As we are all getting over the food coma from last night’s Thanksgiving feast, I wanted to write a few words about Black Friday. As someone who spent over five years working in retail, I have had the “pleasure” of working on this awful shopping day at least five times. I remember all the planning and meetings we’ve had weeks before the ‘Big’ day talking about goals, quotas, merchandising, promotions, etc. All of this taught me the importance of holiday season to retail. Up to 40% of annual profits are made during the holiday season. Shoppers will spend over a trillion dollars this holiday season according to NRF. That’s mind-blowing. That’s enough to put 8.33 million people through all four years of college. Yet we choose to buy a whole bunch of crap that we don’t really need and most likely will never use.
Below is five ways you can spend Black Friday and avoid the shopping frenzy:
Do Green Friday Instead of Black Friday
Instead of fighting mall crowds on Black Friday, head outside for some peace and quiet, as well as quality outdoor time. No purchase necessary to redeem this deal. All parks are free today. Just head toTexas Parks & Wildlifeto find a park near you.
Go Through Your Closet And Find Items To Donate
Instead of adding more possessions, use this day to go through the closet and find some items you no longer wear. Donating them to those in need is a great way to free up some space in your house, simplify your life and help someone this holiday season. You can always take them to a Goodwill, Salvation Army or any other non-profit.
Watch Holiday Movies With The Family
Instead of shopping for holiday stuff, get into the holiday spirit by watching some holiday movies with family or friends. Nothing like cuddling up with blankets, hot cocoa, and spending time together watching movies together.
Invite Friends Over For Thanksgiving Leftovers
To me holidays are all about spending quality time with family and friends. Let’s be honest there is no way all of the leftovers will be eaten in time. Instead of wasting food invite some friends over and enjoy a meal together.
While other people are either fighting the crowds at the mall or are still in their turkey coma, let your inner artist come out. Try making something like jewelry, photo magnets, wine bottle vasesor anything else you can give away to friends and family for the holidays. My personal favorites are magnets and wine vases. I’m going to try the jewelry this year.
Whatever you do, don’t forget that holidays are to be spent with those you love. Love is not to be bought, and more stuff does not bring more happiness.
The magical holiday season is upon us. A season full of joy, happiness, surprises and good times. But let’s face it: holidays can bring a lot of stress as well. Family dynamics, traffic, airport lines, mall crowds can all bring anxiety and put a strain on our emotional and financial health. I used to get very stressed out during the holidays. Shopping for gifts was especially stressful. I would go out of my way just to get a lot of stuff for my family and friends and would sometimes hurt myself financially because I used my credit cards to buy gifts. I thought I was being a good friend and family member by doing this. At some point I realized that love is not defined by how much we spend on a gift, or how many gifts we have under the tree but instead by our actions towards one another on a daily basis all year-long. Gifts are nice but they do not make up for a lack of trust, respect, passion and connection.
Now I have a very different approach to the holiday season. If something is causing me stress or anxiety I don’t take part in it. I choose the people I spend my holidays with. If someone is full of negativity, drama, bad attitude I don’t spend the holidays with them, even if they are family. I also don’t stress over gifts anymore. I will have a separate post about gift giving soon. Here’s a guide I put together to help you guys survive the holiday season that I use:
Remember What The Holidays Are About
In our world of consumerism it is easy to get carried away with the commercial version of the holidays. It’s all about spending a lot of money throughout the entire season on food, stuff and activities. Black Friday and After-Christmas Sales exist for a reason. Instead of living the commercial version of the holidays we should instead focus on the true meaning that is behind them: spending quality time with those we love the most. If eating dinner and watching football is something you love doing with your family or friends by any means do it. But just because there are traditional ways of celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas it doesn’t mean we have to follow them. This year I’m headed to Spain for Christmas for a change and I’m really excited.
Being grateful for everything we have is one of the most wonderful things and can help experience true joy and happiness during the holidays. Instead of worrying about mall and grocery store lines, parking, airport security lines, we should take a moment and say thanks for all the amazing things we have in our lives. It’s amazing how our moods can change when we go from complaining to gratefulness. It might also show us how fortunate we are to have those problems compared to the rest of the world, where people are grateful when they have a meal or a drink of water. This brings me to my next point.
