7 Reasons Why You Should Say “Yes” To Studying Abroad

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As many of you may know, I studied abroad in 2015 at Regent’s University in London, England. You can find all of my study abroad posts here if you’re interested. Studying abroad was one of the most terrifying, exhilarating, and life-changing experiences and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since I flew home from Heathrow.

I knew I wanted to study abroad in London after traveling there with band the summer before my senior year of high school. I fell in love with the culture, history, and architecture and could already picture myself strolling around London solo. My love for London was strong and four years later my dream came true when I got accepted to Regent’s University’s study abroad program.

If you are contemplating study abroad I have one main piece of advice for you: GO! It’s scary and you’ll miss home but this is a once in a lifetime experience to fully immerse yourself in a new culture and way of life.

Here are seven more reasons you should study abroad in college:

  1. Studying abroad will look great on your resume! Employers are looking for things that set candidates apart. Study abroad will give you a global perspective that not everyone will have. Plus, it shows that you are willing to go outside of your comfort zone and try something new.
  2. You’ll meet friends from all over the world. The friends I met in London continue to be some of my best friends today. I was able to meet people from all over the world including Russia, Germany, Switzerland, Peru, Argentina, Colombia, and many many more. I learned about their cultures, languages, and customs. I was the only American in my classes which was a really awesome experience!
  3. You can travel to some really cool places. This is especially true if you study abroad in Europe because it’s really inexpensive to travel between European countries. You can plan quick weekend getaways or week long adventures during school breaks. Depending on where you study abroad you may even be able to join school sponsored trips. My university offered trips to Paris, Scotland, Stonehenge, and many others.
  4. You won’t be the same after. Study abroad is guaranteed to change your life in some way. You will have new friends, new memories, and new experiences that will shape you for the rest of your life.
  5. Studying abroad makes you grateful for the life you have. I loved my study abroad experience but coming home made me appreciate all of the little things even more. I missed my parents, my sister, and Brett while I was gone but being away from them made me appreciate them so much more. I also appreciated all of sacrifices my family made in order to help me study abroad.
  6. You’ll gain real life experiences. I had so many opportunities in London that I never would have had at home. I participated in a global business conference where I had to present in front of a large group of my peers and business men and women from all over the world. Experiences like this prepared me for the “real” world after graduation and made me confident in my abilities.
  7. You’ll become more independent. There will be times when you wish your mom or dad could be around to help you but they are hundreds of miles away. At the time it’ll feel awful but it will allow you to problem solve on your own. You will have to grocery shop, do your own laundry, and plan trips by yourself or with your new friends. You will come home with a new sense of independence and be ready for whatever life throws your way next.

I know that studying abroad can be scary. It’s hard to leave your home university, your family, and your friends. But putting yourself out there is so important. I almost talked myself out of going hundreds of times but I am super happy that I took a leap of faith and went.

Let me know if you have any questions about studying abroad. I documented the whole process from applying, getting accepted, packing, and my adventures abroad if you need any inspiration for why you should go.

I can’t wait to hear about your adventures!

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Top Ten by Katie Cotugno

Top Ten by Katie Cotugno - YA Book Recommendation

Last summer I reviewed 99 Days by Katie Cotugno and I really enjoyed it! If I like a book by an author I always make sure to check out other books that they have written. Top Ten has been on my Amazon wishlist for months and I finally purchased it when I was looking for a quick and fun read.

Summary:

Ryan McCullough and Gabby Hart are the unlikeliest of best friends. Prickly, anxious Gabby would rather do literally anything than go to a party. Ultra-popular Ryan is a hockey star who can get any girl he wants—and frequently does.

But somehow their relationship just works; from dorky Monopoly nights to rowdy house parties to the top ten lists they make about everything under the sun.

Now, on the night of high school graduation, everything is suddenly changing—in their lives, and in their relationship. As they try to figure out what they mean to each other and where to go from here, they make a final top ten list: this time, counting down the top ten moments of their friendship.

Review:

If you want a book that will take you back to high school, this is it. I hated 98% of my high school experience but I do really enjoy YA books. This book was so relatable because it explored friendship, first loves, breakups, tense family dynamics, and mental and physical health.

