Alberto Quintana Gallardo, Pioneer 2018
It has already been a month since I got to Budapest and everything that I felt as strange at first has started to feel familiar now. The streets, buildings, squares and the people in Budapest have, in a short period of time, become my routine and everyday life. Even the Magyar language, official language of Hungary, starts to feel somehow familiar to me at times.
In order to be able to understand Budapest it is necessary to take into account how the Danube affects and configures its landscape and the life of its citizens. As a Pioneer, I work at the Technical University of Budapest (BME), located at Buda, western side of the river, famous for its calmed lifestyle, whereas my flat is located in the Pest side, where tourism and night live prevail. In the same way those two sides form the name of the city, they both articulate like atriums and ventricles to form the heart of this metropolis.
Little did I know about Budapest prior to my arrival, being focused on making the most out of the professional experience, my priority was to find a suitable project. It did not take me long to realize that I was completely wrong. On the very same day I arrived in the city I started meeting other Pioneers with similar climate change-related concerns from all over the continent.
Therefore, days went by working during the day and attending activities organized by the Climate-KIC and meeting with other participants of the program during the evening. Although what brings us here is the development of a professional project, it is by meeting people with similar goals that the pioneers program reaches its maximum potential. We get to picture an image of Europe developing itself towards and environmentally-aware future, the national barriers get blurred, our minds open to multiculturalism and tolerance. What is both funny and interesting is that all of this happens while you and your new friends enjoy a nice drink at incredible places such as Szimpla, the most famous of the typical “Ruin Bars”.
In the “placement“ you face similar challenges. You have to be able to adapt to a new work environment, taking into account as well the subtle cultural differences, and to succeed in giving something in return to the organization in a really short time span. It doesn’t really matter how hard your supervisor or your colleagues try to help you because at the end of the day you are the one who has to make the most out of the experience. In my particular case it could not have been more favorable, the BME was everything I needed, a good work environment that provided me with a new research topic to incorporate into my PhD thesis. The research field I work in is Life Cycle Assessment of building materials and the study of their acoustic characteristics. I commit most of my time to evaluate the effects over the environment of different building materials. The Department of Construction Materials of the BME wanted a researcher with some experience in that field to analyze the impact over the environment of several clay-based masonry block configurations incorporating some thermal performance to the study as well. Despite the fact that I am not anexpert on building energy, I put myself to work with humility trying to learn what was necessary to benefit the development of the project. After a month and a half of work, the obtained results are very promising and we are already writing what will probably end up being our first joint publication. Due to the competitive nature of the research and scientific community, some collaboration or help is always welcomed. I have tried to provide my expertise and my knowledge and I have received in return the professional guidance, gratitude and the kindness of a great research team. I hope that the synergy we have created together ends up becoming a long term collaboration.
In the same way as Buda and Pest interlink, my experience has had two different faces, the professional one and the personal one, which have complemented each other perfectly. After this experience, which has allowed me to get to know people from all over Europe, and outside of Europe, I come back to Spain with new ideas and renewed strength to rise to new challenges. Therefore, I cannot stop recommending those who are willing to face the great challenge of Climate Change to apply for the next edition of the Pioneers Programme.