Interview Series Featuring: Molly Living Abroad for a Year

DATE- 01 JANUARY 3000 (2)

Back in high school I played on the tennis team and met a really sweet girl named Molly. We kept in touch a little in college and years later when I asked her to be  part of my Interview Series for the blog, she didn’t hesitate for a second to participate. She is still as awesome and outgoing as she was back in the day. So last year, I wasn’t surprised at all when I heard she was taking a year to live abroad in Australia.

I have always wanted to go to Australia and plan to in the future, so when I started this series I instantly thought of Molly and her adventures. I knew she had to have some amazing stories and I had so many questions for her.

She had so much great information that I decided to split her interview into not one, not two, but three parts. Today Molly talks about her decision to live abroad for a year, what she did to prepare, and some differences she saw between Australians and Americans. Next time she’ll cover her travels to South East Asia, New Zealand and her reflections on her year abroad.

Check out this amazing video Molly captured a picture or video everyday for her year abroad. It gave me goosebumps watching it! I think it’s one thing for her to share her stories and talk about them, and a whole other thing to be able to see them. She really had an incredible year filled with so many experiences. Definitely come back for the next two Thursdays to hear about her trip in parts 2 and part 3!

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The reason why I decided to travel abroad was because I didn’t want to wake up in 10 years and have a sinking feeling of regret that I never traveled or lived abroad. That was always something I regretted about college, so I figured there was no better time than the present to do it. It was also very strange how it all happened- I had a dream one night that I boarded a plane and moved somewhere foreign (Kazakhstan to be exact), and woke up from that thinking how weird, but also how cool that would be to do something like that. 8 months later- wa la! There I was in Sydney!

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My brother studied abroad in Sydney and then lived there after he graduated and really loved it, so hearing all those wonderful things about it made me want to see it for myself. I never really considered anywhere else- it was English speaking, people were friendly, weather is amazing, and they offer the work and holiday visa to travelers. The choice was pretty clear for me.

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My brother and sister in law went through the program when they moved over there and had a great experience with it.

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If you visit: http://www.bunac.org/usa, it will give you all the details that the program includes and what they offer. It is a one time up front cost, but does not include the visa fee, or the flight. I recommend it for travelers who like to have everything arranged for them ahead of time, but I wouldn’t say it’s necessary to go through them either. It’s fairly easy to navigate your way around Sydney and figuring out your bank account, tax file number (which you need in order to work), living arrangements, etc.

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My mom had no problem telling me several times that I over packed- and I hate to admit it but she’s right. I had two large suitcases and a backpack. It’s very difficult to know how to pack and what type of weather to plan for, but I probably packed a little too much of my winter clothes. The only time I needed my thick coat was when I traveled to New Zealand! After traveling for about 4 months and living out of a backpack, I can safely call myself a master-packer. It’s important to remember that you can always buy things when you’re there!

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My mom had a “we’ll believe it when we see it” reaction, but was supportive of my decision. My dad was excited for me, as he loves to travel and wanted to come visit me if/when I moved. My friends were all really supportive and excited for me as well. My siblings and their spouses were my biggest advocates for doing this as they both had lived/traveled abroad and knew it was my time to go.

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Yes! My best friend Kristen came out for 10 days and we had a blast!

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There were definitely days (especially in the beginning) that I was homesick, but as soon as I started meeting people and built a group of friends that definitely helped combat that. I knew I was only a Facetime away!

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Not really. To be completely honest, I felt safer in Australia than Chicago!

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I was a little hesitant to tell people I was American at first, just because I wasn’t sure of what our reputation was over there. However, as soon as I started talking to people and they asked where I was from and I told them, they could not have been friendlier. They are some of the most welcoming, hospitable people and I never felt out of place. Quite the opposite in fact!

