A Career Story – #ExpatWisdom – Nat Functional

Hi Everyone,

Welcome back to another Expat Feature post! In case you don’t know, the Expat Wisdom project is something I set up so that expats from all across the world can share their stories and advice with each other. This week I have a really exciting story to share with you all! I’ve been working with Nat from Nat Functional, her blog is a place where she shares her thoughts in a really interesting and fun way (seriously, it’s one of the coolest blogs I’ve seen) and she’s an expat who grew up in Tottington, near Manchester, and now lives in Abu Dhabi! As well as sharing her expat story in this blog post, I also asked her to share a bit about something else in her life, that might interest you guys! And that is… her career story. As well as reading about Nat’s expat story and advice, you can also read about her career journey and advice for you guys. The Expat Wisdom project is all about sharing our own unique stories and providing advice to help others, and I know that I can learn a lot from Nat’s story. I hope you enjoy this post!

Here’s what Nat wrote for this post:

In the early days of my secondary schooling, it was obvious I wasn’t academically gifted. I had started at an all girls, private school and it was safe to say I was more comfortable on the sports field than in the classroom.

Navigating the next 5 years up to my GCSEs were mainly filled with confusion and me attempting to pull away from the academic norm. I was lucky that my school institution was there to keep me focused on achieving my exams and I finally finished with 9 A-Cs. With this, along came my first opportunity to break away from the private institution and head to a college of my choice and focus on what I believed I would be good at. The next 2 years were mainly spent in further confusion as the pressure mounted to choose my University course and ultimately at the ‘grand age’ of 18 I left acquiring A Levels and I had chosen to study Marketing at University.

This choice was solely based on me achieving an A in the marketing module of my Business Studies A Level. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but then as a 20-year-old, I had found myself making the first mistake and slipping backward off the career ladder before I had even begun.

The reality was, I had no interest in Marketing or University. I was 20 years old and found myself living with 18 other 20-year-olds in a house and commencing University. Within the first months of my course, I realized I had hopped on the education travelator and spent the next 2 years trying desperately to get off.

I was then offered the opportunity to move to London. My academically gifted sister was already well up her career ladder,  working for an investment bank in Luxembourg. Her life seemed glamorous, full of work social events, affording luxury items and at 21 this was way more important to me than achieving a degree in marketing.

Within a heartbeat, I had packed up my belongings and moved to London. To read more about this experience please head to my blog www.natfunctional.com/ balling with the Stockbrokers. But in short, I was a disaster. I already knew I had a very turbulent relationship with maths, so now working in a Stockbrokers wasn’t one of the highlights of my career ladder. I found myself at the bottom of the ladder looking up, wondering when I would take my first meaningful steps.

Twelve months later I was back up the motorway to Manchester and based on my ‘finance experience’ I found myself working in another financial institution. Again, further misery working with numbers. I hadn’t realized that now I had started to gain professional work experience, this was ultimately forming a new unwanted career path.

One thing I do have is the absolute determination to do my best at whatever I do. Whilst certain things I am not naturally gifted in, I will work day and night to make myself succeed.

It was in this job I was promoted to Team Manager ( surely a flawed recruitment process !) but before I knew it I was taking huge steps up the career ladder. This was due to me now managing people. I am incredibly social and whilst I believed in my school and university days this meant I was great at going out, I realized that strength in managing people and being able to engage with them actually was a skill. Something I never could have considered would ultimately would be the making of my career.

Fortunately, as a manager, I no longer had to work with numbers and I was focussed on getting the best from my team,  helping them to succeed. And then a role became available in HR.

This was a huge decision for me. I had successfully made it to a manager and the role in HR was an administrator. I looked up at my towering career ladder and realized if I was to continue as a manager in finance, it would quickly stall my journey and ultimately finance wasn’t something I enjoyed and my passion wasn’t there.

So at 24, I jumped down off my management ladder and started right at the bottom of the HR ladder. I made the conscious decision to roll back years, but I knew my ambition wouldn’t allow me to falter.

