"Let us choose for ourselves our path in life,
and let us try to strew that path with flowers."
– Emilie du Chatelet, Physicist

I love dresses and bows, face masks and makeup.

When I get ready for a day in lab, I avoid it all.

First Impressions of the USA

I arrived in New Jersey to attend graduate school two years ago. I was mostly nervous and a little bit excited. This was the first time I had flown internationally and also the first time I had flown in an airplane!

Upon arrival I was greeted by the air hostess who apologetically told us that all our luggage had to be left behind in the airport at my home country (India) due to technical difficulties. A check-in bag, my wallet, and a phone without a network was all I had.

Wasting My Degree

"She's worried you'll waste your degree."

My friend (let's call her Anna) relays this message to me as coming from another friend, but I can tell from her tone of voice that she's clearly worrying about the same potential waste. That makes the question doubly irritating. As if pretending to be merely the messenger could disguise the passive-aggressive way of questioning my life decisions. Decisions which, I might add, I'm pretty darn happy with.

The primary decisions in question are these:

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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