For stalkers and the just-plain-curious, here’s a list of questions that people ask me a lot. (Mostly in person, though; I don’t get a lot of comments on this blog. Maybe ’cause I don’t update it regularly!)

Where have you lived?
in the USA: New York City, NY; Jersey City, NJ; Stanford, CA; Mountain View, CA; Milpitas, CA (you can probably figure out who I am just from those!)
in other countries: Makati (Metro Manila, Philippines); Isesaki (Gunma, Japan); Paris (Île-de-France, France)

Where have you been?
Lately (as of 2009) I’ve been to Manhattan and the Black Rock Desert for Burning Man, but I’ve mostly been anchored in the San Francisco Bay Area. If you want my whole history, the best I’ve got is this TripAdvisor map:

Anyway, the continents I’ve never been to are Africa, South America, Australia and Antarctica. As you may have noticed, that’s basically 95% of the world. I’ve also never been to the Caribbean or Mexico.

What languages do you speak?
To be honest, the only language I speak 100% fluently is English. I sound like I’m fluent in French and Japanese, but it’s only because my accent’s good and I use tons of slang– if you wanted to talk about theoretical physics or whatever, I’m screwed.
In my life I’ve probably spoken more French and Japanese than I have Tagalog, but I comprehend Tagalog better than the other two. I understand everyday Tagalog perfectly but usually reply to my family in English since they made fun of my word mix-ups as a kid and I stopped speaking it for a while (“Well you guys know English, what the hell am I trying to do this for?”).
As for other languages: I studied Mandarin at Stanford (I did my minor in Modern Languages with Chinese and French). I first taught myself Korean when I babysat and tutored Korean kids throughout high school; I studied it formally in Japan, but apart from being able to read stuff and knowing a ton of food terms, I’ve forgotten most of it. A friend from Kazakhstan and my old Russian flatmate in Paris taught me Russian through reading Russian GQs, watching Russian music videos, and eavesdropping on their long-distance phone calls. I could probably speak Spanish again if I really wanted to– I aced it in middle school because Tagalog has a bunch of Spanish in it.
I picked up some Hawaiian during my Alternate Spring Break trip in Big Island, and I learned to read Thai when my sister and I were marooned in Chiang Mai. All the German I know comes from Tokio Hotel songs, and all the Italian I know is thanks to Andrea Bocelli.

Why do you like languages so much?
I’m fascinated by accents and patterns, and by the way someone turns into a completely different person when they start speaking another language. (Unless that someone is my mother, who can code-switch between Tagalog and English without missing a beat.) I like how I can learn so much about a country and its culture just by studying its language. And I absolutely love playing with code-switching, because if you mix the languages up, you don’t turn into different people– those people and personalities are all mixed together within you!

Why a Japanese rock star? (Why not American, French, Filipino, etc.?)
It’s sort of a running joke, but it’s true– I want to be a Japanese rock star in particular because:
1) I’d still have some degree of anonymity in the U.S. if I became famous in Japan,
2) you don’t need to have nice teeth to be famous in Japan, and
3) I’m into the visual style of J-rock– Hyde is one of my fave artists, and Ai Yazawa’s super-oshare manga, like NANA and Paradise Kiss, they’ve really struck a chord with me.
Joking aside, breaking into the Parisian punk scene would be equally awesome. :)

How’d you get into Stanford?
I’ve got no clue. I think they just threw a dart at a dart board with all the wait-listed applicants’ names on it and landed on mine.

What do you want to be when you grow up?
Besides a Japanese rock star? As of 2010, I still don’t know for sure, but my future will probably involve the things I love and the things I’m good at: music, languages, writing, cultures. I don’t know what kind of combination they’ll end up in. I don’t even know where I’ll end up in ten years, or even two. But I’ve still got time.



This is a blog of things place-related, by a cash-strapped Stanford grad who's lived in various places and writes about life. She's currently looking for a job in Manhattan or the Bay Area.

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