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From Colombia to Cornell

Snow outside of Goldwin Smith Hall
Discovering Particle Physics and the Charms of Winter

"The first time you experience winter, it is just amazing—snow is amazing! And everything changes so fast once spring arrives."


Why did you choose to study at Cornell University?

During the last year of my bachelor’s study, I wanted to conduct an internship. My advisor at my home university—National University of Colombia—told me that there was the opportunity at Cornell University with the Nexo Global program, sponsored by Colciencias. I was really motivated to apply to this program since I knew that Cornell is one of the top universities. Especially in physics, it is one of the best places you can go if you want to be on the forefront of research. In the field of particle physics, in which I work, Cornell has a long history and currently is part of the most important ongoing experiments: research with the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, or with Belle II in Japan, for example.

Juan Valbuena in the A.D. White Library

Describe a typical day for you on the Cornell campus.

It starts really early. After a fast breakfast, there is Intensive English class for two hours, and then particle physics and quantum field theory lectures. After auditing those lectures, you have time to read papers and work on your project. Meanwhile, you have lunch, and it is always better if you can have it with some friends. Risley Dining Room is an amazing place to lunch. Then you can go to some seminars or the Colloquia—really good opportunities to learn more about current research. At the end of the day, you can do some excercise. For me, Crossfit or basketball was the best way to end a long day.

What was something surprising that you saw, learned, or experienced at Cornell?

Maybe it is not surprising for everyone, but the first time you experience winter, it is just amazing—snow is amazing! Another surprising thing was that everything changes so fast once spring arrives. Not only the weather, trees, or animals’ behavior, but people and culture. It was really nice to have opportunities for more outdoor activities like hiking and canoeing, which I participated in through programs at Cornell Outdoor Education.


Visiting International Students
United States
Arts & Sciences
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