Not a Contradiction

“You know,” my wife said, “For our kids, MIT won’t be this abstract place they hear about sometimes in the news. It’ll be home: where they learned to ride their bikes and to read. They’ll think of it as the place where they grew up.”

The Risks of Speaking Up

Ping – a new email in my inbox. It was a reminder that I had signed up for the “MIT Can Talk” Oratory Competition, taking place tomorrow. The email window stayed open for a while, waiting patiently while I was deciding whether I still wanted to participate. I had just submitted a paper for a conference (the deadline was the day before the competition), and I was exhausted. However, I had been so excited to practice my public speaking skills!.. When I saw that this year’s theme was “Taking Risks”, I knew exactly what the topic of my speech should be.

From Portugal to MIT

I have been a visiting PhD student at MIT since February, coming from a PhD program called MIT Portugal. This is a collaboration between several Portuguese universities and MIT. Some of the courses back home were taught by MIT faculty, so that is how I met my current advisor here. From interacting with other students, I came to learn the differences between the grad school system in Portugal (and more broadly in Europe) and the USA.


Every Monday night, I shuffle down Mass Ave, past the towering columns of MIT’s entrance to a small unassuming building almost directly across the street. Inside I meet with a group of about ten students. We continue our discussion of something that can make people uncomfortable, something that isn’t commonly associated with MIT: religion. We don’t only consider the age-old question: does God – or god, goddess, gods – exist? We discuss how faith has enriched, altered, and ruined our lives; its history and relevance today; its traditions, foods, and texts.

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