Photo of Kasia from Ikigai Connections

Although it wasn’t intentional, my education and past jobs have allowed me to use my Japanese language and cultural knowledge in multiple countries and various genres. And although I am a very private person, I have decided to create this blog to share my thoughts and past experiences (and even photos of me – gasp!).

I first went to Japan as a high school senior, and came home a changed person. Thanks to those 4 months, the next 20+ years were a roller coaster of amazingness…

College Years

I attended Boston University and created my own Japanese major because they didn’t have one yet. I also went to Kyoto my junior year and fell in love with the city, cherry blossoms, and maccha ice cream.

Upon graduation, I was sent to Saitama University on the Monbusho scholarship to study Japanese intensively for 6 months. Then the Japanese government sent me to Ochanomizu University for one year of research. I loved it so much, that I took the entrance exam of the same school and was accepted into the graduate program for 2 more years. I was able to utilize my extremely broad knowledge of Japanese TV dramas and write my masters thesis about it. (That may sound like fun, but it was intense work to do such media studies – and all in Japanese!)

Career Part 1: Japan

I just couldn’t part with Tokyo upon graduation, so I got a job at a concert promotion company. I started in administrative support, but eventually was involved in the tours of some pretty big talent from the US. Due to experience on one of the best concert tours ever (Madonna!), I decided to become an interpreter.  My research of interpreting schools took me to California, so alas, the time had come to leave Japan after nearly 8 years…

I was accepted to the Monterey Institute of International Studies (now Middlebury Institute of International Studies) for a very intensive interpreting/translating program. I still had the summer, so I traveled to Krakow, Poland to upgrade my Polish language skills at an intensive language program. My sisters and I learned Polish from our parents, who immigrated to the US from Poland, so I wanted to use all 3 languages one day. While there, I by chance met some Japanese diplomats traveling through my mother’s tiny hometown. They convinced me that I should come back to Poland to work and get on-the-job training at any company that might be in need of someone like me.

Career Part 2: Poland

After my Polish summer program, I returned home to unpack my Toyota Corolla, cancel my Michigan-California road trip hotel reservations, and defer my enrollment at MIIS. After a pretty intensive job search, I was hired by a Japanese electronics company located in a small town of western Poland. I took the bags that I didn’t really unpack and moved to Poland! Interpreting in all 3 languages was quite challenging, and I did the best I could. Eventually, though, the big city of Warsaw called my name, especially since I had family there. I later moved to Warsaw to attempt freelance translation and interpretation projects, one of which took me to Bologna, Italy to interpret for a nail polish manufacturer. While I was there, I met up with a Polish-American friend from Detroit, and she convinced me to move to Rome.

Career Part 3: Italy

So I did! I had every intention to continue freelancing while in Rome, but to be perfectly honest, I took that time to recharge my batteries. I walked everywhere, ate an astounding amount of pasta, bread and gelato, and enjoyed la dolce vita (“the sweet life”). It was amazing.

Career Part 4: US

After a year, I started considering a move to London because it sounded so fancy. I had some good interviews for positions in the banking industry, but returned home unexpectedly because of my father’s illness. While taking care of him in his final months, I met someone special (now my husband) and decided to stay in Michigan. I applied for a job for an automotive supplier, and spent 5.5 amazing years supporting them administratively and linguistically.


Eventually the time had come for me to leave my last employer. I rested my body, improved my health, and started thinking about my next step. Funny thing is, I had always been talking to people about finding a way to connect Japan-lovers like myself with good global companies, that I never considered me for the role. When that realization hit me, Ikigai Connections was born.

I write this story not to impress you, but to impress upon you the many creative ways you can use your Japanese skills. It was this grueling yet exciting process that made me the person I am now. That said, please keep in mind that switching employers in such a short timeframe like I did can also have negative impacts. I will share my life lessons in future blogs, so let me know if anything in particular resonated with you. 

Thanks for reading!

9 thoughts on “Introduction”

  1. I very much enjoyed reading the synopsis of the last two decades Kasia. Now I know “the rest of the story.” I look forward to your future posts.

  2. Kasia, thank you so much for sharing your story connected to your passion for Japanese culture and language. So inspiring. Will share your blog with my daughter and friends who love Japanese anime.

  3. Kasia, I loved reading your story! It brought back so many memories from our years at BU – especially when you had your two Polish Pattys watching the Japanese soap operas with you. ? I’m so happy you have found your “ikigai”, and wish me luck in discovering mine. :)?

  4. Kasia san, I enjoyed reading your story. I understand life may not go according to a plan. Meeting someone can change our life completely. I have had several experiences. If I were not there, I would not meet those people.

  5. Ikigai Connections

    Thank you for reading and commenting! That’s exactly what makes life exciting, right? Having an open mind and flexible mind about the future is important, I believe…

  6. Beautiful Kasia!! So inspiring! I love how you share your story and bring your genuine self to the fore! It’s a great approach to making that human connection, which should be the foundation of all business. I am taking note!

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