Removing, Rebooting, and Relocating

By: Tori

Moving away from your ‘normal’ for the past 4 years is harder than you’d think it would be. When I accepted my offer to join the Leadership Development Rotational Program with Allstate Insurance, I was equally nervous and excited. I was ready for a fresh start but I continued to be reminded of the things I would miss out on, the people I wouldn’t see, and the difficult transition that was ahead of me.

For my final blog post as a Peer Educator, I decided to share a few lessons I have gained while learning how to remove myself from ‘normal’, reboot my attitude to optimism, and relocate to a new city!

Removing Rebooting Relocating Lessons for tackling life after graduation

The first lesson I have learned is that I am very blessed. UMD has provided me a platform for growing and expanding beyond my comfort zones, as well as opportunities to make new friends, connections, and gain more wisdom during this one phase of my life than I thought possible. From sporting events, study abroad, on-campus jobs, internships, hilarious roommates, Bulldog hockey, etc. Due to these experiences and people, I have more confidence that Chicago will hold similar blessings. It may just take some time.

The second lesson I have learned is that I’ve done this before, so I can do it again. It’s not that I hate change, it’s more that transitions are hard. They are exciting and offer new adventures, but they also are overwhelming, and often times lonely. I remember experiencing this after coming back from summer break freshman year. I was excited to be back in Duluth and conquer year 2 of my undergrad, but also missed the normal, the familiarity, and the comfort I had at home. This continued to happen to me as I would transition from living at home and working, to living in Duluth and learning. But the thing is, I ALWAYS moved past that transition phase and got right back into the swing of things. At times it seemed too much to handle, but then I reminded myself “you’ve done it before, so you can do it again’.

The final lesson I have learned is that if you prepare, you will feel more capable. In the midst of my senior year ending, my time has been consumed with final papers, projects, ‘the lasts of the lasts’, and meeting up with friends before we go our separate ways. However, I also have taken time to journal, process, and plan how to prepare myself best for this new move. Thinking through and having an idea in mind of places to hang out, get coffee, and attend church have helped me begin to form my life in Chicago before I’ve even left! Taking the time to think through these things has helped me remind myself I am capable of change and this time in my life will be one I won’t ever forget!

I hope these lessons help you as you begin your transition into the summer, your new job, or your new location!

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Photo Source: Unsplash | Jan Senderek

Tori’s Senior Bucket List

By: Tori

Three weeks. That’s how long we have until the semester is over. Three weeks.

So close, yet so far away. Three weeks until we graduate and are no longer UMD Bulldogs. But, once a Bulldog, always a Bulldog….right?

If you’re like me, you are realizing your time at UMD and in Duluth is running out quick! You’re also realizing there are MANY things you haven’t done yet, that have been on your college bucket list since the summer before freshman year.

I have compiled a “Top Five To Finish” bucket list to complete before the senior year comes to a close.

Go mountain biking. I have never been! How is this possible? After 4 years in Duluth, I have never been on the trails. I am hoping the snow clears by the end of may to go at least once. Some of the best trails (or so I’ve heard) are Lester Park and Hawk’s Ridge.

Listen to live music at the Red Herring. All my friends rave about how awesome the live music is in Duluth. My ears need to be blessed with this before I depart!

Jump off the Icehouse. Every fall when we come back to school my goal is to jump off the icehouse before it gets cold. Well, it usually gets cold before this happens for me. We will see if there is a heat wave mid-May and I cross this off the bucket list.

Camp out at Bean and Bear Lake. I hiked this part of the Superior Hiking Trail with my sister freshman year and have always wanted to go back. Now is the time to make this happen. Even if it is 50 degrees outside while I sleep.

Eat at Duluth Grill. Okay, I will admit I have done this a few times before but it’s SO GOOD. How can I not put this as my final bucket list?? I think I will even stop there for lunch the day I move out and leave Duluth.

These are a few of my bucket list items before I leave this beautiful place! What do you want to do before you graduate? Think about it now so you can maximize your memory-making as a Bulldog and Duluthian. I am sad to leave this place but excited for what’s next (and to cross these off my bucket list!).

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Slowing Down During Spring Semester

By: Tori

I don’t know about you, but spring semester seems to sweep the ground up from under my feet! I get caught up in the busyness of life and it’s hard to slow down. This blog post is dedicated to you, and to me, as a reminder to take a breather and to not be afraid to sit on the bench during the game of life every once in a while.

Slowing down during spring semester

Here are a few tips to tame the speed of spring semester!

