Cláudio Gomes is a third-year CMU Portugal Dual Degree Ph.D. student at Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade do Porto (FCUP) and the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department from Carnegie Mellon’s College of Engineering. Currently in Pittsburgh, Cláudio shared his experience at CMU thus far including the most significant differences between Portugal and Pittsburgh and advice for new students coming to CMU.
What attracted you to the CMU Portugal Dual Degree Ph.D. Program?
The idea that I could get to know a very different country while still having a connection with my own country was very compelling. I am very particularly in favor of broadening your mind and leaving your comfort zone as much as you reasonably can. The CMU Portugal Dual Degree Ph.D. Program aligns perfectly with my vision and is a very enriching experience, both academically and personally.
What is the biggest difference between studying in Pittsburgh versus Portugal?
Definitely the campus experience. At CMU, most departments share a single campus, so it’s very easy to get to meet new people from different fields. In Portugal, universities are usually more dispersed geographically, with several campi. The cultures are also different between both sides, which makes for some (exciting) learning experiences.
What is your favorite thing about CMU so far?
Once again, I will have to say it’s the campus experience. The campus is vibrant, has a lot of life, and is full of student organized clubs, such as the CMU RPG Association. It makes me very happy to get to make friends that are not from Computer Science or Electrical and Computer Engineering.
Do you have a go-to spot on campus?
Two scoops of Millie’s chocolate ice cream at Tepper Business School is something that never fails me. I always get some every week!
What advice would you give to someone coming to CMU?
I suggest newcomers to prepare in advance for courses, to be consistent, and to enjoy their weekends as much as possible! Consistency and wellbeing are very important. Some particular things might be different, especially for Portuguese students, such as curved grades and the lack of retake exams, which can be very stressful. In practice, these things don’t matter that much, so try to not let the stress go out of control.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Another important piece of advice I want to give is to join student organizations! Chances are that there is a club that you will love and enjoy a lot! Search for clubs and participate in their activities if you are interested. They will be happy to welcome you!
I joined the CMU RPG Association and also am part of the first members of the CMU Photography Club, and the experience has been amazing and very enriching!