Make Time To Volunteer
Volunteering is a great way to connect with family and friends and to give back. When we realize how fortunate we are, we can do something about the less fortunate. There are plenty of ways to help someone in need during the holidays from wrapping and delivering gifts, to making greeting cards. I try to make time to do at least one volunteering activity. This year I’m participating in the Salvation Army angel tree program as a sponsor and gift sorter. It’s a truly rewarding experience. Visit Voly.org to learn about volunteering opportunities in DFW this holiday season.
There is nothing more stressful than trying to figure out your holiday schedule last-minute. Planning ahead on how you are going to spend your time in advance can help avoid feeling overwhelmed or obligated to do something. It can also help avoid paying for last-minute decisions and help you financially. We all know that last-minute holiday travel can get really expensive really fast. The best thing to do is plan your travel at least 3 months in advance and plan local events a month in advance so that you don’t over book yourself. Talk to your friends, family and significant others. Communicate to them your plans so that they can also plan accordingly.
Create A Budget
You can create a budget for the entire holiday season, which includes gifts, food and other activities. This can help you prepare financially and get rid of anxiety. This will also help you stay on track with your financial goals. Microsoft Office and other programs have holiday budget templates to help with the process. I found the one I liked in google docs.
Use Stress Relievers
Find time during the hectic holiday season to do the things that make you happy and help you relax. Whether it’s yoga, running, meditation, reading or anything else don’t forget to make time for these activities and for yourself. Some of us have very big families and we can get exhausted spending all the time with them. Sneaking in a few minutes for ourselves can help manage the stress level.
No matter how much we plan, prepare, and budget, there are always situations that are out of control. The key to a less stressful and a more enjoyable holiday season is to remember to have fun, be grateful and keep a positive attitude.
Personal financial management can be overwhelming, and is a subject of a wide range of monetary concerns. I know I have felt overwhelmed many times. No matter the age, job title or status, we all face concerns when it comes to managing money. And though we all face similar concerns, at one time or another, personal finance is a highly individualized responsibility. A lot of our financial decisions are shaped by our goals, values, and personal ambitions. Moreover, some of us have greater access to resources than others. This is why our daily financial concerns are unique to each one of us. There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution when it comes to financial success. In a larger economic sense, we are all in it together, yet daily concerns are unique to each one of us.
With each person committed to distinct financial goals, the best path to financial success may not be the same, in each case. The key to finding your fast track to fulfillment is identifying financial priorities and establishing a focused plan for achieving those goals. Below are the three financial questions I believe we should all ask ourselves:
How important is home ownership to me?
Owning a home has always been the essence of financial success and ‘The American Dream‘. And it’s true there are a number of benefits associated with ownership, versus renting a home. Still, home ownership isn’t for everyone. For starters, real estate is not a passive investment – buying, maintaining, and improve property is hard work. Condos, flats and apartments, however, are administered by landlords, drastically reducing the amount of time residents spend addressing domestic duties. This is why I still choose to rent. I would like to have a larger emergency fund before I jump into home ownership.
Identifying a preference enables us to plot a course in the desired direction, satisfying our expectations in the most reasonable, timely ways possible. If ownership is a closely held priority, several steps will set you on the right path:
Save for a down payment – Establishing a designated account for building a home down payment can help you set-aside resources faster than pulling cash from your regular household cash flow. Depending upon the programs for which you qualify, your credit strength, and other factors; a down payment of twenty-percent may be required to initiate financing.
Study the local real estate market – Real estate markets ebb and flow, responding to demand and other economic forces. To make the most of your investment, study trends ahead of your home purchase, giving you the tools needed to make informed, cost-conscious buying dictions.
Explore financing options – Purchase price is an important concern for home buyers, but it is not the only financial matter would-be buyers must reconcile. The cost of financing represents a substantial share of the final cost of your home, so landing the best available terms can save tens-of-thousands in interest payments, over the life a mortgage.
Where do I see myself in five years?
This classic job interview question has forever thrown us- young people off course, challenging us to think ahead, on the spot. Applying the same question to our financial life helps illuminate priorities – regardless of where we are in our financial progression.
For best results, it helps to account for major milestones first. Are you planning to go back to college, get married or have kids in the next five years? Do you expect to incur child care or moving expenses? Is self-employment in your future, requiring entrepreneurial capital? Answers to these important questions give us near-term benchmarks to pursue, and a five-year plan provides a realistic time frame for adequate financial planning.
