About Me


Hello and welcome to The Ruby Ronin!



My name is Mary.  I’m half-Vietnamese, half-Irish and born and bred in the United States of America!  Thanks for visiting the Ruby Ronin, where I blog about my crazy dating life in Asia, learning stupidly difficult language such as Chinese and Japanese, and just talk about my travels throughout Asia and other parts of the world.

It all started with me being a crazy anime/manga/game nerd, which eventually led down the dark, dark path of Japanese language study.  I studied Japanese in college for three years and, after graduation, moved to Niigata prefecture (aka middle of nowhere) to teach English for the JET Program.  Although it was lonely living in the Japanese countryside, it built character.  My two years in Niigata were a treasure.

Somehow I got the crazy notion to study Mandarin and decided to learn Chinese at Tsinghua University for six months.  Despite the corruption, the pollution, the tainted food and the unsafe conditions of China–I loved it.  I fell hard for Beijing.  I fell in love with China.  I was so crazy about China I stayed for an extra four years and moved to Shanghai, where I worked a bunch doing interpreting/translating in Japanese & Chinese, advertising work, government work and business consulting.

I am now stateside and damn, I miss Asia a lot, but I’m also very excited to rediscover my homeland.  I realized my home state of Utah is probably the most beautiful place in the country, I’ve developed a love/hate relationship with Los Angeles and southern California, and, when I can, I try to escape to places like Europe, Bali, Thailand and Vietnam.

I mainly focus on expat life in China/Japan, traveling in Asia, learning Chinese and Japanese and life as an expat who is struggling to get used to ‘home.’

Happy Reading!

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me!



27 thoughts on “About Me

    • Shanghai Ronin says:

      Thank you for stopping by! I’m surprised you managed to find me on Tofugu through all those comments!

      Can’t wait to comb through some of your personal works. Your blog is quite unique and the design is exquisite…!

  1. Sean says:

    Hey Mary, I can’t believe I just came across your blog. Believe it or not, you and I met in Shanghai a few years ago. It was at a trivia night at “The Camel”. My name is Sean. We talked about our mutual “Irish-ness” and you told me the story of how your parents met. Let’s chat sometime! Hope you’re doing well.

    • rubymary says:

      Holy crap Sean!!!! What a small world!!! How did you find my blog!?!?

      Yes, I remember you! We had a good night that time at The Camel, those trivia nights were a lot of fun. Are you still in Shanghai? I hope you’re doing well, too! Contact me any time! 😀

    • rubymary says:

      I’m heeeere! It’s been a rough month, but I’m set on blogging again, and consistently! Thanks for checking up on me, I’m really touched! Hope you’re doing well!

      • R Zhao says:

        I always love your posts. But I get it. I didn’t feel like writing for awhile and I didn’t want to force it. Hope everything is going better for you this month!

  2. Cosette says:

    I love how when I dig blogs, I come across such well written bios! And then, I look at mine and I’m crying.

    You must have so many stories to tell! Travelling to both China and Japan! Learning the languages! Living in different cultures! Coping with all those differences. And I bet, a bunch of culture shocks! Gotta read some posts now. 😀

  3. Yuko says:

    Hi Mary,
    Your blog is so well written I introduced the post “How the Japanese celebrate New Year” on my Facebook page. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  4. Cal says:

    You’re beautiful. I see that you completed the Tsinghua program which is something that I wanted to do, right after I graduate NYU with my bio bachelors.

    • rubymary says:

      Thanks for the compliment!

      Getting to Tsinghua will be no problem for you. You’re going to have the time of your life there. Let me know if you need any help with anything.

        • rubymary says:

          I think it would be totally manageable, but it may cut into your Chinese study time. I had friends who tutored English on the side for extra cash and others who got an internship while studying to build up their resume. Totally doable!

  5. James says:

    If you come to NYC, would you like to go on a date? I’m Chinese American and I’m looking for a Chinese tutor who can also speak English too.

  6. Angelina Castaneda says:

    Hello I found your blog site and I just was accepted to the Jet program and was placed in Niigata Prefecture. I was wondering if I could ask you some questions about your experience? I am really worried about being in a rural area. Let me know thank you!

      • Angelina Castaneda says:

        I am not sure where yet just got Niigata Prefecture. I am just scared about being in a very rural place because I cannot speak any Japanese. Makes me slightly nervous. I requested a city so this seems like the opposite.

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