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Some British Don't Want To Let Victoria's Secret Onto Bond Street


Victoria's Secret Model Alessandra Ambrosio

It is hard to miss the glossy black hoardings towering over a corner of Bond Street. As the eurozone teeters, such “event” store openings are increasingly rare. But the latest flagship about to open on London’s famous shopping street isn’t for designer clothes. It’s for affordable lingerie.

And Bond Street, that bastion of buttoned-up reserve, is up in arms. According to reports last week, the new three-floor Victoria’s Secret store – which is due to open with great fanfare (and many of its scantily clad models in attendance) later this month – has prompted claims that it is lowering the tone of the area. Although Fenwick, the 121-year-old department store that will be directly opposite Victoria’s Secret, denied initial reports that it was concerned about “the kind of shoppers it will attract”, the Bond Street Association said it could “understand that some might feel they want to object”.

The American megabrand has made billions selling brightly coloured bras and pants to America, turned its supermodel spokeswomen such as Giselle and Miranda Kerr into household names, and its catwalk show into an annual televised spectacular.

And the arrival of Victoria’s Secret in Britain highlights how at least one area of fashion seems immune to the pinch of recession. In the UK alone, the underwear business is worth £3.6 billion a year. “Lingerie is performing strongly compared to other sectors in the fashion industry,” says Edith Youngblood, brand analyst and “head of intimates” at trend forecasting website WGSN. “It’s like the lipstick effect – people still want to treat themselves but underwear is an affordable indulgence, and so the perfect item: it’s small, it’s pretty.”

Victoria’s Secret has another weapon in its arsenal. While its underwear is highly covetable – its ranges are made with silk and natural fibres, and fill the gap between M&S and high-end brands such as Myla – the prices are decidedly high street.

“A hundred pounds is a lot to spend on underwear, but it will get you something quite special,” says Jordana Morrison, lingerie buyer for Selfridges. “By comparison, £100 of designer outerwear won’t get you much. Victoria’s Secret lets you buy designerwear without the usual price tag.”

Thanks to changes in the way we wear underwear, everyday basics are not what they were even 15 years ago, when Bridget Jones was rolling around in beige support pants. “Women now want something that feels special,” says Morrison. “These are not the bras that our mothers wore.”

That underwear revolution began two decades ago, after Calvin Klein plastered logos on the sporty elasticated waistbands of smart cotton basics, changing the way we thought about intimates – no longer simply utilitarian, but a lifestyle statement – and, with their upscale prices, how much we’d pay for them.

Meanwhile, thanks to iconic and provocative advertising campaigns, Gossard’s infamous Wonderbra made bras and pants into must-have items, and changed the way we were prepared to dress – and undress.

“Lingerie really became a part of fashion,” says Morrison. “There was a huge shift in the perception and desirability of certain brands. Lingerie had always taken a back seat to fashion and suddenly it was in the forefront.”

One of the most significant changes was the way lingerie developed seasonal changes (this summer’s brights and fluros are among the best-performing styles at Selfridges). Morrison believes that the arrival of Victoria’s Secret – the label’s name is supposedly inspired by Britain’s notoriously prudish 19th-century queen – will only help to strengthen lingerie’s fashionable status.

Victoria’s Secret was born in San Francisco in 1977 when Roy Raymond, a Stanford graduate, was shopping for his wife and realised there was a gap in the market for a man-friendly lingerie store. He created shops with traditional wood-panelling and counters, and sales staff who could help befuddled men to buy bras and knickers for their wives and girlfriends. By 1982, Raymond had expanded to six stores and a growing mail-order business, but sold the company well before its peak, for £2.5 million, to entrepreneur Leslie Wexner, who took the brand nationwide. By the end of the decade, Victoria’s Secret was America’s largest lingerie retailer, with £640 million in annual sales. Today, there are more than 1,000 stores in America, and the mail-order catalogue is shipped eight times a year to 400 million households.

Meanwhile, Raymond struggled to recreate his early success with later projects, such as a children’s book store, a mail-order DIY business and a firm making wigs for women with cancer; in 1993, he committed suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge.

Over in the UK, Agent Provocateur was at the forefront of our underwear revolution. The brand – owned by Vivienne Westwood’s son Joe Corre and his then-wife Serena Rees – opened its first Soho shop in 1994. Its unique selling point was to introduce colourful and often quite saucy styles (modelled on provocatively styled mannequins in the window) to what was then a fairly bland market. In 2007, Corre sold the label for £60 million.

Others started to see the potential of upscale lingerie. Elle Macpherson launched her hugely successful Intimates line in the early Nineties – she now sells about £50 million of undies globally each year. Many smaller brands followed, from Stella McCartney’s spin-off range to quirky British brands with names like Pistol Panties and Spank, through to Mary Portas’s latest venture Kinky Knickers.

But no other brand has set its sights as high as Victoria’s Secret, which held its first annual fashion show in 1995 – a glitzy event featuring top models wearing extravagant costumes in a Rio carnival-style parade of feathers, crystals, lace and lingerie. The most recent show, featuring rap stars Jay Z and Kanye West, cost £7.5 million to produce.

The show is really a showcase for the company’s “angels”, an elite squad of supermodels such as Stephanie Seymour and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, who earn multi-million dollar salaries to parade around in the label’s underwear. The angels – and a 2004 television commercial featuring Bob Dylan – have helped to turn the brand into a global phenomenon that sells £3.9  billion of lingerie each year.

Jenny Dickinson, acting editor of Harper’s Bazaar, thinks the high-glamour approach to mid-price underwear will appeal to British women, especially those who lack model-sized figures. “Yes, those Victoria’s Secret women – Alessandra Ambrosio, Candice Swanepoel – are fabulous, but they have something real about them, too. They’re slim, but they also have curves. For the buying public, it’s all about wanting to be those women.”

And what of the brand’s original customers: men shopping for wives and girlfriends? “Underwear buying can be an intimidating experience for men,” she says. “It’s fraught with stress because everywhere you go the sizes fit differently. Victoria’s Secret isn’t about having a huge range – they have key styles and they produce them again and again.”

