And how are things in Medellín, Colombia?

Some people in the Netherlands are kind of puzzled when you tell them Colombia is your internship location. “Quite dangerous, right?”. If for every reference on civil wars or cocaine production I would have gotten one euro, I would easily pay the airplane tickets with that sum.

Luckily those prejudices seem to be something of the past and I have arrived to a very interesting city. A city that 25 years ago, when Pablo still ruled it, indeed was the ‘murder capital’ of the world. But now mainly the city of hope and opportunity. Big building projects in the worst neighbourhoods and the construction of a metro system with cable carts for mobility of the slums up the mountain make that every citizen can be proud again on both his hood and city. Medellín now is also internationally recognised as example of innovation, entrepreneurship and hope.

An example of entrepreneurship is the company (Prótesis Avanzadas) where I perform my project. Three others work here on developing and building robotic hand prosthetics. Loss of limbs of for instance factory workers is a problem in Colombia and often the poor are affected the most. International frontrunners in prosthetics are unaffordable, so the goal is to provide locals with cheap hands that have all the main functionalities. With limited means and manpower, the goal is to produce hands factors cheaper then what is available. In my project I write the controls for a new prototype of the hand. In short, we can read myoelectric signals from the remaining muscles in the limb and based on this input the program should interpret and process these, to make the patient move the hand in an intuitive and useful manner.

Living here is cheap. For the price of an Eindhoven student room I can live here in a top neighbourhood with pool in the garden. A beer will cost you 70 cents in lots of places and for 4 euro you can go eating out. Also doing activities or trips in the weekends is cheap fortunately. Both in the city and in the nature around it there is something for everyone. Foodwise, the amazing variety in fruits and juices stands out, just buy it anywhere on the streets. Nature here is full of surprises, even in the busy metropolis, with her diverse flora, colourful birds and fragrant mangoblossom. Music rooted deep in the people and dancing with the locals is amazing. The best thing here, however, are the people. Despite my very limited knowledge of Spanish (yes, you might need this) people are extremely friendly and helpful. Colombia, in summary, deserves a grand recommendation for both traveling and doing your internship!

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