I really enjoyed the perspective from both Ryan and Gabby. Their characters were developed really well throughout the book. The timeline was a bit hard to follow because it kept jumping back and forth from the past and present. But overall it was cool to read about how their friendship developed and changed over the years and it made me miss my high school friends.

What I loved most about this book though was Gabby. I loved her introvertedness and how awkward she always felt. I loved when she explains her anxiety and her fears. I loved her sisters and her family. And I really loved reading about how she finally overcame her fears.

I did not enjoy the ending of the book. It feels unfinished and I still have so many questions. I enjoy having everything tied up in a neat little bow and that didn’t happen this time. I was also left thinking about my own high school experience which is never the most fun thing to think about.

Rating: 3/5 Stars

I’m a quick reader so if I like a book I can fly through it in one sitting. This book took me a couple of weeks to finish. I’d read a couple chapters each night before bed but honestly I wasn’t super invested in the book itself. I still give it 3 stars because the characters were so well developed and I did enjoy the plot. I think Katie wrote about some tough topics that are important to read about and understand.

There’s just something about high school that makes everyone a little mushy on the inside. Whether you enjoyed it or hated it, there are still so many memories associated with that time period of your life. For me, I had a best friend turned boyfriend who I dated for the first two years of high school. We had been friends for years before that so he just felt like such an important piece of my life at the time. He was nothing like Ryan from this book though and it was a blessing in disguise when he broke up with me. But still, the memory of my ex-friend/boyfriend is one of the main things that ruins my high school memories.

I’m already finished with my next book so hopefully I’ll have another book review up soon! Have you read any good books lately?

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5 Tips For Finding Your Dream Job

5 Tips For Finding Your Dream Job

After my post about finding my dream job in the most unexpected place I decided to share a few tips on how you can find your own dream job! I read numerous blogs while I was searching for a job but I never thought that I’d find my dream job right out of college. 

If you want to know more about my job search and career path you can find it all in this post

  1. Keep an open mind. Like I mentioned before, I thought my current job would be a stepping stone for future opportunities. I had no idea that I would find myself in such an amazing position on an unbeatable team! Keep an open mind when you are applying for jobs and take the chance if you are excited about the company. There’s usually room for advancement and it’s good to get your foot in the door. 
  2. Fill out those applications! I cannot even tell you how many job applications I filled out during my job search. It’s super important to fill applications for jobs that you are interested in applying for in a timely fashion. There’s usually a pretty wide window to turn in your application but the sooner you can turn it in the better. 
  3. Be honest in your interview. When I was interviewing for my current company I was honest in saying that my background was in marketing and not finance but I was excited to learn a new industry. I talked about my strength in working in a fast paced environment and learning quickly under pressure. I also explained how I may not be the most qualified candidate but I could be the best teammate if given the chance. Don’t go into an interview assuming that you are the best person in the world for the job. Be humble and honest when you talk about why you are interested in the position and what unique talents you can bring to the company. 
  4. Ask questions about the job. Come prepared with a few questions that you can ask during the interview because the person interviewing you will ask if you have any. While you are being interviewed it’s important to think of some additional questions that relate to what you are talking about. We have had a couple of interviews where the candidate didn’t have any questions for my team and it was pretty clear that there wasn’t much interest in the job on their part. 
  5. Be picky! I know this goes against my #1 suggestion but let me explain a little. My first job interview after college was for a marketing company that seemed more than a little fishy. After doing some more digging I realized that they were disguising a sales position with a marketing title and it was really a sales job for a pyramid scheme. I was just so happy to have an interview that I almost accepted the job even though I knew I’d be miserable. This tip is more about not settling for a job you’ll end up hating just to say you got a job.

I really hope these tips help you land the career you’ve always dreamed of! Remember that great things can take time and there’s no rush. It may take a long time to find your dream job and that’s okay. Honestly, your dream job may change a hundred times during your career. Keep an open mind and you will be just fine! 

