Amie Dugan/Special Olympics
"I've only been out of the country twice and that was to go to Canada and the Philippines," Lauren tells The Boot. "It was cool to go to Korea and see how different everything is there. On top of that, I got to go to the Special Olympics and I got to meet all of those amazing athletes who worked so hard and were so excited to be there. You don't understand how much it truly means to them until you're there and you watch it first hand. To see people from all different countries come together and support each other, and to see their smiling faces as they're competing, it's incredible."
In addition to cheering on the participants, the "18 Inches" singer used her own athletic prowess during the Unified Sports Experience and performed at a global youth summit. "I met a girl named Brina from Argentina," Lauren explains, referring to her new friend in the picture above. "We went to this youth rally and she immediately came up to me and hugged me. I don't even think at first she really even knew who I was, or she may have, I'm not sure. She was so excited to meet me. In Korea and a lot of other countries, they don't see a lot of blondes, so I stood out quite a bit. [laughs] So she hugged me and she was precious and had a great spirit."
Although she enjoyed the trip, the Georgia native does admit she was a little out of her element. "The food is just so different in Korea," she says with a laugh. "I ate cereal a lot. Then, it was so random, they'd have spaghetti. I'm thinking, 'Really?' They would serve, I don't know what it was called but something I'd never heard of before, and I'd be like, 'OK, not sure what to do here.' And, the way people treat each other stood out. They're very respectful and they love meeting you. They're very welcoming when you come to their country. It was just a great experience."
Lauren, who is finishing up high school in her spare time, is also spending time in Nashville working on her sophomore album. She does, however, have a few tour dates on the books. See them here.