My name is Andrei Costica and I am currently a Special Ops Engineer at Bitdefender.
I started my "adventures" as a support engineer at the same company, a position from which I happened to become a translator in the team that participated in the annual IT fair in Tokyo when my manager discovered that I was the only person from the entire company that could speak Japanese. I can say that it was an unique experience, being employed for only a few months.
Before Bitdefender, I did web design and freelancing.
My first contact with Japan was as a child (I was probably in primary school, I don't remember my age very well) when I happened to see the wonderful Shogun movie on TV. I later discovered that I also had the books in my parents' library and I took the opportunity to read them. I honestly don't know how much I understood from the books at that young age, but I remember very clearly how excited I was about that world, so different from what I saw in my everyday life, and how excited I was telling my parents that I was going to learn Japanese.
Of course, anything that the children propose at an age so "tender" was something that did not happen in reality.
And here we are in high school. During the physics classes, a stylish, gray-haired gentleman enters the door, dressed in a suit and starts to teach us, like any other subject that involves theories, calculations and a bit of logic. Occasionally, instead of the typical variables used in physics (α, β, Ω) he begins to draw (and pronounce aloud) some signs that I had never seen before in any subject - shi (し), ku ( く), tsu (つ).
We asked, confused, what is with those signs, and he explained to us that they are "letters" from the Japanese alphabet and we ended up, in time, studying the Japanese language with him on weekends.
After finishing high school, I ended up enrolling at the Romanian-American University where I discovered, as accidentally as in high school, about the existence of the Romanian-Japanese Studies Center in which I continued to deepen this wonderful language.
I came to study the tea ceremony at theRomanian-Japanese Studies Center by chance we can say.
A good friend of the Center, Kazuko Diaconu sensei, came at one point with the proposal to teach tea ceremony classes within the CSRJ curriculum for those who want to participate. I knew absolutely nothing about this ceremony, but I signed up immediately because I thought it might be something interesting.
I was, of course, fascinated by this art right from the first course (at least as fascinated, if not more so, as I was by the Japanese language itself) and this fascination eventually led to the offer to receive a scholarship in Kyoto for tea ceremony at the Urasenke school.
I did not hesitate to accept the offer to register for the scholarship, which led to an extraordinary year that I spent studying the art of Japanese tea, in all of its forms, in the wonderful city of Kyoto.
Among the most pleasant memories I have are the organization of the Christmas chakai (guest ceremony) for school, the organization of the chakai for a group of foreign dignitaries in the opulent Kyoto Guest House and the participation in Gion Matsuri - an important festival from the city of Kyoto which involves pulling huge (and very heavy) carts around the buildings in the city center.
I have quite a few pleasant memories of Japan, especially in view of the fact that I spent a whole year there wearing kimonos every day (a beautiful show for the locals, who took pictures of us every time they saw us on the street ).
I spent many beautiful moments with a bowl of tea in my hand admiring the artistic gardens of the Kyoto temples, none the same as the other.
I enjoyed moments with friends I made in Japan at important festivals such as Gion Matsuri, Jidai Matsuri, Hanami (the admiration of cherry blossoms).
I had the pleasure of visiting many of the most important temples, castles, tourist locations and ancient tea houses (some of which can only be visited as members of the Urasenke school).
Probably the most important thing learned at the Center would be that anything is possible if you set your mind to it and, especially, if you keep working.