Today was the first day of my PhD. It's a very prestigious institution and I was extremely excited to start. However, it seems there is a general feeling of discontentment with people in the group and I was told some stories that, quite frankly, shocked me to the point where I was legitimately considering packing up then and there.
I was told that the supervisor of this group has extremely suspicious working practises, blocks papers from students to give the credit to 'preferred' students, has insanely unrealistic expectations (I was told that some students were expected to work through the night regularly), blocking people from graduating to get more cheap labor out of them, and many more things. The term "psychopath" was thrown about a lot.
I have recently completed my master's in a group where there was an extremely poor PI with an incredibly abusive and parasitic attitude towards the group. I don't really wish to go into it because I want to maintain anonymity, but suffice to say that I do not want the same experience in my PhD.
As you may realise, I'm extremely concerned that I've made a truly terrible decision and I would like some advice going forward. I realise that this is only my first day, and I am not going to make any rash decisions without more context and experience, but what should I be looking out for? How do I protect myself from abusive behaviour? And, most importantly, how do I decide when enough is enough and I should cut and run?
I would really like to get the PhD as I'm extremely passionate about the subject, so in order keep a science career possible I think if the option to quit is on the table, it would have to be in the first year. I don't however think that a career in science is worth the exchange of the toll on my mental health that an abusive boss will cause.