I rejected the option to receive a Stipendium during my Ph.D. studies and this is the reason why

Last week I needed to place an order for „eine beglaubigte deutsche Übersetzung“ for my old Ph.D. contract due to preparing myself to have a new research job next year, after almost 1 year of a well-deserved pause I took in March 2023. During this pause (a pause in which I finally got my car license, bought my first car, visited new places, relaxed, read new books, bought new clothes, played new games, and ate very delicious food, to name only a few creative activities), I planned the next steps in life. The Romanian original Ph.D. contract had 5 pages, and the German translation done after the original document had 9 pages. What total amount did I pay for it? Drum roll… 538,71 €. Tesla, where are you?!

The reason why I needed to do a German translation with an official translator and not just a DeepL version which I had :)) was because some people in Germany don’t understand how it was possible that I was not paid during the 4 years of my Ph.D. studies in Romania (in Germany usually every Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter during his Ph.D. studies is paid starting with TVL E13, Stuffe 1, which is around 2.500 € in hand if I’m not mistaken). In fact, in my Ph.D. contract, it is written that I am a Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiter and it is considered working experience, the only thing being that I didn’t receive a monthly pay due to me not opting for it. This situation reminded me that it would be great to write this blog post about my situation.

It goes like this: my Ph.D. contract was initially for 3 years and then extended for 1 more year because I finished my Ph.D. studies in 4 years. During my Ph.D. studies, I didn’t earn any money from the Politehnica University of Timisoara other than in the first semester for a few months when I was working as a Laboratory Teaching Assistant (a new separate working contract was made for this because I was paid by the hour; I worked 4 hours per week). Why? Because I never wanted to receive the „Stipendium“ for my Ph.D. studies. You might laugh or be confused as to why I rejected from the start the option to receive a „Stipendium“ for my Ph.D. studies. The reason for this, as I explained at that time to my Ph.D. advisor, who was also confused at that time, was that the Stipendium amount in 2016 was just around 350-400 € in hand per month (later, it got increased) and I thought that the money can be of greater help for someone else who might come from a poor family, from a faraway village, has a worse situation, etc. I knew that only around 3 people could get a Stipendium that year and I didn’t want to take this amount of money when instead it could change someone’s else life for the better.

You might say, like Raul, my former Ph.D. colleague said: „- Wow Sorin, you are so nice. A Ph.D. student who took the Stipendium money that year might have finished his Ph.D.; you will go to Heaven!“, haha. The answer is: NO! Why? Because none of the Ph.D. students who received Stipendium in 2016 finished their Ph.D., most of them quitting (seems like it is a known fact that more than 50% of Ph.D. students quit their Ph.D.) even after a few years. In a sense of humor: The Ph.D. title is like a hotty: hard to get.

Funny, right?! Would I do the same today if I had to? No. I would take that Stipendium, doesn’t matter the amount, and would have put it myself to better use. Plus, it seems that having a Stipendium during a Ph.D. is also seen with better eyes by future employers. I wanted to do a Ph.D. so bad, that I didn’t care about the money. Rarely do you see such an idiot, but hey, here I am, nice you meet you! Honestly, if the Stipendium amount had been at least 1.000 €, I would have gone for it, but 350 € was a joke for me, and wanted to let someone else in need from Romania have it.


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