Are my retirement needs covered?
It is never too early to start planning and making financial moves in preparation for retirement. I started saving for retirement in my early twenties before I even understood what it was. My coworker told me that a 401K is something I should participate in. She said that I would save some money and then I would get “free money” from our company to match that. I did my research and found that to be true, so I enrolled immediately . Although each person’s financial circumstances are unique, advisors promote savings and retirement thresholds consumers can use to guide investment decisions – how money should be allocated at a particular age, how to evaluate risk tolerance, etc. As you assess preparedness, use these strategies to make the most of your retirement resources.
Maximize employer benefits – Retirement benefits are part of your compensation package, so it is essential to make the most of employer contributions. Maximize matching programs such as your 401K, for example, to make your money grow faster; and take advantage of any stock purchase and profit-sharing plansoffered at work.
Educate yourself about financial products – Retirement and savings accounts are not the only ways to put-aside retirement resources. Educate yourself about different investment options and financial products. The more you learn about investing and economics, as well as fees associated with the more control you have over your financial destiny. I will be writing a post about those soon.
Seek professional help – Some investment advisors sell mutual funds and other investments, so they are biased, to a point. As a rule, consult with more than one financial professional, before making long-term commitments. And once you’ve bought-in to retirement investments, check performance and periodically review your account with your financial representative.
The most successful financial planning efforts start with well-defined goals. By identifying priorities and answering a few questions about our financial ambitions, we can succeed faster and feel empowered along the way.
What is Love? What does it mean to love someone? Is it a feeling or is it something more? Is it a noun or a verb? What is the difference between love and being in love? Why do we sometimes love those who hurt us or treat us badly? I’ve asked this question many times before and I’m sure most of us have heard these questions answered in many ways. Because there are so many articles on the “definition” of love, I want to focus on my journey. As I am approaching thirty, I realize that what love means to me today is different from the love I grew up with or even from what I thought it was a few years ago. It has been a very long and painful journey, but I think I have finally found the meaning and definition of the kind of love that I want. But before I share what love means to me today I want to share the kind love I grew up with. The parental love I grew up with said:
” I will love you as long as you make me happy. If you’re a bad girl mommy/daddy won’t love you.”
” I love you, but I love me more and I’m going to take care of myself first even if it comes at your cost.”
“I love you as long as you agree with me and ignore what you’re feeling, because it’s not valid. All you have to do is remember that I love you.”
“I love you, even though I abandoned you and left you all alone physically and emotionally. I will continue to do that. I have many reasons for this but you should know that I did it for your benefit.”
” I love you, but you shouldn’t have any needs or expectations, because I’m going to do what I feel like doing. I make decisions based on my feelings and need to take care of me first.”
“I love you, but I’m going to ignore everything you told me was important to you because I come first.”
This kind of love led me to get into relationships with men that left me feeling unimportant, abandoned, lonely, sad, disregarded, dismissed and disrespected. Above all I never felt safe. After each failed attempt at finding the love I so desperately wanted I couldn’t help but feel like I was getting back into the love I grew up with and was wondering what was wrong with me. Through counseling I have discovered that the reason I was picking those partners was because it felt very familiar to me. I grew up with the love that involved a lot of pain and abandonment. The people I met and was instantly attracted to represented the energy I grew up with. We sometimes go through our entire lives without realizing that we are recreating our parents’ marriages because that’s the only love we know and saw growing up. If you’re lucky and you have a family and parents who have a good marriage you might find yourself in a healthy, loving and safe relationship. I am happy for you, as it is truly the most wonderful thing. But since the divorce rate is over 50% I know that the reality is not like that for many people. Through therapy and learning about the part I played in all my past relationships I have realized that I do not want to recreate my childhood love story. I also realized that it is going to take a lot of awareness and consciousness to find the love I DO want to have in my life. Here is my definition of what love should feel like and the type of love I want to have:
Love is always safe, it does not use fear, threat, force or manipulation to get its way. It is a safe place where each person feels safe and secure of being who they are and asking for what they need.
Love is never disrespectful. It does not ask for explanation. It respects the other person where they are and with their needs. If a person I love asks me to do or not do something I don’t need to know why or understand where they’re coming from, I just respect their wish.
