Category Archives: Culture

What We Can Learn from What We Drink!

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In honor of St. Patrick’s Day weekend, I wanted to share with you one of my favorite new inspirNational thoughts…what we can learn from what we drink! Yes, there is something scholarly you can learn from the Guinness you are holding in your hand right now.

While attending the Furman Women’s Leadership Institute this winter, I sat next to an inspiring doctor who told me about me about an interesting book she was reading, “The History of the World in 6 Glasses.” I was preparing for a brewery tour for my birthday, and I thought what better way to be inspired for my tour than to learn the significance of beer (of course it was only scholarly ;)).

Thinking about it….every day you are drinking (hopefully!) 8 glasses of water, and several other beverages based on your culture and preferences. Americans can’t seem to get their hands off a cup of coffee, the British and the Chinese don’t go a day without tea, the Italians don’t go a day without wine, and the list goes on! Each of these beverages comes with historical and cultural significance.

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Image Source: Fine Arts America

 

I’ll give you a taste of what I learned from the book….

  • Coffee represents scholarly pursuits as it keeps us focused and energized.
  • Tea represents colonialism and the daily reminder to pause and relax.
  • Wine symbolizes religion, prestige, and royalty.
  • Beer symbolizes social gatherings…it was one of the main reasons humans began living in civilizations (waiting for the beer to brew)…and to this day brings people together!
  • Spirits symbolize business deals at first, and later a way to calm the mind.
  • Soda represents the American dream…in the pursuit of happiness through a refreshing drink.

So, the next time you take a sip of your favorite beverage whether at home or while traveling, think about what it means! You can learn a lot about yourself, your heritage, and your surroundings by the drinks in front of you. Cheers!

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Saying Goodbye to 2017 and Hello to 2018!

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Happy New Year, inspirNational! Throughout the first week of 2018 I have found myself reflecting about 2017 and the goals I have for 2018. I can say with confidence that 2017 was a tremendous year of growth and change for me. I learned more about myself and what I want in life than ever before.

Key highlights were my graduation from the USC International MBA Program, moving to Greenville, South Carolina to start my new career at Michelin, and traveling throughout the country to Detroit, Traverse City, Savannah, Seattle, Bellingham, Las Vegas, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Charlotte, Columbia, Nashville, Asheville, and Atlanta. Another highlight that sparked this post is that I read a few introspective books that have made a significant impact on my view of the world. I decided to organize my year’s reflections based on these books below:

The Power of Now (Eckhart Tolle). A common focus area for me over the past several years has been to focus on the present. Reading The Power of Now, which a great neighbor in Greenville gave to me, has put a different spin on “presence” for me. While I am almost always thinking about what happened in the past or what I’m planning in the future, I have realized that thinking about what is happening right now, in this moment, gives me a sense of peace and calm. It also makes me more in-tune with my inner thoughts and hopes – leading me in the soul-driven direction I would like to go. I am making a conscious effort to be more “now” focused than ever before.

I read The Power of Now at an opportune time when facing uncertainty in my previous relationship. The book helped me identify that I was in a toxic love-hate relationship where I was dealing with lies, sneakiness, and hurt. All of this was first of all, unhealthy and harmful to me, and second of all, holding me back from being in the “now.” My gut and my closest peers knew this all along, but reading the advice in a book is what hit me the most. I had an “aha!” moment, realizing I needed to let go in order to live in my “now” and achieve my fullest potential and destiny. This “aha!” moment and my willingness to share some parts of the story with you are inspired by the Time’s Up movement in Hollywood. I am proud of the celebrities who are standing up against harassment and abuse of women. I, too, feel the need to share my “aha!” moment as it has only helped me realize what threats women face and how we often feel stuck in toxic situations. Thankfully I felt empowered to leave and I hope to remind any of you who feel stuck that you are never truly stuck. There are always ways out, solutions, and people there to help you! Don’t lose faith! I am grateful that I have grown from my own situation and realized what qualities I am looking for in others, especially my future relationships. I can tell you with confidence that the number one value I have for people I bring into my life is character. My closest friends and family model good character, and I plan to only date those with good character in the future. By practicing being in the “now,” I will be more in-tune with my gut and will be able to identify more quickly people who should and should not be in my life. I highly recommend that you read The Power of Now, and you may also have unexpected realizations that help you grow as a person.

