25 February 2013

Coding during the week, tango on the weekends – building a good life in Montevideo, Uruguay

Federico Medina
Federico Medina, who just turned 29, is a computer engineer in Montevideo’s respected game making industry. Serious about his career, Federico continues to hone his coding and English language skills. Except on Friday and Saturday nights, when he turns off his computer and heads out to dance the tango.

Game Maker
Federico’s interest in computers started at an early age. “My father brought a computer home when I was about 8 years old. It captured my attention and increased my curiosity about computers,” says Federico.

After high school, Federico moved forward with aspirations to become a computer engineer. “I went to ORT University – the engineering campus (in Montevideo). When I was at the university, I took my first software development job with a company called TSC. I wanted to experience what it was like,” says Federico.

After six months,  Federico moved his attention back to his studies full time, at least briefly.

“I took a job with a company that makes video games called Powerful Robot.  There I wrote code for small games.”

During this time,  Federico worked during the day and attended classes at night. “It was an interesting time for me, going to school and talking with other students who were working and doing things.”

Federico now works for GLOBANT, a company that provides a variety of software applications for international customers. Federico’s current specialty is rendering graphics for computer games.

Federico recently gave a talk titled: Computer Graphics: Coding experience at a conference hosted by his company and Antel, Uruguay’s state-owned telecommunication’s company. With GLOBANT,  he has traveled twice to California and is open to traveling more.

English fluency
Federico started learning English when he was young. “I went to the British high school. There, I earned an IB in English (International Baccalaureate). “I studied because it was required and I knew it was a good thing.

“When I went to the university, I became more interested in English for cultural reasons. I wanted to fully understand English language television shows, movies, and song lyrics.

"However, when I started working I realized that English was helpful for my career. Most of our customers are English speakers, mainly from the U.S,” says Federico.

To maintain his English fluency, Federico has integrated English into his routine:
  • He listens to English language audiobooks on the bus when he goes to work.
  • He practices speaking English by attending the Montevideo Language Exchange, a mixed group of Uruguayans and expats that meet every other Friday in Montevideo. 
  • Federico also has a personal blog, Dev Improvement, that he writes in English. This gives him the opportunity to share his programming experiences – and at the same time practice writing in English.
…and a little German
Federico is also picking up some German. On Wednesday evenings,  he goes to a Stammtisch (a gathering of the same people, at the same place, at the same time). It meets at the Cabo Bar located at Blvd EspaƱa 2218. The Goethe Institute, located next door to the German Embassy, organizes it. The group is comprised of German exchange students and Uruguayans interested in learning German.

Tango
Even though Federico was born and raised in Montevideo, many of Uruguay’s most cherished traditions don't interest him. He doesn’t like to drink yerba mate. He doesn’t like to listen to Murga. He doesn’t even care about soccer. “ I wanted to find something that was a part of my culture – something I could take with me if I traveled.”

Last year, Federico found something from his culture he could embrace – and take with him anywhere in the world his future might take him. That something was tango.

Federico’s interest in tango started with the music. He was looking for music that didn’t have lyrics. He discovered Piazzola’s modern tango music. The music with no lyrics led to tango music with lyrics, and then to the dance. You can feel his genuine enthusiasm for tango when he talks about it.

Federico devotes Monday through Friday to his career. His midweek diversions are laidback and predictable. But when Friday night comes, he puts on his tango shoes and lets the passion flow.

2 comments:

Art Williams said...

I'm a musician and I thought his comment about music with no lyrics was interesting. It's something I never consciously realized but I guess that right, isn't it?

I'm a Salsa and Bachata dancer myself and never, until recently anyway, cared that much about Tango. But I'm beginning to think I might like to learn.

The only thing that has turned off about it is that the people, abroad, who learn it seem to be such snobs.

Art

David Hammond said...

I bet you would have a different experience with the tango crowd in Uruguay. I personally took one tango lesson in Montevideo, and everyone in my class was warm and helpful.