Nicole Bargwanna, fashion consultant and CEO of CPR Tokyo, actually never intended to live in Japan. In high school, when offered the opportunity of becoming part of an exchange student program, she had her heart set on France — her dream destination. She had even put all her efforts into learning French.

"I grew up on a farm in New South Wales," says the Australian native, "and for as long as I can remember, I had a longing to see the world. So I studied French and dreamed of a life in Paris."

Bargwanna's parents, however, sat her down and talked her out of these European plans.