But you don’t work for real, yes?” I even don’t try to convince them that I see things differently, or maybe I should… 
And it makes me feel, that people don’t treat my work seriously… And I feel less motivated because of that. Sometimes, I feel kind of naive that I devote myself so much into this PhD, seeing people who invest less, and find themselves better in this reality… However, I will continue to work every day… And hopefully, in the end, after my PhD defence, I will find a place for myself, here or there. 

In the end of the day, experiences, challenges, people who I met, personal growth, changes in my life during and because of my PhD adventure are priceless. And even if I am sometimes angry, disappointed, unmotivated, I think that it was worth, and it is worth to continue, and to reach my goals. Because there was something why I decided to start this adventure. As my Friend-Young Spirit last wrote to me “thats why on a journey when you have a goal ny down has to be seen as the necessary charging phase for extreme output and achieving what we actually want :)”. Now I see that it wasn’t accidentally written message 😉