Once again, a large number of foreign students started their studies at BME, where the opening ceremony was held according to strict precautionary measures and streamed online.
“This year we have a diverse pool of regular and guest students again, arriving at BME from practically every corner of the world”, Vice-Rector for Education Károly Veszprémi explained to a limited number of attendees and the virtual audience of the opening ceremony for the English-language programmes. “We shall be your family during your studies: it will be a similar environment to home: you will be given tasks, but also provided with help in completing them, hopefully in an enjoyable environment”, the professor explained, adding that whichever field the students had chosen, it was the right choice. “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”, he said, quoting Nelson Mandela, stressing that this especially rings true in the current pandemic: everyone can use the unique “weapons” of their respective fields in the fight against the virus. He brought an example from architecture, where architects and civil engineers can design and construct buildings for the healthcare sector, as well as connecting roads and bridges. Mechanical engineers can produce a wide variety of smart devices for medical use: several faculties at Budapest University of Technology and Economics are involved in such projects. Chemical engineers help us understand the efficacy of drugs and vaccines, while biotechnology experts excel in mapping the functions of viruses and other pathogens as rapidly as possible. Electrical engineers and IT specialists support doctors and nurses in their fight against diseases through various means – hardware and software –, while transport engineers are indispensable for ensuring the availability of rescue vehicles and ambulances, as well as the related logistics. Natural sciences also provide tangible help: mathematical models, for example, allow us to understand the transmission mechanisms of infectious diseases, providing invaluable information to decision-makers when preparing plans to combat viruses. Finally, economics and the social sciences also have several links to the fight against the pandemic, from exploring the problems caused by social distancing to analysing the consequent financial difficulties. He said: “be proud to be BME students”, adding that the degrees obtained here require a lot of effort, midterm tests and term exams, but eventually will lead to great career opportunities.
Members of the Academic Procession arriving to the tune of Gaudeamus Igitur: Károly Veszprémi Vice-Rector for Education, Tamás Lovas Vice-Dean (Faculty of Civil Engineering), Axel Groniewsky Associate Professor (Faculty of Mechanical Engineering), István Bartók Vice-Dean (Faculty of Architecture), Zoltán Hell University Professor (Faculty of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology), head of the English-language programmes, Eszter Udvary Gerhát Associate Professor (Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Informatics), Péter Mándoki Dean (Faculty of Transportation Engineering and Vehicle Engineering), Imre Varga Vice-Dean (Faculty of Natural Sciences), Gyula Zilahy Vice-Dean (Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences, László Gergely Vígh Head of the Directorate of Foreign Language Programmes at the Rector’s Office and Gábor Nagy Director of the Directorate of Student Services (HSZI).
The master of ceremonies was György Ádám Horváth, assistant professor at the Department of Environmental Economics at BME’s Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences.
“The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet”, said Brenda Hernandez, member of the mentor team, quoting Aristotle when welcoming the new students to the university. She went on to say that although the Greek philosopher and polymath of the Classical period never attended BME, his message was clear: do your best and your efforts will bring rewards. The mentor from Mexico, who has been living in Hungary for ten years, stressed that BME fully supported efforts to help students develop their skill sets and make the most of their potential. She noted that the key to conquering subjects and areas that seem alien at first and overcoming the burden of being overloaded with work was to engage with peers, mentors and professors. “Even if you manage to do that, certain tasks will still be very challenging, but can be completed with the help of your peers”, she said, adding that the supportive attitude of the teachers is also an important factor: those who seem very strict at times care most passionately about their students’ learning and their work. She closed her welcoming speech by advising everyone to learn Hungarian.
“I am delighted to welcome the new students to one of the best Hungarian universities”, said Oto Ido from Japan, a student from the Faculty of Architecture addressing the newcomers on behalf of the senior students of the university. His advice was: have the courage to ask for help! “Success, however not only requires courage, but also perseverance and working long hours, often well into the night.” He also talked about social distancing, which is often required during this pandemic, but should not lead to the complete isolation of students. “In this situation everyone will need the support of their peers and professors”, he pointed out.
“Everyone who is curious about the world is welcome here, especially now, when the world has presented us with obstacles which seem insurmountable”, Yang Tz-Ting second-year mechanical engineering student from Taiwan emphasised on behalf of BME’s senior students, adding: “we shall take on and overcome these difficulties, arising during our studies and the pandemic, together”.
The ceremonial oath of studenthood was read out by Zoltán Kiszely, associate professor and Head of BME’s Language Examination Centre, then repeated into the microphone by Diamond Mean first-year student of electrical engineering from Cambodia, thus leading new students in the recital.
„I ................ a student of Budapest University of Technology and Economics, a foreign citizen residing in Hungary, solemnly declare that I shall observe the statutory provisions obligatory for foreign citizens in Hungary and the relevant statutes of this University. I shall always display respect for the University, its academic and administrative staff, as well as my fellow students. I understand and accept the principles and ethical standards governing the conduct of individuals and community life at this University and in Hungary. I shall refrain from participating in or organising any activity which would disturb the normal functioning and academic atmosphere of this University. I shall do my best to complete my studies to the best of my ability, to deepen my knowledge in the achievements of progressive science and to become an expert in my profession.”
Anna Snowhorn from the United States, preparatory-year student of the Faculty of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology, addressed the audience on behalf of BME’s new students. She revealed that she had wanted to come back to her mother’s homeland. „This first year of university for many of us will be one for the books. Surely, we will have to work harder than ever to compensate for not taking classes in person”, she said in reference to challenges posed by the pandemic. She added: “although I am disheartened by the fact that many of us will not be able to meet each other at the start of this year, I am happy to think that when we do meet, it will be just as wonderful as if we were starting our first year all over again. These adversities will set our generation apart, while we have been given a unique opportunity to bring together our different backgrounds and cultures, to learn from one another and to make a difference in this modern, yet under no circumstances perfect world.
You joined us so that we can create a part of your future together. “We are welcoming you with the assistance and expertise that we have to offer”, these were the closing remarks of Ádám György Horváth, who concluded his speech with a quote from Polish-born French physicist Marie Curie: “ Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less”.
“Although choosing a university is a milestone in the lives of students and being admitted to an institution such as BME, which continues to feature successfully in the world’s higher education rankings, represents a significant feat, many new students had to stay in their respective countries this year because of the pandemic”, Valéria Balogh from the Department of International Relations at the Rector's Office explained. Public offices, banks and embassies are closed in some countries, preventing new students from obtaining their study visas. Others started their studies online from home, in the hope that they will be able to join in person soon.
On arrival they will be in quarantine for two weeks. “It is difficult to organise their daily lives in a foreign country when they cannot do anything themselves. This is when help and support from fellow countrymen, peers and university staff comes in handy. Every faculty here at BME awaits new students, ready to help them. I am overjoyed to see the way our colleagues do their best to make the transition to their new home as smooth as possible. We hope that the restrictions, required by the pandemic, are lifted soon, but the solidarity remains”, concluded Valéria Balogh, who is taking on the lion’s share in resolving the administrative issues related to the studies of foreign students.
BME’s opening ceremony was held in the 400-capacity Assembly Hall, where each faculty was represented by two new students. Participants had to wear masks and observe social distancing by keeping a distance of 1.5 metres and the event was streamed online to all who were interested. The recording was produced by Budavári Schönherz Studio.
For photos of the ceremony please visit the sub-page of bme.hu.
Photo: János Philip