A Recap of My Life Since Japan and a Glimpse of What’s to Come

Dear Readers,

I hope this post finds you all well and happy! I have certainly missed writing on here, however due to my own life circumstances, as well as the very nature of this blog, it seemed fitting to let it lie dormant for a while. Fortunately, that is all about to change!

Before I go into those details, I’d like to give you all a brief recap of the last two years (yes 2!) since my return to the States from Japan. In reality, the time has really flown by – which is why I have a hard time believing it has been two years already. But since I have been so busy from the moment I touched down back in the States, until just a couple of weeks ago, the rapid pace of time kind of makes sense.

I returned in August with less than a month to spare before beginning my race to finish my undergraduate degree at the University of Toledo. What transpired over the next three consecutive semester (Fall, Spring and Summer) were to become to most intense, demanding, grueling, challenging and lonely months of my life… The Fall semester kicked things off properly with the equivalent of nearly 21 credit hours worth of courses and labs, a couple of shifts per week at work, ultimate frisbee practices, over an hour-and-a-half worth of daily commuting to and from school, along with applying to graduate school programs and scholarships.

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My typical weekly schedule during the Fall of 2013.

After surviving this semester somehow, I was rewarded by getting a phone call from the Ohio Academy of Sciences, who called to tell me that I had won their Environmental Sciences and Engineering fund scholarship! I also had the pleasure of taking a trip to Pittsburgh for the first time to visit a prospective grad school – Carnegie Mellon University – to which I had applied. That was the premise for this trip, but I also used it as an excuse to celebrate the end of my most difficult semester to date with some of my best friends!



Soon enough, the Spring semester of 2014 began, and this one was going to be just as difficult as the Fall because I was working my senior design project, a sustainability project, and personal research alongside a few other standard courses. The actual in-class time had been cut down significantly, but the workload turned out to be just as substantial. This semester culminated in two major presentations – one for senior design and the other for sustainability – as well as my official graduation ceremony!

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Unfortunately, this was just that – ceremonial… My actual graduation and diploma wouldn’t come until I had completed a 15 credit hour summer semester. Fortunately however, I had received ample motivation to keep going through the summer in the form of an acceptance letter from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), where I would begin my master’s degree that coming Fall!

So after another grueling semester, finally, I received my bachelor of science degree in Civil Engineering; the end of the beginning of my college education that took 6 full years to complete.


Bachelor's Diploma

It seemed like deja vu that August, because once again I was left with less than a month to spend time with my family back home and move away again, this time to Pittsburgh to attend CMU for nine months of intense master’s level coursework. Granted, the only reason I was able to convince myself to go on to grad school after such a long undergrad period is because the CMU program was only nine months long.

The time I spent in Pittsburgh contained some of the most fulfilling and happy moments of my life since leaving Japan. In essence, studying at CMU was very similar to studying in Japan! I was constantly surrounded by students from various countries other than my own, constantly learning about other cultures, while simultaneously undergoing a rapid academic renaissance. CMU allowed me to choose whichever courses I wanted to take, as long as the majority of them fell within the realm of engineering, architecture or science, so I decided to tailor my degree with data, sustainability, and architecture courses. Despite most everything being completely new to me and incredibly difficult, I loved all of it!

The academic environment in my department (Civil & Environmental Engineering, CEE) wasn’t just challenging, but it was also constantly encouraging academic excellence to go alongside personal growth and contentment. As such they were constantly organizing events such as beer and wine tastings, happy hours, pancake breakfasts, ski trips, baseball game outings, bowling nights, riverboat cruises, and much more.

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Then finally, after those nine intense, yet incredibly fun months, it was time for me to graduate… again! Despite being relieved to finally be done with school for the foreseeable future, it was also a really sad time. Similar to the days leading up to my departure from Japan, as my graduation approached, as well as during and after graduation, there were many goodbyes to be said to many great people with whom I had become very close. Here are some shots from graduation though!

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So, now to the main point of this post; to inform you all about the next step in my life and, as it may, my next blog project! In the midst of the insanity that was my Spring semester as a grad student at CMU, I was also in the middle of applying for jobs. I go into these series of events in detail in the first post of my new blog project, and you can find it in the link below:


With that being said, I would love to see all of you over at my new blog and to have you follow me on my newest adventure in Dalian, China! Thank you all for reading, and I hope to hear from you all very soon!


6 thoughts on “A Recap of My Life Since Japan and a Glimpse of What’s to Come

    • Dear Great Nephew Dan, I loved your letter sharing all you have experienced in the past two years. Excellent! Thank you so much for including me in your writings. My love to you always as you go forward in your exciting life. I look forward to your next letter. Lest you forget, I am your Great Aunt Virginia in the Seattle area.:)

  1. You’re destined for great things, Dan. Your mom is super proud (and me too, for what it’s worth!) Looking forward to the first installment of “Dan in China” – C

  2. Dan it’s really something to be reminded of your journey because you have a way of making it look (to the rest of us) so effortless. I love the way you handle the challenges in your life, always with a positive “I can do this” attitude. You have been inspired by many, and now you will inspire others. – love Mom

  3. Greetings from Japan, Dan… I am very happy to read about your adventures and success in your studies… am very proud of you… and I wish you the best of luck in your next phase of life…

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