Modern Languages

Photo of Chris Herpel
Photo of Chris Herpel

Chris Herpel

1. Why did you decide to become a Japanese minor?

I decided to become a Japanese minor because of my strong interest in Japanese culture. I loved the music, the culture, the media, just about everything seemed new and exciting for me. I had planned to study abroad in Japan before I even entered Ursinus and hence decided to take Japanese language classes every year. I always thought about potentially moving to Japan one day so obviously learning the language was essential. My plans with my minor coupled with my Media and International Relations majors was to work in the Japanese music industry. My plans have since changed but I’m glad I became a Japanese minor. Learning Japanese was hard but it was worth it and I now have the ability to communicate with a whole other country of people previously inaccessible to me.

2. What has been your most rewarding experience in your Japanese minor?

The most rewarding experience was being able to study abroad in Japan. I feel like everyone has that ah-ha moments when life just clicks for them and they grow up, start understanding the world around them, and change for the better. For me, studying Japan was that experience and I owe that to being a Japanese minor. Having the knowledge of Japan and the language from the classes before studying abroad helped tenfold. I would have just been your typical stupid foreigner without the support and knowledge of all the professors in the minor program. It was an amazing experience being able to talk with Japanese people and learn everything about their culture and country. Being on my own and able to communicate what I wanted to say showed how far I had come from freshman year when I literally knew nothing. It not only helped me learn about Japan but about the U.S and myself as well. While living in Japan was sometimes rough and mentally exhausting , having the opportunity to have such an amazing experience was awesome and I feel really lucky.

3. What did you do after Ursinus?

My initial plans were to move to Japan and try to get a job in the music industry. Unfortunately, living in Japan for a year showed me that I’m more of a proud American, so living abroad wasn’t for me. I’d love to go back to Japan to visit friends though. Going to grad school didn’t seem to make sense in the Media & Communications field either so I decided to go directly into the job market. I graduated in 2012 and had a bit of a rough time trying to find a job. Trying to find something that utilized Japanese was really difficult since employers were looking for complete fluency. However, I just recently got an amazing job at PepsiCo! I am in charge of planning and coordinating the two biggest awards events at Pepsi where we invite 200 of the best salespeople and front line workers in Pepsi from all over the world to NYC to celebrate their accomplishments in a week long ritzy event. I especially focus on helping out all of the winners and their guests. Having that knowledge of dealing with foreigners from my experience in Japan really helped. It’s just so great to be able talk to and help people from all over the world. We even have winners from Japan so I’m able to practice my Japanese! For the Gala awards event and dinner we got to take over the Museum of Natural History for a day which you can see in my picture! So for right now I’m extremely happy with my job and can see myself working for Pepsi for a long time. Pepsi has a division in Japan so I hope one day I can go there for business too!


Media & Communications, International Relations