That must have been the judo classes in which I participated as a young boy in rural Netherlands. I wish I could say I was a natural talent, but that would be a blatant lie. A more lasting encounter with Japan followed in my teenage (gaming) years through the Final Fantasy franchise.
Never stop exploring, and always do everything you do with conviction. Actually, those are two mottos but they go together well. Life gets so much more interesting if you do new stuff and go to new places, especially if you do so with passion and an open mind.
Although I’m definitely proud of the degrees I earned and the technical articles I published in my field of expertise, I’m especially proud of a classical music contest I won after 1 year of intensive studies at the conservatory. It was in no way a prestigious or well-known contest, but winning it was the ultimate recognition of what I had achieved in a period of much blood, sweat and tears.
I will be satisfied if I can conclude after my secondment to Japan that I have gained a deeper understanding of the Japanese culture, to such a degree that I will be able to successfully bridge the cultural differences with the Western world in business and personal environments, but doing so without losing sight of my own (Dutch) values and beliefs.
I can recommend everyone living in urban Japan to travel town by bike rather than by train. It’s by far the best method of transportation and allows you to discover interesting places that you miss when traveling underground. There are not so many places in the world where you can bike so freely and at the same time so safely.