Love is selfless. It finds great joy in serving others. It does not ask: what’s in it for me? But simply knows that seeing their partner happy is a great reason to do something even if it’s uncomfortable or not what they’d rather do.
Love is never punishing or passive-aggressive. It allows both people be open and honest with each other even in moments of conflict. It states what the feeling is and is honest about the pain or misunderstanding caused, without trying to get back at the other person.
Love is always honest. It does not lie, withhold, add-on or in any way alter the truth.
Love is compassionate, thoughtful and empathetic. Love allows us to feel deeply for those who are in pain and for each other. It moves us to become better versions of ourselves and help others.
Love does not need both people to change who they fundamentally are or their goals, dreams and values. It is a place where both people fully accept each other.
Love has boundaries and does not allow for destructive or abusive behaviors. It always speaks the truth and points out the consequences of unhealthy behaviors. It also sticks to those consequences if the other person ignores the boundaries.
Love allows both people to feel pain, anger, discomfort, grief and openly talk about their feelings.
Love should never be painful.
I write about this as a reminder to myself and others that true love is possible and means different things to different people. It is also hard to find and we ultimately accept the love that we think we deserve. The more respect we have for ourselves, the more healthy love we bring into our lives as love is never disrespectful and is always patient, kind and healing. I decided to write about this as I’m currently grieving a relationship that did not work out because it lacked some of the things I mentioned above. It’s very easy to be in denial and make excuses for people when we love them, as well as compromise on the very things we say are important. At least it was easy for me to do and I realized it eventually. I also realized that we shouldn’t try to change other people, that in itself is disrespectful. I don’t ever want to be disrespectful to someone I love. At the end of the day we are responsible for our own happiness. People only change when something no longer works for them. As I have learned with my family, sometimes they never change at all.
Lastly, through this I’ve learned not to ever take for granted the love I do have in my life. Love doesn’t just come from romantic relationships, it is all around us and in difficult times, friendship love can make the world of difference.
It is most parents’ dilemma to talk to children about money. Oftentimes, they are not sure when to discuss budgeting tips, savings and other financial matters to their kids. But it is important for moms and dads to realize and understand that teaching children early about money is important in raising financially wise and responsible adults.
Check out these tips on raising money-savvy kids.
Be a good role model.
As they say, actions speak louder than words. So, if you want to raise your children to be financially responsible, you should make it a point to be careful with your actions. Remember that you are spending cash right in front of your kids. That is why it’s important that you show them that you are making wise money decisions. Before you pick up a product, explain to them why you are choosing it over other brands. Tell them the factors that go into your decision, like price, convenience, quality, etc.
Do away with negative statements.
For one, experts say that telling your children that you can’t afford a particular item would suggest that your family is struggling, which could worry your kids. You can, however, explain to them why you are not spending your money that way.
It’s also wrong to blame kids for buying something of low quality. Show them how to make comparisons when it comes to quality.
Take them shopping.
Start teaching kids about budgeting tips, especially when it comes to grocery shopping. As you go through each household item, explain to them about savings, planning and finding the best value for your money. This helps them realize that every dollar you spend is crucial to your family’s finances.
Create a reward system at home.
Many people say that rewarding kids with money for every good deed they do is the simplest form of teaching them how to work hard for every dollar they earn. Assign tasks to each of your children and tell them they will get a prize for finishing them.
Show them the significance of saving money.
Aside from budgeting tips, you should also teach the younger ones about saving the money they earn. Tell them that if they keep their money for a while, they will have more and they can buy stuff with it. That way, they’ll be more eager to work for it. Plus, they’ll realize the importance of setting cash aside.
Talk some business sense into their young minds.
Experts advise that it’s a mistake to ask children to put all their money in a bank account. Let them think of ways on how they can earn more cash. Selling lemonade in summer or exchanging stuff for money could teach them how to properly manage their finances even at a young age.
Take your children to the bank with you.
It is recommended by financial experts for parents to bring their children with them to a physical bank. Make sure, though, they are old enough to understand about money matters. Open a savings account for them and explain how banks work. Also, make sure to entertain questions and answer them as honestly as possible.
It is also essential for parents to be transparent with their children about family finances. This helps them understand what makes up your weekly or monthly budget, what your expenses are and why it is important to know all of these budgeting tips.
