Myself Swapnil Ghodke, PhD research scholar in Department of Crystalline Materials Science at Nagoya University. I have graduated from IIT Hyderabad with major in materials science and engineering. In my masters, I have worked on development of ecofriendly piezoelectric materials for vibration sensor applications topic under guidance of Prof. Ranjith Ramadurai. This work was also part of "Information Network for Natural Disaster Mitigation and Recovery Project" (DISANET) project. My research interest is “Investigating and developing high performance energy harvesting materials”. My research topic is the prime motivation to choose Japan. After M.Tech I joined Ikuta laboratory, Nagoya University, through JICA- Friendship program. Here, I started my research work on thermoelectrics materials, under the guidance of Prof. T. Takeuchi. My PhD work is focused on finding high performance ecological thermoelectric materials and suitable ways to enhance figure of merit.
My valorous journey began in Oct 2013, in a completely novel world with new language, different culture, exotic food, inexperienced climate, and in short it was new birth of Swapnil San in the land of rising Sun. World recognize Japan for technology, research, unique culture and especially for their inherent love for peace, discipline, kindness, and honesty. One best thing is their love for the nature. It’s not exaggeration to say that I am unable to differentiate between “people live with the nature or nature live with the people”. The lab culture, it’s an exciting and most important part of my life in Japan. Currently, I am the only international student in my lab. The interaction with lab meets is quite fun; we enjoy broken English or broken Japanese for communication. There is one major change in lab culture, all the seminars or group meetings are being tried to be conducted in English. I really appreciate the hard work everyone does, as many a time its round the clock work. Apart from our busy life, we have enjoyed parties together and particularly when faculties are around. Although there are some problems in communication, but everyone has supported me for getting adapted to this new culture, and new life.
I have visited some of the finest industries in Nagoya like NKG insulators and Chubu Electric Power through Factory visits, organized by Nagoya University for International students. These visits cherished me glimpse of elite management, technology and the quality of work for which Japan is known for. JICA Chubu also provided nice opportunities to meet and interact JICA participants came from different countries by inviting me in cultural and formal events. I am exploring Nagoya city by visiting Nagoya Castle, Toyota automobile museum, City science museum & planetarium and botanical garden especially in cherry blossom. Yet, there are still many places in my list to visit.
I would not say it was very difficult but, it wasn't that easy to get adapted with the most chilled nights, communicating with the people or learning cooking. But, all these things were made simple by enormous support from JICA officials, my friends, my sensei and my parents. I am sincerely grateful to FRIENDSHIP program, Nagoya University, and my Dr. T. Takeuchi Sensei for giving me this opportunity to pursue my dream. I will do my best, for making a contribution to scientific community and for betterment of our society.

My research life in Japan

I joined here as a PhD student at the department of chemistry in the Graduate School of Science, Osaka University from 1st October. My research interest is in the area of co-ordination chemistry.
Starting a new educational journey in a country with different cultural and social aspects, plus a different education system was a little bit difficult job, but with Ms. Junko Yamanoi’s (JICA Co-ordinator) valuable advice and guidance, I started to look everything from a different standpoint and it proved fruitful. With this, I started to get accustomed and interested in the culture, in the social communication. Furthermore when you have a group of people always ready to help you & teach you the new aspects of research life, and always with you when you face any research problem; you will start enjoying life here. Igashira sensai, my Associate Prof. always encourages me to keep on going instead of many failures and her inspiring remarks like “you will cherish these failures whenever you discover something new”, will stimulate anyone and I was no exception. My junior, B4 student Ichikawa kun said “lets learn English and Japanese together” & Yasukawa kun said “Whenever you have to set up a new reaction, I will be always available for you”.
With lots of up and downs in my research now, I have started to enjoy the life here and am hopeful of learning about new fields of research in this short span of three years which I can apply for continuing my research further. After completion of my PhD I believe that I will have lots of experience in the different aspects of chemistry along with expertise in various equipments. As I want to pursue my career in academics where research and teaching coexist, this PhD period will enable me to get the confidence to start as independent researcher.
Furthermore the interaction between Indian student and Japanese student will definitely help to improve the bilateral co-operation and we can generate a common platform and can invent new methodologies and new fields of research together. Finally I am very grateful to JICA to give me such an opportunity to learn and enjoy my research life in Japan. Arigato Gozaimasu.

