It was 4:30 in the morning and my work day had already begun.
After forcing down eggs and sausage, I stumbled out on deck where the sound of the boat's engine was deafening. The black sea reflected stars. Several long, white Japanese Coast Guard boats cruised silently nearby. I could see a black lump ahead in the distance. That's where our seven hour journey was taking us: an islet in a small archipelago in the East China Sea.
These were the uninhabited islands - known as Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese - at the center of a territorial spat between Asia's two biggest economies. I had been sent by The Wall Street Journal to write a story about them.
So how did I get to be a reporter covering such a story, only a little more than a year after I had graduated from Georgetown?
I majored in Comparative Literature in French and Japanese at Georgetown. Even though I wasn't a Japanese major, I took language classes for all four years, and studied abroad for a semester in Nagoya, Japan.
After graduation, I moved to Tokyo and got a job in The Wall Street Journal's Tokyo office. A few months later, I raised my hand to go to the Senkakus for the weekend.
The Japanese I studied at Georgetown got me to the Senkaku Islands, but it's also allowed me report on economics, pensions, Japanese government bonds and makeup artists.
I am not just studying about Japanese society or international relations anymore, I am getting to experience and write about the people (and islands) who will be in textbooks Georgetown students study one day.
Other selected writings by Eleanor Warnock:
A more in-depth article on the disputed islands can be found here.
Click through if you are interested in the newest Japanese national holiday, Mountain Day.
And of course, gather here to mourn the demise of a beloved Japanese potato snack.