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4 Years Later: A Reflection on Study Abroad

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January 24, 2015 was a day that changed my life forever.

In 2011 I visited London for the first time on a band trip. It was love at first sight and I immediately felt like I was at home in the city. We left London for Paris after just a couple of days but I told my friends that I would be back in a few years to Study Abroad.

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Studying abroad scared me to death even though it was something I knew that I had to do in my heart and soul. It was something I had wrestled over doing for years but knew that I would be regret it if I didn’t. So I packed my bags, gave notice to my job, and left.

When I said goodbye to my mom, dad, sister, and Brett at the airport I tried to stay strong. But the moment I got through security I completely lost it and sobbed all the way to my departure gate. Luckily enough, I was traveling with a girl from my home university who would end up being my roommate in London. She showed me true kindness that day and I’m really grateful that I had her there with me.

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I’ll never forget the moment I saw Regent’s University for the first time. I had studied pictures, maps, and brochures for months but nothing prepared me for what I saw when I arrived. The dorms were like something out of a Harry Potter movie. The university itself was small but beautiful.

Easter Break in Germany // Study Abroad London // Travel // www.lifeofhayley.com

I made friends life-long friends at orientation that week and found myself exploring the city with my classmates. It was freeing.

My family likes to joke that I was born old. I’m a homebody and I always tend to take care of others before myself. I started working at 17 and took that job very seriously. In college I worked long hours and went to class full time in order to graduate in 4 years. Studying abroad was my chance to be selfish. To worry only about my happiness and to finally take some time off of work and act my age.

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Easter Break in Germany // Study Abroad London // Travel // www.lifeofhayley.com

Easter Break in Germany // Study Abroad London // Travel // www.lifeofhayley.comEaster Break in Germany // Study Abroad London // Travel // www.lifeofhayley.com

I felt like a brand new person. I was the “fun” friend for once in my life. One of my friends even called me “irresponsible” which at first upset me but looking back I’m so happy that I got to not be the responsible one for the first time. I had a great group of girls to hang out with. We traveled on weekends and during Easter break. We had lunch together everyday and they really seemed to get me.

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Sometimes I wish I could go back. On our honeymoon in 2017 we went to London and visited Regent’s. I e-mailed a few weeks before to get visitors passes for campus so that I could officially show Brett around. We sat in the library, walked through the refectory, and went by every classroom that I had classes in. We walked through the park and admired the grounds in the summer. But something was missing.

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London will always be my favorite place to visit. It will always be the home of some of my happiest memories. It will always be the place where I met my best group of friends. And it will always be the place where Brett asked me to spend the rest of my life with him.

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Our honeymoon showed me that it’s okay to move on. London will always be waiting for me and my friends will always be just a WhatsApp message away. Things have changed but I’m still grateful that I got to be the “fun” friend for a few months. I really found myself when I was in London and discovered who I am as a person. But London is no longer my home. My home is now with Brett and it’s time to make new memories.

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4 years ago I took a giant leap of faith when I stepped aboard an airplane flying from Chicago to London. That terrifying decision was one of the best decisions that I have ever made. Everyday I am grateful that I had the experience to meet friends from all over the world. And I am SO glad that I had this blog to document all of the moments of my time in London. I love looking back on my study abroad posts.

Thanks so much for reading!

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5 Years of Blogging!

5 Years of Blogging

In November Life of Hayley turned 5! Since then I have been struggling on how to properly commemorate this very special occasion. 

Let me start out by saying that I began this blog right after my 20th birthday as a way to document the 25 things I wanted to accomplish before turning 25. At the time I was a sophomore in college and felt incredibly lost about what to do with my life. I felt unaccomplished and lonely. I had started a blog the year before for my freshman English class so the thought of writing had been in my head for some time. My 20th birthday was the perfect starting point for a lifestyle blog.

In the beginning I wrote about whatever I wanted and it was never about the views, likes, or comments. When I studied abroad in London I posted once a week and my blog gained a small following. I really loved the interaction with fellow bloggers and fell in love with the community. My senior year of college I took an internet marketing class that forced me to once again start a new blog. I spent all my time and energy on getting traffic to that blog. My grade was based on the number of followers, likes, and comments. I started to hate blogging when I no longer felt joy in interacting and instead found myself fixated on the stats. After I graduated from college I took almost a full year off of blogging and honestly thought that I would never blog again. 

