Chinese Sci-Fi Book Review: Three Body Problem

Three Body Problem was on my “must read” list ever since it won the Hugo Award two years ago.  Unlike past Hugo award winners, this book was special because it was the first time a Chinese author won the most prestigious award in science fiction literature.  As someone who loves both sci-fi and China, I just had to read this thing.

But for whatever reason, I didn’t get around to it.  It was probably the not-so-appealing cover.  Maybe it’s the weird title.  Or perhaps it was the summary of the book, which involves the overdone plot of “humanity fights aliens.”  I have to admit–from first glance, it didn’t seem all that appealing. read more

How Can Learning Japanese or Chinese Get You a Job?

According to the news, China is about to rule the world and the Japanese are poised for extinction via low birthrates.  With an ever-rising China and a Japan on the decline, one has to wonder:  Will learning Japanese actually get me a job?  And more importantly, will learning Chinese get me an even better job?

In my post “should I learn Japanese or Chinese?” I gave the cop out answer of “go with your heart.”  I still stand by this super cheesy advice.

However,  via this particular post, I received multiple emails from young college students asking for even more advice.  What kind of jobs can I get with these language skills?  What level of proficiency do I need?  And most of all: Are learning these languages just a massive waste of time? read more

What a Trump Presidency Means for US-Japan-China Relations

Two Chinese girls looking out at Tokyo with a faux statue of liberty. The US-China-Japan all in one photo.

It’s only been one day and we are already starting to see the damage.  The repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  The disappearance of the Climate Change page on whitehouse.org.  Re-negotiations of NAFTA.  It’s all really happening.

Yesterday, in a truly humbling event, scores of Women’s Marches were held around the world. Women (and those who support women and diversity) stood in solidarity for equality, love, and women’s rights.  I was rooting for all of you.

Although these marches spanned the globe, they mostly represented a fight for U.S. domestic policies.  Planned Parenthood, immigration, education, healthcare–Americans turned out in record numbers to fight for these rights. read more

3 Reasons Chinese People Like Trump

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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

Hiking Zhangjiajie in Hunan: A Must See in China

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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

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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

Battle of the Bloggers! Empress Of Bright Moon Ancient China Trivia Quiz!

Welcome to the Battle of the Bloggers!

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In today’s episode, blogger Autumn Ashbough of West Dates East faces off with me for some Chinese Tang Dynasty Trivia.  Who will reign supreme?  Mary, a girl who speaks Chinese but knows next to nothing about ancient Chinese history; or Autumn, the witty all-knowing blogger?

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Weina Randel will be hosting today’s game. Randel spent six years researching China’s only female Emperor. She’s got some brutal questions for us about both her books (The Moon in the Palace and The Empress of Bright Moon), as well as Chinese history and culture in general. read more

Interview with Weina Dai Randel on Her New Book “The Moon in the Palace”

I am very delighted today to post my first book review and interview with talented author, Weina Dai Randel!

The Moon in the Palace is the tale of China’s famous (and only) empress, Wuzetian.

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I first learned about Wuzetian in my Chinese language class at Tsinghua University, where I was forced to learn words such as “decapitate,” “sever” and “jar in a head” in order to read and understand the gruesome tale of China’s empress.  While my Chinese language book’s rendition of her history and reign painted her as an ice cold queen who ruled with cunning and fear, a part of me still wondered: Could China’s one and only empress be that ruthless?  Is there a back story? read more

My Chinese New Year 2016 Gone Wrong

Happy Chinese New Year!

Happy Chinese New Year!

In America, it’s easy to forget that Chinese New Year is even happening.  Akin to Christmas in China, no one in America gives a flying crap about a holiday based on an outdated calendar.

My boyfriend was no exception.  Although he’s Chinese, he was way more excited about the super bowl.

“Am I allowed to watch super bowl?” he pleaded.

“What about Chinese New Year?” I frowned.  “I thought we could make jiao zi (dumplings) together and watch a Chinese movie or something.  You know, get in the spirit.” read more

Cost of Living: Los Angeles vs. Shanghai

Shanghai Los Angeles Cost of Living

One of my biggest forms of culture shock upon moving back to the United States was cost of living.  It felt like everything in the United States was way, way more expensive than Shanghai.

In my previous post, I calculated and compared the cost of living between Los Angeles and Tokyo, and I found that living in Tokyo could actually save you 10,000 USD per year compared to life in Los Angeles. I’m a huge advocate for living abroad to not only broaden horizons, but to also save money.

So how does life in Shanghai fare when it comes to cutting costs? read more