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

America is Not The Greatest Country on Earth

America Needs Some Humble Pie

America Needs Some Humble Pie

I remember in grade school we had to stand up, put our right hand on our heart, salute the flag and say the pledge of allegiance every single day.  We looked up to the flag hanging near the chalkboard as our nation’s anthem echoed from the school’s loudspeaker and chanted the mantra of our great nation.

At school we were not only taught to be proud at the fact we were American, but grateful.  While no one ever distinctly said it to my face, I was educated that America was the best country in the world. read more

The Perfect Weekend in San Diego

San Diego Picnic

As most of you know, I don’t really like Los Angeles.  It’s congested, crime infested, inconvenient and expensive. It still boggles my mind why anyone would actually want to live here, but I guess we all have our personal reasons (like myself).

Sadly, I started to become disenchanted not only with L.A., but with all of California.  My business trip to San Francisco was met with high hotel prices and countless encounters with aggressive  (and dangerous) homeless people.  Going to Orange County was a venture rife with traffic and expensive parking. read more

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

Save Over $10,000 a Year By Living in Tokyo

View from tokyo sky tree

I know, you think I must be crazy for suggesting you could save over $10,000 a year by living in Tokyo, a city famous for its supposed ‘high cost of living.’

But if there’s one big smack in the face I’ve received from reverse culture shock in the United States, it’s this:

It’s goddamn expensive to live in America!

I want to compare cost of living in America with what most people consider an expensive country: Japan.

More specifically, Tokyo.

blogphotojapan

This scenario is based on a single individual working in Tokyo with an English teacher’s salary, which is about 30,000 USD per year and averages out to 2,500 dollars per month. read more

The Best Place to Visit in America

Zion in the Narrows

My favorite vacation in America is a place I have been trying to escape from my entire life, yet found a whole new appreciation for upon my return back to the United States.

It’s a state with not one, but five national parks.  It hosted the winter Olympics and is known to have “the best snow on Earth.”  It’s home to what some would call an over-zealous and somewhat strange religion.

Yes, my favorite U.S. vacation so far is not San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, or even Boston: read more

How to Get An Asian Boyfriend in China and Japan

See, I got one!

See, I got one!

I’ve dated men all across Asia—Korea, Japan, China, and even Vietnam. Although I was told that western women weren’t the rage in Asia, I proved the non-believers wrong. With just three easy steps, I was able to score a slew of dates, a few boyfriends and even two proposals.

A Little Background…

In a village far, far away...

In a village far, far away…

I was living abroad for the first time ever in Japan at the ripe age of 22, newly single and ready to try the dating scene in Asia. The appeal of dating a local not only for the cultural and language benefits, but also for the novelty, was exciting. What would my friends and family say if I dated a Japanese person—or, better yet, married one? read more

American Misconceptions about China

Here are some common China misconceptions I noticed from my fellow Americans:

It’s like 1984

“So Mary, how is life in China?” my friend calling from America asked.

“It’s ok, but the Internet here is terrible,” I sigh. “The Chinese government sucks and they block everything. I’m surprised they even allow Skype to work.”

Silence.

“…Mary…” I could feel my friend’s eyes searching the room, almost like he was looking for someone behind the wall wiretapping our conversation. “Are you sure you can… you know… talk like that? What if the government is listening now?” read more

Fitting Back into the USA

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Letting Go

I know.  It’s been ages since I’ve updated.

I’ve opened up wordpress and stared into a blank page for minutes at a time, trying to compose my thoughts into something that flows and make sense.  I tried multiple times to post something that is profound, moving, touching, and somehow manages to convey all of my distraught feelings for leaving behind a life full of love and comfort in Shanghai.  I tried to sum up the overpowering emotions of saying farewell to China and the wonderful life I lived there for three years–but every time I tried to type something, it just didn’t feel right.  It felt forced, sappy, or empty. read more