No Greatness Without Goodness (Randy Lewis). 2017 marked the beginning of my post-MBA career at Michelin. My first rotation in Michelin’s Global Leadership Program presented me with awareness about the challenges that people with disabilities face when trying to enter the workforce. A colleague at work gave me No Greatness Without Goodness, which discusses Walgreens VP of Supply Chain’s experience raising a son with autism and leading the initiative at Walgreen’s to hire employees with disabilities at its distribution centers. I am proud that Michelin is mirroring Walgreen’s efforts and has committed to hire people with disabilities at its distribution centers and beyond. In the fall, I had the opportunity to learn sign language and perform the National Anthem and Pledge of Allegiance in sign language at the Upstate Salute event in Greenville, honoring veterans. This experience at the beginning of my career at Michelin has inspired me to always seek opportunities for goodness as I develop into a leader. I aspire to be a servant leader, always thinking about how I can help others in my daily work and in my community. If you are looking for inspiration in your career, particularly related to helping others, check out No Greatness Without Goodness.

Toward A True Kinship of Faiths (Dalai Lama). I received this book as part of Michelin’s new Interfaith Group forming in 2018. The Dalai Lama shares his perspective of different world religions and how we can develop empathy for others who may be different form us. Empathy for diversity has been one of my passions, particularly since studying abroad in Spain and France. I strive to learn from others – the more different people are from me, the more I want to talk to and learn from them. Throughout 2017, I traveled to many beautiful cities throughout the United States from coast to coast, which made me realize the beauty in the diversity of the US landscape and people. What makes America so special to me is the variety of people (backgrounds, religions, cultures, perspectives, etc.) who can live and thrive in our country and who make the most of whatever landscape and environment that surround them.

While the year brought a lot of political turmoil and what the media portrays as division between people, I found through my travels that we are much more connected than we think we are. We are especially connected by our desire for community, as Mark Zuckerberg eloquently describes here. I was fortunate to have two incredible communities in 2017, first as a Gamecock throughout the beginning of the year and second as a resident in the best apartment complex in Greenville. I had an amazing experience cheering on the Gamecock basketball teams in the Final Four and attending Darius Rucker’s free student concert in honor of the Gamecock football team making it to a bowl game. I was reminded how important it is to me and how much fun it is to be part of a school with great spirit (especially now as both a Michigan and USC alumnus). Also graduating in the middle of a historic campus (USC was founded in 1807!) and attending the law school graduation was surreal. The next time you are graduating, I recommend that you also attend a graduation ceremony at your school – it is amazing to have the experience from both sides of the podium! My second community through my apartment complex was the best decision I made when moving to Greenville. I couldn’t be more grateful for the international community that surrounds me – at any given occasion I hear 3-4 languages exchanged! The almost weekly social events have introduced me to some awesome new friends who have helped me feel at home in Greenville as we have explored the town and often been the “newbies” together. As inspired by the Dalai Lama, I look forward to continuing to have an empathy for those different from me, especially when joining new communities in 2018.

 

Having reflected on 2017, I can now officially welcome 2018. An astrologist in Sri Lanka shared with me that 2018 starts the best 10 years of my life – and I can already feel the positive energy in the air! One of my best friends gave me a “love bell” that she bought in Greece where she got engaged, and as a slightly superstitious hopeless(ful?) romantic, I look forward to seeing what it brings for me in 2018. I also look forward to attending more planned runs throughout the year (hopefully the Charleston Bridge Run!) and I am committed to doing a push-up! My year of travel will be focused on some of my best friend’s weddings in Alabama and Chicago and also some exciting work trips (San Francisco and Montreal to start)! I will continue to share my reflections from my travels and daily life and bring new ideas to you. I hope the new year brings you much happiness, love, new experiences, travel, and inspirNational reflections!

