Friends of Ben: Maria Pacana

Name: Maria Pacana

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One of my favorite things to do when traveling overseas is to talk with American ex-pats who are fully integrated into the local culture. I recommend this tactic for all Americans traveling internationally. I can usually do this via my blog, since I have readers in many countries and they may be ex-pats or know ex-pats.

In Tokyo I had dinner with blog reader Maria and her friend Jake. Maria is a recent college grad from U.S. now living in Tokyo. She picked up Japan in a year (pretty incredible) and now works in-house at a law firm translating patent applications from English to Japanese. She studied electrical engineering at Yale but is now pursuing a part-time MBA from McGill while doing her translation work.

Maria knew of my interest in journalism and invited her friend Jake to dinner. Jake is a muckraking journalist who’s lived in Tokyo for 15+ years. An exchange program with a Tokyo university opened Jake up to the world of Japan, he loved it, and has since developed an awesome track record of covering Tokyo’s vice / police blotter for a newspaper here. Jake has a book coming out next year on what it’s like being an American living overseas covering Tokyo vice.

Maria is a super impressive person. In our two hour dinner I was struck: She’s ambitious yet humble, engages seriously with the world yet seems to enjoy it, and…it happens to the best of us…tries to find the willpower to blog. Jackie Danicki once told me she’s genuinely surprised when she meets someone interesting who doesn’t have a blog. So I’m glad Maria is working on her blog 100k by 25, a quasi personal finance / quasi living-in-Japan blog. All in all, Maria is an example of the kind of personal growth someone who’s achieved a lot of success at home can have with an international adventure.


In reflecting on our dinner which I so enjoyed I realized that not once has a meeting with a blog reader let me down. I’m humbled and astonished at the caliber of the readers of this blog who reach out to me.

Maria — thanks for a great dinner — please stay in touch!

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