The Ruby Ronin’s 2016 Year in Review

newyearcover

As social media and the internet have already proclaimed, 2016 was not exactly a great year.  Dozens of amazing, life-changing and truly respectable celebrities passed away–and most of them, in my opinion, left this world too soon (Carrie Fisher, Alan Rickman, David Bowie, Prince… just to name a few).

The most devastating public tragedy to occur in 2016, in my personal opinion, is the election of Donald Trump.  I’m in disbelief that a bigoted, low-intelligence, tax-evading, rapist could become president.  I go into 2017 with a heavy heart and sincere concern about the U.S. and the world.  As someone studying foreign policy day-in, day-out, I am extremely aware of the damage an unpredictable president like Trump will do, and it is very frightening indeed.  I went into graduate school with the high hopes of graduating, working hard to get a job in the federal government and serve under the first female president–and now everything has changed.  My future looks uncertain.

read more

Teaching Christmas in the Japanese Countryside

winterinniigata

Winter at one of my schools.

Many people often ask me what the most difficult part of teaching in Japan was.  The JET Program had a mandatory, two day orientation to teach us about the long, English teaching road ahead. They rattled on and on about isolation, language barriers, and cultural clashes.

Yet they forgot the most important thing of all:

Actually instructing us on how to teach English.

winterniigatame

Never showed this face to my students, but man did I feel like this many-a-time (especially during blizzards)

The most difficult part of JET for me was standing in front of 40 middle school students and entertaining educating them for one hour.  I was a journalism and Japanese major–I knew absolutely nothing about education.

read more

My First Time in Latin America: Spending One Week in Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Years ago, my boyfriend (now fiancee) approached me and said: “Let’s go to Costa Rica in December 2016.”

Knowing absolutely nothing about the country, I said “Sure.  Why not.”

Since boyfriend planned our previous trip, he said Costa Rica planning was up to me.

As I mentioned before, I knew jack shit about Costa Rica.  To be perfectly honest–I had to look the country up on Google Maps.

Where does one go in Costa Rica?  How do we get there?  How do we get around?  Do we rent a car?  Can we drink the local tap water?  What’s worth seeing, what’s not?  How’s the weather?

read more

3 Reasons Chinese People Like Trump

Chineseliketrump

Like most of America, I was devastated on the morning of Wednesday, November 9th 2016.  The impossible happened.  The United States elected a KKK endorsed rapist to the most powerful position in this country.  As a minority, I was horrified; and as a woman, I was absolutely disgusted.

Ill with a hangover and still in a state of shock, I rolled over in bed and reached for my phone.  I had a slew of frustrated and hopeless texts from friends around the states.  My Facebook feed was awash in anger, denial and filled with dispute.  I opened my WeChat account to find…

read more

The Life You Never Knew You Changed

lifechanged

H called me.  I was in my new second home, the university library, writing a policy memo on the conflict in Yemen.  I knew something was different about this call.  I stepped out of the library and picked up the phone.

“Hey, what’s goin on?” I answered naturally.

“Um,” she was quiet.  I listened intently.

“Derek P, you know.  He passed away today.  He crashed into a semi-truck.”

I grew up in a small, coal-mining town in Utah.  As mentioned before, I was the only half-Asian around and I was often teased for being ‘weird.’  Luckily, I had great friends to help me survive the battlefield called elementary school, but middle school was an entirely different playing field.

read more

The Reality of Working as a Chinese and Japanese Interpreter

interpreterfront

Are you considering a career as a Chinese or Japanese interpreter/translator?

Think again.  And think real hard.

The Learning Process

I pulled up my collar.  I strutted into the hallway, knockin’ down the door as I busted into my first interpreting class.  I pulled up a chair next to the fellow Chinese students like a boss.  I gave everyone a chin up, just to let them know that this little lady here could speak and read Mandarin.  I just passed HSK Level 6 after only 6 months of study, and although I had lived in China for only two years I could pay my own bills, find an apartment, make friends and date the locals all without a translator.  I was the shit.

read more

Hiking Zhangjiajie in Hunan: A Must See in China

zzjcover

Hunan.

In high school, I worked at the only Chinese restaurant in my very humble town called “Hunan Village.”  I neither knew what, or where, Hunan was at the time.

Fast forward six years later, and I meet the inspiration for my foray into China: a man named Chen.  Through our friendship, he inspired me to not only self-study Mandarin in Japan, but also to study abroad in Beijing and later take the plunge and move to Shanghai.  Honestly, without Chen, China wouldn’t even be a part of my life.

read more

Hiking in China: 7 Habits of the Modern Day Chinese Traveler

chinesetraveler2

J and I were descending one of China’s greatest treasures: the National Park of Zhangjiajie.

Every corner we rounded presented us with a new jaw-dropping landscape of carved sandstone valleys poking through a sea of lush green trees. J and I took a deep breath, inhaled the clean air of the countryside and lost ourselves in the sea of clouds swirling in between the mountains.

That is, until Avicii arrived. You know, the Swedish DJ. The Chinese tourist who came bouncing down the trail behind us was blasting him full volume from his iPhone speaker.

read more

The Double Standard of Diversity in California

calidiversity

After growing up in Utah, living in Southern California for three years has given me a different perspective of the United States.

For one, white is no longer the majority in California (at least, in the big cities anyway).  Almost all of the friends I’ve made here are either Hispanic, Asian, Arabic or Black.  In fact, I’m sometimes hard pressed to find a white person here and it’s a great thing.  As someone studying international affairs on a professional level, diversity warms my heart and it makes for a very interesting place.  Now, after three years in diverse Southern California, I’m dumbfounded by how white dominated Utah is every time I return.

read more

I’m Going to Graduate School at 30

Masters30front

Remember how I said I’d update you on the most recent events of my crazy life?

Whelp, I’m going to get a masters at the ripe, old age of 30.

In my ‘turning 30’ post I wrote back in February, I mentioned some big life plans in the works that might involve graduate school–and, well, let’s just say it all worked out.  I got in.  I committed.  I accepted the student loan.  I live in graduate housing (aka, a dorm) and, somehow, I live with a Chinese family.  Don’t ask.  At least I’m not sleeping on an inflatable bed anymore.

read more