Browsed by
Category: Life in Asia

My Boyfriend’s First Impression of Japan

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?

Will Learning a Foreign Language Get You a Job?

Women In Tech - 85 via photopin (license)
Women In Tech – 85 via photopin (license)

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

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

How the Japanese Celebrate New Year

How the Japanese Celebrate New Year

NewyearJapan9

The most important day of the year for the Japanese is New Year, and with it comes certain traditions and ceremonies.

Why don’t the Japanese celebrate Lunar New Year like the rest of Asia?

Unlike the Chinese (and the rest of Asia), Japan does not celebrate the lunar new year.  Japan’s new year holiday is every January 1st in alignment with western calendars.  In fact, Chinese New Year is known as 旧正月, or “old/former new year.”

The Japanese switched to the Gregorian calendar in the Meiji era, when the entire country was modernized due to western influences.  This is the era of the last samurai, of kimonos being traded for western dresses and suits, of guns and cannons in the battlefield.  Since then, the western calendar has stuck. read more

Spending Christmas in a Japanese Buddhist Temple

Spending Christmas in a Japanese Buddhist Temple

ChristmasJapanCover

Spending Christmas abroad is tough business.  I don’t really know how to put it into words, but something is just missing in the air.  Maybe it’s the commercialism.  Maybe it’s the exchange of presents, the Christmas parties, or even the cheesy songs on the radio.

Probably, it’s just the plain and simple fact that no one gives a crap about Christmas in Asia.

As I often mention on here, my life in Niigata was different from the typical foreigner.  I was extremely isolated.  Due to various falling outs with other foreigners, I was all alone.  I had no one to share Christmas with. read more

You Know You’ve Turned Chinese When…

You Know You’ve Turned Chinese When…

youknowcover

I’ll never be ethnically Chinese.  It’s just not going to happen.

Despite this, I feel Chinese (as weird as that sounds).  I was  so accepted and integrated during my time in China, I felt like one of their own.  Sure, my proverbs sucked.  Yeah, I couldn’t read all the Chinese characters.  Still, I was invited to almost any and every outing, and many of my Chinese friends treated me like family.  I hung out with the locals like I was their neighbor, and they treated me as such.  Thanks to the kindness and passion of my friends in China, I felt like I truly discovered what it means to live and understand China. read more

Attending a Japanese Wedding

Attending a Japanese Wedding

Attending a Japanese Wedding

So, it’s final.  In September I’ll be a bridesmaid in a good friend’s wedding in Brussels.  My plans for attending the wedding have been in the works for months, but finally I’ve booked all of the plane tickets and hotels, which makes it official.

After almost a year of not traveling, I’m finally going to Europe!

Yet, as I started thinking about wedding preparations I found myself at a loss…

Are French/Belgian weddings the same as American ones?  What is considered a ‘good’ wedding gift?  How do they work?  Is it ceremony and then reception, or is there some sort of legal service in between? read more

5 Ways Travel Has Changed My Personality

5 Ways Travel Has Changed My Personality

Changin' through Travel
Changin’ through Travel

I know.  I disappeared for a month.

I wish I could say that I did something cool, like randomly bought a one way ticket to Iceland and partied in Reykjavik for 30 days straight–but alas, my life is not that exciting.  The last month was mostly sucked up by a web design class that taught me little, but did force me to build a website (I actually constructed a website for the boyfriend that should be up soon).  I also spruced up The Ruby Ronin a bit in hopes that it will inspire and motivate me to write on a regular basis. read more

Should I Learn Chinese or Japanese?

Should I Learn Chinese or Japanese?

LearnJapaneseorChinese

“Should I learn Japanese or Chinese?”

As a Japanese/Chinese interpreter and translator, it’s a question I get asked a lot.

Those that are crazy or masochistic enough to venture into the realm of Asian languages often stop and pause when it comes to choosing from the two giants of the East Asian languages: Japanese and Mandarin.

Choosing a language is important. Gaining fluency will take you hours, months, and perhaps years of your life. It’s not something to take lightly and, if used for future work purposes, is definitely worth consideration. read more

Grocery Shopping in America vs. China and Japan

Grocery Shopping in America vs. China and Japan

hongkong

Whenever I travel abroad, the first thing I usually do is pop into the local supermarket.  While it may sound strange to pass up temples and ruins for a run to the market, the seemingly average grocery store is a gigantic window into the country itself.  What people buy in a store–and  the food that is offered in the market itself–speaks volumes about a country and its culture.

When I returned to the United States last year, it was no surprise that going to the giant sized American market was one of the big toppers on my lists of reverse culture shock.  Even after a year here, stepping into the grocery store still feels like I’m treading into foreign territory. read more