  1. We’ve all heard of spring cleaning. While it sounds like a lot of work it can actually help you feel more organized and on top of your stuff.
  2. Take 20 minutes each day to slow down. The worst thing we can do to ourselves is to sacrifice all of our time for other people and not save any for ourselves. Spend at least 20 minutes each day doing something you enjoy – listen to your favorite music while you lay in bed, watch a quick episode of The Office (then turn it off immediately before you get sucked into the next episode), or paint your nails, etc.
  3. Plan ahead. I’m not talking in terms of homework, I’m talking about doing something each week that gets you out and about. Go to a movie, plan a fun roommate date up the shore…plan ahead so you have something to look forward to that gets you motivated during the week
  4. Disconnect. Part of the reason we feel so busy is because we are too busy on our phones! Take a break from your phone – leave it at home, read a book instead of an Instagram post, etc.

These next few weeks I plan to take these to heart, and I hope you join me! Let’s tame the semester together!

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Photo source: Unsplash | Dimitris Gerebakanis

What Does an All-Day Interview Look Like?

By: Tori

So you have an interview – AMAZING!

You are interested in the company and they are interested in you – GREAT!

They tell you to come in for an all-day interview from 9am to 3pm – HOLY CATS THAT’S LONG!

Have no fear! An all-day interview can seem extremely intimidating – but they aren’t meant to be! Usually, when a company asks you to come spend the day on their campus it is because they see true potential in you as a future employee and you should have confidence in that. They want to give you the full experience of what the culture and typical work day is like at their company.

I recently had an all-day interview with a company and learned a lot about who the company is, what they stand for, and their company culture. Below is the schedule they sent me before my interview:

9-9:30 – Welcome and Introductions
9:30-10:30 – Overview of the company and the Program
10:30-11:00 – Case Study Prep
11:00-12:00 – Case Study Presentation
12:00-1:00 – Meet with current employees and have lunch
1:00-2:00 – Final Round Interview
2:00-3:00 – Tour

Honestly, by the end of the day, I was equally energized and exhausted. I had an exciting day of meeting new people, talking myself up, and a long day of moving, acting alive when I felt dead, and trying to gauge the company as a whole.

empty conference room - Tips for thriving in all-day interviews

After my all-day interview I compiled a few tips for you all as you prepare for your 9am-3pm interview gig:

Dress appropriately

  • Wear comfortable shoes – you might walk around a lot!
  • Bring a blazer or nice jacket in case you get cold throughout the day, nothing is worse than shivering for 8 hours.

Drink coffee/Water
Stay hydrated and caffeinated throughout the day. It is easy to get tired after listening and talking to different people, but you always want to keep a great first impression – so keep the energy up, and KIP-it (Keep It Positive).

Have more questions than you thought you could ask!
Nothing is more awkward than when people ask if you have any questions and you’ve already used them all up on other people. Employees want to be a resource for you as you discern if this is the right company and job for you – so have questions to ask all different kinds of people!

Be ready for anything – Have expectations, but realistic ones.
I went into my campus visit thinking the day would be packed and very formal. It was quite the opposite. There was a lot of downtime to just talk with the other students interviewing, those already involved in the program, and just to wait for others to finish their case studies and presentations. Your experience may be the opposite of mine, but having realistic expectations and not completely relying on them will help you be able to better understand and get a feel for the company.

The dreaded Case Study – Don’t sweat!
Usually, when you do a case study you are presented with a problem and then asked to share how you would solve it – interviewers just want to see how you will approach the problem and if you can present your solutions clearly. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and be creative – this will help you stand out among other candidates – especially if you are interviewing with them on the same day!

Almost always, you will be in a group of other candidates for your All-Day Interview.

  • Don’t be shy – talk with them and get to know them. Being social and friendly is a great way to practice before your interview, and current employees can see your personality as you talk with other candidates.
  • This also means there is competition. Use this to drive you! Before your campus visit – think of ways you stand out from the crowd and hone in on them. What makes you different? What experiences do you have that not very many other people have? Use these to highlight who you are during your campus visit.

Good luck with your interviews!

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Photo Source: Unsplash | Breather

What to do with Morocco?

By: Tori

Read all about Tori’s experience in Morocco

Now what? I’ve lived independently abroad, taken a deep-dive into an ocean of unfamiliar culture, and gone through a few challenges that have shaped my world-view. So, now what? What can I do to highlight this experience? HOW do I highlight this experience?

It may seem like an impossible feat to narrow your study abroad experience down into a tangible, easy to comprehend package, but it actually isn’t that hard!

