This is a three month old memory and I am writing after a long time and perhaps after I realised that i need some time on this. So it was my last year at IISER and I was looking ahead in the future: where will I find my new home for PhD? After getting rejections from the graduate program in Cambridge and Sheffield, I was getting very nervous as most of my friends have got into good places for their PhD while I was still looking at options. It was March end, and I just started applying to various positions in Europe. I did not give GRE neither TOEFL and hence I could not apply to US. So I was limited by just 40% of the places. I also opened a Twitter account and luckily I somehow saw the advertisement of a PhD position in Population Ecology in Arpat Ozgul’s lab. In the same day Pragya (my special friend 😉 ) e-mailed me the description of the position.
Well when I looked at it, I did not think this place would offer me a position. They were basically an animal group doing some awesome research , and here I was still looking for options and what specific topic would finally suit me. But two things were common between us : they were quantitative (I am too) and they wanted to work in future predictions of environmental changes on animal population. I always wanted to work on this specific topic at some point in my career but never got the chance. Finally I worked on the cover letter, a short description of my thesis (which is all mathematical and quantitative) and my CV and waited without patience (I forgot about it as I never thought I would make it to the interview round)
In just a week span of time, I got their reply that I was selected for the interview phase. It was surprising and they offered to pay for my trip to Switzerland 🙂 . That was nice. However, I could not make it to the day all the interviewers were called since I would have my thesis defense the same day. So i booked my ticket for the next week. I think this was an advantage for me as I was probably not intimidated by the presence of other prospective PhD students.
Fast forward and I arrived in Zurich on April 30 after 26 hours of long flight! My flight got delayed in Kolkata and i missed the connecting flight in Abu Dhabi and so I had to board another flight for which i had to wait 6 hours in Belgrade and so on..
I arrive in Zurich and well it was beautiful!! The next day was bright and sunny and I went out for a walk early morning. I was presenting my thesis and interviewed on the same day at 1 PM and that did not stop me from having a nice stroll. I was living in Haldenegg some 10-15 minutes to Irchelpark.
Near Haldenegg, This view was amazing. Just outside of ETH.
This is where I had breakfast. They were surprisingly offering Assam Tea and Darjeeling Tea. I had a good chat with the people there about the Assam Tea!!
The no 10 train that took me to University of Zurich, Irchelpark. It was nice!
I clicked a few more pictures before I headed to my room for a quick review and practice for my interview. I arrived at Irchelpark at around 1145 am and roamed around to have a nice look . It was surrounded by slick architecture and lush greenery!
Uni Zurich, Irchelpark
There were around 14-15 people present in my interview and it did make nervous. Perhaps I was prepared for this, perhaps I was well prepared with my presentation. My presentation went for around 30 minutes and answering questions for another 15 minutes. I had to tell you that I got selected because my interview was pretty good. I could answer all their queries, presented without stammering (my big weakness) and without goofing out during the entire 45 minutes of my presentation.
Then again there was the next closed interview where only Arpat and few of his Post Docs stayed behind to question me further and of course tell me about the project. It went quite well i think. The next thing was to meet all the labmates and talk to them about their project and life in Zurich in general. This went till 5 30 PM. They invited me for dinner!!!
The dinner was awesome. I had like three beers and horse to eat as my dinner! Well that was neat and great . I did not quite like the gravy though! But the dinner and the conversations went till midnight! I had a great time. They made me laugh with their strange jokes and expeditions and adventures. Koen, one of their PhDs, talked with me a lot!! It was overall a great evening for me!
Thanks for the dinner! Had a wonderful time!
thank you Arpat, Koen, Gabrielle, Nino, Chloe, Molie, Sam, Chris and all. I am coming soon!
So it went well and I got into Zurich (Einstein’s university 😀 ) . The acceptance letter was also nice, the way they wrote it. And so it went great!!
I am coming soon! Watch out for more!