In another stroke of luck they also offered to fund my Post Graduate HR Management degree and I was able to study full-time and work full-time, and two years later I was fully qualified and promoted. Those two years, I would often, lovingly glance over at my management ladder, wanting to be back there. Where my life felt simpler and I was ‘important’, and I also wished I had been able to gain more ‘life’ experience whilst back at school to assist making important career decisions. Hindsight again is a wonderful thing, but so is career happiness. I knew remaining in finance would be about as dry as living in the desert.

So after an excruciating two years, I was climbing my new career ladder at pace, I was doing a job I loved and I was quickly promoted. I was told the speed of my promotions was due to my prior experience as a manager, so in the end all wasn’t lost!

Whilst I didn’t leave University with a degree, I now have one, plus a post graduate diploma. Now I have hindsight, I wish I had given more time and thought to the impact of the decision of my university course. Maybe a year out would have supported me in making a decision with more clarity but I was on the educational travelator and no way off, others around me were pushing on, and like a social sheep, so did I.

Because of my experience, I have worked with A Level students back in the UK, sharing with them my experience. Sharing what’s important and more so, providing a glimpse in to the working life they have ahead.

If I was to advise my 18-year-old self, I would simply say, remember the choice you make right now could be the foundations of the next 50 years of your working life, so making an uninformed decision could lead to delays as you head out in to the working world. It’s important that when faced with the decision, students use the resources around them. The world has been made smaller now with technology, choices are greater and alternatives exist. If you aren’t academically gifted, it’s absolutely Ok to take a different path but ultimately remember the importance of the strong education that sits behind you. I have now found myself as an expat whereby without having a degree I simply couldn’t have secured employment at a management level.

It’s a crazy world as a teen, you have only just been allowed to learn to drive, yet you are expected to make a decision that ultimately paves the way for the remainder of your working life. Take your time, consider what life looks like beyond education and use every resource you have. More importantly enjoy the ride, whatever it looks like, a positive attitude will always help you climb just like I did.

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I hope that you enjoyed reading Nat’s story and that you can take away some advice from it! Be sure to take a look at her blog, and read some more of her work. And remember, if you want to be a part of the Expat Wisdom project don’t hesitate to get in touch, you can read all about it here!
See you next week!
Little Miss Expat

The BEST photos I’ve ever taken. This is how I did it.

Hi everyone!

I hope you all had a fabulous week! Out here in Dubai, we’ve had a long weekend, which I definitely needed (the junior year sleep deprivation is real guys). This weekend also gave me some extra time to put together a post that I’ve been planning for a while now.

Back in the summer, you may recall that I was hinting at a lot of exciting content that was coming soon, and this is one of the posts! If you remember, my sixteenth birthday was during the summer holidays, and something I really wanted for my birthday was a ‘blogging board’. I had seen quite a few bloggers using them, and I really wanted to take my photography skills to a new level over the summer. So after hours of pouring over online stores, and different paint samples, I finally decided on my blogging board.

To backtrack a bit, my blog is based around advice for teenagers, especially expatriate teenagers. But it’s also a place where I share what I enjoy doing, and what’s going on in my life, and something you guys really enjoy reading about is my photography tips. I wrote a HUGE guide with all of my photography tips here, and another photography guide specifically based around flat-lays. However, this post is dedicated to one photography tip that I’ve found really takes my photography to the next level. And that’s having a blogging board.

For those of you who don’t know what that is (to be honest I didn’t until a couple of months ago), let me explain. If you’re a blogger, Instagrammer, or content creator, you will understand ‘the struggle’. You’ve just put together the most perfect looking smoothie bowl, and you want to snap a photo of it to post, but you can’t find a background worthy of being in your photo. All that styling you just spent so long doing, now goes to waste because your photo doesn’t have that ‘wow’ factor.

This may sound a little silly, but let me explain: When I first started out blogging and Instagramming I would spend ages making my food look pretty and ‘photo ready’ but my photos somehow always looked unprofessional. Unless you live somewhere with beautiful marble countertops or rustic looking wood paneling, it will always be hard to find a place to take your photos. Trust me, I tried taking photos outside in our garden, on my desk, on my bed, or even on my rug, but they just never looked right to me.

