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Amy Hood

8 Things You Should Know about Lauren Lillis

Our Media Content Planner has some unique stories and experiences (…big surprise). Read on and learn more about Lauren and what makes her a curious person.

1. Tell us a memorable story of yourself when you were a kid. It can be funny, surprising, warm and fuzzy, whatever. Just make it a good one.

When I was little, my sister Katy and I would stay with a babysitter during the day while our parents were at work. Our babysitter had a couple of older sons who would play with us in the backyard. One day when I was three years old, one of the sons was climbing their tree and slipped and fell. He landed right on top of me, fracturing my leg. I absolutely loved all the attention I got at the hospital. I was in bed all day with my Barbies and had lots of visitors. One of the doctors who treated me would always bring me chocolate, and I decided right then and there that I wanted to become I doctor when I grew up. Years later, my 8th-grade science teacher told my parents, “She’s a really nice young lady, but let’s face it, she’s no scientist!” I finally realized it was time to let that dream die. Who knew that practicing medicine wasn’t all about eating candy?

Childhood

2. You weren’t a full American citizen until 2011. Explain!

I was born in England and moved to northern Kentucky when I was 4 years old with my family for my dad’s job. We were only supposed to live in the states for a year, so we packed a lot into those 12 months (road trip around the U.S. in a minivan, anyone?) However, the company asked my dad to extend his stay each year, and we eventually decided to make the move permanent. My little brother was born here, and we applied for green cards so that my sister and I could get part-time jobs in high school. We finally submitted our applications for American citizenship in 2011. People are always surprised to hear that I took the citizenship test, and, yes, I was the only person in the citizenship ceremony with an American accent. It was a really unique experience to go through, and as an avid traveler, it’s awesome to be a dual-citizen!

3. Where did your parents go to high school and how did that affect your childhood?

My parents and extended family are from Liverpool, England, home of the Beatles. My mom went to Quarry Bank, which is also where John Lennon went to school (fun fact: my great uncle also worked there and was his art teacher!) My dad’s high school, the Liverpool Institute, is now the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, founded by fellow alum, Paul McCartney. Although my parents didn’t personally know any of the members of the Beatles, as you can imagine, I’m a huge Beatles fan. I’ve been to all of the Beatles landmarks in Liverpool, and their music instantly reminds me of my “second home” across the pond. I can’t wait to finally see Sir Paul in concert this Sunday!

4. Name some of the weirdest places you’ve been. What compelled you to make those trips?

I started traveling at a very young age, and I think that my experience as an immigrant has really driven me to learn as much as possible about other cultures. In high school, rather than spending my money at the mall or saving up for a car, I saved up for adventures. My junior year, I found a group of other high schoolers who were traveling to Japan, and I emptied my savings account to make the trip. My senior year, I crashed another high school’s senior class trip to Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia. Talk about a weird place to spend your senior trip! As Rick Steves once said, “Travel is rich with learning opportunities, and the ultimate souvenir is a broader perspective.” You haven’t been out of your comfort zone until you’ve been in a country where you can’t recognize the alphabet, speak the language, decipher a menu, or blend in at all. Everywhere I’ve been has shaped me in some way, and I’m really grateful for those experiences.

Study Abroad

5. Why couldn’t you watch Rugrats as a kid?

While there are a lot of cultural similarities between England and the U.S., there are also a lot of differences, and the transition was challenging for my family at times. Simple things like choosing a breakfast cereal can be a daunting task. Sometimes, just communicating is hard, especially with local vernacular (my dad tells a great story about going around in circles with the cashier at the grocery store our first night in the U.S.—he asked a question, and she said “Please?” so he said “Thank you?” and she said “Please?” again, and around and around they went…)

For my parents, it was especially tough making parenting decisions in a new country with two young kids. I’ll never forget going over to a friend’s house after school when she flipped the TV on to Rugrats—her favorite show. Ever the goody-two-shoes, I freaked out and ran to her mom in tears, since I wasn’t allowed to watch that show. My parents weren’t sure if it was appropriate and told me I shouldn’t watch it. We watched different TV shows in England, and since they were unfamiliar with most of the kids programming in America, they wanted to screen anything we watched. I got made fun of endlessly at school the next day. What kid in the nineties didn’t watch Rugrats? Looking back, I can’t really blame them, though—those Rugrats are pretty creepy looking!

6. Tell us about Rome. How you got there, what you loved during your time there, etc?

 No surprise here: my number one priority when picking a college to attend was their study abroad program. I was thrilled to be accepted to Loyola University Chicago’s John Felice Rome Center for a semester my junior year. I had never been to Italy and couldn’t wait to make Rome my stomping grounds. The four months I spent there are still some of my most treasured memories. I jetsetted with friends across Europe every weekend, ate the best pasta in the world every day, and grew to know the city’s streets like the back of my hand. If Cincinnati is my first home and Liverpool is my second, Rome is undoubtedly my third home and one of my most favorite places in the world.

7. What is your favorite meal to cook for someone else?

 I’m really lucky that my husband, Ryan, loves to cook. I’m pretty helpless in the kitchen, but I do know how to make a killer baked mac’n’cheese. It’s my go-to dish when it’s my turn to whip something up for dinner.

8. What would some people be surprised to learn about you?

Most people are pretty surprised when I tell them that I have an almost 200-bottle wine collection. On our wedding day, my parents surprised Ryan and I with a display of wine at our reception. Without us knowing, they had asked each guest to bring a bottle of wine that they thought would be meaningful to us. My parents designed our guest book as well, and each guest wrote which wine they gave us and why they chose it, and on the opposite pages, we’ve pasted the wine label from the bottle they gifted. It was an incredibly sweet surprise, and three years later, we still love to leaf through the notes our friends and family left for us. Since our wedding, Ryan and I have certainly drank a few bottles but have also continued to grow our collection (two summers ago, the two of us brought home almost thirty bottles of wine in our luggage from Italy. But that’s a story for another day!).

Wine

Photo by Tracy Doyle Photography

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