According to Youngblood, the ability of Victoria’s Secret to sell women’s underwear to men will ensure the brand’s success in Britain. “The in-store sales team seek out male customers, to make them feel comfortable and not embarrassed about browsing. They are trained to know what men are looking for. All the marketing, the ads, that fashion show, the new catalogues that come along every hour, it’s actually very aggressive.”

But if the knickers fit, we’ll surely wear them.

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14 Cool NYC MetroCard Collages


new york cab metrocard collage

New York City subway riders trample over thousands of used MetroCards in stations across the city every day.

But one artist has given new life to these abandoned MetroCards by using them to create stunning collages of New York City's greatest buildings, people, and figures.

German designer Nina Boesch, who lives in New York, started making MetroCard collages for friends 10 years ago. Since then her MetroCard art has appeared in exhibitions across the country.

She uses the plain backsides to make grayscale collages and adds color with the yellow-and-blue front sides. In some of the creations, you can even see snippets of NYC's "If You See Something, Say Something" ad campaigns that have appeared on the backs of MetroCards.

Water Tower Skyline, 2011

Coffee Cup, 2011

The Lincoln Center

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Sketchy Cash-For-Gold Shops Are Taking Over Italy


oro in euro

Italy's traditional goldsmiths are up in arms over a boom in the poorly regulated cash-for-gold sector that is making billions for the mafia as hard-up Italians rush to sell off their bling.

Cash-for-gold shops have filled Italy's streets in recent months, with blanket television adverts urging Italians to sell off their medallions and jewels for quick cash, AFP reports.

Much of the gold eventually makes its way across the Alps to Switzerland - whether legally or smuggled across the border - making gold Italy's fastest growing export and Switzerland an increasingly prominent market for Italy.

Custom seizures of gold are up 50pc, officials say, with one of the latest cases a father and daughter arrested trying to get out 110 pounds of the metal worth over €2m in unmarked ingots.

"It's a booming sector for criminal organisations. Smuggled gold ends up all over the world, in countries where it is swapped for arms, drugs, you name it," said Ranieri Razzante, head of AIRA, an anti-money laundering watchdog.

Legal gold sales to Switzerland totalled 120 tonnes last year - up from 73 tonnes in 2010 and 64 tonnes in 2009, with foundries built on the border having to work flat out to meet demand and almost daily truckloads crossing over.

According to the gold workers' guild (ANOPO), "almost all the gold exported comes from cash-for-golds" bringing in billions for organised crime.

"Italy's become a veritable gold mine," said Ivana Ciabatti, gold and silversmith president at the national business association Confindustria, who is based in the central town of Arezzo, the gold production capital of Italy.

"It's fundamental to fight the criminal elements in the sector," she said.

The booming over-the-counter industry is worth at least €14bn, according to ANOPO, which is campaigning for changes to the law to stop mafia infiltration of their sector.

Thanks to a legal loop-hole, the shops can dodge Value Added Tax (VAT) because they are considered part of the "scrapping" business.

Out of an estimated 28,000 cash-for-gold stores in Italy, only a few hundred have registered with the Bank of Italy and professional associations say that some 80pc of the gold sold there ultimately ends up in Switzerland.

Italy historically has some of the highest rates of gold jewellery ownership in the world because of cultural traditions like gifts of gold chains but also because ownership of gold bullion was illegal until a decade ago.

"Jewellery was the only form of gold investment allowed and Italian families still own considerable quantities," said Alessandra Pilloni, an analyst from Bullion Vault, an online London-based gold trader.

"Cash-strapped families can now sell unwanted jewels much more easily than before and last summer was a turning point as the crisis deepened," she said.

The price of gold has meanwhile shot up from some $300 an ounce in 2002 to around $1,600 today, triggering the current boom in sales.

"Criminal organisations have at least 50pc of the cash-for-gold shops in their grip. They use fake figureheads to avoid leaving a trace and run illegal foundries in the backstreets of cities like Naples," said Razzante.

In March, Interior Minister Anna Maria Cancellieri said the sector had generated "a black market... which necessitates the constant monitoring above all in criminal circles linked to usury, fencing and money laundering."

In an attempt to rein in the unruly sector, member of parliament Donella Mattesini, from Italy's Democratic Party, presented a draft law last month which would enforce stricter controls - and fines - on cash-for-gold shops.

"We urgently need a law to regulate the sector," said Mattesini, who is also the deputy mayor in Arezzo.

"We need to up controls on back-street foundries and gold shops. It's time to clean up the whole gold sector."

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5 London Clubs You Absolutely Can't Miss During The Olympics


Fabric Music

Everyone knows that the Olympics are as much about what goes on within the stadium walls as the party that rages on the streets afterwards.

And in 2012, those Games will be taking place in one of the party capitals of the world, where there are thousands of bars and hundreds of clubs in London.

See the London hotspots here >

So what happens when you throw an extra million carefree partiers into the heart of the birthplace of the modern club scene?

Our data here at Party Earth suggests that it will be the largest bout of decadence that London has experienced since Henry VIII annulled the sanctity of marriage. 

Come August there will be no shortage of crazy in London. So here are five legendary clubs in the city that’ll have you jumping higher than Kobe Bryant to beats that are faster than Usain Bolt while dancing with more sexy people than the entirety of the Brazilian national squad. 

See the London hotspots here >

This story was originally published by Party Earth.

Ministry of Sound

The Ministry of Sound is London’s most renowned club, and one of the most famous super-clubs in the world. It’s a trance music lover’s paradise, boasting not only one of the heaviest sound systems in the city but also a visual overload of LED lights, video projections, and strobing lightshows. Those looking for the ultimate clubbing experience won’t find anywhere better. And if you don’t mind blowing out your eardrums, climb into The Box, a separate room blocked off by a soundproof entrance that will pound music into your core. But even with its massive interior of half-a-dozen rooms, lounges, and four dance floors, this South Bank venue will fill up quickly – early arrivals are highly recommended.

Fabric Music

Fabric Music is the name of the game at Fabric, attracting hordes of partiers looking to dance the night away within the spacious, 25,000 square-foot venue. The two-story nightclub brings in A-list DJs spinning every electronic genre, from deep house to the heaviest drum & bass. Located in Camden Town, the heart of London’s hippest social scene, there is never a shortage of attractive locals ready to let loose on the dark and steamy dance floor. Pack a few red bulls and cancel your morning plans, because Fabric thumps till sunrise. 

