It happened in my life that I own a lot to Japanese people. Since my childhood, I always had wanted to visit Japan and to learn its language and culture. But I always had thought it was too difficult. During my university studies in Poland quite accidentally I was given a chance to attend evening Japanese classes at Warsaw School of Economics given by Sensei Tsuneo Okazaki. Okazaki-sensei is a very famous person who has great merits for promoting Japanese culture in Poland. Thanks to his advice, I learnt about the possibility to apply for the Japanese government (Monbusho) scholarship.
I was successful with my application and in October 1998 I came to the Osaka University for one and half year study. For half a year I attended an intense Japanese language course in Suita Campus. That was an extremely tough yet interesting period when I would learn a lot of new things both about Japan and the Osaka University. I made many new friends from various parts of the world. And I will always remember Ms. Kayoko Shimomura who was a volunteer of host family circle at Osaka University. She became like mother to me.
After the language course I became a research student at the Graduate School of Economics in Toyonaka Campus under the supervision of Professor Kazuhiko Nishina. My stay in Japan from initially planned 1,5 year turned to be almost 6 years as in 2000 I passed my PhD exams and was given a next Monbusho scholarship to continue my studies. I had great chance to attend his seminar of Professor Kazuhiko Nishina on Finance Theory and the seminar of Professor Charles Yuji Horioka on Pensions.
Professor Nishina taught me how to achieve the goals and to be persistent and scholarly independent. There was no issue that I could not turn to him with and which he would not be able to solve. Professor Horioka gave me a lot of support with my pension related research and taught me that professors can be fantastic friends as well and that the respect one gets amongst students is based on what he represents as a scholar and a human being, and not merely on what titles he has. I will always remember common dinners that members of our seminar used to have together with him every Thursday evening after the seminar meetings.
Osaka University offered fantastic opportunities for studies and developing new hobbies – own studying place in a research room (kenkyushitsu), campus facilities like canteens, bookstores, barber’s shop, on-line databases, computers and printers and available 24-hours in the building of Graduate School of Economics in Toyonaka campus. It was in Suita campus where I picked up karate and studied it for a couple of years. I also remember kind attitude of academia and office members in our department each student, especially a foreign one, enjoyed. Of course, a stay of a foreigner in Japan is not an easy one due to language barrier, at least at the beginning. And also, the climate can pose some problems – even though I come from colder region, paradoxically I liked Japanese winters the least.
From the perspective of the time I have came to appreciate even more the benefits of studying at Osaka University where I had contact with fantastic professors and students. I can easily say that that was one of the most fascinating times for me – I was learning so many new things, opening so many new dimensions of different views, lifestyles and cultures. And I had ability to learn a lot of things in the area of finance and pensions – the areas that were and still are subject of my scientific interests.
I owe the Osaka University much more than only my education. These were Professor Takashi Fujikado and Professor Naoyuji Maeda from Department of Ophtalmology who kindly took care of my eyes health status and treated me during my stay in Japan. I will never forget their professionalism and kindness.
The knowledge I obtained during studies at the Osaka University helps me in my current academic career. I developed my language abilities (not only Japanese but also English). I learnt how to run a research and how to work intensively. I found out that with a team of proper people and seminars one can achieve substantially more than by oneself. Now I try to apply same incentives and requirements I used to receive from my teachers towards my own students. I also have some deeper understanding of cultural differences and problems faced by foreign students who are coming – every year in bigger numbers – to my university as well.