Not sure about the first question, but yes, you can complete 2 year HRR in parts. Apparently, vacation counts as residing, but you have to be not on the original J1 program. I.e. if you are eligible for an F1, you can go home during summer time and this would count. However, the burden of proof that you had fulfilled 2 year HRR is on you. So keep your tickets/passport, etc.
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