I currently live 918 miles from my parents' house up in Sioux Falls, SD. I moved here just over a year and a half ago to start graduate school. Since then, Waco has become a home base of sorts -- not a place I especially enjoy living in, but a place to come home to, where I am rather independent. I've enjoyed my proximity to Austin and Dallas, and, for the most part, the weather, though it swings back and forth between extremes far too often. However, I never planned on staying here for very long.
In fact, I've never really seen myself living in any one place for a very long time at all. I have, at most, a five year plan for my life, most of which centered around whether or not I'd be able to get a job to pay off my student loans. I have to confess: After a Bachelor's and a Master's, both at private institutions, I have a lot of student debt. Not as much as some people I know, because I was lucky enough to have scholarships in undergrad and assistantships in grad, but enough to be daunting.
As you can probably guess, with some of my loans coming due in September, I was rather nervous about graduating in May and not being able to find a job. In fact, in my mental calendar, all of the dates from mid-March to mid-May, when I graduate, say "FIND A JOB."
I'm writing this to announce that various other little things have replaced such a designation on my mental calendar - things like, "Apply for visa. Get passport renewed. Put bed and other furniture up on Craigslist. Figure out cell phone costs. Sort through book collection again and find the ones you absolutely cannot give up. Figure out storage costs."
As you can guess, I have a job now.
But what sort of job requires visas and passport renewal?
That's right, I'm moving overseas.
We got an email about two weeks ago on the list for Baylor English graduate students informing us of a job opportunity for an English Lecturer position at Baiko Gukuin University in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi, Japan, a full 8,877 miles from my original starting point in Sioux Falls, SD. A week after finding out about the position, I applied, and now, not even a full week after that, I have accepted the position, and am investigating passport renewal and work visas, preparing to leave one week after graduation.
This prospect terrifies me. Absolutely terrifies me. But, I've never really been one to back down from fear. Heck, if I did that, I wouldn't have gone to England, I wouldn't have stood on a balcony of a church's bell tower 300 feet above the English countryside, I wouldn't have seen the famous gargoyles on the top of Notre Dame in Paris, I wouldn't have shaken the hands of a hundred schoolchildren in a dusty backroad in Vizag, India. It is this urge to conquer my fear that leads me on to newer and bigger things, challenges I never thought I'd actually face and the discovery that yes, I can do this.
Ironically, the thing that terrifies me is not the whole "living in Japan" thing - that I know I can do. It's the whole "teaching people who don't speak my language" thing, which is why I'm stopping by a bookstore ASAP and getting some guides to learning Japanese. I speak none of it, but am willing to learn.
The position appointment is for two years, and I'm paid around $3200/month (assuming I've calculated the Yen to dollar conversion correctly, which I hope I have - I didn't feel it appropriate to ask at that moment) and I get a furnished apartment, rent free, near the campus. The city we are in sits, from what I can tell, on an isthmus between Japan's two Southern Island - the main one with Tokyo, and the lower one with Nagasaki. In fact, Shimonoseki is mid-way between Hiroshima and Nagasaki, places of interesting historical importance. I am also only about a ferry ride from South Korea, which means, during one of my vacations, I'm definitely going to the DMZ, and to Seoul, and Busan. I have several friends who are either there or just finishing up years in Korea, teaching English at various age levels, so I will certainly have no lack of places to visit and see. I hope that at some point, I can visit China, Thailand, Taiwan, and maybe even, if I have time/money, go South to New Zealand. In fact, I plan on that toward the end of my two years.
So, now that I have the job taken care of, I can spend even more time just concentrating on my thesis (I have to turn it in two weeks from yesterday), and work on doing the little things to prepare for Japan.
As it is, I will probably change the title of this blog to reflect something much less specific than "Dianna in India," and will be doing blog updates as I prepare, as I experience all Japan has to offer, and as I adjust to living in a culture so completely different than my own. The Japanese and the US have always had an interesting relationship, and I'm excited to explore it from a different angle. This blog will, of course, maintain its social justice and human trafficking focus, and it will be interesting to explore how the Japanese deal with social issues. Prayer as I undertake this new step in my life would certainly be welcome.
Below is a map of where I'll be. The little "A" is the town.