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Australians have it right- they put much more of an emphasis on enjoying life outside of work. They don’t stress themselves over the little things. Whenever they have a bad day or need to relax, they go to the beach. The drinking culture is also very big over there and the bars are always pretty busy regardless of day/time. I would get done working at 5:30 and I’d notice the bars were already crowded when I’d be done. It’s one big happy hour over there! They also place such an importance over travel there. They are given much more vacation time that we are (as most other countries do), but it’s very common for people to take several weeks off of work to go travel abroad. Overall, I felt like they live a very carefree, relaxing way of life and we could learn a thing or two from them!

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In a heartbeat if it wasn’t so far away from my friends and family.

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It can be a little difficult to stay in touch with the time difference and busy schedules, but thankfully technology makes it pretty easy these days to stay in touch with them! I will hopefully see some of them again at some point in my life!

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Ha, this is a question I ask myself every day. Towards the end of my time there I definitely wish I could have stayed longer as I didn’t feel ready to come home at all. I think I would have liked to stay for at least another year or two max. But, home is never a bad thing and there are plenty more adventures to come!

Add subtitle text (42) Do it while you’re still young, before you have a spouse, kids, mortgage, etc. There’s no better time than now (and the work and holiday visa is only eligible to people 30 and younger). You have the rest of your life to be settled down, so stop making excuses of why you can’t, and just go. Worse comes to worse, you’re homesick, broke, whatever the reason may be- home is always going to be there. Very little changes (especially within a year), and all those things that you’ve left behind will still be there when you come back. It’s so easy to get caught in the routine of things and feel like you need to take this specific route in life, and after traveling and talking to people from all over, you realize there’s so much more out there. Traveling and living abroad is probably one of the best things you can do for yourself.

 

I absolutely love Molly’s positive attitude. And she is so right. We really all do make excuses for why we can’t do things, but we need to make our dreams bigger than our excuses and step up. She is such an inspiration and I’m so glad she did this for herself. It was obviously a very positive experience for her and one she will be talking about for the rest of her life. Couldn’t we all use a little more adventure in our lives?

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Dear Ladies, We Need to Stick Together!

Great article women, let’s support one another and stop the bashing.

Whenever I hear women say, “I don’t really get along with other women usually,” or “I’m not friends with too many women because they’re too much drama,” I can’t help but cringe. After years of experiencing all kinds of female relationships, both good and bad, I’ve asked myself the same question over and over again: Why can’t all women just be nice to each other?

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Continue reading here: http://hellogiggles.com/ladies-stick-together

The Everygirl’s Guide to Diet and Fitness by Maria Menounos

 

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I enjoyed Maria Menounos’s first book, “The Everygirl’s Guide to Life” so much, so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on her next book, “The Everygirl’s Guide to Diet and Fitness.” She clearly knows what she is talking about since her last book was a best seller! This book centers around women who have no time or money. So with that in mind she offers quick, healthy recipes, short workouts you can do, and important stretches. She has pictures of her workouts, along with what equipment you will need.

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She went from a size 14, down to a size 2! So she is clearly speaking from a place of experience. She lost 40 pounds and has kept it off by being diligent and continuing to work out and eat healthy.

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For those of you who don’t have a home gym or gym membership, Maria shows how you can do workouts in the park on a bench. She stresses working with what you’ve got and making the most of it. We are all busy, but it’s important to incorporate exercise and activity into your daily lives. She talks about walking briskly, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and slowly cutting bad foods out of your diet.

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And for people who don’t want to work out outside in the park, Maria goes one step further and gives easy workouts you can do in the comfort of your home. Here she is doing door squats in her bedroom. She even has workouts you can do in bed.

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Her recipes look so good (and healthy!) and I can’t wait to try some of them. Here are her parents cooking quinoa stuffed zucchini. If you watched her reality show, “Chasing Maria Menounos,” her parents are adorable. 51y7S3JFKcL

 

I think one of the most important points she makes is doing things in moderation and not changing everything at once. It might be too hard for some people to start working out and changing their diet at the same time. So she says to just focus on one thing at a time and then slowly incorporate the other. And she also suggest eating 75/25 rule (or 80/20, 90/10, or whatever works for you) where most of the time you are eating healthy but still allowing yourself days or meals with other cheat foods. I think both of those points are really important and help people to feel less overwhelmed and more likely to stick to the plan.