The Shoreditch

With its split-personality disorder and no cover charge, The Shoreditch is the perfect destination for young and old looking to get crazy in style. Located in East London in the Shoreditch neighborhood (what a coincidence), the club has an ultra-cool vibe with an even cooler clientele. Live jazz plays from the top floor where trendy professionals and artists sip cocktails against the kitschy décor. If you’re wondering about the split-personality thing, just head downstairs, where the Roaring Twenties atmosphere is replaced by a mini-rave of flashing neon LEDs and blasting techno tracks. So grab your tweed jacket and your glow sticks and jump on into the party.

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Meet The People Who Stand By Their Imprisoned Lovers


prison love

Love will always find a way to survive – even when one party is a convicted murderer. 

National Geographic's 2011 documentary "Taboo: Prison Love" explores the lives of people in love with inmates. They stand by their partners despite never being able to share a meal or spend the night with them. 

They also look past unspeakable crimes including murder and drug trafficking. 

One woman marries her sweetheart, who was formerly one of the most-wanted fugitives in Texas. Another in Brazil enjoys conjugal visits with her husband. 

And a retired airline pilot has outfitted his bedroom as a prison cell – metal toilet and all – to feel closer to his wife, a convicted murderer. 

You can watch the entire documentary here.

This is Rachel, who lives in Texas. She fell in love with Johnny, who was on the state's most-wanted list for assault and other crimes.

Source: Taboo: Prison Love by National Geographic 

She says she's attracted to his "bad boy" image. Even though he won't be eligible for parole until 2019, she wants to make a commitment.

Source: Taboo: Prison Love by National Geographic 

Because he's in prison, she gets married on a local radio show with the host acting as a proxy groom.

Source: Taboo: Prison Love by National Geographic 

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7 Cool Uses For Tea And Tea Bags


Tea Bags

We've told you what to do with old coffee grounds, but I know there are plenty of tea drinkers out there who need ideas on reusing tea bags. Here are some suggestions:

Eye bags: Had a hard day at work? Put some warm used tea bags over your closed eyes for 15 minutes to sooth your tired and sore peepers.

Remove smelly odors on your skin: After you've touched something stinky while cooking, like onions or fish, wash your hands with tea to remove the smell. If your feet tend to smell, then soak them in tea every day for 20 minutes to reduce odor.

Mop wooden floors and clean wooden furniture: Add a bit of black tea to your mop when you're mopping up your wooden floors. The leaves' natural properties will help add color and shine up the dull wood.

Clean reflective surfaces: If there are grease stains that won't come off your glass surfaces or mirrors, then dip some cloth in brewed tea and wipe them down.

Deodorize rooms or items: To make your room smell fresh, place unused tea bags in certain areas to clear the air. If there is something specific you want to freshen up, like a pair of shoes, then place a tea bag in it to absorb the smell.

Feed your plants: Occasionally, for plants that prefer acidic soil, water them with tea. The tea will change the pH level of the soil and make it more acidic.

Tenderize meat: Consider marinating your meat in tea to tenderize it. The tannins in the tea will soften the meat. Use strong black tea and pour it over the meat before you put it in the oven.

DON'T MISS: Couple builds incredible camper from scratch for less than $8,000 > 

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I'm Glad I Took The Plunge And Had My Baby Abroad


hamad qatar hospitalDeciding to give birth in Qatar presented cultural challenges, but it was worth it, writes guest columnist Victoria Scott.

“There’s a leg!” shouted my husband. Seconds later, a red and white speckled infant was presented to us over the screen, upside down and flailing wildly. Boy, wasn’t he cross – but wow, wasn’t he the most beautiful thing we’d ever seen.

Childbirth is a subject that divides British expats the world over. Do you stay where you are and deal with a system that may be alien to you, or fly back to the UK and have your baby surrounded by your family and medical care you understand?

Each family’s situation provides its own answer. It was a relatively straightforward one for us.

My husband is an airline pilot and was therefore quite likely to be on the other side of the world when I went into labour. He’d never have made it back to the UK in time for the birth. Qatar it was.

Reactions from friends were varied. “I’ve heard husbands can’t be at the birth in Qatar,” chimed in one. Another pointed to the lack of midwives – prenatal care and childbirth in Qatar is managed entirely by doctors.

It’s true that at Qatar’s state hospital, Hamad (run along similar lines to the NHS) husbands are not able to attend the births of their babies. Indeed, bringing your partner into the delivery room is an alien concept, so much so that Arab friends wrinkled their nose in amusement (and possibly distaste) at my husband’s desire to watch the moment of birth.

Luckily, Doha’s private hospitals allow husbands to be present, but cost was an issue; with no maternity insurance cover, we had to pay for all pre-natal care and the birth ourselves. At around £2,000 for a natural birth plus all scans and appointments, it isn’t cheap.

A medical gulf emerged between the UK and Qatar during our nine months. In the UK, my pregnant friends were offered two scans; I had one a month at least. In contrast to British friends who were often sent home hours after giving birth, I’d be in hospital for a minimum of two days. Our son would be looked after in the hospital’s nursery as a matter of course, unless we requested otherwise. British pregnancy books spoke glowingly of birthing pools, low music and candles; the closest I’d get to that would be a shower with the light off and an iPod. And a home birth would be out of the question; they’re illegal in Qatar.

As my pregnancy progressed, we hit a snag. Our son was defiantly breech, and I was booked in for a planned c-section. Hospitals in Qatar don’t usually allow husbands to enter the operating theatre. We pleaded with our doctor, who’d worked in the UK for many years. Torn between our British expectations and Qatari norms, he hesitated.

He asked what my husband did for a job. “I’m a pilot,” said my husband. “Ah, ok,” said our doctor. Any concerns about fainting in the operating theatre were apparently allayed by the knowledge that my husband can land a 777 in a storm. (To this day, we are the only example I’ve ever come across of a husband being allowed in for a c-section in Qatar. We’ve become something of an urban legend.)

It’s just as well my husband has a strong stomach, as the operating theatre wasn’t set up for a partner to sit by my side. Standing tall in shoes several sizes too small which were borrowed from a hospital orderly at the last minute, he saw the entire operation from incision to sewing up.