My current job is what inspired me to open my laptop and start writing. I work in finance so there’s very little creativity in my normal day-to-day activities. I found myself wanting to write again about getting married and life after college. My first post was a challenge to write but after that I got back into the swing of things. 

My life has changed greatly since the day I sat in my dorm room and began writing. Life of Hayley has developed into something that I’m really proud of. This community has supported me during some of the hardest moments of my life and for that I am grateful. I hope 5 years from now I’ll be around to reflect on my 10 years of blogging.

Thanks so much for reading!

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8 Tips and Tricks to be more Financially Responsible

Learning How To Become Financially Responsible - How I graduated from college debt free plus more tips and tricks for saving money

 

Hey friends,

Today I thought I would share a little story with all of you. I get asked a lot of questions by friends and acquaintances about how I can be so young but so responsible. I always have a hard time explaining that I ended up this way based on the lessons my parents taught me growing up. I was extremely lucky to learn these lessons at a very early age. I didn’t always understand the “why” but I did understand what was expected of me.

I was lucky growing up. Both of my parents had jobs, we had a house to live in, drawers of clothes to wear, and there was always food on the table. However, I felt like the one girl in my class who did not have a Barbie Dream House. You know, the giant pink house with an elevator and fireplace with room enough for Barbie, Ken, and all of their friends?

I can remember going over to my friend’s house and playing with her Barbie Dream House. I wanted one so bad and made sure to tell my parents at every opportunity. I didn’t understand why they wouldn’t buy me one. They had jobs and I had lots of Barbie’s to put in the house. Didn’t I deserve a Barbie Dream House?

The answer is no. I was surrounded by Barbie’s, American Girl Dolls, and numerous other toys. My parents did not have a lot of disposable income but we still received many gifts and toys at Holidays and for our Birthdays. I can now appreciate all of the sacrifices my parents made for us.

What I didn’t know at the time, was that my parents were putting money into a CD and a savings account for me and my sister. The money that they could have spent on more toys for us was put into these accounts to save for our college educations. When I babysat or got money for holidays, my parents made me put half into the bank. I could spend or save the other half on things that I wanted.

Now I realize that this is the most important life lesson my parents taught me; how to be financially responsible.

I started working my junior year of high school and worked all the way through college. Here’s the cool thing, I wanted to work. My parents never forced me to get a job. I saved my money for tuition, books, a new car, etc. I took a lot of pride in being the only person in my college orientation group not relying on their parents for everything.

I graduated from college debt free. Partially because my mom works at the university but also because I knew how to save my money and applied for scholarships to help make up the difference.

Here are a few of my tips and tricks for managing money:

  1. Like my parents taught me at a very early age, put at least 50% of whatever you earn into the bank ASAP. That way you are not tempted to spend the money before it has been fully accounted for. For me, this includes my bi-weekly paychecks which are automatically deposited into my bank account as well as any birthday or holiday money that I may receive. My personal preference is to deposit 100% of my money into the bank first and then decide how the money needs to be spent or saved.
  2. Set financial goals for yourself that you would like to work towards. My main goal right now is to pay off my car and build another bathroom in our house. Since I know my goals it is so much easier for me to save money.
  3. Put $1,000 into an Emergency Fund for any crazy things that happen along the way. Life is crazy and there are always expenses that happen that we didn’t plan for. It’s great knowing that you have an emergency fund to fall back on if needed.
  4. Have different accounts for different reasons. My bank allows us to have several savings/checking accounts with the ability to name them whatever you want. I have a “house fund” and an “emergency fund” in addition to a couple of others.
  5. Communicate goals with your partner or spouse. Brett and I are constantly talking about our goals for the future. It’s so important to be on the same page about financial decisions!
  6. Have a budget. I cannot stress this enough. I have a budget for pretty much everything including groceries, gas, clothing, and “fun”. Your budget can be flexible but try to give yourself a range to stay within.
  7. Be willing to say no. My co-workers ask everyday if I want to grab coffee and the answer is always no. I say no for two reasons. 1. I don’t like coffee. 2. I’d rather save the $2+ every morning for something else. It’s okay to say yes every once in a while but be willing to bring your own coffee or lunch to save a bit of money.
  8. Be flexible. These changes will not happen overnight and that’s okay! Keep working towards your goals and eventually you will get there!