The first step is the hardest – and takes the most time, but is necessary in order to process your thoughts, feelings, etc.

You need to REFLECT on your experience.

Some questions that may be useful to help you reflect are:

  • What are the top three lessons you learned while abroad?
  • What surprised you most while abroad?
  • What was your favorite memory?
  • What was something that was hard, different, or challenging?

Once you have reflected on your overall experience, consider how study abroad grew your skills, leadership, and career-related attributes.

Consider specific examples from your time abroad in which you expanded upon these skills:

  • Assertiveness, adaptability, critical thinking skills, flexibility, independence or self-reliance, patience, open-mindedness, problem-solving, self-confidence, initiative, perseverance, and time management

Once you’ve done this, it’s easy to narrow down your experience by putting it on your resume. This is a great way to highlight your abroad experience in a quick, accessible way. For example, you can list the institution where you studied and a few courses or projects you worked on underneath your education section:

Study Abroad in Resume Education Section Example

The final step is to connect the dots by directly applying your study abroad experience to your potential career opportunities during an interview.

Q: What experience do you have working with people from backgrounds different than your own, and how do you think those experiences relate to the workplace?

Q: Can you tell me about a time you took a risk and it paid off?

These are two common questions individuals are asked during an interview that can relate to your study abroad experience. Make sure you find a way to talk about your study abroad and highlight it for others to see. Not only does this help you stand out as an applicant but it also helps others understand people and places who are different.

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Meet Me in Morocco: Study Abroad Part 3

By: Tori

Editor’s note: You can check out the rest of Tori’s Morocco experience in previous posts.

The best part of my study abroad experience was the freedom to do something new and exciting every single day. Conducting research abroad did not require a set schedule, I was able to determine when and where I was going to be, which allowed me to have some pretty amazing adventures. This is a list of the top five things to do in Morocco. Now, I may be a bit biased, but I know there are definitely more than five “top” things to do in Morocco. But I hope this gives you a little insight into what Morocco is like!

Top Five Things to Do in Morocco!

Ride a camel in the Saharan Desert
Take a journey to Merzouga, which is right near the Algerian border and ride off into the desert at sunset for a “24-hour desert experience”. Watch the stars from atop the sand dunes, and listen to traditional Berber music while you feast on tajine and sip on mint tea. In the morning, get up early to watch the sunrise and ride the camels back to civilization. Although it’s a trek, it is well worth it!

People riding camels in Sahara Desert

Riding camels in the Sahara Desert.

2 young women sitting in the sand at the Sahara Desert

Tori & friend in the Sahara Desert

Essaouira/ Chefchaouen
Two of my favorite cities. If you are looking for a good mix of tourism and culture, these are the cities meant for you!

Essaouira is an artistic coastal city with many museums, small streets, and very difficult rug shop owners who will make you work to get your rug for the price you want. The fresh fish here is delicious and the city is very peaceful compared to other cities in Morocco.

Essaouriora ally

Essaouiora

Chefchaouen is a northern city, near the tip of Morocco. This city has a lot of Spanish influence as Spain in only 8 miles from the coast of Morocco! Chefchaouen is a famous hill-side city, hidden in the Rif mountains and painted completely blue. While in Chefchaouen you can visit Cascades d’Akchour, an area with many hiking trails that will take you back to fresh springs and waterfalls (if the season is right). Taking a dip here on a hot day is the most refreshing feeling.

City buildings overview - ChefChaouen Morocco

ChefChaouen

DCIM101GOPRO

Tori & friends at Akchour

Jemaa el-Fnaa
Jemaa el-Fnaa is the famous square in Marrakech. Marrakech is a Moroccan city known for its craziness. Within seconds of being in the square, motorbikes will speed past you, monkeys will be doing backflips, and people will be throwing snakes around your neck and saying “10 Dirham.” Although it sounds stressful and overwhelming, Marrakech shows you the “wild side” or Morocco. The square comes to life at night after the sun goes down and people retreat from their homes to enjoy each other’s company. It is safe to say Marrakech is entertainment central of Morocco.

Tour the Medina in Fez
Fez is the old city and is the second largest city in all of Morocco. Touring the Fez medina was my favorite “touristy” activity. We visited the weavery, tannery, and learned all about the history of the city. Fez is home to the oldest university in the world, amazing street food, and families who have lived within the walls of the medina for centuries. I could go on and on about this beautiful city, but I think pictures will do it more justice.

