By Courtney Higgs
Sep 12, 2016 @ 11:45 am
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There's nothing quite like cooling temperatures, shorter days, and the arrival of pumpkin spice-flavored everything to get us in the mood for fall. And that's the exact mood we were in Thursday night, when we joined iconic footwear brand Ugg and its first-ever global brand ambassador, actress and supermodel Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, for an intimate dinner at Little Beach House in Malibu, Calif., for a kick-off celebration for their fall collection.

While the blonde bombshell and street style aficionado of course gabbed all about her love for Ugg boots, she definitely had more to talk about than just footwear; she also dished on the life-changing experience she got to cross off her bucket list this summer—and let's just say, she gave us all the feels.

Huntington-Whitely, the fiancée of hot Brit actor Jason Statham, has gone on the record more than once to say that her love affair with Ugg boots began at age just 16, when she saved up to buy her first pair. And although these famously furry boots have been an It-girl status symbol for more than a decade, the brand has somehow been able to adapt and adjust to stay on top.

RELATED: Rosie Huntington-Whiteley Is the New UGG Global Ambassador

"What’s so cool about the brand is that it’s kind of reinventing itself," Huntington-Whiteley told InStyle. "They've always kind of been a staple in off-duty dressing, and that off-duty style is such a big thing. Especially with social media, we’re seeing a lot more of it and I love seeing different women's style."

And as for those select few who we'd consider experts in off-duty style, Huntington-Whiteley, who wore an impossibly chic sequined Rachel Zoe dress with a pair of black Ugg boots, definitely tops the list. The snaps she shared frolicking about with her adorable dogs and generally living the life on Instagram all summer were nothing short of envy inducing. But her summer travels included more than just leisurely vacations—she took a life-changing trip that changed her perspective on the world around her.

"In the summertime, you tend to go away and party, but this time I really wanted to do something that was a bit more meaningful, so I went to southern Africa to an area called Lesotho for a UNICEF trip," the English model shared. "I’ve been working with UNICEF now for a few years and they asked me to visit Lesotho where there’s unfortunately a really bad case of drought and a lot of HIV in the area, so I went to a lot of the health centers and hospitals, and just to really see the work that UNICEF is doing and how they’re helping people over there." An angel with a heart of gold, swoon.

But it wasn't all work and no play for Huntington-Whiteley. While in Africa, she also got to cross one super special experience off of her bucket list. "I was lucky enough to take a couple-day safari afterwards, so I went to South Africa to the Kruger Park, which is like a bucket list thing—if you can do it in your lifetime, I really, really, recommend it," she gushed. "It’s a deeply grounding and spiritual experience to see animals in the wild and in their environment, and just to get to observe them. It makes you feel very small and really it’s a humbling experience." Consider it added to our laundry list of must-visit destinations!