This year marks my 15th anniversary of living in Asia.
It was back in 1997, as a student at the University of Montreal in the East-Asian Studies program that I first went to China, which kicked off my adventures in Asia. Although I ended up in Japan, my studies focused on China — and the Chinese language (Mandarin). At the time, there was a program that allowed students from my department — and those in East-Asian Studies department at McGill University — to go to Nankai University in the city of Tianjin (about 2 hours from Beijing) for a 10-week intensive language study program that was credited back home.
Well, guess what? I met a girl. I even met that girl — a Japanese girl, now my wife — on the very first day I arrived in Tianjin. She was also studying Chinese at that same university, although she’d been there for a year. Without going into too many details — I’m sure no one wants to read an account of my love life — after the 10-week program ended, the entire group that I came with returned to Canada, while I re-enrolled at the university.
I ended up staying there until November (so a 6-month stay), which is when I decided I would move to Japan — to Tokyo, of course — but I would first go back to Montreal for a semester (January-April 1998) to follow two classes, giving me the remaining credits needed to receive a certificate for my program (which follows my first degree, a Bachelor of Arts with a Major in History and Minor in Mathematics).
So almost exactly a year after first going to China, I would then be on my way to Tokyo, for a new life there.
Don’t you just love how these things happen?
Update: The story continues.