By Stephanie Sonntag
While many of Melissa and Joey Franklin”s friends spend their weekends on plastic playgrounds at local married housing complexes, the Franklins are exploring another sort of playground.
This playground, however, is across the world from Provo.
Six months ago, Joey, Melissa and their 2-year-old son, Callan, headed to their new home on the Japanese Island of Shikoku for a year, leaving school and family behind.
Though Melissa is graduated, Joey is a senior majoring in English who wanted to leave school for something foreign before graduating and beginning graduate school.
“We also liked the idea of coming to Japan and experiencing life completely on our own,” Joey said. “Our mutual desire was to travel while our family was small and we could afford it.”
Not only are they getting a taste of the foreign culture, they are digesting it from eating dried fish to octopus jerky.
Though the couple spends their weekends traveling to castles and fortresses with curved roofs and decorated with fierce Samurai armor, there are definite drawbacks to being away from home.
“It has been difficult to be here, and though our experiences will be priceless, we will be excited to be home in August and back to life as students,” Joey wrote on their online blogspot. “For now, we are focusing our efforts on being content with our situation, trying to get the most out of every day we are here.”
Joey teaches English conversation and grammar at local grade schools and spends part of his time wiping noses and changing diapers at a bilingual day care.
However, the Franklins aren”t an anomaly at BYU.
Brandon and Kelsea Burton, also BYU students, are taking six months to go to Russia to teach English to children.
BYU”s study abroad program is popular among single students but hasn”t received the same response from married couples.
“Occasionally there are some, but there”s just not very many,” said Nancy Bean, who schedules flights for the study abroad program.
But the Franklins offer several reasons for couples to travel.
“Of course the opportunity to make good money and travel around a beautiful country were also factors,” Joey said. “We hoped then, and have seen in reality, that this experience is teaching us to rely on each other.”