A journey from IITian to KEIO-jin

It all started from Mumbai’s CHHATRAPATI SHIVAJI INTL. AIRPORT. It was the night of 8th September 2013 and I was taking leave of my family and friends to go to a whole new country called JAPAN. It was my first trip abroad and, in fact, my first Airplane journey ever. I was very excited but at the same time a bit anxious. I was going to a place very different from India, culture-wise and of course language-wise. I was not sure whether I will be able to adjust. And thus, my whole flight experience was spent contemplating about Japan and its culture.
I had, previously, read about Japan and the highly polite nature of Japanese people. But first thing, that really surprised me, was when I saw the ground crew at Narita Airport doing the “Saikeirei” (最敬礼 – the Japanese traditional bow) at the time of arrival of the airplane. At that moment, I realized that I was about to enter a very special place. But the anxiety was still there. The JICA staff at the airport was surprised when I said “Konnichiwa. Hajime Mashite” (Japanese way of greeting someone the first time). And from there, my journey in Japan began.
Everything in Japan was amazing. From the super-clean streets to the sky-high buildings, from the cars who line up for signal even at 3 in the morning to the queues of people waiting on the train station, from the extremely expensive malls to the reasonably priced 24-hour convenient stores “Kombini”s (“reasonable” according to Japanese standards :P :D). I was feeling amazed at each and every step. Ofcourse, communication was bit of a problem but any Japanese, I was approaching for help, used to try his/her best using smart-phone apps or hand-actions or any other way to communicate. All the anxiety, I had, was gone in first week itself.
Then came the big day. The “Welcome Ceremony” at Keio University. This is the day, I became part of the prestigious Keio University of Japan, starting my Masters’ studies in the department of Mechanical Engineering. It all began with a mesmerizing performance of the “Keio Anthem” by students and an inspirational speech from President and Vice-President of the University (though only some of it was in English  ). I felt proud to be part of this great institute. News of starting the semester with the summer camp visit to “Nippon Steel factory” was a pleasant surprise. With my extremely limited Japanese language skills and some English, I managed to make a lot of friends. Not only Japanese but I also made many French, Burmese and German friends.
Fall semester started and the work-load increased but, thanks to the research-oriented way of teaching and my very kind and always ready-to-help supervisor, I was never under any kind of stress. Friendly discussions with peers in meetings, during lunch and on coffee in cafeteria made me think more openly and insightfully. As I am in an International graduate program, I got to interact with students from varied backgrounds and exchange cultural stereotypes. Along with research, weekend trips to parts of Tokyo, Nikko world-heritage sites and parties with lab-mates just added to all the fun. The experiences, of having “gohe-mochi” (rice cakes) in Iida city (Nagano prefecture) and “hakata ramen” (Noodle soup dish) in Fukuoka (Kyushu prefecture), were something to be cherished for a long time. Additionally, the local cultural exchange events organized by JICA Yoke desk provided much more insight into the Japanese culture.
Currently, I am in my second semester at Keio and I am quite sure that my future stay in Japan will be just as fruitful and filled with amazing experiences as it has been till now. But I can say, now, that I have transformed from being a proud “IITian” to being a proud “Keio-jin”.

My research and personal life in Japan

After spending more than eighteen months when it comes the time to put my experience down about life in this sunrise country, it really takes time for me to decide which experiences to share as by this time I have gathered a lot of memories about this country…. and to my pleasure all these are my happy day’s memory!! Yes, that’s where I believe the magic of this country plays role. The so called hard to penetrate introvert Japanese society know how to welcome a stranger with all its warmth, care and positivity, that often a stranger like me starts thinking this country as her second home.
When I opted Japan as my higher study destiny, it is needless to say that the vast scientific research with cutting edge infrastructure made me attracted to this country. The abundance and easy access to scientific resources made the research life so easy. Beside those academic facilities the most important thing to learn here is the work culture and discipline. Research training under such work culture constructs a strong base for future work life, and there can be nothing better than assimilating this disciplined life style up to the highest extent.
In today’s international context Japan is a leading country, running at par with the post modern world, but still what I personally adore about this country is that there is clubbing of modern fashionable culture with intense, ethically enriched traditional Japanese culture. Being an Indian I often find many underlying similarities between both country’s culture and value systems, which give me the feeling of being more familiar to this country.
At the end of the day I have received something more from Japan, than only education which comprise of some feelings of happiness, satisfaction and really loving friends.
Suggestion: It is worth for me to spend few golden years of my happy life in the land of rising sun and fun during cherry blossoms days will enforce me to revisit this wonderful country. Love Japan.