It was exactly 8 years ago, July 2007. I only just started working here in the freshly open International Students Office. Our task was to recruit the non-EU students for courses in English run at various faculties of the Warsaw University of Technology.
Everything was done manually then – applications were coming from all the distant places like Africa, India, China by post and we had to carry them to the Deans’ offices to get the decisions. Since it was just the beginning, we did not have as big workload then as ISO has now. We were young and happy because of the gorgeous Summer weather. It was my first real job with a desk and a computer so I was non-stop ready for action! I wanted (and still do) the whole world to come to Warsaw! Then I was still remembering my recent experience as an international student in UK from two years before. I understood very well how much help those newcomers will need especially if they come without knowing the language. Karol and I used to spend hours on end explaining to the candidates all the bureaucratic complicated rules connected with obtaining “legalization” and “nostrification” of their certificates and diplomas, as well as telling them what they had to do in order to get a visa and the residence permit.
One student I remember particularly well – a very young boy from Jaipur (Rajasthan). He was under 18 when he first arrived in Poland. Faculty of Power and Aeronautical Engineering members of staff confirmed that he was our first recruited student from India. The number of international candidates who made it through a recruitment sieve and actually started their studies at WUT then was very scarce. We were so happy to have them around and could devote much of our time to them.
What does Pankaj remember from those first few months? “Everything was in Polish and a bit overwhelming.” Being so far away from home and family for the first time in his life. His closest relative was the cousin from Łódź who persuaded Pankaj’s parents to send their son for studies to Europe to expand his career prospects and broaden his horizons. “We all know how living overseas changes your thinking and perception”. Even though Pankaj was still very young they let him go.
“Obtaining a residence permit was a mission as I was under age and had to go to the Immigration Office with a long complicated form written in Polish. Noone spoke English there then.” says Pankaj. International Students Office helped him to fill the form in but the officer sent him away and told him he had to come with a guardian – representative over 18 years old who spoke the native language. At that time he did not have a chance to meet anyone who would fit into those requirements. It was before the academic year started. He felt very lonely and wanted to go home…but he stayed. And he doesn’t regret it.
The whole studying abroad experience made him grow up very fast into a very strong and determined person. He knows what he wants from life and he will not hesitate to get when the opportunity arises.
Recently in June 2015, he graduated from the Faculty of Power and Aeronautical Engineering for the second time. Earlier in year 2012, he defended his first thesis “Simulation of Wear Implant on Elastomeric Disc Prosthesis Using Finite Element Method (Bending with Compression)” and got a Bachelor degree. Then had a 6 month break before commencing on the Master’s course.
His Master’s thesis was entitled “Investigation of Influence of Combustion Chamber Geometry on Methane Air Explosion Parameters” and he wrote it under the supervision of Prof. nzw. dr. inz Marian Gieras.
During his years in Poland, he has learnt a lot not only about aircrafts but also about life in general. He even managed to persuade his younger brother to come and study at the same Faculty of WUT. Our first Indian student at WUT learned Polish, met a Polish girl and started his own business in Warsaw. He even had an episode of managing a legendary bar located on WUT central campus called BOOM! But deep down he always wanted to pursue a career in aviation. So now he has got a job as an aircraft maintenance trainee engineer at Air Modlin.
Currently, he is simply looking around for new job opportunities in aviation/airline/aerospace sector in Europe.
His life motto and advice for all of you who are getting ready for studying at WUT is:” Never look back. Just run!”