That’s why my tip for taking your photos to the next level for any blogger/Instagrammer is to find or invest in a background that you use specifically for taking photos. At first, I had a roll of wrapping paper that I put down and used as a white background for my flat lay photos or food photos. But when I saw blogging boards all over the internet I knew this was something that would improve my photos even more. Basically, my blogging wood is a square of wood planks with one side painted white and distressed, and the other white with a hint of gold. It’s something I can whip out when I’m taking photos, and I don’t have to worry about spending ages finding a clean background, that complements my photos, and doesn’t reflect the light into my camera. It just makes my photos so much easier to take, and it makes them look a whole lot more professional.

In this post, I’ve included some examples of photos I took using my blogging board as a background so you can see the difference that it makes. I got my board from Soularty, they specialize in food photography backgrounds and props. They were also kind enough to give me a discount code to share with you guys if you were interested in purchasing anything off their site. Use: ‘EXPAT_FROM_13_OFF’ to receive 13% off any purchase! I’m by no means saying that you need to purchase this product to take better photos, and this post is not an advertisement either! But my number one tip for taking your photos to the next level would be to find a background that you can regularly use to take food photos or flat-lay photos. Whether that’s a large sheet of paper, or whether you choose to invest in a blogging board, either one will make a difference to your photos!

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You can see here the set up of my blogging board, I can put it down anywhere and get a nice photo!

I hope you enjoyed seeing some of the photos I took for this post; I had so much fun taking them and using my blogging board! As always, let me know what you think of this post in the comments section, and what you use as a background when you take flat-lay or food photos?

Have a great week everyone!

Little Miss Expat

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Thoughts on Self-Confidence

Hi everyone!

I hope you all had a great week! This past week was my first full week back at school, and it was quite tiring, but it also feels good to be back. As you guys will know, I always try to be completely real on my blog and share what’s going on in my life with you guys. I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while now, and here it finally is. Today I want to share my thoughts on self-confidence with you.

For anyone, it’s inevitable to sometimes feel unsure of yourself and self-conscious at some points. But why? I hate how we are all held to these high expectations, and at times, it can really crush your confidence.

I decided a long time ago, that I wouldn’t let anyone change who I was. I was going to be the person I am, stay true to myself, and do the things I love. But… it isn’t always that simple. This past year more than ever, have I felt the pressure to change and fit into this stereotype. To go to parties, to look ‘perfect’ all the time, and to always be smiley and happy. I’m human, just like everyone else, sometimes we all need our downtime, sometimes we just need to do the things we love, and all the time we should just be ourselves.

We shouldn’t feel embarrassed to do the things that make us happy, even if it’s not the same as everyone else, but somehow this is what society has taught us. I feel as though we’re all pushed towards being this ‘perfect human’ which is totally unrealistic anyway. Who even is this ‘perfect human’ that we’re always comparing ourselves to? When we say that we’re not enough, who are we comparing ourselves to? Every single person living on this earth is different. That’s what makes us special. So it would be unfair to compare ourselves to each other because we’re all unique.

I want you all to know that you can be who you want. You can do what you want. And you shouldn’t be embarrassed by it. ever. You should do the things that make you happy, and it doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing. At the end of the day, you know that you’re happy being yourself, rather than pretending or changing to fit in.

We shouldn’t live our lives for other people, we should live them for ourselves. If we’re constantly worrying about what people will think of us, and what will look better to them, than what are we doing with ourselves?

Have confidence in who you are, and what makes you happy.

Let me know what you thought about this post, and comment your thoughts down below as I think we could all contribute to this discussion!

Lots of love,

Little Miss Expat

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Reconnecting With Nature – Fruit Picking

Hey everyone!

I hope you all had a fabulous week, however you spent it! I went back to school this week, and to say the least… it was hectic. I wanted to upload a more lighthearted and fun post today for you guys, which is why I’m going to be sharing one of my favourite summer activities in this post.

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When I was younger and I lived in England, during the summertime I always used to go fruit picking with my family. And it’s one of those memories that I remembered absolutely loving. So, last summer I found a pick your own farm and hauled my family out there for my birthday, I even wrote about it here. And this summer I couldn’t resist going back there!

