I'm a year into my PhD (electrical engineering). I loved my topic from the beginning, and the direction in which my research is going. My advisor is also a really understanding and experienced Prof.. However, I am an international student here (Netherlands) and I don't like living here. I cannot necessarily point out one particular aspect of it, but life in general doesn't "feel happy" and is now getting to me. The place where I live is also kinda dull. I doubt I could go on like this for 3 more years. Normally, in times of stress elsewhere, the social aspects or something outside work always brought up my motivation, without really trying. That here is seriously lacking, at least from my perspective.
I find the university's attitude towards international students a bit indifferent. And, I dislike the graduate school. Its very disorganized. I would like to point out that I have lived in many places before (in and outside my home country) and this isn't the first time I got out of my house. I even have 3 years of work experience. I enjoyed studying in the US and made good friends easily. May be it was just accidental, I don't really know.
To make things worse, my phd is associated with a project, which is a highly disorganized, almost a bloody joke and would mostly get worse over time. I knew this earlier, but thought it would get better. It isn't. People in the project aren't thinking like engineers, sometimes ignoring physics, in short. This causes a lot of stress sometimes and could affect my research output itself. Having said that, my output for the past few months is not great either, due to stress, but I see that as a temporary thing.
I am contemplating quitting the PhD but continue to work on the research, from my home country, without a job/salary, to do justice to the topic. I haven't communicated this to my prof. yet, but he knows I have second thoughts. I came here only for the love of science, to improve my skills and not to escape my country (may be the general mentality in my country towards research, however, its not good here either). Having said that, I'm open to new cultures, people, etc. There are limits though. Reports of rising xenophobia in Europe also bother me at times, worrying about how it would escalate in the future.
In short, I feel the cons are outweighing the pros (funded phd, awesome topic, good prof.) and the cons might invoke lot more stress in the long run. I have no issues with the stress of learning and discovery itself. I understand that this is the essential stress. What I find difficult (and made me quit jobs) is the stress caused by bad policies/ attitude, peers, society, etc. And I find putting up with these things a waste of time and mental energy.
I would appreciate your opinion or recommendation on quitting in such a situation. Thanks for reading