After graduating from Montclair High School in New Jersey in 1974, I spent one year at Davidson College in North Carolina. I normally leave this year off of my printed CV for reasons of space (was a 'B' student and it's a very fine school). At the end of my Freshman year, I applied to Sophia International, but once there realized on my first day that I wanted to study at a regular Japanese university, instead of following a US-oriented curriculum.
Ironically, applying from the International Campus of Sophia to the Japanese Sophia University was the same as if I applied while still in the USA- the main campus didn't recognize credits or standing from its own international campus a few city blocks away. Says a lot about Japan. In any event, after one semester at Sophia International, I dropped out to study full-time for entrance to Sophia University as a transfer student. Transfers were rare in Japan at the time, and the entrance exam is less about rote memorization and more essays (in Japanese, of course) and English. Once accepted, I studied as a regular Japanese student for almost 2 years.
Perhaps also a little ironically, I was originally more interested in China- the influence of my grandmother, Mildred Borst Perdue, who studied China for 70 years and who, at one time, sat on the Board of Directors of the China Institute and the Asia Society in New York. Because of my China interest, once I was enrolled as a regular student at Sophia University, I every school break took fly to Taiwan to study Chinese, with 4 hours of personal instruction per day (2 hours spoken, 2 hours written) at the Mandarin Daily News Language Center. Naturally, having studied Japanese helped a lot with written Chinese, and I think the 2 Japanese phonetic alphabets, hiragana and katakana, also helped me to quickly learn the 'zhuyinfuhao' phonetic system for Mandarin still in use in Taiwan. The only downside is that some of the teachers found it most amusing that an American student displayed so many of the characteristics of Japanese students learning Chinese.
In 1977, I was accepted to Princeton University as a transfer student, and after one year of study, received a scholarship to spend my Junior year as a regular student at National Taiwan University, where all my classes, schoolwork and social life was in Mandarin. I worked in Japan as an interpreter and translator both summers on my way to, and way way back from, Taiwan to Princeton, which helped me pay for much of my second year of study there (the scholarship to study in Taiwan had allowed me to finish paying for my first year at Princeton and avoided being cut from the rolls for lack of money). Additionally, I had 3 undergraduate jobs at Princeton: tutor in the East Asian Studies Department, Freshman Physics Lab Assistant and janitor- they all taught me a lot in their own ways.
I graduated from Princeton University in 1980 with a B.A. in East Asian Studies and stayed on a year working full-time and studying computer science part-time for another year.
Twenty years later I returned to academia to do a 17-month Executive MBA with the Kellogg-HKUST Program based in Hong Kong.