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¿Estudiar en Zaragoza, conmigo? - Uff...

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Me preguntan desde la India sobre la posibilidad de venir a hacer una tesis doctoral conmigo a Zaragoza...

Dear Aishwarya,

I am grateful for your interest in pursuing narratological studies in Zaragoza and for counting on me as a prospective supervisor. Up to now we have had some international students from Europe, but this is the first time we receive an application from India. The research line in narrative theory you intend to pursue is quite valid and interesting to me, so that would not be a problem in that respect. I must warn you, however, that there are some practical difficulties which must be carefully considered before you take a decision.

First there is the problem of academic compatibility associated with the admission of foreign students. There's some information in English about the procedure here: http://wzar.unizar.es/servicios/ingles/insti/admis/docto.htm
I can give more information if you want once you read this, and I can help you with the application proceedings, but it's a quite formal process with lots of paperwork which may be irritating and even discouraging (not that I want to discourage you! But I think you had better have this in mind, not to be taken unawares). The most important thing, however, is to determine whether a doctorate in a foreign university is what you really need for your professional plans. I do not know about the validity of foreign degrees in India, if you do plan to live and work in India—certainly if you plan to live in the European Union, a European doctorate would be most convenient, but then you might need to validate your degrees here, which is a slow and (again) irritating process, fraught with difficulties. If you plan to study abroad and then return to India, you absolutely need to make sure beforehand that the degree you are going to pursue will have official validity in India—I am aware that perhaps you are not making such specific plans at this point, but perhaps this is something you need to do before taking such a significant step; certainly you don't want to take a degree course lasting several years abroad and then find that this is not the kind of degree you need in order to work in the country where you want to live. So thinking this out is quite crucial before you go to study abroad, in Zaragoza or elsewhere.

Then there are the specificities of doctoral degrees here. I understand you are on your way to your second master's degree: I am sorry to say that in order to enter the doctoral programme here you would need to take yet another master's degree in the English programme here (you can have a look at this in the website, http://www.unizar.es/departamentos/filologia_inglesa/master/master.htm). This would take about two years of postgraduate courses and a master's thesis before you can begin work on your doctoral dissertation. As I see it from here, it is not your best option in order to obtain a Ph.D. I should also warn you that students in our department take an inordinately long time to complete their Ph.D. dissertations (about eight years on average). And there is no financial aid to speak of unless you are a Spanish resident at the moment of application.

And finally there's no guarantee that you might get me as your supervisor, since the way things stand here right now I am not a member of that doctoral programme. This is due to a highly irregular decision taken by the organisers of the programme and by my department, and it's under appeal to the University authorities, I don't want to bother you with the details– but the fact is that, illegal decision and all, at this moment this is quite a real obstacle, and at this moment there is no easy way for me to supervise a Ph.D. in my department. Not to mention the unofficial difficulties, backstabs, etc., which might attend on the process... the academy is the jungle, you see. I am sorry I cannot offer better prospects, and to be so long-winded, but I think it is better to give your a realistic picture of the difficulties I see. As you have expressed a genuine interest in the kind of research you would like to carry out with me here, I thought you deserved a fuller view of the picture, rather than merely getting referred to the admissions office.

Therefore, on the whole, and taking into account your interests and your personal situation as a postgraduate student, I am afraid I must recommend you to undertake doctoral studies elsewhere, and to consider carefully the convenience of getting a foreign degree before you make your move. As to your research interests in narratology, I suggest we can remain in contact if you think I can assist you in any way, exchange ideas, suggestions, and so on. I would be delighted to do so. Only I see too many difficulties along the way to make it worthwhile for you to take a degree in Zaragoza. But again, that's only my point of view—and it's up to you to take a decision! Thank you again for your interest in working with me. Please write again if you have any questions about study in Zaragoza, or if you want to keep up the narratological connection. (By the way, was it you who wrote a review of The Constant Gardener in the web? I also liked the film!). I wish you much luck and success in your career.

All best wishes,

José Ángel García Landa

Miércoles, 29 de Agosto de 2007 14:39. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Departamento

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José Ángel García Landa

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