Reflections from Nashville

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Phew! What feels like gust of wind, and my first three months of my post-MBA career have gone by. It all started with a move to Greenville in July, and has since included two trips to Michigan, visits to Charlotte and Columbia, a month spent in Nashville for field sales training, a quick weekend in Chicago, and now back to Greenville. I have been “on the move” throughout, living out of a suitcase, and tonight is one of the first times I have been able to sit and share some of my most recent stories. I am not exaggerating when I say that I have not sat down for more than 5 minutes to relax (besides sleeping at night) in over a month. That phase is now over though, and I am back to “normal” life.

As the hectic few months came to a close last week, I decided to capture some reflections during my flight from Nashville to Greenville…

Living in Nashville as part of my sales training was one of the biggest blessings for me. On the weekends, I spent some time exploring and learning about the culture, which helped me reflect on the lessons I have learned over the past few months.

My first lesson from Nashville is the power of resilience. I have never realized how resilient I am or can be until facing the past few months of struggles…from a shooting of a colleague in my apartment complex, to family health issues, to going through a new challenging work training, to ending a long term relationship after I learned that my significant other wasn’t the person I thought he was. With each challenge, I felt extreme stress…lack of sleep and appetite and spontaneous tears. At the same time, I felt myself grow closer to God, praying consistently, and keeping my focus on my long term goals of good health, happiness with friends and loved ones, and positive impact in my career. I have bounced back from each hardship, potentially with a few more wrinkles and dark circles under my eyes, but also a wider smile to express my gratitude on the good days.

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Country Music Hall of Fame

My second lesson after spending time in Nashville is…country music is a powerful healer. After watching live music almost daily at my hotel and on Broadway Street, I felt tempted to get on stage and pour my heart out. I toured the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Ryman Auditorium, both of which told inspiring stories of the musicians from years past, who are no different than you and me, except for their incredible music talent. If you really listen to country music or just music in general, you realize how much you can connect with the artists as they sing about love, hardship, and daily life. I felt so connected to those performing, and at times empowered by their words, particularly about moving on from those who bring us down. One day you may see a country song written by me after all that I have faced lately :).

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Inspiration from the Country Music Hall of Fame

Similar to the country music lesson, I have been reminded how dancing soothes the soul. Nashville has no shortage of places to dance, and I took advantage of many of them. I have never felt so liberated to dance however I want whenever I want. While Nashville is known for bachelorette parties, I was happy to also run into a couple bachelor parties and had a blast. Every kind of dancing you could imagine, from salsa to line dancing to R&B, I was doing it. I have learned in yoga class that our hips carry a lot of our stress, so dancing helps us let go of that negative energy. So if anyone ever critiques your dance moves, just tell him/her that you are relieving stress and there can be no judgement :).

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Inspiration from the Country Music Hall of Fame

And finally…being far away from loved ones has reminded me the importance of a strong support network. I met the best community I could have asked for in my new apartment in Greenville. My friends from high school, college, and grad school have been there every step of the way through phone calls and weekend visits. I couldn’t be more grateful for them and many of you reading this post.

Nashville, and the country music that went along with it, was a strong reminder that I, and all of us, can bounce back from our struggles through the support of family and friends. We are often stronger than we give ourselves credit.

While a few more hours of sleep are in order now that I am back home in Greenville, I feel empowered and eager to start my next chapter. And I can’t wait to share more inspirNational stories along the way. The inspirNational me is back…using travel as an opportunity to reflect, become a better version of myself, and help others do the same.

Universal Lessons from an International MBA Internship

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Capturing one of my international career insights posts below. For those of you interested in a career in international business or earning an International MBA, I hope that these insights are helpful!