Part of the reason I wanted to write about fruit picking again, even though I wrote about it last year, is because I had a completely different experience! This summer when I visited the farm, I truly just enjoyed spending time outside in the sun, walking through the rows of berries, and being with my family. It’s such a lovely thing to do, and it just makes you fall in love with nature all over again.

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I’m not saying, go find a farm and pick some fruit wherever you are! No, but I would recommend getting outside and connecting with nature, whatever time of year it is, and wherever you are in the world. There’s something calming about being outside, being surrounding by something that’s purely… natural. In this world we live in, where everything is always so fast-paced, sometimes you need to take a step back, breathe, and reconnect with nature.

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Here are some photos of my day at the farm, I hope you enjoy them! This post was a little more lighthearted and fun, so I hope you enjoyed it. Let me know in the comments what your favourite way to connect with nature is and where in the world you live!

See you next week!

Little Miss Expat

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Back To School Advice You Need To Hear!

Hey everyone!

I hope you all had an amazing summer, wherever you spent it! And I really hope you enjoyed reading about my summer adventures and reading all the content I created for you guys! With it being back to school season, I wanted to share some important pieces of advice for going into this school year. But… I thought it might be interesting to hear what other people have to say as well! I asked a few other bloggers/Instagrammers what their number one piece of advice for going back to school is, and I compiled them into one huge back to school advice guide! They all had great advice to share, and even as I was putting this guide together I found myself thinking, wow… I should do that this year! So I hope you find this guide as useful as I do!

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Ellen (Elle For Life Blog) – ‘My number one back to school tip is this: no matter what, understand that in the end, everything will be okay! I used to suffer from anxiety and would often have panic attacks in school on a weekly basis. However, nowadays, whenever I feel panicked, upset, or just stressed in general, I try to remind myself that in the end — regardless of whether that’s the end of a big project, the last day of the summer, or heck, even my future graduation from college — I will be okay. That B you got on that one paper isn’t going to singlehandedly determine whether or not you get into college, nor will that ~one~ time you fell down the stairs during the first period make or break your reputation at school. So take a deep breath, keep your head up, and persevere on.’

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Peyton (Patience and Pajamas Blog) – ‘When it comes to back to school, and education in general, the best tip I can give to anyone is that if you want an education, there is always a way. Maybe things don’t work out the way you planned, maybe traditional schooling doesn’t work for you, maybe you can’t physically attend school, maybe you need accommodations; there are so many maybes! But at the end of the day, no matter what level of education you’re talking about, whether your goal is to make it to high school, graduate high school, get into college, or beyond, there is always a way. It may not be an easy way, and it may not be a traditional way, but if you are passionate about education and receiving the best education possible, there are three things to remember. Remember to advocate for yourself and your needs, use your resources, and that there is always a way. I’ve been in hard positions, and I’ve had my struggles with education. My passion for learning fuels me to continue to pursue my education, but without advocacy, knowing and using my resources, and fully believing that there is always a way, I would not be where I am today.’

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Natalie (Capturing Life On Camera Blog) – Plan out your outfits the night before! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been late because I had been having a full-on fashion show in my closet. I think the most times I have changed outfits in the morning is at least 5. Save yourself the hassle and choose your outfits and backup outfits the night before. Choose a backup outfit that you know looks good on you and is comfortable just in case your first outfit doesn’t work out

 

 

 

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Liddy (@itsliddystyle) – I would say my number one tip for back to school is definitely don’t be afraid. This can mean not being afraid of branching out, meeting new people, or even taking new classes. And even if you are afraid, my favorite saying is ‘fake it till you make it!’ I say this to myself all the time to push me to get out of my comfort zone.

 

 

 

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Elina (Just So Elina Blog) – Homeschool, Public School, Online School and Private. They may all be different, but the one thing they all have in common is the need for self-motivation. Yes at school your fortunate enough to have teachers, to help keep you accountable. But at the end of the day, your education is just that: YOUR’S. So it’s up to you to make it a priority no matter what type of schooling you do. Now don’t get me wrong I am definitely guilty of getting distracted on my phone or daydreaming in class (apologies to all my primary school teachers!) So I find having a vision of what I want to achieve from my education, like becoming a journalist; very helpful. As that way, I have something I love to focus and keep me motivated. While doing something I may not love so much *cough maths*.

