Courtesy, Passion, and Kindness

Friday afternoon, the structural engineering department hosted an asado | barbecue for students and faculty. There is a decent amount of crossover between biomedical engineering and structural engineering with the faculty and students from the lab I’m part of, which is why I was invited. The food was tasty, and I was happy to be outside and talking with people.

I was talking with my professor at the barbecue, and we spoke about the recent growth that biomed has experienced in Chile. We talked about engineering and innovation in general, and how the field has been progressing. He spoke about his hesitations to return to Chile after spending a great deal of time in the U.S., in California in particular. He was at the hub of innovation and the boom of biomedical engineering growth, and it was not ideal at the moment to return to Chile, which is still developing it’s market in terms of medical technology.

He spoke, however, about being pleasantly surprised after entering academia here. It’s a reasonably safe space to take risks in your research, as well as being an environment to experiment and have freedom in whichever direction you want take your research. It allows for easier collaboration across disciplines, giving a varied perspective.

The people here are so excited about what they’re doing, and the great potential it has to be applied to improve people’s daily lives. I like being here and speaking with both the students and faculty. Hearing about their experiences – their successes, their challenges – is inspiring and makes me feel as though the world is not as big as it sometimes appears. I’m thrilled to be here at a time of such growth and innovation. Unique as Santiago is from any other city I’ve visited, we are all striving for the same thing: to enjoy our lives and contribute to something in one way or another. And Chileans embrace the importance of being together, something that I think falls by the wayside frequently in the U.S. Obviously, you must adhere to your responsibilities, but time is not such an exact science as it can be in the Northeast especially. As many of you know, I’ve had some unpleasant experiences with being held to strict standards that often were unreasonable. As such, it’s refreshing to have more flexibility here.

Also, I am constantly impressed with Chilean courtesy during rush hour! Rush hour here is more like a few hours both morning and night, and the public transportation is packed; so much so that you’ll have to wait for a few trains before you can even squeeze in. Everyone is standing right up against each other, and I have yet to see anyone push, shove, or yell at each other. You go, Santiago.

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