Masaya Japan Bound, and Reflecting on Long-Distance Friendships

My buddy Masaya, who started the PhD program at KSU at the same time that I did, just left Kent for a new job in Japan. He’s planning on finishing his dissertation from home. It is uncertain if Yufang and I will see Masaya again in Kent, but we are planning on visiting him in Japan when we go to Taiwan in the near future to visit her parents (and I get to meet the parents for the first time!).

It seems that we’ve reached that point in the PhD program that those friends we began with will be leaving soon. It probably won’t be long before more of our friends here will be moving away for jobs, too.

The same is true for professors we have grown to count as friends: Masood and Jenny Raja will be leaving for Texas in July.

I guess this is my experience of academia (others’ mileage may vary)–always moving on and always building new friendships. This has happened for me at Georgia Tech, the University of Liverpool, and now at Kent State University. In each case, I’ve kept in touch with friends by email and Facebook, but it feels nearly impossible to stay in touch as well as I would like due to the work that I need to do now (and it is always now that work needs to be done). Will there be a point where I will feel caught up enough to maintain those friendships that are important to me? It’s hard to imagine a radical reconfiguration of my work and personal schedules to really make it possible. Perhaps now, I am better at in-person relationships–that is, good at maintaining friendships when there is a geographical proximity to friends and as distance grows and other means of communicating such as email or the phone are required. The fact is that I have trouble engaging technology to support long-distance friendships even though I am heavily engaged with technology on a daily basis. I realize that some folks are really great at keeping in touch online, and I am very thankful for their efforts. I will have to give it a lot of thought about how to be one of those folks who are experts at maintaining friendships regardless of distance.

To Masaya: Borrowing in part from Garisson Keillor, “Be well, do good work, and keep in touch [even if I forget to sometimes].”

Last night at Applebee’s: Dave, Seth, Masaya, me, and Yufang.