Maria is super relatable and I really enjoy her books.

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Reese Witherspoon’s Impeccable Style

I’ve always been a fan of Reese Witherspoon. I love her movies, her impeccable style, and her Southern charm. I’ve done a post about her style before, but this year she has had some really memorable and glamorous looks that I had to share. These are a few of my favorites. Can’t wait to see what she wears next! reese-witherspoon-still-laughed-joan-rivers-03

 

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"The Good Lie" Premiere - Arrivals - 2014 Toronto International Film Festival

The Colleagues' 26th Annual Spring Luncheon - Arrivals

 

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2014 Film Independent Spirit Awards - Arrivals

 

71st Annual Golden Globe Awards - Arrivals

 

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"Wild" - The May Fair Hotel Gala VIP Arrivals - 58th BFI London Film Festival

 

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Lauren Bush Lauren on FEED’s Rapid Expansion and Celebrity-Filled Holiday Campaign

Originally posted on InStyle:

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Most college kids go to places like Cancún for spring break, but 10 years ago, when Lauren Bush Lauren was a sophomore at Princeton, she left the Ivy League campus for a short trip to a drought-ravaged rural town in Guatemala. As a volunteer with the United Nations World Food Programme, the niece of President George W. Bush says, “I wanted to see poverty firsthand to try to understand what people had to deal with.” During her four-day trip, she helped distribute food and water to just a tiny fraction of those in need—some 805 million people worldwide, many under the age of 5, suffer from chronic undernourishment. The experience stuck with her. “It was overwhelming,” says Lauren. “I was frustrated not knowing what I could do.”

But three years later, combining her passion…

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Jamie Chung

Jamie Chung has some serious street style. She knows how to rock a skirt like there’s no tomorrow. She knows how to pull a look together effortlessly. I always like skirts but have trouble putting an outfit together but she is such an style inspiration. Here are some of my favorite looks.  fd5bffb75a036126d06e7eb0a7622e64

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Interview Series: Featuring Zack the 10 Time Marathoner

DATE- 01 JANUARY 3000 (1)
Zack is my married to one of my favorite cousins. When my boyfriend and I used to live to in Chicago, the 4 of us would hang out a lot. They are such a fun couple and so caring and genuine. I’m lucky to call them my family.
On Tuesday I shared with you all my reasons for doing my first marathon. As soon as I told Zack I signed up for the Honolulu Marathon he’s been so supportive and encouraging. He’s given me so much specific information and answered all my questions. He’s really calmed my nerves and reminds me not to be so hard on myself. It’s been incredibly reassuring and beneficial to have him and all his knowledge in my corner.
I’ve really appreciated all of his wise and honest advice and I thought lots of other people could benefit from his advice too, so here you have it, my interview with Zack, the 10 time marathoner.
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After high school
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I just wanted to see if I could do it
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Better put in my mind is why do I keep running or at least running marathons. There are several reasons that include better health, sense of accomplishment,  stress relieve, because I’m able, strength (I feel strong), to enjoy nature/the outdoors, to feel like an athlete, and for some damn reason I just can’t figure out but I think it’s just a life thing for me. I need goals or things to strive for; not having something big to work towards just makes life boring in my mind.  I’m actually trying to carry my running determination/work ethic into everything I do.  Lastly, my biggest reason is to  survive the zombie apocalypse.
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The beginning.  Adrenaline is maxed and the nervousness/butterflies fuel the excitement.
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Trust me, it’s not a thrill. Relief might be a better word.
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7 Chicago, 1 Paris, and 2 Naperville. Paris was the best.
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Sadly, they’re in boxes. I’ve yet to display them.
text here(9) I mainly think about setting my goal pace and sticking to it. That also means avoiding taking off too fast! Most runners run the first few miles much faster than their goal pace and up paying for it later.
text here(10)St Baldrick’s and The Luekemia and Lymphoma Society.
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That I can do anything I set my mind to.
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3 months
text here(14) I don’t.  I just know what peak I need to hit, how to gradually hit it, and then when to taper.
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Crossfit or weight training
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Never start fast, nutrition,  and how hard I can push myself or the mental aspect of setting a pace or how to keep moving when walking/sitting/laying down all seem like much better options.
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Ice bath, beer, and pizza
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Pasta
text here(21)Toast or bagels. Banana/oatmeal. 2 meals. One when I immediately get up and one smaller meal (bagel) about 2 hours pre-race.
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Gels, money/ID, and chapstick
text here(23)Everything.  The spectators,  the runners, work, the finish line, the pain to come, am I on pace, ugh-another effing walker that just stops right in front of me, I hate this song-skip, food, etc…
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E Gel
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Every 2 miles. Just water.
text here(26)I don’t really have them. I don’t necessarily want to get pumped because I start running faster and it burns my tank up faster. I like to listen to 80s music. (I.e. Kyrie by Mr. Mister)
text here(27)Concentrate on moving my feet. Walking out cramps if they come then running once they subside. It’s just taking it a step at a time.
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I did it again!
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They have bananas amongst other things at the end. I’m usually very eager to get the beer!!
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Can’t say I do…. stretching after isn’t necessarily easy. I do try to visit a med tent and get a free stretch by a PT.
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Ice bath
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text here(34)Get the right gear in order – shoes, shirt, shorts, body glide to prevent chaffing, tunes, running belt, and sunglasses. Your gear can make you really uncomfortable or even injure you (shoes). Cotton shirts on a really hot day for a guy can lead to a wet blanket and some bloody nipples.
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That you’ll kill your knees.
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- Do – train
Do – find one that’s flat for your first one
Do – destination marathon as it’s a great way to see a city and it’s more exciting
Do – run with a group or friend for your first few – it’ll help through the tough parts
Do – enjoy it

