How Do You Know Where to Settle Down?

Whenever I travel somewhere new, especially a city, I always find myself asking the same question:

Could I actually live here–or better yet–settle down here?

In Utah’s middle schools, I was brainwashed–erm, I mean, taught, that when the Mormon Pioneers hauled their wagons to Salt Lake City and first set their sights on the blue skies and the Great Salt Lake, they cried:

“This is the Place.”

Thus, Utah became the home of the Mormon Pioneers…. and Salt Lake now has a (ridiculously) named “This is the Place” museum. read more

The Best Birthday I’ve Ever Had

Today’s my birthday.

As I get older, I start caring less and less about birthdays–but I still loathe to spend them alone.  Luckily, my husband always spoils me on my birthday with a nice dinner, a just-what-I-need present or a surprise vacation.

However, I must admit, the most memorable birthday I’ve ever had happened before his time.

This is the story of the best birthday I ever had–in Shanghai.

How I Turned 28 in Shanghai

“I hate to sound demanding,” I said to my Chinese-Italian friend, Leona. “But I really need to do something on my birthday.  Can we get our friends together and have a quick dinner or something?” read more

A Slice of Life From Japan: The Japanese English Teacher (JTE) I Will Never Forget

Today, I found a memoir-like post hidden away in the depths of my hard drive.  I thought this little piece perfectly conveyed what it was like to teach on the JET Program, as well as introduced some  unforgettable characters all JETs are bound to meet on the journey.  It’s a long post, but if you can slog through it, it perfectly summarizes my unforgettable experience working with my Japanese English Teacher (JTE).

The Japanese Countryside

“You have to meet Uchida-sensei,” all of the staff at the school told me repeatedly.  “He’s going to be one of the English teachers you work with.  Plus, I think he’s about the same age as you.” 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

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 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

5 Reasons Japan is NOT technologically advanced

Japan tech savvy

On my most recent trip to Japan I once again asked myself this question:  Is Japan really technologically advanced?

Advanced robotics.  Giant mechas.  Bullet Trains.

To much of the world, Japan is seen as the world of the future.  It’s no surprise the  country that invented the Mario Brothers and the hybrid car is known worldwide as the most high-tech.

So when I moved to Japan, I was expecting to walk into the future.  I was ready to see what life would be like in a world where technology ruled. read more

My Boyfriend’s First Impression of Japan

japan temple

After two months of silence:  I’m finally back on U.S. soil.

After suffering through China’s excruciating internet (wow, did it get WAAAY worse in the last two years, and hats off to fellow expats still suffering through it), I am finally able to wordpress and Google photos freely (and thus update this little blog).

I traveled extensively for six weeks throughout China and Japan–and believe me, I have A LOT to write about.  I’m very excited to get some posts out in the upcoming days and weeks.  It was great to be a nomad traveler again, donning a backpack and whizzing from place to place for days on end. read more

Will Learning a Foreign Language Get You a Job?

I was escorted to the conference table sporting my best black blazer, pencil skirt and pallet of make-up.  The receptionist handed me an ice-cold bottle of water and nodded curtly, “the manager will be with you shortly.”  She smiled warmly before exiting the room and gently closing the door.

I planted my elbows on the table, folded my hands and took a wide, but tall and defiant posture.  I listened to a TED talk once about how body language alone can make or break your chance of getting hired.  Retreating inwards and folding your arms and legs make a candidate look timid; however,  sitting tall, lifting your neck, holding up your shoulders and puffing out your chest denotes confidence.  I was going for the latter look. read more

5 Steps to Hanami (View Cherry Blossoms) in Japan

Spring has Sprung!

Spring has Sprung!

Ah, March.  The prelude to Spring.  The light at the end of a long winter tunnel.

Or in Japan, it’s the start of one of the most prized occasions of the year:

Cherry Blossom Season.

Whatever high expectation you have for watching cherry blossoms in Japan (or better known as ‘hanami,‘ which literally means ‘watch flowers’ 花見),  Japan will not disappoint on this front.  It’s a magical experience.

While many tourists envision their hanami experience like an anime opening (think wind blowing in your hair as sakura petals brush past your skin), the reality may differ somewhat.  To get the kind of hanami experience you’re dreaming of, it involves more than hopping on a plane and finding a sakura tree–it will take a whole ‘lotta planning. read more