I graduated with my MBA in December of last year. (You can read about how I did it debt free here). I applied as the commencement speaker for the ceremony. Although I was one of the top finalists my speech didn’t get selected. So I decided to share it with the world anyway. It talks a little about my story and some of the struggles I’ve been through.
“Good Afternoon everyone. I’d like to first thank President Wildenthal, Dean Cunningham and Dean Pirkul as well as all the professors with whom I had a privilege to work and build relationships with during my undergraduate and graduate studies here at UTD, and all of UTD’s professors and staff. Your knowledge, kindness, support and belief in me and my fellow students are the reasons we are all here today. I am forever grateful for an opportunity to have met so many wonderful people. And I am proud to be a Comet.
Today is our day and it’s a very special day for me. One of my biggest goals and dreams has finally come true. Although getting an MBA or another advanced degree in my opinion does not necessarily give us a golden ticket to success in life, (at least it didn’t give one to me, :)) what it gives us are the connections, skills and resources that will accompany us throughout our entire life. All of those will help us be successful in various areas of our lives. I’m talking about tenacity, discipline, resilience, patience, ability to get outside of our comfort zones and team work. I am extremely proud and honored to share this accomplishment with all of you here today.
But as I’m sure for many of you, this wasn’t an easy road for me. It feels like it was just yesterday, when I was a young 20-year old girl from Belarus (a small country next to Russia with the size and population smaller than Texas) who had the courage to come to US despite all odds with a dream of going to college. I was scared, I was lonely, I was insecure and I was struggling with an eating disorder. When I finally had the courage to start pursuing college, I wasn’t even sure if I could pass a GED test that I had to take. For the longest time I thought my only worth was in how I looked. Today, I am graduating with two master’s degrees. And I would like to address all the amazing women sitting here in front of me: we are so much more than how we look. We are smart, intelligent, strong, courageous and capable of great things. And don’t ever let anyone underestimate you or your abilities, because you are a woman.
My message to all of you today is this:
Do not let your past determine your future. There was a time when I was very ashamed of my past and some of the things I’ve done and been through. But shame and embarrassment do not leave room for healing and growth. Although we cannot change the past, we alone are the Masters of our future. And today I am proud of the woman who I have become and I encourage you to look forward not backwards. We are all capable of rewriting our stories.
Be authentic. Stay true to who you are. Ask these questions of yourself: Who am I? What do I stand for? What is important to me? Don’t let other people’s or society’s expectations define you. It’s your life and you decide how you’re going to live it. For the longest time I tried to follow other people’s ideas for my life. And then I realized that life is too short to live for someone else. Let’s focus on being the best versions of ourselves, not merely trying to live up to a social standard of success and at the end of our lives we will feel the happiest knowing that we did our best to deliver our true selves to others.
Don’t be afraid to dream big. No matter how big and unreachable your dreams may seem, no matter how difficult the obstacles you’re faced with, find the courage within yourself to keep going, even if everyone else may tell you it’s impossible. You will become a better person, and you will build strength to face life’s challenges as it is inevitable that we will have more of them once we leave the doors of UTD. You will also find, that when you are going after your dreams, and working on something you truly care about, you will find support and encouragement from those who truly care. I really like the quote from Paolo Coelo’s Alchemist:
Seek out mentors and ask for help and support. There is absolutely no chance I would be standing here today if it wasn’t for all my mentors, friends and the help of my professors. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. If you are struggling with something or going through serious life changes, such as a new career, marriage, relationship, health issues, children, maybe starting a company, whatever it is for you, do not be afraid to ask for help and support. Another quote I really like states: “No one who achieves great success does so without acknowledging the help of others”. And vice versa don’t ever underestimate the difference that you can make in the lives of those around you. Once you leave UTD don’t forget to give back and help others who are in need.