My International MBA (IMBA) program at the University of South Carolina Darla Moore School of Business has been an exciting opportunity for me to pause, reflect, refine, and prepare to re-enter the workforce with a global perspective of business, cross-cultural and inclusive managerial skills, and enhanced technical skills in business analytics and Lean Six Sigma Green Belt process improvement.

Half way through my IMBA program, I embarked on an internship journey with Michelin’s Global Leadership Program. The internship provided me with an incredible opportunity to engage in challenging projects in supply chain management and human resources, to gain broad exposure to the business and senior leaders, and to give back to the community. I couldn’t have asked for a more empowering or exciting internship.

Image Source: BSN International

Image Source: BSN International

Throughout my internship, I learned some universal lessons that I will carry with me throughout my career and wanted to pass along to others working on their MBA or interested in getting an MBA.

  1. Be humble. Humility is one of the most impactful, yet often forgotten about, leadership qualities. So often getting an MBA and the interviewing process lead people to brag and have a “better than” attitude, rather than focusing on what they can do for others and what teams can achieve together. When we remember that we are all people, we become much easier to work with and work for as managers.
  2. Manage your 3P’s – Purpose, People, and Projects. I “coined” these 3P’s to help me juggle priorities throughout the summer. First, focusing on purpose has reminded me to take a step back and remember why I am here and what my vision is for the world. Then, focusing on people has reinforced the importance of family, friends, and co-workers in my daily decisions and actions. People are what make the world go ‘round. They bring joy to our days, impact our lives, challenge us to improve, and influence our future as our advocates. Grounded by my first priorities of purpose and people, I am able to strategize, innovate, manage, and execute my projects well.
  3. Ask questions. As my dad always reminds me, when you ask for something, the worst answer you will get is “no.” So, why not ask questions? My curious and inquisitive nature has enabled me to learn from more people than ever expected and has helped me be resourceful and efficient this summer.
  4. Be opportunistic. Related to asking questions, it is important to seek out opportunities and voice your ideas whenever possible. Seeking opportunities, finding connections, and utilizing strengths and resources of a team has enabled me to develop an inaugural sustainability collaboration with Michelin, the University of South Carolina, and Clemson University.
  5. Don’t be afraid to take the backroads. This is a literal and metaphorical lesson. The backroads may take longer when we are traveling, but they often help us avoid traffic and are more predictable for transit timing. They also help us discover and appreciate new areas that we may have not otherwise experienced by taking the direct route. This also applies to the workplace, where the direct route may seem the most obvious to complete a project, but the backroads may lead us to more innovative thinking, new connections, and new opportunities. Something to consider as we are working on project management in our MBAs and beyond.

As always, this is an open dialogue. I would be grateful to hear from those of you who have earned (or are pursuing) your MBA and have lessons to share with the international community.

Learning Adaptability

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There is one word that can describe my experience over the last month: adaptability.

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Source: outpostcrossfit.wordpress.com

Since mid-April, I have spent time in Paris (France), Rochester (Michigan), Traverse City (Michigan), Bloomfield Hills (Michigan), Ann Arbor (Michigan), Cleveland (Ohio), Wytheville (Virginia), Columbia (South Carolina), Charleston (South Carolina), Asheville (North Carolina), and now Greenville (South Carolina). In each location I have stayed with different family or friends, in settings ranging from a homestay apartment in Paris to student housing in Greenville to a luxury hotel in Asheville. My daily life has transitioned from being a laid back French student, to vacation mode with family in the states, to now working in corporate life. To say I have experienced change is an understatement. I have had to transition and adapt in ways that some people never experience in an entire lifetime. At its face, it seems overwhelming, but I remind myself that I am going through the steps I signed up for as an International MBA student. I view it as part of my adventure to grow personally and professionally. Through each of these changes over the past month, and lots of travel time in between, I have had time to reflect about what it takes to be adaptable and to be happy while you are facing change. I wanted to share some of my recent reflections with my favorite inspirNational readers.

What have a I learned about adaptability?