After our son was born, it became clear the staff thought we were an oddity. We asked for him to stay in our room with us. The nurses were worried the air-conditioned room would be too cold. They swaddled him in a multitude of layers and scolded us when they caught us unwrapping him to see what he looked like underneath. (In a country where it’s rare for temperatures to dip below 20C even in winter, I’ve seen children wearing bobble hats and scarves when going for a stroll.)

The biggest snag came when I tried to breastfeed. I found it almost impossible. The hospital’s nursery nurse came to try to help, but declared that my breasts just weren’t “good enough”, and suggested I bottle feed. I declined. In the wee small hours of the morning of our son’s second day of life, the nurse told me he was crying because he was hungry. In pain, tired, and overwhelmed by the weighty responsibility of parenthood, I let them give him a bottle.

The next day, however, I got on the phone to a British midwife who’d just moved to Qatar. She came over immediately, declaring in a wonderfully matter-of-fact way that it would all be fine. At that moment, I realised how much I missed the NHS (and my mum), and a system that would encourage me to breastfeed, not berate me for trying to persist with it.

Would I do it all again? Despite the problems we encountered, the answer is yes. Medical care in Qatar is generally good, if a little over-zealous, hence the masses of scans and long hospital stays. And the fact that Qataris love large families means that obstetricians in Doha are constantly given a chance to hone their skills.

In fact I realised just how much Qataris love children when I had my last visit from my doctor on the day we left hospital. I was feeling rather like a rabbit caught in headlights, could barely stand and was desperate for someone to lock me in a hotel room and tell me to sleep for a week. Oblivious to my glazed expression, he looked at me and grinned. “I’ll see you next year,” he said, “for your next one.”

Visit Victoria's website here, or follow her on Twitter at @toryscott

Read the rest of our expat guest columns here

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Princess Michael Of Kent Launches Desperate Search For Her Cat


princess michael of kent

Princess Michael of Kent left the Olympics team dressage at Greenwich early on Tuesday to search for her beloved cat, which has gone missing.

Ruby, an 11-month-old Burmese, has not been seen since Monday morning. “The Princess is very, very worried,” says one of her friends.

Prince Michael’s wife has been knocking on doors at Kensington Palace, whose other residents include the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, to see if the cat could have become accidentally shut in somewhere.

The Princess whose name is Marie-Christine, has had Ruby since before Christmas and the cat has never previously strayed outside the palace’s grounds. It is wearing a yellow collar, with a telephone number on it.

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Heineken Faces Bidding War Against Thai Billionaire For Tiger Beer Brewer


tiger beer malaysia soccer fieldHeineken's $6bn bid for Asia Pacific Breweries (APB) faces a challenge from a group linked to Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, which could force the Dutch brewer to pay more to control the maker of Tiger beer.

The world's third biggest brewer has to decide whether to raise its bid or risk losing control of one of Asia's fastest growing brewers to the family of Thailand's second richest man.

Heineken agreed to buy stakes in the Asian brewer held by Singapore conglomerate Fraser and Neave (F&N) last Friday, only for the Thai group to now muscle in on the deal with a higher price for F&N's 7.3pc direct stake.

Kindest Place Groups, a vehicle owned by Charoen's son-in-law, made a surprise offer of S$55 a share to buy F&N's direct stake in APB, S$5 a share more than Heineken agreed to pay in its deal announced last week. F&N controls around 40pc of APB, mostly via a joint venture with Heineken.

The Thai companies, ThaiBev and Kindest Place, had already put Heineken on the back foot last month when they paid $3bn (£1.9bn) to take stakes in F&N and APB.

Heineken, which controls 42pc of APB, agreed to pay F&N S$50 a share for its APB stake which values it at S$5.1bn (£1.5bn). The Heineken deal is worth around $6bn if a buyout of minority shareholders is included.

Heineken's APB bid is already at a rich multiple of 17.4 times (EBITDA) core profits, above the 15.4 times paid by Anheuser Busch InBev for Mexico's Modelo in June.

The Amsterdam-based brewer put a brave face on the situation saying its bid was better than the Thai offer.

"We are convinced that our bid is richer and offers more value to shareholders," a Heineken spokesman told Reuters.

Heineken shares fell to close 2.4pc lower at €44.38 on worries about the prospect of a bidding war with the powerful Thai business family, which could be pushing to control APB or just extract a higher price for its stake.

"With this latest turn of events, Heineken's current offer will fail. It will have to offer more than S$55 per share to outbid the Thai group, possibly S$60 per share," said Goh Han Peng, analyst at DMG & Partners Securities in Singapore.

If Kindest Place's offer succeeds, it will control more than 15pc of APB, having already agreed to buy 7.9pc of the beer maker from Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp and its insurance unit Great Eastern Holdings last month at a lower price of S$45 a share.

Charoen can also try and block the full sale of APB to Heineken by voting against the deal through Thai Beverage PCL, which he controls. ThaiBev, the maker of Chang beer, is F&N's biggest shareholder with about 24pc.

Analysts say Charoen recognises the value of the APB business, which has a dominant position in most markets where it operates such as Vietnam and Singapore, and is expected to enjoy a rising stream of profits for many years to come.

Charoen and ThaiBev had not previously indicated whether they supported or opposed the sale of APB to Heineken.

Japanese beermaker Kirin, F&N's second-largest shareholder with about 15pc, has also not made its views known, although analysts believe it may be interested in F&N's soft drink interests rather than its brewing.

F&N said Kindest Place's offer will lapse at 5pm Singapore time on August 16.

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Older Americans Are Actually OPTIMISTIC About The Future


old woman, elderly,

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Baby boomers are upbeat about aging and expect the next phase of their lives to be better than the last, but many are concerned about their financial future and long-term health costs, a survey released in Tuesday showed.

Americans are living healthier and longer that ever before. The U.S. Census Bureau predicts boomers will turn 65 at a rate of 10,000 per day for the next decade, making them, along with centenarians, the fastest-growing segment of the population.

More than 75 percent of seniors questioned in the poll on aging are optimistic, think the best is yet to come, and expect to have the same quality of life, or better, during their next decade.

