1.) Tell us a little bit about yourself and how your passion for travelling started.
I am a twenty something American currently teaching English in Seoul, South Korea. I’ve been here for a little over a year and plan on leaving next February when I will embark on a long term trip starting in Southeast Asia. As a child I constantly had my nose in a book which helped me develop a curiosity about the rest of the world. When I was 12 I took my first solo trip, to London to visit a friend and from then on I was hooked. I lived abroad for the first time in my early 20s while studying in Rome and it was then that I knew I’d never be able to settle down permanently in the United States.
2.) Where is home?
Home is kind of a strange concept for me right now. I spent my first 22 years living in Michigan but have bounced around between Rome, Philadelphia, and Seoul for the last four. When my parents sold the house I grew up in and moved to Kentucky last year I was left without a true idea of what home was. But because I spent my formative years there and it shaped so much of who I am, I think I will always consider Michigan to be my true home.
3.) How did you get there? Have you lived there all your life, moved there because of College or just fell in love with the city/town on one of your trips?
I was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan and raised about 30 miles away. I later returned to Ann Arbor to attend the University of Michigan. I was never really a huge fan of my home state until I moved away after graduation. Now I’m proud to be a Michigander.
4.) What does your living situation look like? Give us a brief description (city or countryside, apartment or house, messy or neat-freak, roomies, pets, plants etc.)
I currently live in an apartment in Seoul, South Korea. My employer provides housing so I didn’t get to pick the place out myself. I live in an enormous apartment complex. These are very popular in Seoul and function almost like a small community, with shops and restaurants in the courtyards between buildings. For Korean standards, my apartment is actually quite large with 2 rooms and a separate kitchen.
I live alone and am an extremely messy person, as former room-mates will attest. I always say I’m going to keep my place cleaner, but it’s impossible.
5.) What’s your favorite spot in your apartment or house & why?
I spend most of my time in my bed because I have no other furniture and it’s one of the only places that my ethernet cord will reach.
6.) Do you prefer books or movies (plus what’s your favorite one)?
I love to read and definitely prefer books to movies. I could read all day but don’t have the attention span to watch a movie in one sitting. One of favorites is Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, which actually takes place in Michigan.
7.) Where & how do you write your blog articles? Do you start with a rough draft or get right to it?
I either write at school when I’m not teaching (don’t tell my boss) or at home in bed. I usually write a draft just to get it all out, take a break to clear my mind, and come back and so some serious revising.
8.) What does a perfect day in your hometown look like? What season is it? Are you inside or outdoors? Do you hang out with friends or family?
The best season in Michigan is fall. The days are still warm, but not too hot, and the sun has the perfect glow to it. The perfect day is spent in Ann Arbor on a day that Michigan has a home game. The city swells with people and the atmosphere is amazing. Family and friends come together for a big tailgate with all sorts of food, beer, and lawn games. Late afternoon and early evening are spent inside the country’s biggest stadium, hopefully watching the Wolverines win.
Alternatively, it’s hard to beat a summer day spent on one of Michigan’s many lakes.
9.) Name three spots in your hometown, which you’d probably not find in a guidebook but you could recommend to travellers. Tell us what’s special about them.
1.) BTB. This small burrito joint in Ann Arbor is extremely popular with students. Especially late night. It’s not the greatest burrito you’ll ever have but the tiny restaurant on State Street is an Ann Arbor institution and will always be a reminder of my college days. Plus, it’s the best after bar food in the city.
2.) Union Lake, in Oakland County. It isn’t as big or beautiful as the Great Lakes but it is a great taste of summer inland lake culture. People from all around bring their boats for a day of tubing, water-skiing, and cruising on the water. The sandbars are a great place to dock and take a swim, enjoy a drink, and gobble up the picnic lunch your brought.
3.) Get outside the suburbs. Most of Michigan’s population is located in the area around Detroit, but most of it’s charm is outside this densely populated and strip mall filled area. Shimmering lakes, thick forests, and endless corn fields are all waiting just a short drive away. This is my favorite way to experience Michigan on a summer evening.
10.) What’s your favorite local dish (if you have one in your country/town, please tell us which one)? Can you cook it & what are the main ingredients?
My favorite local dish is a Coney dog. No, this dish didn’t originate in Coney Island, New York, it’s actually from Detroit (but there is an ongoing disagreement on what restaurant, Lafayette or American Coney Island first prepared a hot dog this way). A coney dog is a hot dog topped with beef chilli, onions, and yellow mustard. These are served at Coney Island restaurants, a kind of diner that also specializes in Greek food, around Southeast Michigan and are a must eat whenever I’m back in the area.
11.) How much does 1 liter (or one gallon) of milk and petrol cost today?
I feel a little stupid saying this but I have absolutely no idea. I don’t drive and I don’t drink milk!
12.) Where are you right now, on which device to you answer this questionnaire and what shoes are you wearing (if possible please add a picture)?
I’m in my apartment in Seoul typing on my MacBook barefoot.
13.) Last but not least: What does “home” mean to you?
When my parents moved from Michigan I was distraught thinking that everything I’d ever considered home had suddenly disappeared. My father told me then that home is not a place, it is people. A couple of years later, I realize he is correct. I’ll always be from Michigan, but wherever my family is, that is “home”.
Want to be a part of this series?
If you want to be a part of our series, just go to the “Home Sweet Home” article and download the appropriate questionnaire. We’d really like to read your stories :)
Participants so far:
#1: Ulli Maier
#2: Nisa Maier
#3: Shvyia Nath
#4: Rika Huang
#5: Yvonne Zagermann
#6: Dario Endara
#7: Frankie Thompson
#8: Roy van den Bos
#9: Monica Stott
#10: Doris Neubauer
#11: Amanda Slavinsky
#13: Casper Oppenhuis de Jong
#14: Ashley Abroad
#15: Inma Gregorio