A PhD Student’s Guide to Living in India

indian phd

India is a country with diversity in terms of culture, languages, traditions, and values. It is the second-largest higher education system in the world with more than 800 universities. Those who want to pursue PhD courses in India will experience a vibrant campus life, cultural life, and the lifestyle of the people. This article will help you know about living in India for students who want to pursue PhD programmes. 

11 Things to know about India if you have applied to a PhD program

Student Life: Most of the Indian Universities are located on beautiful campuses. The events and host festivals allow students to experience traditional Indian life. International students are welcome and can settle easily as all PhD courses are delivered in English. 

Tourism and Culture: India is famous for its myriad of attractions and its rich heritage. It is one of the most popular destinations for tourists in the world. As a student, there are many opportunities to immerse yourself in the culture. Aspirants can explore the architecture and beauties of India like City Palace, Sun Temple, Taj Mahal, beaches, Ajanta Caves, National Park, wildlife sanctuary, etc., during their PhD studies. 

Leisure and Sports: India is a country with serenity and diverse terrain. The country offers different activities like paragliding or trekking, canoeing, diving, and surfing. During the PhD studies, candidates can perform all these activities. Apart from these activities, candidates can go for jungle safari, motorcycle adventure, or can join mountain biking. As India is the birthplace of Yogas, so many yoga and spa centres allow us to begin on a spiritual journey.

Food and Drink: India is famous for its spices, food, and drink. Vegetables and fruits are the central part of every meal. In India, those who want to pursue a PhD program can find many street food vendors, street dhabas, and fast-food restaurants. One important thing to keep in mind is that the service and tax charges are not included in the prices apart from some cheap restaurants. 

There are plenty of bars in most of the big cities. A good selection of domestic and imported drinks are served by more upmarket bars. Bangalore is said to be the craft beer capital of India. Some restaurants do not serve alcohol. Local non-alcoholic beverages include masala soda, tea, and fizzy soft drinks. 

Accommodation: For PhD international students, some universities do not provide on-campus housing. So, for accommodation, they can go for rented houses such as apartments, hostels, or shared houses. There are three types of accommodation available for PhD students in India:

  • International hostels: International hostels provided by the university are the halls of residence that are similar to those in the United Kingdom. Some Indian Institutions provide accommodation specifically to International Students.
  • Combined hostels: Combined hostels are not exclusive to overseas students.

Apartment/Private room: Without catering, Apartment/Private rooms are available for rent.

Accommodation Costs: Compared to Europe and the UK, the cost of accommodation in India is relatively cheap. For an apartment outside of campus, aspirants can expect to pay around 7000 to 11500 rupees (USD $99 to USD $160). 

Living Costs: India can be said to be one of the least costly study-abroad destinations globally. For transport, accommodation, food, and other living costs, aspirants can expect to spend 230,000 (USD $3,200) per year.

In the below table, we have shared the approximate cost for some everyday expenses during a PhD course in India are given:

Student Cost of Living in India 2021:

Cinema TicketINR 250.00 (USD 3.39)
Restaurant MealINR 177.50 (USD 2.41)
Travel Pass (Monthly)INR 700.00 (USD 9.50)
Monthly UtilitiesINR 2,862.45 (USD 38.87)

Working during PhD: To study in India, aspirants will need a student visa which is issued for five years. During study in India, the Indian Government does not allow international students to work. However, Persons of Indian Origin (PIO), Overseas Citizens of India (OCI), Non-Resident Indians (NRI) are exempted from this rule. They can work as a part-time job for which they do not need permission from their university. 

While undertaking their PhD, international students are able to do training and internship, but this training and internship must be relevant to their studies or part of the PhD courses. 

Banking: Before arriving in India, it is a good idea to open a bank account which will help to receive a rupee or make payment. International students are required to provide KYC documents while opening a bank account:

  • Valid India Visa.
  • Valid Foreign Passport.
  • Overseas address proof.
  • Indian address proof.
  • Copy of Foreigners Registration Office Permit.
  • Letter of contract from employer/ supervisor.
  • Passport-size photo.
  • Form 60 or Copy of PAN card.

Transport: In India, there are many options for transportation from rickshaws to airlines when it comes to travel within a city or a different one. The most popular means of transport in India are – Rail travel, Air travel, and Intercity travel.

  • Rail travel: India’s rail transport is one of the largest networks in the world. It has more than 7000 train stations across the country. For long journeys, it is advised to travel by train as it offers a smoother ride than any other means of public transport.
  • Air travel: In India, domestic air travel has vastly expanded. The major airports of India include Indira Gandhi International Airport located in Delhi, Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport located in Mumbai, and Kempegowda International Airport located in Bangalore.
  • Inter-city travel: India’s most significant cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, metros have been established. There are other local transports such as trains, boats, buses, cycle-rickshaws, etc. Compared to ordinary taxis, app-based taxis such as Ola Cabs, Uber are also very convenient.

Thus, this article provides valuable information on living costs, work permits, accommodation options, banking, and transport. As India prides itself on being a place for creativity, innovation, and leadership, it can be said to be a great place to study for PhD for international students. 

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