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About Me

Me in Caen, France

As you may have gathered, my name is Jana Fadness. People often pronounce my first name wrong, so I’ll explain: That’s “Jana” with a hard J (sorry, Europeans!), and it rhymes with “banana.” I’m interested in many things and can never seem to focus on just one, but my main passions are language learning, art, and music. Most of my life has revolved around the pursuit of skill and knowledge in these three areas. I also love discovering new places, and have lived and traveled all over the world. I have an insatiable travel bug!

I was born and raised in a small town in the Pacific Northwest called Centralia, Washington, but I wasted no time getting out of it as soon as I graduated from high school. I attended Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where I got my bachelor’s degree in Asian Studies and took advantage of opportunities to spend a few months studying in both Japan and China.

My eclectic life since finishing school has included a total of around six years teaching English in Taiwan and Japan, ten months living with a French family and working as an au pair (i.e. nanny) in a Parisian suburb, several months holed up in my dad’s studio in my hometown recording music, a brief period living in Honolulu, several language learning conferences, a couple months working as an interpreter for an exchange program held on board a cruise ship, and various short trips visiting friends and exploring different places.

For a couple of years now, I’ve been supporting myself by working online as a Japanese-English translator. I feel extremely fortunate to be able to do this because it allows me to work from anywhere with an Internet connection, so I never have to stop traveling! I think I’d like to settle down somewhere eventually, but since I don’t really know where, my plan for now is to keep living the nomadic life until I figure it out.

About This Blog

For me, the main purposes of this blog are:

  • To keep my friends and family around the world updated on my life, and to invite conversation
  • To foster new connections and friendships
  • To share my thoughts, knowledge, and experiences in ways that might benefit others

Although I love my nomadic lifestyle, it can sometimes be lonely, especially considering that I’m an introvert who doesn’t always do a very good job of staying in touch with friends and reaching out to interesting new people. But when I started attending events for language learners, I was surprised to find some people approached me because they had read my blog. When I then volunteered to give talks at some of these events, even more people approached me and showed interest in getting to know me. It made things a lot easier for me because people were approaching me first!

I’ve been blogging here since 2011, but when I first started out I didn’t have a clear purpose, and it’s taken a lot of time and reflection for me to really figure out why I wanted to keep doing this, if at all. Back in 2011 I thought this blog might eventually become a source of income, but I’ve never sold anything here and I’m not sure if I ever will. Now, my mindset is that I’m doing this not for monetary gain, but for social gain. And that’s honestly a lot more valuable to me.

About The Title

“Directionally challenged” is my best translation of the Japanese word houkou-onchi (方向音痴), which literally means “directionally tone deaf.” It refers to a person with no sense of direction, and I’m sorry to say that yours truly is a prime example. Although this has often been inconvenient and embarrassing, having to stop and ask for directions all the time has actually led to a lot of interesting interactions too!

And although the word isn’t really used this way in Japanese, I also see it as a reference to the way I live my life. I usually don’t plan things very far in advance and am a chronic mind changer, so I often have no idea which direction my life is headed in next. But I’m okay with that, because there’s never any guarantee things will go according to plan anyway, and I find not knowing more exciting! I am embracing my directionally challenged nature and seeing it as something that makes life adventurous. Hence, “Adventures of the Directionally Challenged.” I hope you’ll tag along on my adventures with me!