Missing Michigan

Last week, I enjoyed the perks of Michal’s summer internship location in Dearborn, MI.

Yes, you read that correctly.

The Detroit suburb may not be as glamorous or appealing of an area to visit during the summer like Cali or NYC, but we were excited to simply be close to people we’ve missed while living in Cville and Chicago. In the week I visited Michal, I was grateful to be able to witness almost every type of life-changing moment within our circle of friends and family:

  • Helping Michal move into his apartment before he started his new job
  • Co-hosting a baby shower/going-away party
  • Dancing the night away at a wedding with friends from undergrad
  • Surprising a friend on her 30th birthday
  • Celebrating the engagement of one of Michal’s former college roommates
  • Visiting friends who just had their first baby
  • Checking out my parents’ and Michal’s sister’s newly renovated homes, as well as my cousin’s recently purchased home

Highlights from my visit to Michigan

In a stage in which there is so much transition and uncertainty, it is so reassuring to know some parts of life can still remain the same and that we can always “come home.” I’m looking forward to my next visit to obviously see my husband, but to also spend more time with all of our loved ones.

Not to mention, Michigan is best experienced in the summertime. (HINT: A topic for a later blog post.)

I appreciate any tips on how to answer the question: “Why come back to Michigan?”



Part 2 of Family in Cville: What’s ‘Fun’ in Undergrad vs. Grad School

My cousin April and her husband Jake drove from Metro Detroit to Charlottesville the weekend after my in-laws visited. This family weekend had a different twist: April, Jake, Michal and I went through undergrad together at Michigan State University, so Michal and I were excited for them to experience another sort of college town.

The infamous Foxfield horse races could not have been better timed. We each anticipated this event as if we were preparing for Halloween by scouring for outfits we’d never normally wear, classified as “country club prep.” It was a total cultural experience for us to transform our usual, casual T-shirt and jeans combos to pastels and floppy hats.

All photos are courtesy of my cousin April (except for the group photo on the top left that a friend's husband took on my phone).  My husband Michal and April's husband Jake had actually bought the same shirt. Michal found a new pink one to match my searsucker dress.

All photos are courtesy of April (except for the group shot on the top left that a friend’s husband took on my iphone). Fun fact #1: My husband Michal and April’s husband Jake actually bought the same shirt in different stores. Michal later found a pink shirt to match my searsucker dress!

While we embraced the wardrobe change, we were a bit more wary of the actual event as we heard it would be similar to all-day tailgating. In the end, we were grateful to experience the races from the more civilized grad student area tents where Darden and the Law School were side by side in front of the tracks. The backdrop was breathtaking in the sun, the food was classic Southern BBQ, the bartenders made drinks to our liking, the music started with a live band, there were no lines to the bathrooms, and the tables had fresh, floral centerpieces.

Needless to say, the atmosphere was a lot different on the undergrad side.

Again: All photos are courtesy of April. Fun Fact: Michal worked with Three Notch'd this school year as a member of the Community Consultants of Darden.

All photos are courtesy of April. Fun Fact #2: Michal worked with Three Notch’d this year as a part of the Community Consultants of Darden. Jake enjoyed the beer there so much that he bought a growler!

Michal and I also spent some time showing Jake and April the differences between undergrad nightlife at the dive bars on The Corner vs. the local breweries in the more upscale Downtown Mall area. Although it was fun to be outside at the picnic tables at The Biltmore on a warm night, we decided relaxing in lounge settings with board games and higher quality craft brews at Three Notch’d, Champion and South Street was overall more enjoyable. We’ve each definitely grown more discerning with two home-brewers, Michal and Jake, at our side.

Ultimately, what we discovered is that we still like to have good time just like in the glory days … but now we just have higher standards.

All photos courtesy of April. We managed to include a hike to Elliott Knob and a walk around Grounds. Fun Fact #3: We purposefully picked out one of the highest peaks in Virginia to tackle with April and Jake because they're so adventurous!

All photos courtesy of April. We managed to include a hike to Elliott Knob and a walk around Grounds. Fun Fact #3: We purposefully picked out one of the highest peaks in Virginia to tackle with April and Jake because they’re so adventurous! At the top, Michal and Jake started a fire right before the rain hit.

Spring Break – Part 2: Staycation in Cville

For five days of our Spring Break, we were so happy to host two of our close friends from undergrad who are married and live in our home state of Michigan. We met them through the same church where Michal and I met on the campus of Michigan State University, have stood up in each other’s weddings and have kept in touch with each other for almost decade. It was fun to take them around our new stomping grounds! Below are highlights of our time with them:

Tourist in our own town

Michal and I have been saving our visits to the area’s historic landmarks, such as presidential homes, for when our friends and family visit. Best takeaway tip that we discovered through our experience: Show your student ID at Monticello for a discount on tour tickets!


It’s a good thing one of our visiting friends is a poli-sci professor because we did a very thorough tour of Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello, and of Central and North Grounds at the University of Virginia. A 60-and-sunny day in Cville = summer in Detroit, so our friends were also extremely happy to be able to walk around without a coat. My favorite moment from our touristy times was our picnic dinner on the Lawn in the heart of the “Academical Village” in front of the Rotunda.

