Kevin-Christian Garzon Galindo is a visiting Scholar from Technische Universität Dresden (TU Dresden) in the Department of Psychology. Read more to learn about Kevin!
What is your role here at SJSU? What do you hope to accomplish during your time here?
I’m employed through SJSURF working at NASA Ames for the Airspace Operations Laboratory conducting research on futuristic autonomous Air Transportation Systems. Specifically I’m involved in researching safety systems to integrate future Supersonic and Hypersonic vehicles into the Airspace. I wanted to go the US for mainly two reasons. The first being that I have most of my mother-side of the family in this country that emigrated from Colombia. Growing up in Europe I did not have much of a chance to get to know them well and most of them not at all up until I moved here. While some are in California, a lot are scattered across the US, so in the past 3 years I managed to visit mostly everyone so far. That alone has already been an unforgettable experience so far and one I will always be thankful. The second reason was that I wanted to have a change of scenery for a while. My love for aviation stems from the fact that my mother took me on a plane at the age of 2 months across the Atlantic and from then on every year to either the US or Colombia to visit family. This parenting-induced travel addiction may explain why I felt the need to pursue something outside of Europe to finish off my degree. I started in October 2019 as an intern. As part of my combined-degree program my university required me to do an internship and two thesis of 3 month and 5 month duration for which I had to travel to Germany and present in person. The Covid-19 pandemic delayed this and put some additional challenges on top of that with travel restrictions in place. At first I just came with the intention to finish my degree program but I fell in love with the bay area, being so close to the ocean and all the other places California offers to explore. So I’m happy that I can now continue my research after graduation and look forward to learning much more of the Aerospace industry in all its facets.
What do you enjoy most about SJSU or your time here in the U.S.?
I do enjoy the hospitality of people. Everyone I’ve met has been very nice which has contributed to making me feel comfortable and at home immediately. Speaking for the Bay Area, I love the much more international environment with people from all around the world which adds to the already new experience of exploring a foreign country, a bonus to have people around with different views on different matters and things in every-day life. As a half-Latin American I enjoy to be around more Spanish-speaking people and as an avid lover of Mexican food, California offers much more options than Europe on that front. For an ambitious and hard-working person it is nice to see, work and connect with other people that are inspired, motivated and knowledge-hungry in pursuant of their vision. Further, California (and the pandemic) also helped me re-explore the outdoor person that I have apparently always been by spending a lot of weekends out camping and hiking and doing roadtrips to national parks.
What is something you want others to know about your hometown, home country, or culture?
I come from a small town in the most western part of Austria called Rankweil, a few minutes away from the swiss and lichtenstein border and also not far from the german border. It is a very beautiful and calm place to grow up. Basically, a bit like Silicon Valley, a lot of towns and villages lining up next to each other, barely noticeable when one has transitioned from one place to the next, with the difference that it is much much smaller. While in Austria we speak german (with a slight touch of some Austrian peculiarities in the language), in the state of Vorarlberg we speak a very strong dialect, closely related to swiss-german which has the fine characteristic that neither germans nor the rest of austria can really understand what we are saying, except swiss. Other than that, Austria is famous for its classical music (Mozart!), especially sweet main course food such as Kaiserschmarrn and Buchteln but also savoury dishes such as Käsknöpfle which is made with strong cheese I learned that not everyone in the US will necessarily like. Further, Austria is home to a tremendous amount of history scattered all around the country dating back to the roman empire, the middle ages, the monarchy it used to be and so on, which makes itself visible by old buildings and remains or city-names that originated from there for which the latter have slightly changed over the past 2000 years. The capital of Vienna of course being the accumulation of all of these epoches, mostly visible in the beautiful first district of the city and the palaces and castles around.
What do you wish you would have known sooner about life in the U.S. or SJSU?
Through visiting family I already learned a lot about the US but also through movies, history and geography classes in school I had a first glance and an idea. Definitely what I would have wished before, was how to make new friends in a new country and environment. In Germany or the Netherlands where I studied abroad, student councils always organized events to connect with other people. However, in this case there was no such networking opportunity, also since I organized this internship and exchange myself, which made it difficult to meet other people around the same age and interests. Something that took me a little time to master and discover other ways and avenues that helped me meet people here.
What message do you have for our Global Spartan community?
As a very recent graduated student and my experience over the past 8 years I can give four advises: Never stop learning and explore things outside your area, networking is imperative, challenge yourself to new things (like moving to a country and place you have never been) and enjoying what you do professionally is also key to happiness and success in my opinion.