"The reason they are upbeat is because we have changed our definition of aging. People are working longer. They see people that are older being healthier," said Donna Shalala, the president of the University of Miami and a former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services during the Clinton administration.

Shalala, 71, who will discuss the results of the poll during a panel on successful aging in Miami on Wednesday, said people are buoyed by seeing their relatives living longer.

"My mother is 100 years old. Why shouldn't I be optimistic?" she added.


The majority of 2,250 seniors, aged 60 or older, questioned in the telephone survey from the National Council on Aging, medical insurer UnitedHealthcare and the newspaper USA Today said they are confident they will be able to maintain their health and think they manage stress effectively.

Although many seniors feel financially secure, nearly half of low- and middle-income seniors questioned in the poll are not confident they will be able to cover their expenses over the next five to 10 years.

About a third of older Americans do not think they will be able to afford long-term care, according to the poll, and for 1 in 5 seniors, a major financial event would result in a fiscal crisis.

Lower income seniors are also more likely to suffer from chronic illnesses and less likely to exercise. Seventy-two percent of people who make less than $30,000 a year said they live with a lingering health problem.

Whether it is out of necessity, a sense of productivity, or the enjoyment of it, about 20 percent of seniors over 65 said they are still working either full- or part-time.

"The market absolutely threw this generation off," Shalala said about the impact of the recession.

And just as many seniors are staying in the workplace longer, the vast majority want to "age in place," or continue to live in their own home for the next decade. It could be a feasible option for most 60 somethings, but less than half of seniors in their 70s said they could live independently.

The poll also showed that a lack of services in the community is a concern for seniors. More than 25 percent of people in their 60s were not confident there would be resources and facilities in their communities to allow them to live independently.

"With appropriate preventive care and lifestyle changes, growing older doesn't have to mean living with chronic disease and disability," said Rhonda Randall, the chief medical officer at United Healthcare & Retirement.

The poll was conducted between May 10 and June 6. The margin of error for the general population is +/-3.1 percent.

(Editing by Jill Serjeant and Jackie Frank)

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10 Investment Firms That Won't Even Look At Your Family Money If It's Less Than $100 Million



Yesterday, we listed the top 20 money managers for wealthy families by each firm's assets under advisory.

Bloomberg Markets Magazine also ranked the top money managing firms by assets per family.

Several of the top firms only manage money for a handful of families, but some of those families are worth well over $1 billion.

And, we all know that the rich like exclusive services, so that's probably why many of the ultra-rich bank with the small, boutique firms, instead of the massive wealth management firms.

Thanks to Bloomberg Markets Magazine for giving us permission to run their list.

No. 10: Presidio Group

Average Assets per Family: $171 million

Assets Under Advisory: $3.9 billion

YoY Change: +3%

Number of Families: 23

Location: San Francisco 

Source: Bloomberg Markets Magazine

No. 9: U.S. Trust (Bank of America)

Average Assets per Family: $181 million

Assets Under Advisory: $29.6 billion

YoY Change: +3%

Number of Families: 163

Location: New York

Source: Bloomberg Markets Magazine

No. 8: Frankfurt Family Office (Deutsche Bank)

Average Assets per Family: $197 million

Assets Under Advisory: $9.8 billion

YoY Change: 0%

Number of Families: 50

Location: Frankfurt

Source: Bloomberg Markets Magazine

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What I Learned From 150 Apartments Before I Finally Bought One


Home Inspector Closing

Finding that perfect piece of Manhattan real estate is no small feat.

When my husband and I relocated from Atlanta a few years ago, we thought the rental process was challenging. At that time, we had no idea what buying an apartment involved. We’d owned real estate before --- how much different could it be? 

We realized via our first agent (and there would be three), that the real estate rules in Manhattan are nothing like those in other cities. 

By the time we got to the third agent and had viewed apartment number 75, we knew we were better off working alone. I was far too picky, and no agent in his or her right mind was patient enough to put up with me.

However, if you are not obsessive, demanding, and unreasonable (like me), I do recommend working with an agent.

We did our homework every weekend, visited one open house after another, and we learned the ins and outs quickly.

More than 150 apartments later, we considered ourselves well-educated potential buyers. And finally, after about a year, we succumbed to the inevitable--paying around $700k for an 825-square-foot one-bedroom co-op in a full-service pre-war building on the Upper West Side that we absolutely love.

We have a large mortgage and a low-ish monthly maintenance that started at $800 and is now over $1,100. (Note, we spent our life savings on the downpayment and paid off all of our debt during our year-long search so that we'd be eligible for a mortgage.)

During this time-consuming process, my husband and I learned enough to write a book about NYC real estate, but for now, I'll stick to a post.

Here are some of my personal tips to help you find THE ONE.

1. Buy where you want to live, not where you work. Don’t base your neighborhood choices on the location of your job. Jobs in New York can change as frequently as the weather. I’m glad that I listened to my gut and didn’t search only in areas convenient to my job in Midtown East. I broke up with the job, but my one-bedroom is still in my life. 

2. Make a short list of favorites and return to the apartments again and again. Visit during the day, at night, mid-week and on the weekend. Pay attention to bright lights glaring into the unit from other buildings, as well as strange noises, odors, or people coming and going. You’ll be buying those annoyances too.

Purchase the apartment that you’ve seen a minimum of three times and you love more each time. 

3. Consider walk-ups, but be realistic. Walkup apartments may have a lower sales price, but they may not suit your lifestyle.

Traipsing up and down several hundred steps per day to reach a high-floor walkup builds calf muscles but isn’t an option if you have an elderly parent or grandparent who visits.

It also isn’t advised if you’re forgetful. Leave your cell phone behind? Be prepared to climb the 99 steps again, be out of breath and late for the office.

4. Just because a celebrity lived there, doesn't mean you'll want to. We looked at an East Village tenement that was once the home of Beat generation icon Allen Ginsberg. We nearly walked past the building because it looked condemned.

Afraid of what we’d find inside, we ventured up the crumbling stairs to the ground floor and walked in to what appeared to be a scene from "Taxi Driver."

