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.

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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

You’re not Western Enough: How I Got Kicked Out of My First Shanghai Apartment

Beijing Hutong

“Mary, I published a book about teaching foreigners in China and I wrote almost an entire chapter about you.”

My Chinese teacher from Tsinghua University suddenly e-mailed me with the news, and I was completely caught off guard.

Me? …..In a book?

Impatient, I opened up the attached word file and scanned through the chapters hurriedly.

When I turned to the chapter about me, I realized that she retold one of the bleaker moments during my stay in Shanghai about…

My First Roommate:  The Leftover Woman read more

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. read more

The Good and Bad in Los Angeles Living

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Since my fateful return in April and the initial culture shock that ensued after China, I have found both good and bad to my new life in Los Angeles.

I Miss the Seasons

I returned to America for a myriad of reasons, one of the big ones being:

Pumpkin Spice Flavored Goods

(Note: Asia has no such thing as the American pumpkin)

photo credit: julochka via photopin cc

photo credit: julochka via photopin cc

Oh, how I lamented when I saw my friend’s pumpkin spice latte photos taken in the U.S. I’m having a new craft pumpkin spice beer, my friend from the U.S. would tell me over Skype, gulping it in all its delicious glory as I sat on the other end of the world, completely helpless. We’re having your favorite pumpkin pie, my parents would tell me as I heard them chomp on that delicious, orange morsel with whipped cream on top. read more

American in Niigata

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As soon as I stepped off the train, with luggage in both hands and two Japanese officials at my side, I knew that I was definitely not home in the United States anymore. Thousands of miles away from the familiar and transplanted in a new country, nothing had registered mentally—but physically, however, I was indeed feeling it.

July in Japan. I was hit with a tidal wave of humidity that drenched me senseless. The Japanese government in Tokyo decided to send me to this hot, humid sauna called Niigata, Japan. I was sweating profusely, my body was jet lagged, and there was a ringing in my ears that I would later know as “cicadas.” My eyes were heavy, my legs like water and my heart still in Salt Lake City. read more