Man standing at weaving machine

Weavery in Fez

people working at a tannery

Tannery in Fez

Go Surfing/ Visit the Beaches
Morocco is a coastal country so you may as well take advantage of the water! Take a surfing lesson and get out of your comfort zone – try to stay up for more than 5 seconds (it’s a lot harder than it looks!). The beaches of Legzira are the perfect weekend getaway. With beautiful rocks and arches lining the shore, you can explore all day long!

Young woman walking on beach

Tori walking on the beach at Legzira

3 young women jumping at the beach

Tori & friends on the beach at Legzira

No matter what you choose to do in Morocco, I am sure you will find it to be exciting, challenging, and full of memories to last a lifetime! Throughout my travels, it made a big difference to stay in places with great views! Typically, accommodations in Morocco are much cheaper than in the US, so the “extra bucks” are worth it. If you ever find yourself in Spain over the years, hop over to Morocco. It’s a cheap flight and is well worth the trip! Hope you enjoyed learning all about Morocco!

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Photo source: Tori

Meet Me in Morocco: Study Abroad Part 2

By: Tori

This summer I embarked on a journey to conduct research abroad in Morocco! (You can read about Tori’s pre-trip excitement.) It was an amazing experience and I find myself missing bits and pieces of this mystical place every day. While my time two months abroad are hard to compress, I hope this list of the top five things I will miss about Morocco gives you a glimpse into the different culture this North African country has to offer.

Large group photo of students

Large group photo of students.

Our dear friends.
We arrived in Morocco with no pre-made plans on how we were going to get connected with fellow students. It was simply fate when we met with a student group called “Be Positive”, who are focused on learning about and connecting with other cultures. These people became our companions quickly and are who I spent the majority of the two months abroad with. This was, in my opinion, the best part of the trip. They traveled with us, took us to all the cool places in Agadir (where I lived in Morocco), and even invited us into their homes. We grew close with their family as we spent many Iftar meals with them. Iftar is the meal in which Muslims break fast during the month of Ramadan. Another major bonus was they lived right in our neighborhood! It was so easy to hangout and they taught us how to navigate the bus system (thankfully, otherwise we would have done WAY more walking than necessary).

Celebrating 4th of July with Moroccan friends

Celebrating 4th of July with Moroccan friends

Morocco friends of 4th of July

Morocco friends of 4th of July

The exchange rate.
All I can say is that I miss how easy Morocco was on my bank account. Although the flight over was fairly spendy, the exchange rate for Morocco is AMAZING. Moroccans use dirhams as their currency and 1 dirham is equivalent to $0.10. Each of my meals only cost roughly $2-$3. And a train ride clear across the country was only $15. It’s safe to say I’m going to miss those dirhams.

Msemen, Mint Tea, and Fresh OJ
These were by FAR my favorite treats in Morocco. Msemen is a Moroccan crepe- it’s a lot like lefse but a little thicker. It is a popular item at breakfast as it is served with jam, honey, and amlou – which is a lot like almond butter but mixed with argan oil. Along with Msemen, they also serve mint tea and fresh OJ. Mint tea is nicknamed “Moroccan whiskey” because they serve it in teeny-tiny glasses all day long. The fresh OJ always quenched my thirst – I had never had such delicious juice before!

Msemen & OJ

Msemen & OJ

Pouring Mint Tea

Pouring Mint Tea

The present-day mindset
Americans tend to always be on the go; multi-tasking, getting as much done ahead of time as possible, etc. It is the total opposite in Morocco. As a developing country, they tend to worry simply about what is in front of them and have comfort in knowing they cannot control the future. They truly carry the “Don’t worry, Be happy” mindset throughout their everyday life. While this was hard to adjust to at first, I miss this part of their culture – especially now during midterm season.

Souk Shopping
In Morocco, there aren’t many grocery stores. Instead, they shop in areas called souks. Souks are within the medina walls and have tight walkways filled with a variety of items to buy. On your left there can be fruits and vegetables, chicken, dates, etc. and on your right, someone can be selling sandals, pants, rugs, and paintings. You can buy EVERYTHING in the souk, which is nice and convenient. Another interesting thing about the souk is the haggling. In Morocco, you are allowed to bargain on a price with the shopkeeper. At first, this was nerve-racking. I didn’t know the language or understand what a good price was, but after a short while I was hooked (more like addicted) on haggling with those in the souk. I still go to Target today and have the desire to bargain for a better price on a scarf. Sometimes the shopkeepers will even let you have a better deal “just because you are beautiful”, haha!

Souk - Moroccan market

Souk

Souk - Moroccan market

Souk

Stay tuned for the next blog on Top Five Things to Do in Morocco!!

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Photo source: Tori