The Ruby Ronin’s 2016 Year in Review

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As social media and the internet have already proclaimed, 2016 was not exactly a great year.  Dozens of amazing, life-changing and truly respectable celebrities passed away–and most of them, in my opinion, left this world too soon (Carrie Fisher, Alan Rickman, David Bowie, Prince… just to name a few).

The most devastating public tragedy to occur in 2016, in my personal opinion, is the election of Donald Trump.  I’m in disbelief that a bigoted, low-intelligence, tax-evading, rapist could become president.  I go into 2017 with a heavy heart and sincere concern about the U.S. and the world.  As someone studying foreign policy day-in, day-out, I am extremely aware of the damage an unpredictable president like Trump will do, and it is very frightening indeed.  I went into graduate school with the high hopes of graduating, working hard to get a job in the federal government and serve under the first female president–and now everything has changed.  My future looks uncertain. read more

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

Europe Highlights: Three Countries in Ten Days

Europe Highlights

So I traveled to three European countries in ten days.

And I highly recommend you don’t do it.

I’m a firm believer in traveling slow and enjoying the sights, but since I’m American and I only get a whopping 12 days of paid holiday per year, I had my limitations–so I made do.

My plan was to head to  Paris (for a bachelorette party), then Berlin (to see my good German friend) and, finally, Brussels for the wedding.

I only scratched the surface of each city/country, but here are the highlights: read more

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

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 😉  read more

Learning Kung Fu in China: The Real Story

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Since I am now acquainted with so many amazing people that have stories from Japan, China and Asia in general, I wanted to start a “My Asia” guest post/interview series every every other Monday where readers and fellow friends can share their fascinating adventures. 

I would like to start with a story that involves China and the journey of an American man going to discover the path of martial arts.

With a few years of tai-chi practice and teaching under his belt, my good friend Cory was convinced that the final step to mastery would be training on Mt. Wudang in China—the birthplace of Tai-Chi itself. read more

The Cherry Blossoms of Japan’s Snow Country, Niigata

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The harsh, cruel winter had come to a calm end. The roaring winds from the sea of Japan quieted to a whisper, and the walls of snow melted down into the nearby Shinano River, flowing along the rice fields and out into the open sea. The locals opened their windows to welcome in the fresh air of a spring long awaited, the sun a welcome sight from the months of grey skies and winter storms. In yukiguni—or snow country, as Niigata prefecture is famously known thanks to the Nobel prize winning book of the same name—winters can bring up to seven feet of snow fall. read more

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. 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

Why I Travel

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There’s a scene in the movie Wild that stuck with me.

The protagonist is on the road.  She’s exhausted.  She has only taken the first few footsteps into her journey, but already she feels the weight of the road.  Can I do this?  Is this what I’m supposed to be doing?  Have I gone crazy?

And then she stoops down, pulls some sagebrush from the road, rubs it in her fingers, closes her eyes and deeply inhales the scent.

The scent of the Earth.  The scent of the journey.  The scent of the world itself. read more