Lastly I want to encourage you not to rush things. Enjoy this moment, live it and breathe it. You have accomplished a lot, be proud of yourself. Celebrate you and all those who helped you get to this moment. Don’t be in a hurry to grab the C-suite, start your new job, get that next promotion, get a bigger house, new car etc. None of those things bring true happiness. True happiness comes from doing meaningful work and from having meaningful and intimate relationships with others. So please take this day to express gratitude to those who care about you and truly be present with the people in your life. Thank you! “
For those of you who have ever moved across the world for a better life, or even across the border to the country next to you, this won’t come as a surprise: being an immigrant is hard. For those of you who were born here, this is a friendly reminder that you really don’t have it as hard as you think. 😉 I am an immigrant or anexpat as some call it. I almost had to create a new version of myself. Because the culture I left was so drastically different from the one I moved to, adjusting wasn’t easy. I have gone through immigration twice in my life. The first time I was 10 years old so it wasn’t really my choice. It had its own challenges but I went back to Belaruswith my mom and sister one year later, so it is a story for another day ( I will have a post about that coming soon). The second time I moved to US I was 20 years old and at that point it was my decision.
I decided to move to US as an adult for several reasons:
I missed my parents. I was very unhappy without them and wanted to help my parents financially. I thought by doing so they wouldn’t have to work so much and we will finally be able to live in the same place (as a side note my parents were living in US and I was living with my sister since I was 14, more about that coming soon).
I wanted a better life. Although I didn’t really have a clear plan on how I was going to make it better. I decided to try out for modeling and acting (naïve dreams of making big money quickly by sacrificing eating and health, more on that coming in later posts).
I wanted to go to college. I was going to music college back in Minsk and dropped out of the program to come to US. Sometimes I wonder how different my life would have been had I not done that, but I remind myself not to have regrets. When I came to Dallas I knew I wanted to go back to college, I just wasn’t sure where and how to go about it. In hindsight going to Business school was a really good decision, and I’m glad I finally figured out how to get it done.
So what happened when I moved to Dallas? To make a long story a little shorter 😉 I didn’t make it in that modeling/acting competition I tried out for (shocker, as it was a giant scam to begin with). So my story just like for thousands of other immigrants is the one of struggle and resilience. I was struggling with body issues, lack of purpose and meaning in my life, and self-worth issues. All of this expressed itself through an eating disorder (more on this coming later). I was pretty distracted with that. If any of you have ever been involved with an addiction personally or have someone you’re close to struggle with one, you would agree that addictions take a lot of time and energy to sustain themselves. So school was out of question at the time being, I wouldn’t have been able to focus. Instead I did what I knew best. I knew how to work so I got a job. I started working at Neiman Marcus at first and then at Ted Baker. It took me another two years before I finally was ready to make some changes, seek help and work on getting back to my plan of going to school in the States. Earning a college degree was one of my biggest dreams. So I told myself that I would do whatever it takes to get it and build a life here. But even when I started going to school and started working on my recovery I didn’t do a really good job at adjusting to the culture and building the type of environment I so missed. What I missed the most about home and one of the reasons I felt so stuck between two worlds was spending quality time with people. In my culture communalism is much more prevalent than theindividualism that is so common in western countries. Back home we spend more time in each other’s houses versus going out to eat, we are very close to our neighbors and friends, we leverage each other’s networks and lean on each other for help, we also don’t plan everything to the tee three weeks in advance and spend a lot more time outside and in public places. Dallas and American culture felt very different. It felt very isolated. I struggled with the fact that I had to plan everything at least a week or two in advance and still wasn’t sure if the people would show up or not. I felt like I couldn’t just call some friends on Friday afternoon and have them over that night, that my neighbors wouldn’t knock on my door and ask for a cup of sugar, etc. And then I finally realized that I had to create all of things I missed about my culture and seek out people who would be interested in these kind of connections and interactions.I also realized that I had to adapt and adhere to some of the American ways, such as planning a get together at my house and sending everyone Facebook and email invites. So here are some of the things I have learned about immigration and on how to adapt to a new culture:
Stay true to yourself and your values but recognize that there might be some adjustments that you will need to make with respect to the new culture.
Networking is key even if it means getting out of your comfort zone. As immigrants we don’t have the privilege of utilizing the networks built by our parents and relatives. We have to build those networks. It will be easier for our children, but we have to lay down the foundation.
Always be hustling. America rewards those who work hard and most importantly smart. As much as I messed up and made mistakes over the last 8 years, the ability to get back on my feet, figure out solutions as well as find answers has helped me out tremendously.
Focus on building relationships and don’t be afraid to ask for help.This follows up on the point above. I had no idea how to do things at times, so I looked for people who could help me and some of those relationships I will cherish through my entire life.
I would like to hear some of your thoughts if you ever had to move to a different country on what that experience was like for you.