We trudged to the fifth floor of the nasty co-op, taking note of each detail like any other apartment we’d visited. None of the doors matched. Some were wood; some were metal. Each one had the apartment numbers scribbled, painted, or engraved----but definitely not in gold.

The real estate agent assured us the renovation hadn’t been completed. Really? 

Out of breath, we reached the top floor only to find a maze of dirty, cluttered rooms, one leading into the other, with an illogical floor plan. We walked through, looked at each other, and left. That one didn’t make it to the short list.

5. Always inspect the basement of the building. Request to walk through the basement if you are considering  an apartment. If you notice rat droppings, clutter in dark corners, smell trash or some other funk---RUN---don’t walk. If the basement’s not clean, neither is the rest of the building.

6. Talk to everyone. Talk to the doorman, the super, the residents, and anyone else you can find who would know any inside dirt. You’ll get a feel for the attitude, energy, and unmentioned quirks or rules of the building. One of the neighbors in our building had said Julio (our super) keeps the place spotless and that we’d be able to “eat off the floors.” And it’s completely true.

Keep in mind that Melrose Place Manhattan exists ----you want to avoid it for yourself and for resale. An odd (and now deceased) next door neighbor in our rental building was certainly a nuisance, but in a co-op, he could have affected our resale.

7. Buy the sponsor unit if possible. If you’re considering buying a co-op, the interview is the most stressful step. Buying a sponsor unit allows you to avoid the co-op board. If you even have to meet with the sponsor (usually you just deal with their brokers), it's easier to meet with one crazy person than meeting with an entire board of them.

In our case, the biggest issue vis-a-vis the 80-year-old sponsor was not our three pets, it was the fact that I wasn’t Jewish. But after an hour-long flirtatious conversation and a few smiles and winks, my shiksa status didn’t seem to matter.

Another bonus of buying the sponsor unit: Some of the normal rules don't apply, so we're one of only several residents who have a washer-dryer in their apartment.

A downside of sponsor units is that as longtime rental units they tend to be in need of renovation or have undergone a quick/cheapie renovation that lasts about as long as a band-aid.  In our case we got lucky, since the kitchen had been renovated and the bathroom was semi-renovated. We just had to make a few construction and cosmetic edits.

8. Be reasonable, tenacious and don’t settle. Be practical with your wish list. You won’t find a sprawling two-bedroom with a doorman for $400K in Manhattan. 

But no matter how frustrated you get with the search, don’t settle for a property that you know you’ll like less after six months. Buying is (at least semi-)permanent. You’ll have buyers’ remorse and regret it later. If you're not sure, rent a little longer, revise that wish list, and continue your search with a fresh approach.

9. Buy location. You can renovate the apartment or make improvements, but you can’t change the location. I recommend purchasing close to public transit, and in a convenient neighborhood.

Schlepping fifteen minutes to the subway or grocery store may seem fine in April and May, but on the most humid days in August or the chilliest days in February, you’ll hate it. There’s nothing worse than arriving for work schvitzed through your blouse, or frostbitten and unable to type. 

10. Take a weekend off. Get your nails done; go to dinner, a movie, or both. Forget about finding an apartment for 48 hours--the search may seem narrower and options may be more obvious. You’ll have a clear head once the New York real estate fog has been lifted. You could be just one step away from finding the almost perfect apartment.

Related posts: 

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Kim Jong-un's New Wife Photographed With Expensive Dior Handbag


South Korean newspaper Joongang Daily has pointed out that in recently published state pictures of the new North Korean first lady, Ri Sol-Ju, she appears to be holding a very expensive Dior handbag:

Ri Sol-Ju Handbag

The paper says that real versions of the handbag cost 1.8 million won ($1,594) in Seoul, which the Telegraph reports is roughly equal to the national salary in North Korea. It is, however, unclear if the bag is a real Dior item or a copy.

AFP reports that the photo was broadcast Tuesday night.

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Iran Is On A Buying Spree At The World's Tallest Building In Dubai


Burj Khalifa

Real estate prices at Dubai's famed Burj Khalifa may have plummeted in recent years, but one group of investors is snapping up property there in huge quantities.

According to Arabian Business, Iranians have purchased $128 million worth of residential and commercial space at the world's tallest building in the past six months, making them the second biggest buyers in the first half of the year after Indian citizens.

Brits, UAE citizens, and Pakistanis completed the top five, according to new data from Dubai's land department.

In many cases, the transactions have been all-cash as the West has clamped down on sanctions against Iran. Overall, 358 Iranians bought into the Burj in the first half of the year.

Prices at the Burj, which opened in 2010 to great fanfare, dropped from highs of $2,450 per-square-foot at their peak to around $721 per-square foot, the Wall Street Journal's Tahani Karrar-Lewsley reported in July.

But real estate in the emirate is finally beginning to stabilize after a major housing slump that hit in 2008, when prices dropped more than 60 percent. Housing prices rose 5.6 percent during the first six months of 2012, according to a recent report from Knight Frank.

Now check out the 10 tallest skyscrapers being built right now >

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Big, Glossy Images Show What One World Trade Center Will Look Like When It's Complete


one world trade center renderings

The Port Authority and The Durst Organization have just released a whole bunch of new renderings of One World Trade Center and it looks like a knockout.

A false fire report at the site notwithstanding, construction at One World Trade is moving along. It officially became the tallest building in New York City in late April, and will rise 1,776 feet upon its completion in early 2014.

Condé Nast will be a major tenant in the 3 million-square-foot buildingthe publishing company leased nearly 1.2 million square feet across 25 floors. Vantone China Center and the federal General Services Administration have also signed leases, bringing the building to 55 percent occupancy, according to the Port Authority.

The new renderings show the building from every possible angle and offer a glimpse at what the interior will look like. They also incorporate some new design features.

View from 8 Spruce Street.

The view from Brooklyn, at dusk.

And the same view, at night.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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Join The Business Insider Team This Fall As A Paid Editorial Intern


business insider, bi office profile, bi, may 2012, dng

Business Insider is looking for paid interns to join our editorial team this fall.

Don't be dismayed by the term "intern." At Business Insider, there's no getting coffee or making copies.

Our interns spend their time doing meaningful work: researching, writing, pitching and producing features -- even breaking news if the timing's right.

Interns are encouraged to work full-time if their schedule allows. We do require 3 days a week minimum.