Don’t – run when you suspect injury

Don’t – stop running or make sudden lane changes (respect that others are very close to you) Don’t – start too fast
Don’t – be upset if you have to stop/run slower – finishing at all is a major accomplishment that many can’t or won’t do
I hope you all learned something from Zack, I surely did. If you have other questions I’m sure he’d be happy to answer them for you, please leave them in the comments.
And I’d also love more advice or words of encouragement before my first marathon next month!
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And One More Thing Before You Go by Maria Shriver

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“And One More Thing Before You Go…” by Maria Shriver was a very quick 62 page book written for girls who have recently graduated high school and are heading off to college. I am past that age at 27, but a lot of the advice she gives applies to life.

Because I am so interested in Maria’s life as well as her famous Kennedy family, I always enjoy when she adds tidbits of her personal life into her books. It is so clear from reading this book and hearing Maria talk about her upbringing how much she loves and adores her parents.  She clearly had a close relationship with both of her parents and they shaped her personality greatly. She seems very loving, caring, and nurturing as a mother.

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“You know what used to drive me nuts when I was a teenager? Just when I was dressed and had one foot out the door, my mother would inevitably say, “And one more thing before you go…” Needless to say, it was never just one more thing. It was more like five or ten. That’s a mother for you. So of course, now that I have four kids, I’m the one who says, “And one more thing before you go.” I’m the one with the daughters rolling their eyes and plugging their ears.”

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The opening of her book make me smile. Because as much as some of us try to avoid it we become our parents. We hear ourselves saying things they used to say and doing things they used to do. I’m not a parent yet, but I definitely catch myself saying things my parents used to tell me. It’s funny how that happens.

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As a mother of 4 Maria encourages young women to treasure the relationship they have with their mothers, to cut their moms some slack, and reminds readers to call their moms.

Her ten lessons in this book:

1. Fear Can Be Your Best Teacher

2. Be Willing to Let Go of Your Plan

3. Learn From Your Mistakes

4. You’ll Need a Lot of Courage

5. And When You Need Courage.. Think of the Women in Your Life

6. It’s a Balancing Act

7. Have a Little Gratitude

8. Keep a Childlike Quality

9. Forget Your Mirrors

10. Don’t Worry About Us. We’ll Just Sit Here in the Dark All Alone

 

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