Snow day survival 

Ironically enough, our Michiganders didn’t escape the cold too long as we dropped down to 40s on Sunday and had a Snow Day on the Monday after Spring Break. It was a blessing in a way as Michal and I did not have to worry about school and work so we could focus on our friends.


We kept entertained because the sudden change in cold weather had just the right timing with Selection Sunday for March Madness and St. Patrick’s Day on Monday. We spent a considerable amount of time cheering on our alma mater in the Big 10 tourney, as well as watching UVA in the ACCs with a fellow Darden couple, and then consequently filling in our brackets. And we kept it low-key for St. Patty’s, creating a spiked hot cocoa bar and playing board games like Cranium and Imaginiff.

Michal and I cherish when our friends and family visit us, as we often hosted them when we lived in the Chicago-area for five years. We look forward to hosting more visitors in Cville!

What are your favorite ways to enjoy a Staycation in your area?

Remembering the Glory Days

This past weekend, Michal and I went from one college campus to another – University of Virginia in Charlottesville to our undergrad alma mater, Michigan State University in East Lansing, for the wedding of my cousin April and our friend, Jake.

Michal and I have been a part of several ceremonies at the same church in the downtown area and attended receptions in the same hotel on campus, including our own wedding, in the last three years because a majority of our friends met their significant others around the same time.  These weddings inevitably end up being like “the glory days” when we return to campus, celebrating and reminiscing in the place we called home for four years.

As the matron of honor, alongside my other cousin (April’s sister) Arra, we did the requisite toast that regales the audience of our past. I was nervous because I’m used to speaking in my classroom of no more than 30 high school students, not in front of almost 200 adults.

However, once I locked eyes with April and Jake, along with our mutual friends and family, I felt reassured with their engagement and smiles. Their loyalty and faith in me encouraged me to keep going, despite my anxiety. It was just another moment, among countless other ones from the weekend, that reminded me of what makes those undergrad days so “glorious.”

Below is our speech in its entirety. (Hopefully, a video will be up soon!)


We got ready in our hotel room at the Kellogg Center and in the Bride’s Room of St. John Student Parish. April and Jake did an amazing job with all the beautiful details of the wedding!

MOH Speech for Toast at April and Jake’s Wedding

Agnes: For those of you who do not know me, I am Agnes, April’s older cousin and matron of honor…

Arra: And for those of you who have not met me, I am Arra, April’s younger sister and maid of honor.

Agnes: Since April and Arra moved to the U.S. about 20 years ago, the three of us have been inseparable…

Arra: Yet, oddly enough, each of us are very different.

Agnes: Our friendship is what many would say encapsulates the phrase “Opposites Attract.”

Arra: For example, I am more of the “shy girl type” (look at April for inside joke) but I have a passion for culinary school, while April has made “interesting” decisions in the kitchen like putting ranch dressing in Ramen soup …

Agnes: And, while I was the nerdy newspaper kid in high school, April was the athletic, outspoken cheerleader and cross country runner who would encourage Arra and me to work out on lazy Sundays and to count our calories.

Arra: However, to go along with the phrase “Opposites Attract,” another phrase that would best describe our unique friendship is how “You fill our weaknesses with your strengths.” (Look at April.)

Agnes: April always manages to have the most energy and enthusiasm – like when it would be 5:30 in the morning during one of our infamous slumber parties, and she would still want us to stay up, talking about boys, or continue our marathon of “Dawson’s Creek” episodes.

Arra: And April also has an innate friendly nature, with the ability to get anyone out of their shell. Agnes and I can truly say we have become more outgoing and daring because of her, and she has helped us become more proud of the unique individuals that we are because of her constant affirmation.

Agnes: And we see this same type of balance and support in the relationship she has with Jake.

Arra: And that’s how we know they work well together.

Agnes: For instance, Jake’s definitely a better cook than her. He will make them a hearty, meaty meal – like the pizza that could barely fit into the oven at my husband’s apartment in college because Jake had to put so many assorted meat toppings on it.

Arra: But April is always willing to do her part – with taking care of the dishes, of course.

Agnes: While, April is definitely more of the intense athlete in the relationship. For instance, she continued to run after high school in marathons, 5Ks and other races, with most recently completing the Warrior Run this summer.

Arra: Jake has tried running with her, but that effort quickly ended after he was done impressing her in the beginning of their relationship. He instead emotionally supports her athletic pursuits – like how he drove her to Flint for the Warrior Run, took photos of her trudging through mud and crawling under barbed wire, and cheered her on to the end.

Agnes: Jake and April are opposites in many ways, but alike in what’s most important.

Arra: They met because of their common faith. And anyone who knows them will say they are perpetually positive, friendly and loyal people.

Agnes: Although as individuals, they have distinct personalities, desires and interests, when they are together, they are even stronger than they are individually.

Arra: So, at this point, let’s raise a glass to toast the couple who has inspired us many ways… To Mr. and Mrs. Karl!