Other perks? We have lots of free snacks, and a ping-pong table where we hold quarterly tournaments.

When it comes to qualifications, a journalism background always helps, as do copy-editing skills and light HTML and Photoshop experience. Knowledge of social media and previous writing experience are both useful, too.

Please send your resume and three writing clips to jliebman@businessinsider.com. Please describe which BI section(s) interest you most and why. (Don't know what our sections are? Check out the nav bar on the home page.) And, please note: this internship requires that you work in our Manhattan office.

Interested in a journalism internship but have never heard of Business Insider? Here's some reading on our company and where we're headed. Here's another article on our latest round of financing.

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A Steel Tycoon Is Selling A Pair Of 15 Central Park West Apartments For $95 Million—5 Times What He Paid For Them


15 central park west driveway

Leroy Schecter, the chairman of steelmaker Marino/Ware Industries, has just listed a pair of apartments at storied 15 Central Park West for $95 millionslightly more than FIVE times what he paid for them.

According to the Wall Street Journal's Josh Barbanel, Schecter has hired a construction crew to rip out the walls and combine the two condos he owns on the building's 35th floor in order to create a titanic, five-bedroom pad.

He paid a combined $18.9 million for the apartments, Barbanel writes.

At $95 million, Schecter's apartment is the second most expensive property currently on the market in New York City, following the recent listing of a $100 million, octagon-shaped penthouse at CitySpire.

Schecter also recently listed a sprawling estate on Indian Creek Drive in Miami Beach for $45 million, making it one of the most expensive listings ever in the area. He has said he plans to donate 90 percent of his net worth to charity after he dies, including portions of the proceeds from his property sales.

There's no official listing for the property (yet), but it's being sold by Emily Beare of CORE.

Now meet the big shots who live at 15 Central Park West >

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Meet An All-American Guy Who Was Suddenly And Violently Deported To Jordan


khalid shudooh

This is the story of Khalid Shudooh, who this reporter met while growing up in Ohio.

The last time I saw Khalid Shudooh was on the Fourth of July 2007, in Cincinnati.

He invited me to a party, where we wore the colors of the flag, ate popsicles and grilled all-beef hot dogs. We lit sparklers, waving them and laughing until they faded to a dim glow. 

Two weeks later, my friend Saira called me, panicked.

"Khalid is in prison," she told me. 

I was confused. Khalid, one of my close friends, was a devoted Muslim who didn't even date or get drunk.

I learned that Khalid's visa had expired and that bail was set at $250,000. Whether he stayed in the country would be decided whenever a judge got around to it. In the meantime, all he could do was wait.

Go To The Photos >

Khalid Shudooh grew up in the U.S., but was born in Jordan.

When he was four, Khalid told me, his dad accepted a scholarship at the University of Wisconsin. The whole family picked up and moved to Madison, where young Khalid adjusted quickly, taking ESL classes and making friends in kindergarten.

Within a year, Khalid barely remembered what life had been like overseas. He was a confident class clown who played soccer and went sledding. He loved the Green Bay Packers.

By the time Khalid was in middle school, the family relocated to Cincinnati, Ohio, so his dad could pursue another graduate degree. Khalid joined the football team and, at 14, was employed doing odd jobs at a carpet cleaning business.

But after 9/11 he felt a shift in how his family was treated.

The day after the attacks, he was walking to class when a boy snarled at him in the hallway.

"Tell your uncles to stop bombing our country," the boy said. Khalid, normally easygoing and congenial, punched him.

Then, his younger sister came home crying. Some girls on the bus had ripped the hijab she was wearing from her head.

Khalid's dad had applied to hundreds of jobs around the country and received only rejections. He finally took a job at an Islamic school in North Carolina, moving the family once again.

But after a couple of years, he was restless and wanted to go back to the Middle East. The family packed up and sent Khalid to live with his older brother, who was studying at the University of Cincinnati.

During his senior year of high school, Khalid played football, ran track and worked full-time to pay the bills.

"I was a kid and was totally responsible for everything, rent, food, getting myself to school, going to football," he told me.

He excelled on the football team, set school records on the track team, and graduated high school with honors.

Khalid enrolled at the University of Cincinnati and started studying business.

After his freshman year, his visa expired.

Khalid ignored the visa expiration. For years, Congress had been debating the Dream Act, which would allow young people who had lived in the U.S. since childhood to stay in the country if they joined the military or pursued an education.

He figured he wouldn't run into trouble if it worked out. After all, he was a college student who held down several jobs. He didn't have so much as a speeding ticket on his record.

Then, as he was getting in the shower before class, there was a loud banging on the bathroom door.

"U.S. Marshals, open up!" they said.

Khalid quickly got dressed and opened the door. His brother was next to him.

"Before I even got out, there are two marshals, a man and a woman, and they turn me around cuff me before I can even move," Khalid said. "I was trying to keep my cool, I certainly didn't register what was happening."

His voice catches.

"My brother wasn't letting him cuff him and so they slammed him down to the ground and just left him there, cuffed," he says.

It would only get worse.

Khalid and his older brother learned they had been found out through a background check at his job. They were taken to a holding cell, where bail was set at $5,000 each. Then they were moved to a prison in Kentucky where many illegal immigrants are held.

Khalid was placed in a room with five bunk beds. He was allowed outside once a week, and was too distressed to eat. He spent most of the time in his bunk, asleep.

His cell mates were in prison for felonies like dealing drugs or armed robbery. There were intense fights and threats. The screams of a man on suicide watch echoed through the halls.

After ten days, Khalid was told that the judge had reviewed his bail. Now the sum was set at $250,000, impossible for his family to pay.

Khalid was handed his belongings, a t-shirt, shorts, flip flops. He was moved again, to Seneca County in Northern Ohio, where he shared a cell with his brother. 

During his 100 days there, he considered his options. He met a man from Palestine who was fighting his own case and had spent almost three years in prison. He knew he'd have to wait if he fought to stay in the country. And even then, there was little chance he could stay. 

So he waited for a judge. When the day came, he was told that he would see the judge only through a television. But the screen was broken so he was given five minutes to talk.

"He couldn't even see me, and here I am trying to explain my side of the story," Khalid said.