I’ve mentioned before that I work in the financial industry and I can honestly say that my interest in finance started from the lessons that my parents taught me about money. While people around me love to spend their money I would much rather save mine for something I really want or invest it towards my future.

I am lucky to have started saving at an early age but it’s never too late to change your spending habits! I hope these tips and tricks help you reach your financial goals!

Thanks so much for reading!

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Dealing With Bad Roommates in College

Dealing With Bad Roommates in College

Hey, friends!

I had way too many bad roommates in college. By sophomore year I thought that I deserved to finally have a good roommate. But fate played a cruel trick on me and made sophomore year ten times worse than freshman.

My freshman year ended with me choosing to live in the same dorm for the next year. I picked a room right down the hall from where I lived and threw myself into the roommate pool. My university had us take surveys to match us with a roommate and I answered very honestly.

I found out my match about a month before move in. I e-mailed her right away to introduce myself but never heard back. I couldn’t find anything out about her on social media but I am a pro internet searcher so right before we moved in I was able to find her. Turns out, she didn’t go by her actual name and instead went by a “stage name”.

Let’s call roommate “P” for the sake of the story. P had already moved into our room when I got there. Our dorm was pretty cool because we had two rooms. The first room had to be walked through to get to the second. P picked the room in the back.

I have no idea how long she had lived there when I moved in but the room was disgusting by the time I moved in. There was trash everywhere and it smelled horrible! My mom and I tried to introduce ourselves but she didn’t move from her bed or acknowledge us. I thought it would get better.

I moved all of my stuff in and got settled. P slept during the day and hardly left the room. I wondered if she went to any classes. I swear she slept with her eyes open too. There was a door separating our rooms but she refused to shut it even when I wanted to change or sleep. At night she’d blare her TV which was against the same wall as my bed. I tried to ask her to turn it down or shut the door but she was super rude about it and I hate confrontation.

My mom works at my university but I hated using her for anything. I didn’t want any special treatment. I went straight to the hall director and he explained to me that I had to stay in that room for two full weeks before I could petition to move rooms. I was devastated.

The more I stayed in the room the more I felt unsafe. I couldn’t sleep, study, or relax in that room. I tried to talk to my RA who came to our room to mediate but it was a joke. My RA actually seemed scared of P and the mediation only made things worse for me.

The hall director gave me two options after my two weeks were up. 1. Move to a single room and pay an extra $2,500 per semester or 2. Choose the only remaining room needing a roommate. I chose the roommate.

This post is already super long so please let me know if you want to hear about Roommate #2. Let’s just say that she was the exact opposite of me in every single way.

I don’t want this post to be negative or to scare you away from having a roommate. I know a ton of people who met their best friends in college and I wish that was true for me. Take the chance on a roommate! Even if it turns out bad then at least you tried and had the experience of living with a roommate

If you are about to start your freshman year I really urge you to take a chance and say yes to new opportunities. You honestly never know when something great will happen and it’s better to put yourself out there then regret not doing anything.

If you are in a bad situation make sure you ask for help. I wish P and I could have resolved our issues but she really didn’t want anything to do with me and that’s okay. You won’t be everyone’s cup of tea and that’s a life lesson that I needed to learn. It’s not okay to treat someone the way she treated me and I’m usually not a quitter. But in this case, I needed to remove myself from the situation in order to feel safe.

Just remember that you never know what someone else is going through. I try not to think too negatively about P because I have no idea what was going on in her life at the time. It was still no excuse to treat me the way that she did but I still wish her the best.

Let me know what your roommate experiences were like!

Thanks for reading!

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