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phd abroad


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PhD Stays Abroad
see the world with BRICS Travels
by Anders Møller

• the purpose of going abroad • planning a stay • my stays • lessons learned / personal opinions • practical things to remember
23/10-2001 1

The Purpose
Personal challenges and development: • experience a different research environment (daily life, organization, research areas) • try being on your own (both professionally and personally) • get research contacts • get research inspiration (topics, focus) – knowing people and knowing how research organizations work is crucial if you’re aiming for a research career
23/10-2001 2

Planning a Stay
• Where to go?
– use your advisor’s contacts

• When to go?
– my opinion: shortly after the qualifying exam

• How long?
– 5-10 months (you can’t get much work done in less)

• What to work on?
– the ideal world: the group you’re visiting invites you in – this world: bring some ideas yourself for backup...
23/10-2001 3

My Stays (#1)
• AT&T Labs Research, New Jersey (2 months, Summer 1998)
– internship, company research (total 2000 researchers) – awesome place! (invented the telephone, TV, transistor, information theory, solar cell, laser, communication satellite, UNIX, Internet, fiber optics, cell phone, C++, ...) – worked on XML web/telephone project with Nils Klarlund (worked together before and since on the MONA project) – later evolved into a part of my PhD project



My Stays (#2)
• UC Berkeley, California (5 months, Fall 2000)
– visiting scholar, visiting Prof. Alex Aiken’s group – prestige university (ranked #3 in CS and overall, 18 Nobel prizes!) – outstanding research environment: close contact with Silicon Valley, Stanford University, Microsoft Research – seemed like perfect match of interests, but... – ended up working by myself on my own project – however, had lots of discussions about all the projects being worked on in the group – seriously considered staying one more semester
23/10-2001 5

Lessons Learned
• People have very different backgrounds (curriculum, research style, ...) • Professors (≈lektorer) in the US often have lots of influence but little time
– financing and organization – decide when dissertation is acceptable (typical: 5-7 years!)

• Professionalism:
– important to know other people’s results and the art of writing high-quality research papers – being constructively critical and sceptical towards ideas – have some long-term goals – always aim for the best conferences and journals – a closely connected, ambitious research group is essential
23/10-2001 6

More Lessons Learned
• Make visitors feel welcome
– show them around, introduce them, invite them to meetings (BRICS is exceptionally good at this!)

• Weekly meetings in the research group are great
– know what each other are doing – have a common overall goal – discuss the “big lines” of the area

• Department project presentations are great
– once a year, every research group should briefly present goals, ideas, and results – under-graduate students will know what is going on (good for recruitment!)
23/10-2001 7

Practical Things
• Visa (for USA):
– J1 Status, Exchange Visa – need IAP-66 form from place you’re visiting! – see www.usembassy.dk

• Housing
– can be expensive and hard to find!

• Bank account
– get one when you arrive – may need a credit card also

• Insurance
– talk to BRICS secretaries

• Folkeregister (if >6 months)
23/10-2001 8

• Industry research labs (internships)
– salary! ( > $1200/week !!) – may need official leave from PhD studies

• Universities:
– tuition fee may be required (depending on status: student / visiting scholar / ...) - BRICS pays...

• Tax reduction ☺
351 kr/day (10500 kr/month) + 150 kr/day (4500 kr/month) or documented housing expenses (me: 7700 kr/month!) – contact Skatteforvaltningen before and after the stay
23/10-2001 9



(it never rains in California :-)



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