He decided to stop fighting the system, cut his losses and go home.

Khalid was handcuffed and taken to the airport. The guards handed him the money from his prison account, 73 cents. He threw it back at them.

He boarded the plane and immediately fell asleep.

"It was the first time I wasn't being watched for 4 months, the first time I could really relax," he said.

He didn't wake up until landing.

Once back in Jordan, Khalid didn't understand the language and culture overseas. His Arabic was awful, and he struggled to communicate or further his education.

He recently graduated from college and moved to Kuwait to live with his parents. He works in real estate. But he still struggles with the consequences of his deportation.

Khalid's upbringing as a mainstream American made him initially feel isolated in the Arab country. His reading and writing abilities in Arabic are still only at a fifth-grade level.

Two weeks ago, President Obama announced that his administration would stop deporting young illegal immigrants who match the criteria of the Dream Act.

Though Khalid says it's an improvement, he still feels bitter and distrustful toward the U.S. government.

"At times I wished I were a drug dealer or something, just so I would understand in some way the consequences and what happened to me," he said. "But I don't understand and so as a result I still have this bitterness."

Recently, at a mutual friend's wedding, we connected with Khalid via Skype. For a moment, we saw his blurry face on the screen. He smiled, taking in the reception and speeches.

Then, just as quickly, the connection was lost. He was gone.

khalid shudooh

Here's Khalid studying in kindergarten.

khalid shudooh

Khalid said attitudes toward his family began to change when he was in middle school. 

khalid shudooh

After Khalid's freshman year at the University of Cincinnati, he was deported. 

khalid shudooh

Khalid recently graduated college and works in real estate. He says he misses the U.S. but also feels bitter toward the system. 

See more photos of Khalid growing up >

Meet 6 illegal immigrants who are still living in the USA >

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Baggage Handler Shares The Secrets To Packing Like A Pro



A baggage/luggage handler recently shared tips for packing like a genius on Reddit. Some of them may sound obvious, but others, such as why it pays to tote ugly bags, stand out. 

We've picked out a few highlights from his Life Pro Tip thread and are reprinting them here: 

Couples should use the same color bags. "If you're lucky they will stay together and come off the truck together," said the handler, "not only because the handlers will place them together but because they look the same." 

Always remove old tags. "If you have a bag tag from two years ago, as well as a load of other ones, it takes us infinitely longer to find the right date for where it's supposed to be going," the handler said. "This almost always happens because the tags are confusing and we only have an hour to sort 800 bags going to three places." 

Heavy packers beware. "If your bag is over 55 pounds, it's gonna have a bad time," said the handler. "You know how annoyed you get lifting your own bag into the back of a car? Imagine having to do that 200 times ... Sometimes we just throw them with very little care because they're too heavy." 

But pack a full bag when possible. If you don't want your clothes being shuffled around, stuff your bag with newspaper, bubble wrap or something to keep them in place. "This will decrease creasing in shirts and dresses as well!" the handler noted.  

Never leave stuff hanging off backpacks. There's no way to stack items in transit, so if something gets caught and rips off, you might lose it. If you're bringing a hoodie, blanket or pillow, make sure it's secured to the bag.

Put fragile belongings in the middle. This way it will have "a soft pillow of compressible clothes on either side," noted the handler. A hard case is also good since it'll protect things inside by withstanding any impact. "The less movement the better," said the handler.

To find a black bag ... Put a strip of blue plastic painters' tape on either side. Or consider buying something more unique (or just plain ugly) that is sure to stand out and not be stolen. 

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Taking A Gap Year Was The Best Decision This Teen Ever Made


DNU Joseph Baker gap year

Weeks after graduating from high school in Chapel Hill, NC, when most of his friends were picking freshman classes and buying extra-long twin sheets, Joe Baker found himself bungee jumping outside Cusco, Peru.

It was just the beginning of a journey that would take him around the world and inspire a clear course for college and after, one he might not have discovered without taking a "gap year."

Click here to see the highlights of Joe's trip >>

Like a very smallbut growingpercentage of high school graduates, Baker decided to take a gap year before starting college. The Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA estimates that only around 1.2 percent of first time college freshmen in the U.S. elect to take a gap year, but the trend is gaining momentum and some colleges are even adopting formal policies to allow accepted students to defer their matriculation, according to ABC News.

The trip was no whim: Baker and Reade Paterno, a high school friend, made the decision to take a gap year trip during their AP History class junior year. They spent more than a year planning, saving money and working out a budget before heading out on their 11 country, nine-month journey, and learned more throughout the process than some students do in their first year of college.

They both took jobs waiting tables at local restaurants, and put away every penny they could. Baker ultimately saved around $9,000 before leaving; his grandfather, who had been a doctor with the foreign service and partially inspired his trip, donated another $8,000.

While they didn't nail down many specifics beforehand, the pair bought several major flightsRaleigh to Lima, Buenos Aires to Cape Town, and Cape Town to Hanoiahead of time. They made a strict budget before leaving, at times eating only bread and eggs to conserve funds. And they did an impressive job of sticking to it: Baker said he ran out of cash just a day or two before his family arrived to meet him in Spain for the last leg of his journey.

At first his parents were pretty apprehensive about letting their son spend a year abroad.

"My mom wanted me to travel for a summer," Baker said. "But once we came back with thought-out plans and a budget, and showed we weren't just trying to party for a year, they definitely started to become more comfortable with it."

His parents insisted, however, that he apply to college before he left. Baker will attend the University of North Carolina at Asheville in the fall, where he plans to major in international economics. He was inspired, in part, by his travels. "I want to find a way to include the entire globe in what I do," he said. "If that leads to a job at an NGO, it would be a great way to continue traveling while working."

Baker said that putting his life on hold to travel the world for nine months was one of the best decisions he has ever made, in part because it put him in the right mindset to start college. "I'm a lot more motivated," he said. "If I had gone to college right after high school, I wouldn't be as interested or excited to go back to school. I also learned a lot of skills regarding budgeting, living on my own, and dealing with less-than-ideal situations."

Click here to see the highlights of Joe's trip >

Have an amazing travel story and photos to share? Send an email to thelife@businessinsider.com and we could feature your adventure next."

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