Posts Tagged Japanese

Why Japan?

In my second last year of a business degree at University of Manitoba I needed to pick some electives. Up until that point most of my classes were all accounting and finance related. I decided to give my brain a break and take something completely unrelated to accounting in any way.

In my first attempt at University I took a film studies course that I thoroughly enjoyed. First stop in the course guide – film studies. All of the courses I wanted were full or unavailable. History was another interest of mine, and I noticed a listing for History of Capitalism and History of Communism. Both of these courses were also unavailable.

At this point I started randomly flipping through the course guide to see if I could get any ideas. I happened to stop in the language section. Two courses that caught my attention were Intro to Japanese and Intro to Cantonese. I briefly considered into to Cantonese due to my love of Jackie Chan movies. However, my interest in anime, video games and technology pushed me in the direction of Intro to Japanese. This turned out to be one of the best choices I made in University.

My Intro Japanese course was a full year course starting at the very basics – hiragana and katakana. The class started with about 40 people and 15 dropped out within the first few weeks. In the end there were about 15 Chinese students, 5 Koreans and 5 pasty white Canadians like me. The Chinese students had a big advantage when we started learning kanji because they were already familiar. The Koreans had a big advantage with pronunciation because there are very similar sounds in both languages. Everything was new for me, so the class presented a big challenge.

By the end of the year Intro Japanese was one of my favourite courses because it was a challenge and so different from my other courses. My good experience in the class got me interested in learning more Japanese and the possibility of travelling or teaching in Japan in the future. From randomly flipping through the course guide, I ended up having one of the best adventures of my life.

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About me in 2003

To give a little context for the upcoming stories of my Japanese adventure, it would probably help to explain a little bit about myself in 2003.

In April 2003 I was finishing my final year of a business degree at the University of Manitoba. This was my second attempt at University after a failed experiment in computer science and a few years off to find some direction. The goal after graduation was to find get a professional accounting designation and find a job in the field of corporate number crunching.

The year before I had made two changes that ended up having a big impact on my life. The first was joining Delta Upsilon Fraternity. I had never considered joining a fraternity before, and honestly didn’t even know there was such a thing in Winnipeg. After turning down several invitations to come and hang out with the brothers, I finally decided to give in and check things out. The experience was great and I ended up being invited to join. Most people join a fraternity in their first or second year of university and end up with a 4 year experience. I had just under 2 before graduation, so I decided to get as much out of my fraternity experience as possible. I ended up gaining some close friends, some great life experience and more importantly got a lot of practice chugging beer.

My other big change in 2002 was to take a Japanese language class as an elective. This led to another Japanese language class, a Japanese history class and getting some Japanese pen pals. If I hadn’t decided on the Japanese language class as an elective I would have likely gotten an accounting job right out of school and never traveled anywhere.

Another important fact about 2003 me was that I was in a 5 year relationship with a woman who will henceforth be known as “the Ex”. Our relationship had started strong and been going well for a while, but at this stage we were both starting to realize that we wanted different things in our life. The Ex had graduated, found a job and was looking to put down some roots. I was about to graduate and looking for a big adventure before I settled down. In April 2003 things were pretty rocky between us.

That’s about it – the Japan adventure really starts about April 2003. Stay tuned!

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