I first became interested in Japan while an undergraduate at the University
of Rochester, where I became friends with several students from Japan and
several others who were Japanese majors (though I was too busy to take any
classes myself). One especially close friend studied for a year in Nagoya
and then joined the JET program after graduation. Conversations about her
experiences in Japan further solidified my interest in the country, culture
After spending several years working for a Fortune 500 company, I started re-evaluating my future. I decided to get my MBA at UT, but I also revisited my interest in Japan. My friend had mentioned that getting a job teaching English was fairly easy and that it was rewarding work. So, I requested and was granted a one-year deferment on my admission to UT and then interviewed with a couple of English conversation schools that had offices in North America. I accepted a job with one of them (AEON) and off I went to Japan for one of the best years of my life.
Upon returning, I began my MBA studies, but the UT bureaucracy made it impossible to take any undergraduate Japanese classes. After graduating, I worked for several years before finally deciding to add some formal Japanese instruction (my learning to that point had been mostly self-study). Thus, I began taking classes at UT as what would have to be considered a non-traditional (and non-degree) student.
I enjoyed the UT classes I took and found their structured environment very helpful. In fact, my appreciation for the value of combining structured and independent study led me to start compiling various Internet resources on a personal website. After taking the introductory courses that use the Yookoso! textbooks, I decided to compile notes from those books and add those to my site as well. At that point, I thought others might find the notes and resources I had collected to be useful, so I created a more public website, which I named after the textbooks (Yookoso!). Around that same time, there was a Kanji of the Day (KOTD) email list run by another former UT student (Jason Vertrees), but his server crashed and the list disintegrated. Since Jason’s service had been the only one of its kind, I began investigating the technology necessary to create an alternative service and then added it to the site as well. Since that time, I have continued to add resources to the site and I have added RSS feeds for the kanji lists. I have also worked with David “DC” Collier at jgram.org to offer daily grammar emails and RSS feeds.
Currently, I am leading an entrepreneurial life and I have no professional need for the Japanese language. Still, the interest I developed in the language so long ago remains strong and I continue to self-study. I am also fortunate to have some good friends in Japan that I occasionally visit. Perhaps someday I will significantly improve my meager Japanese proficiency and maybe even find a professional use for it. If not, I will nonetheless always consider the classes I took at UT and the time I have invested in the country and language to have been well worthwhile.
Founder, MBA Depot
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