Hello again, and greetings from the great state of Michigan! As you may have seen from my social media or in my blogs about Chicago and West Michigan, I’m in the States for multiple reasons, one of which is a Midwest book tour. I’m incredibly honored to share the inspirational stories from my book, Flavors of Life.
Wednesday, October 26
I was invited to speak at Michigan State University (MSU), and boy, was it great to be back! I graduated from MSU in 2010 with a degree in Journalism, but had only visited once since then for a football game in 2012. Pulling off the freeway and driving into East Lansing that day was like a homecoming.
My first stop was at Communications & Research, Inc., a company I did an internship with from August 2009 to April 2010. I learned so much from them, especially from the owners, Joe and Kathy. They really give their interns a lot of responsibility. For instance, I lead various campaigns, plus I did interviews and research to write articles and pitches for client campaigns and publications.
C&R holds a luncheon and knowledge meeting for students, what they call “From College to Crushing It” (I love this name, by the way). Together, we led a discussion to provide insight and advice to students. I mainly discussed my career after Michigan State, how university helped prepare me for the “real world” and led me to find a job after graduation (and overseas), as well as life abroad and cultural differences between the Netherlands and the United States.
Following the luncheon, I headed over to the Communication, Arts, and Sciences building on campus, where I reconnected with past professors. One of my former professors asked me to speak to his Journalism History class. I was honored to talk about my time abroad and the publishing process! The class was extremely engaged, and I loved answering all their thoughtful questions after my lecture.
That evening, the professor and I caught up over dinner at Red Haven, a farm to table experience, in Okemos. The last time I saw him was in Amsterdam, and it was wonderful to hear about his current projects and endeavors. I’m glad we’ve stayed in touch over the years! The service was friendly, and the food was delicious. Their combinations are unique, flavors that will stay with me for a while. We started with the [BLOOM] dish, consisting of flowers, cucumber, nasturtium, cherry, and verjus. [FRY] was the other dish we started with: brussel sprouts, yolk, lemon, thyme, and fleur de sel. Our main course consisted of the [GLAZE] – salmon, grape, labneh, cucumber, and lemon – and [CRUST], lamb and sweet potato. We ended the evening with the Mexican chocolate cake. Delicious!
I ended up staying with good friends of mine, a couple whom I had not seen in a long time! It was great to catch up.
Thursday, October 27
After having breakfast with my wonderful hosts, I met up with another long-time friend at Biggby, a Michigan-based coffee chain. I actually had the caramel apple cider, something we don’t get much overseas. I then dropped by my sorority house. In college, I was part of Alpha Omicron Pi. I have so many wonderful memories in that house, and it was great to see the changes they’ve made and how the chapter is growing. I still keep in touch with many of my sorority sisters and have since connected with others around the world! Sisterhood is a beautiful thing.
For lunch, I met up with another good friend of mine from Journalism school, who now actually works for MSU. We met at an East Lansing staple, the Peanut Barrel. Cannot beat this local joint! It was too early for one of their famous Long Island iced teas, but I still enjoyed a burger. She and I spent quite a bit of time together while studying at MSU. We even worked on two different documentaries, one of which we presented in Las Vegas.
Following lunch, I settled in at Espresso Royale next door in preparation for #CultureTrav, one of the Twitter chats I host. Every week, people login online and join from around the world, and I was lucky enough to meet up with one of them in person. Aaron lives in the metro Detroit area, but he drove all the way out to East Lansing to meet with me, so we could tweet together. Thank you for the wonderful conversation and company! I love meeting fellow tweeters and travellers in person.
Thursday, November 3
Ann Arbor, Michigan is home to University of Michigan, which is a rival of the Michigan State Spartans. However, when it comes to books, all is okay, though; readers just love to read. I reached out to Nicola’s Books, if they wanted to host a discussion and signing while I was in town, and the events coordinator was more than excited. It turns out we grew up just down the street from one another, a few years apart. What a small world!
The event itself was terrific! We had a great turnout. Thank you to everyone for showing your support and your kind words. The audience was interactive and engaging. I talked a little bit about what inspired the book, the interviewing and writing process, the stories contained in the book, as well as my time living in Amsterdam. By the way, this bookstore is super cute. They have a wonderful selection of books, so if you are ever in the area, I highly recommend it! Please show your support for the local community.
Before the event, we had dinner at nearby Zingerman’s. The scallops were mouthwatering! Zingerman’s is known for its baked goods, and the bread was fantastic. We also had a quick drink here afterwards.
A very big thank you to my Alma matter, Michigan State University, for having me, and to Ann Arbor, as well as its wonderful people, for two great visits! I loved every single minute.
In case you missed it, my book tour also took me to Detroit, Chicago, and West Michigan, while my personal adventures led me to Pennsylvania. Be sure to check out those blogs, which are coming soon. Stay tuned for my next blog post about my time in Metro Detroit.
Where are you headed next? Let me know in the comments below!