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The Road Goes Ever On and On

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.


  1. Dianna,
    This is so exciting! You will do fine in Japan! And China is certainly worth visiting (and fairly affordable), if you get the chance check out Shang Hai, although I only spent a brief 24 hours there it was certainly a beautiful (in that full of sky scrapers way) city.
    I may have to come visit you in Japan! Its a place I've always wanted to see, and a culture I admire very much.
    Blessings! And Happy Birthday! \

  2. Yeah, Shimonoseki is actually on a peninsula. The straits between Honshu (where Shimonoseki sits, on the northern side) and Kyushu (the southern island) are quite narrow and choppy, and there's a bridge which is the landmark for the area. When you walk along the pier within view of the bridge, you can see the other island. You will also be able to see many large ships, as the straits continue to house a vital shipping lane (otherwise, shipping through the area must go significantly to the north or south of the straits). The province is Yamaguchi-ken (ken = "prefecture"; think of all of Japan as a nation = state, so then prefecture = county). Shimonoseki, by the way, means "Southern Gate" and refers to its position as the southernmost point on the Imperial route that ran from end to end of Honshu. There is an actual gate which looks out across the straits, attached to one of the Shinto shrines, there, which has a rather remarkable history. ( ) Students from the "mission" school there are frequent participants in the annual shrine ceremony commemorating the battle which led to its founding.

  3. Oh, and when you are walking home from the uni, and turn left to head up the hill, be sure to stop off and pick up produce from the open-air shop to your right. It will not be as perfect as the grocery store's, but they really won't care whether you can manage any Japanese ("ikura desu ka" is "how much?" and "domo" will do for "thanks" casually, and the numbers can be written), and they'll enjoy dumping extras on you. You'll have to plan to use some of it up before it spoils, but you'll make friends and have chances to practice. :-)

  4. Wow Japan! That's really awesome. I'm hoping that time and money are on your side, so you can come to New Zealand, that'd be even more awesome... just saying =D


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