Remember how I said this year would take me way out of my comfort zone?
It turns out that it only took about four days. Those four days, from landing in San Jose to our first free day in La Sabana, have included both of my suitcases being left in Houston, realizing that I have no idea how to communicate in Spanish, some very crazy driving, a three-hour lecture with a brilliant Englishman, touring a private hospital in a different country, and working with several Costa Rican students. I have felt overwhelmed, frustrated, and a little sad realizing that I’m really away from home for the first time (although the mountains remind me of home– see picture!), but I have also had a lot of fun getting to know my classmates, eating the food (arroz con pollo is my favorite so far), and learning more about the field that I am so passionate about.
There have been many components to this experience that have challenged me in a more personal manner. For instance, there hasn’t been any routine in our schedule, we often don’t know all of the details of what we will be doing in the days to come, and we never start on time. This has been a struggle for me, but I am trying to embrace the “Pura Vida” lifestyle and accept the fact that there will be unknowns and I have to be flexible. There is a huge potential for personal (and professional) growth this summer in terms of patience and temperament when working in different environments than I’m used to. This program is fast-paced, intense, and definitely requires a steep learning curve, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The past week and a half have felt like a lifetime. Somehow, we’ve managed to squeeze in all of the following
- Needs finding in 3 different hospitals (I got to watch a doctor implant a pacemaker—see the picture art the bottom!!)
- Completed a needs scoping and market analysis project with a group of other Masters students
- Toured Boston Scientific (they spelled my name wrong, picture below, but hey, Pura Vida!)
- Determined a need to focus on for a different project, which focused on central line insertion
- Completed a short course on innovation with a group of undergraduate students from all over Costa Rica—this included learning the entire engineering design process
- Made four different low-fidelity prototypes
- And got to watch the Costa Rica vs. Panama soccer game from 5 rows back! Check out some of the pictures we took.
Needless to say, it has been a crazy 11 days. Despite the exhaustion that many of us feel, this experience has already been incredibly rewarding. After the short course with Dr. Richardson and Dr. Wettergreen, I finally feel like I am capable of reaching my goals as an engineer and innovator; I can see the potential in my abilities, and that is extremely satisfying.
On Monday, we are headed to our second destination—Guanacaste! And the adventure continues.