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?

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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.

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Should I Learn Chinese or Japanese?

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“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.

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Grocery Shopping in America vs. China and Japan

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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.

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Working as a Doctor in India

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My second featured guest for the bi-weekly MyAsia Monday post is none other than my boyfriend, Richard.  After laboring through four long years of med school, he’s currently a resident doctor at a local hospital.  While he may be a doctor in title, he is actually a traveler at heart.  During his last year of med school, he volunteered to work in India and Thailand on an exchange program with his school for his first foray into the land of Asia.

I always write about the far east (and sometimes southeast) Asia.  For a change, however, I would like to write about a country in Asia that hardly gets any light on this blog: India.  My boyfriend is absolutely in love with India, and his visit there only deepened the connection.  I asked Richard if he could share his experiences in India as a doctor on the blog, and he jumped at the chance to post on here gratefully accepted 😉 

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The Truth About Working at a Japanese Company

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The clock struck 5—it was officially time to head home and call it a day at the office.

Yet no one was leaving.

Japanese companies worry about local staff pressing legal charges for unpaid overtime in the U.S., so they order us to clock out at 5 p.m.  Of course, I wasn’t complaining.

So just like I do everyday, I shut off my computer, grabbed my purse, bowed and announced to the office:

O saki ni shitsureishimasu” (I humbly apologize for leaving early).

To which they instantaneously replied,

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Life in Los Angeles is Killing Me

Los Angeles Sprawl

Los Angeles Sprawl

My alarm buzzed at 6:00AM, waking me out of my deep slumber. I fumbled in the darkness of the early morning to shut the alarm off and begin yet another 12+ hour day of work and commuting.

Originally, I didn’t want a car. I wanted to just get by with a bike, a ride form my boyfriend every now and then, and the trains—yet it was impossible. The distance from my boyfriend’s house to the train station was 20 minutes away by car, which is almost 90 minutes away by bike. Thus I was forced to lease a car, which costs me a ridiculous amount of money every month. An asset I honestly don’t want, but is impossible to live without in the United States.

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How I Learned to Speak Mandarin in 6 Months

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This isn’t a post about how great I am at languages. I’m not like some jerk on the internet claiming to achieve fluency in three months.

This is a post about the blood, sweat and tears I spent to learn Chinese.

I never thought I would learn how to speak Chinese: The tones, the characters, and the proverbs were frustrating.  The task of learning Mandarin was daunting and overwhelming–and honestly, there were many moments I thought I was just not meant to learn this language.

Yet somehow, I did it.  I learned Chinese in less than a year.

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The Movie “Wild” and Finding Yourself in Solo Travel

When I saw the poster for Wild, I was immediately reeled in.

As a solo female traveler, a movie poster featuring a lone woman on the road with a backpack immediately sparked my interest.  Although I wasn’t quite sure what the movie was entirely about, as a fellow traveler I was certain that I had to see it and discover for myself.

Wild is about Cheryl (Reese Witherspoon) and her journey on the pacific crest trail, starting from the Mojave Desert and ending in the National Parks of Oregon.  While this movie showcases the splendor of America’s rugged pacific coast, it’s not a picture perfect,  self-discovery type travel epic filled with epiphanies and life’s splendor.  It’s a movie about cold nights spent in a tent; the weight of a backpack digging into your skin, suffering from dehydration in the sun, ripping a toenail off your bloody foot and eating cold food for days on end..

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Dealing with Loneliness Abroad (and at home)

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Living in Niigata, although very memorable, was sometimes extremely lonely

When living abroad, it’s very easy to feel alone and isolated. Living in a new environment, being surrounded by a new language and living in a place where you know no one—it’s something few people sign up for voluntarily.

When I moved to Japan, I underwent some of the loneliest months of my life. The Japanese countryside was the ultimate test to enduring loneliness.

Surprisingly, I also felt loneliness upon returning to the United States. Although the U.S. was my ‘home,’ most of my friends from high school and college had already moved to other states and cities. The combination of reverse culture shock and being in a new environment (Los Angeles) had me feel more alone than I had ever felt in Shanghai.

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