I'd never been to Japan before and could not be more grateful that my first real exposure to the country was through my internship with igsZ, a joint venture education-finance company with a start-up feel. From the get-go I was entrusted with full responsibility of deliverables for several projects involving curriculum development. Yet I never felt abandoned. Everyone in the office welcomed me with open arms and provided me with a wealth of resources and knowledge—both within and beyond the office. One of the most memorable parts of my experience (and there were many!) was staying over at my manager's home in Kyoto while completing a workshop there. We prepared a home-cooked meal together and stayed up late into the night talking about differences across Japanese and Chinese kanji.
I definitely believe that interning in Japan was the most authentic way for me to experience the country beyond the scope of taking Japanese classes at Stanford. In my downtime outside the office, I lived in my own apartment and spent the weekends exploring and connecting with the people I met in Japan—from playing card games in gaming haven Electric Town in Akihabara and visiting the Pokemon Center in Yokohama, to participating in a language exchange with students from the University of Tokyo and even climbing Mt. Fuji (overnight to see the sunrise) with my fellow intern. From exploring the corporate environment of Japan, to picking up samurai slang and swapping "hip vocab" with native Japanese speakers studying English—my summer with igsZ was a rich learning experience in myriad ways. So, to everyone I met in Japan, a big かたじけない! And because I hope to return again someday in the future: じゃ、またね Japan!