Take care of your health, first. Change naturally stresses the body, so it is critical for us to get enough sleep, to eat healthy foods, and to exercise. Emphasizing health is more important in times of change since our stressed bodies are more prone to illness. Sleep has been my biggest culprit. I have noticed that I am waking up earlier, so I am working on going to bed earlier to ensure that I get my nightly 8 hours of sleep.

Spend time in nature. Go for a hike, ride your bike in your neighborhood, or have an outdoor picnic. Fresh air, sunshine, and natural sounds help calm us, especially when we are feeling anxious about the changes we are facing. I have been blessed with the opportunity to visit very nature-focused cities, including Traverse City, Asheville, and Greenville, which have enabled me to find inner peace while transitioning. Nature has reminded me that with change there is consistency, from day to night, and from season to season.

Slow down: pause and pamper. Remember that you do not need to be in a rush. Life takes time, decisions take time, transitions take time. The right answers do not always come to us immediately and sometimes we have to slow down to be able to notice the right answers and the right path for our lives. This is one of the hardest concepts for me to understand because I like to finish what I have started, figure out the solution to a problem, achieve one goal, and move on to the next goal as quickly as possible. I am learning to slow down, which is helping change become more comfortable for me. Also, while you take a pause, remember to reward yourself for all the moving and transitioning you are experiencing. Relax with a massage, get a manicure, or go for a haircut. I had a company offsite this week that included a massage, and it couldn’t have arrived at a better time. I also took a bath, which helped me pause, relax, and enjoy the warm water and bubbles. How often do we sit for a bath rather than a rushed shower? The pausing and pampering helps motivate us to keep going and have faith that stability will come.

Be yourself. While we are adapting, it is important to be open to new ideas and opportunities, but we also should not lose a sense of who we are. Stand up for who you are, your religious and political beliefs, your interests, and that little quirks that make you, “you.” Think about your childhood self, which is likely a realistic version of who you are and who you want to be, before societal expectations were enforced upon you. I saw a quote at an art gallery yesterday in Asheville that really stuck with me: “Discipline is never forgetting what you want.” Never forgetting what you want means you are never forgetting who you are and the little inner voice that encourages you everyday. I am taking this quote to heart and going to remember this in my daily life.

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Source: quotefancy.com

Find connections to what you love: your local church, your favorite comfort foods, your favorite music, your favorite sports, etc. By connecting with the new community where we live, we feel more comfortable with the changes we are facing. I have enjoyed listening to my favorite playlists everyday while moving and have made a point to enjoy some of my comfort foods: peanut butter, fresh berries, French toast, orange juice, ice cream, and more. I am in the process of finding a Catholic church for the summer that will keep me centered in my faith . I am also joining a yoga studio and local outdoor sports leagues, which have been my favorite ways to stay fit and meet new people as I have moved over the years. On the note of connection, also stay connected with loved ones on social media – you will feel less far way from them and will help make your next conversation at home feel like you just saw each other.

Be kind to everyone you meet. You never know when you will cross paths again, especially in new places where you move. I have had the exciting opportunity to get in touch with one of my high school cheerleading teammates who I have not seen since high school, who is also in Greenville now. It is so comforting to have a Rochester friend in the same place as me now. I experienced the same thing in Cleveland when I realized that one of my study abroad friends from Spain also lived in Cleveland, and she became one of my best friends. There truly are six degrees of separation, and we will run into those we meet throughout different phases in our lives. Kindness has always been one of my most important values, and its significance has only been enhanced as I have moved and met (or remet) friends!

I am continually learning and growing in this adaptation process, and am excited to have a summer where I can learn about corporate life and a new city in South Carolina before returning to graduate school in the fall. The most comforting part of adaptation is that we are all in life together and experiencing changes at different points in life. I hope that these ideas help you as you face changes now or in the future!

