This question was actually asked previously, but it went on hold. So I simplified to make it visible, as I need a quick advise.
I am an international graduate student, currently working in a lab for 2 months now. I would like to know how to deal with an advisor who keeps changing his mind unexpectedly. His decisions are erratic and sometimes are completely contrasting.
For instance, he appreciates my work ethic and that I did better than X, and complains about my poor progress and lack of research experience the next day. He would again come and apologize. He says that he doesn't have time and patience to train new students, as his research is fast-paced.
He also said he would give a thesis topic to work on one day and then asked me to come up with my own later. He promised on funding my masters first and now he keeps asking me why he has to fund, when I didn't show enough progress.
He knows that I am new to his field before accepting me, he also knows my financial condition pretty well.
I worked during this summer for 2 months now. I traveled 3 hours a day to go to lab and bore my own expenses. After all my work, now few weeks before the semester to begin, he decides to test me whether I am fit for this group or not. He gave me a week time to prepare a whole course.
I don't understand his opinions. I was preparing to come up with a research topic and suddenly his decision to test me worries me. Why didn't he decide to test me before hiring? Why now, after coming to a mutual understanding about funding?
How to tackle this situation? As an international student, it is nearly impossible for me to arrange my tuition fee now, as I thought I am getting funded.
How to tackle this situation if he rejects to fund now? How to deal with such advisor even if I continue?
A week later, after the "test he intended to conduct,
I first decided to prepare well, before taking any decision. So, I met him today. I prepared as much as I could. I did have some doubts, where I couldn't understand, nor find relevant information. Before asking anything, He gave a publication and 10 minutes time to understand it. I was able to read half of it. He took the paper back and opened a page in my notes which I prepared during my preparation for today. He saw where I marked as "doubt" and said, "if this is a doubt, then I am sure you have no idea of what all this is." Then he flipped a page and stopped at an equation and asked me to explain what it is all about (Unfortunately, I didn't understand some of it's parameters) and how they calculate those parameters in the lab. I tried explaining in my words. He was not at all happy because I didn't use proper scientific jargon. He didn't ask anything else. He just spoke to me for half an hour, about how ignorant I was to not know it. I asked him to go through remaining notes. He said, he wouldn't bother even if I understood everything else, because I wasn't able to interpret that particular concept. Now, I started feeling very nervous and stupid. But I answered many of his questions, but fumbled for others. He said he might back off at any moment about funding, if I didn't come up with a feasible research project. He kept on insulting me in front of someone else, comparing. I was very worried that he didn't even ask what all I learnt. When I told him in which research area I would like to work, he said I chose a good topic, but I am not good enough to do that. What would be a good solution, if I don't have another option but continue working with him or quit education. Also, I am not understanding if this is my mistake or his impatience.
As a student, I need to learn well and justify from my side. Am I not able to do it? Am I over-ambitious? Do all professors test students like this before giving an opportunity? Most of my friends are doing research without prior experience and none of them faced a situation like this. They were allotted projects by their advisors, and the phd's and postdocs train them. Another student in this group is also trying to come up with a thesis topic. But the professor never conducted any test nor expressed his dissatisfaction in front of others. In fact he used to appreciate me that I was better than this student. Why did he transform suddenly, after promising about funding? He recently got funding, as told by he himself. Is he trying to back off? He is saying that I am cornering him to such a situation, because he once said that he would fund. How is that cornering? He accepted to fund, right?
Now I was giving one last chance, to decide a research topic. This transformation from offering a phd position, to thesis with funding and now no funding and no thesis,it is bothering me and I am freaking out right now with frustration. I am scared to talk to any one about this, as I am not able to figure out if this is my mistake or his.