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I have been shortlisted in the Phd application process at a research institution in a neighboring European Country. I have therefore been invited to go there for a serie of interviews, visits to their laboratories and informal meetings. All of this will last from Tuesday to Friday and the institution is paying for all travel/hotel expenses.

Since I have never visited that city, and the interviews take the whole week, I would enjoy spending the weekend there and flying later on sunday.

In the forms they provided they write explicitly

Please note that you are expected to arrive on Tuesday and depart on Friday

Would it be bad form, or put me in a bad light, if I politely asked to delay the return flight to sunday? Of course I would take care of my accommodation expenses for the extra days.

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    Short answer...yes. This is poor form. – user53206 Apr 27 '16 at 4:51
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    @Sockmonster If you think this is poor form, then you should give a proper answer, since all the answers so far disagree with you. – MJeffryes Apr 27 '16 at 9:09
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    Note that air fares are often significantly lower when staying over a week-end. Thus, you might even end up saving the institution money. – Heinzi Apr 27 '16 at 14:12
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    @MJeffryes: the question is a no-brainer, there is no need for a thorough answer. – Quora Feans Apr 27 '16 at 22:38
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    @QuoraFeans That isn't the way that StackExchange works. Comments are not for answers. – MJeffryes Apr 28 '16 at 8:37
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If you make it completely clear at the time of asking that you would cover all additional expenses, then staying for a day or two extra would be regarded as perfectly normal and reasonable. (Academics travelling to conferences and workshops do this sort of thing all the time.)

Indeed, it may even be regarded as a positive sign: if you do join their PhD programme, then you'll be living in the city for several years, so the fact that you want to get to know the place in advance demonstrates that you're serious about your application.

My guess is that the somewhat intimidating wording "expected ... to depart on Friday" is intended to make it clear that you can't depart before Friday.

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    I don't think the wording is "threatening". It just means they aren't going to pay for accommodation on Monday and/or Friday night, if you can't (or don't want to) travel early on Tuesday morning or late on Friday evening. – alephzero Apr 26 '16 at 18:05
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    The "expected" wording is the best way they have to convey that doing things differently without telling them, is bad form. It really just means "you must contact us if you'd like to do things differently". – Peter - Unban Robert Harvey Apr 27 '16 at 16:54
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    I agree with this. I did this at my PhD interview which required me to travel abroad (and I was successful). I told them I would pay for the difference in the flights and I'd find my hotel, and actually they just bought an extra night at the hotel for me, no cost to me. Also, I got the position. I think it is fair as long as you specify that you are willing to pay for your extra time. – la femme cosmique Apr 28 '16 at 7:55
  • I did this very thing for an interview in the US. The company paid for 2 nights at a hotel and my round trip flight. Originally they wanted to schedule it for a Thursday flight, interview on Friday, and a flight home on Saturday. I asked if they could schedule the return flight for Monday and I would make arrangements to cover additional costs for the weekend I was staying. This turned out to be staying at my friend in the area's house =] – Brian Sutherland Apr 28 '16 at 15:35
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Just providing an extra perspective on this topic, but perhaps the "Arrive on Monday Leave on Friday" means that you are required to attend all 5 days of their scheduled interview process, and not necessarily that you are not allowed to spend extra time in their city. To me it seems they have that sentence in there to ensure someone doesn't arrive late, or leave early, or only attends 3 days of their workshop meanwhile the university is paying all travel expenses. Just another perspective to think about.

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People in academia do this all the time. Just don't call it vacation or staying with friends, but rather say that you would like to stay for the weekend and get an impression of the city. Since it is a major concern most places that new Ph.D. students actually grows to like the place, such an initiative on your part will likely be appreciated.

  • OP is a visiting potential PhD. If he were visiting to give an invited colloquium, and there were faculty clamouring to meet with him in a limited time (versus Tuesday to Thursay...which does not sound limited at all). Then maybe. Might be no big deal, but the people that organize these things have many many different balls they are juggling, and throwing them another one? I'd avoid it. – neuronet Apr 28 '16 at 17:29
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Send them an email. If they haven't booked your flight, usually people will understand and will let you fly out later, though they will likely not pay for the extra nights of lodging. As long as the prices over the weekend aren't substantially higher, most of the time everyone involved thinks its a good idea for you to make sure you enjoy the city!

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I can confirm that I did exactly that (travelling around the country while between interviews) earlier this year.

While I was between my PhD interviews at universities in the US, I took the time during the weekdays to travel and do some sightseeing around the way. Since the interviews were all on weekends (and their scheduled timings were around Thursday to Monday), I was able to get quite a bit of travelling done in the meantime.

From what I understand, the arrival and departure dates are the dates you are expected to be at the institution, and they do not mandate when and how you can arrive or depart. In fact, many of the other candidates I spoke with were also from overseas, and were also doing a good amount of sightseeing in between their interviews.

Just email the admissions officers and tell them directly that you want to stay for a few extra days at your own expense, and I see absolutely no reason for them to deny this request.

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In general, I'd be very wary of coming off as "That annoying guy who is going to make us do more work." They are putting in a TON of work logistically to organize this trip, which is why they have very specific guidelines about dates.

If you request a different set of guidelines than everyone else, then you risk forever being "That entitled guy who has to be different and give us more work. Now we have to worry two more days no matter what he says otherwise. Great. We wanted to be done with this Friday so we could have a weekend with friends and relax finally." I guarantee they want to be DONE with this on that Friday, and you will be in their minds until you leave.

Recruiting trips are very high stress and high maintenance in general for departments, you would be putting a strain on them, no matter what they say, and no matter whether you say you will pay your way. It has a very high chance of being perceived as an imposition.

Think about perception and first impressions, coming off as entitled/high maintenance. Unless you are so talented that it doesn't matter, and you actually don't care (i.e., you do have a sense of entitlement) then do what ya' gotta do. If you are fighting for a spot, or have some concern for your hosts' feelings (which you likely do because you posted here) then I'd think twice.

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I did this exactly in March. I politely stated that I would really love to get to know the city and stay a whole week. I told the university I was obviously going to pay for the extra days.

The university actually answered they liked my idea and even invited me to a cultural event held that weekend at the university!

Just make sure you give good reasons ( you want to know the city you would be living in for the next 4 years!) and be clear about the fact that you would pay for the extra days.

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"Please note that you are expected to arrive on Tuesday and depart on Friday"

To see what this means, consider what kinds of requests and questions they usually receive from candidates, and in which other ways they could write this.

They did not write:

"Please note that you need to arrive on Tuesday and depart on Friday"

They wrote what they expect. This means if you don't contact them you are implicitly confirming that you'll do as expected. It also means if you want to do things differently, you should contact them, let them know, and - since they are paying - work out how to split the bill.

Being a penny pincher does not make a great impression, so since this is for an interview you should offer to pay for additional expenses due to the longer stay, and also for a difference in cost of the flight, if there is any (but not pocket the difference if it's in your favor).

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