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Source: WhiteCellarDoor on Etsy

 

Comprehending Reverse Culture Shock

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Those curious to study and work abroad are always threatened by the thought of reverse culture shock, but often wonder if it is real or if it will really happen to them. With one study abroad experience under my belt, I thought that reverse culture shock wouldn’t happen to me after being in Paris. What I realized, though, is that I was in Paris for almost twice as long as I was in Spain, and my graduate school and adult realities now are much different than my previous realities in the comfortable space of undergrad.

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Source: http://www.lumesse.com

With a week gone by since I have arrived back to the United States, I have noticed reverse culture shock in both subtle and big ways. First of all, I experienced a physiological adjustment, with little to no sleep the night before my flight home, too much food during my flight, and the threat of a cold and cough after traveling near others who were sick. It took me almost five days to catch up on sleep and feel normal again. Fortunately, I am now physically feeling back in the Eastern time zone, but facing other adjustments in the transition process from student in study abroad mode, to student in vacation mode, to soon-to-be intern mode.

Another observation is that all my senses were heightened. I would “jump” with surprise when I heard English in France, and upon returning to the United States, I felt that jumping sensation repeatedly until I realized that English is normal again. The sound of candy wrappers on the airplane seemed to bother me and I have never noticed that before. My sense of smell was much more present, as I noticed how fresh the air was in my hometown of Rochester, Michigan after living in polluted city air in Paris. My sense of taste was heightened as I came to appreciate the diversity of my diet in the United States again, rather than the routine cereal, sandwich, and pasta that I had everyday with my host family in Paris. My eyes were very observant that I am now in a familiar environment again, rather than being surrounded by historical wonders, the constant fear of getting lost, and the constant desire to explore and learn about the world. I also felt a need to hug all of my relatives and friends more than usual, after being distanced from them and only being able to send a Facebook or WhatsApp message.

Building on the need for hugs and human touch again, I have noticed a difference in my relationships with loved ones. After four months of limited communication and light-hearted conversation, focusing mainly on my adventures, reality seemed to smack me in the face that my loved ones are facing challenges and they are not in this little safe bubble that I warmly remember as home. While home is warm and safe, there are the same challenges and changes as anywhere else in the world. After four months in explorer mode, I have now returned to daughter, sister, girlfriend, and friend modes, which bring me much joy but also bring hardship that is easy to forget as an explorer. The hardship has made it more difficult to get along, likely because of the pent-up energy of missing each other combined with the fact that I now live a 12-hour drive away from home for graduate school. My goal is to apply the life lessons about being a better person that I have gained from my study abroad experience, in order to merge my two worlds of exploration and relationships.

On a more positive note, I have realized that I have much to be grateful for in the United States, with a loving family, supportive friends, a safe home, a nice car, a great education, and exciting opportunities to advance in my career. During this study abroad experience more than my first one, I have realized that I am very grateful to be American, and have become more aware of the many benefits that the United States provides for its citizens. Leaving home for a while has provided me with more gratitude when I am home, cherishing special moments with loved ones and doing my best to avoid conflict in our limited time together. With another language and greater understanding of world issues from my international classmates in Paris, I have a wealth of knowledge that I wouldn’t have gained had I not studied and lived in Paris. This worldly wisdom will help me as I enter the world of international business and interact with diverse people from around the world.

Going forward, I am reminding myself everyday to be patient with the transition process. I am sharing photos and stories with family and friends to combine my two worlds of being abroad and being home. I am finding comfort in nature, with seasons and sunsets reminding me that there are some parts of life that are constant and foreseeable. And finally, going abroad and returning home again reteaches me the importance of living with an inspirNational mindset, where I find joy in learning from new cultures, seeking new opportunities, and having an open mind to the world around me.

Overcoming Living Abroad Challenges

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We often learn about all the adventurous and joyful stories of studying abroad. But what happens when life gets in the way? Studying and living abroad are very exciting life experiences, but they come with challenges. Below are some of the common challenges I have faced and insights about how to overcome them to make the most of your time abroad.

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Source: expatexchange.com

Insomnia: Time differences and foreign beds make insomnia a likely occurrence when moving abroad, especially when you first arrive to the destination. I experienced this intensely when I studied in Spain a few years ago. It took me almost a week to adjust to the time difference! Now in Paris, it took me no time whatsover to adjust to the time difference. My secret this time was to not take a nap when I first arrived on a Thursday morning, and to instead go to bed early that evening. I have experienced insomnia in recent days, likely related to doing too much (e-mails, studying, blogs, social media, chatting with friends) before bed. This is common for me even at home so I need to remember to give myself time to disconnect and unwind before bed.

Adapting to food: With a new destination comes new cuisine and dietary habits. I like to call myself a fish for the large quantity of water I prefer to drink. In Europe, I have felt like I have been living in a dessert because of the small portions of liquids and tiny cups to fill with water. In class, I bring two cups of water to make sure I stay hydrated throughout the day. I encourage you to bring a water bottle that you can easily refill (assuming that water is sanitary in your destination). It is also challenging to adapt to the timing of meals, quantity of food, and food content. For example, in the United States, I am used to Greek yogurt and fruit for breakfast at around 8am, a salad or sandwich for lunch at around 12pm, a protein bar at around 3pm, and meat/carbs/vegetables for dinner at 6:30pm. I have learned to let go of this expectation, as it is common to not eat snacks in France and to have dinner at 8pm (or 9pm for my host family). Despite Americans having a reputation for eating poorly, I have learned that I actually have access to more fruits and vegetables in the United States than in France. I have learned that Parisians often eat fruit as a dessert rather than a staple food for meals. Vegetables are often cooked or are prepared in soups rather than in the form of a salad. I have adapted to this custom, but also make sure to purchase salads and fruit when I eat at restaurants. Enjoying the local cuisine is part of learning process of living abroad, but make sure that you maintain a balanced diet to keep your digestive system in check!

Living with a host family and cultural differences: This is one of the best ways to fully immerse yourself into a new language and culture! However with that immersion comes the expectation that you will adjust your routines and adapt your behaviors to mesh well with your new family. It is sometimes difficult to let go of everything you know. Before moving abroad, I encourage you to research your new destinations and customs. For example, it is an adjustment for Americans to get used to the French greeting of a kiss on each cheek, rather than a handshake. The more informed you are about the new culture before arriving, the more mentally prepared you will feel. However, don’t be afraid of the unexpected – this is part of the adventure! I am still trying to figure out why my host family closes every door of every room in the house – but I am starting to realize it is a habit of privacy, which is less common in the United States and respectable in some ways. Adaptability is one of the most important life skills, especially in the ever-changing global world where we live.

Keeping in touch with loved ones: Time differences and new schedules make it difficult to contact our loved ones. However, modern technology has been a God-sent in our mobile world. My favorite communication tools are WhatsApp (free international messaging and calling) and Facebook messenger (which now allows international calling). I also plan Skype dates with friends and family to have an “as-close-as-possible” experience to chatting in-person. Postcards also seem to be a more thoughtful approach to staying in touch, since they take more effort and are a flashback to the past of international communication. I encourage you to use all the new applications, but don’t forget to be a little old-fashioned and send postcards, letters, and packages to stay in touch with your loved ones!

Making friends: This is often what intimidates people the most when moving abroad, especially because of language and culture barriers. A university setting caters to social networking with planned activities and field trips for students. For those outside of the university setting, check out http://www.meetup.com which provides networking groups related to any and all topics (local events, sports, arts, dating, etc.). I have enjoyed attending expat events in Paris, which includes expats from around the world. We can all relate to the adjustments involved in moving to Paris! Also, for those hoping to learn local languages, check out conversation circles. Especially if you speak English, many countries have conversation exchanges between English and the local language. I look forward to trying this in Paris. It is a win-win for me to practice French and help others practice English!

For those of you considering or in the process of moving abroad, you may face these challenges like I have, but I hope that you remember with any challenge comes a solution. Now that more and more people are moving abroad, there are more advice articles than ever before. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions about moving abroad!