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Taiya (Taiya Maddison) – My biggest tip for back to school would have to be… just simply be yourself. It’s cliche but it’s so true. When you are truly being yourself you will be the happiest and you will attract the right people for you! School can be super intimidating at times, but as long as you stay strong in your beliefs and values and be yourself, you will be just fine.

 

 

 

 

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Olivia (Absolutely Olivia) – Go into the new school year being completely yourself.  This sounds so daunting, but a new school year is more of a fresh start than some think, so use it as a time to build on yourself and how the summer might of changed you.  No longer want to wear the same outfits you always have? Dress how you want!  Have your interests changed? Take the classes and join the clubs you want!  Want to meet new people or be more social?  Go to sporting and other fun events!  Being uniquely you and embracing who you are can lead to an exciting and fulfilling school year.  Obviously, there are always gonna be haters out there, but try not to let them get to ya!  Being yourself is the best way to live, and just remember: people don’t care nearly as much as you think.

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And of course, a piece of advice from me! My number one tip for going back to school would be to go in with a positive attitude and an open mind! If you go back to school with a positive attitude you’ll be more likely to learn more, have a good time, and enjoy yourself, even though you might still wish you were on summer vacation. Go back to school with a positive attitude, taking everything as it comes, and making the most of every situation.

 

I hope you enjoyed reading some back to school advice from lots of different people! And that you found the advice we shared useful and interesting. What’s your top tip for going back to school? Comment it down below!

See you next week,

Little Miss Expat

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‘Welcome that feeling of foreignness!’ – #ExpatWisdom – The Home Wanderers

Hey everyone,

Welcome to the first post in the Expat Wisdom project! I am so excited to have so many of you involved in this project, sharing your stories and your advice with each other! The first story in this project is from Kate Johnson, from The Home Wanderers. In this post, you can read about her story and her pieces of advice for any new expats, travelers, or international students. I hope you enjoy reading what she has to say!

Hey everybody, my name is Kate and for me, the question ‘Where are you from?’ is very difficult to answer… I was born in England, l grew up in France and I have now lived and worked long-term in 5 different countries – So I am definitely a person who has plenty of experience being the ‘foreign’ one in the room!

Living abroad adds such a different and unforgettable dimension to traveling that a quick vacation can never provide. I find that the best way to learn a new language, experience a different culture and grow as a person is to completely immerse yourself in a new country. At the age of 13, my parents told me and my brother that our family was moving to the South of France. With (VERY) little knowledge of French and no idea what to expect, I look back on that time and I cannot believe how brave I was at such a young age. I battled out the rollercoaster of struggle and adjustment and I know for a fact that I wouldn’t be the person I am today without that experience. Since then, I have actually craved that feeling of being out of my comfort zone. Stepping away from your home comforts, relationships and sense of familiarity forces you to meet new people from around the world, embrace adventures and the lessons you learn about yourself are endless.

Living like a local for an extended period of time gives you a window into a completely different way of life and you learn so much more about the world around you, but IT IS NOT EASY. The tough times that come hand in hand with moving abroad can often take you by surprise which in turn make you feel even more lonely or unsettled. Read up about other people’s experiences, seek support from Facebook groups and know that you are NOT ALONE when feeling the unavoidable emotions that you will experience.

My number one piece of advice for anyone moving abroad is to NOT BE AFRAID. It may be easier said than done but if you wake up every morning and actively set your mindset to WELCOME that feeling of foreignness and the unknown, then the sky really is the limit. For more advice and resources for those living abroad, check out my website: www.TheHomeWanderers.com  or follow me on Instagram: www.Instagram.com/TheHomeWanderers

ks (1 of 1)-32I hope you all enjoyed reading Kate’s story and hearing her advice for anyone moving away from home. Her story is very similar to mine, and it was interesting to see what her most valuable advice is. I really enjoyed collaborating with someone and having the opportunity to share another inspirational story on my blog, and I hope that it’s something that you guys like reading!

Let me know in the comments section if you enjoyed this kind of post. It was the first in the #ExpatWisdom project, if you don’t know what it is, you can read all about it here. If you would like to be a part of the project, email me at littlemissexpatblog@gmail.com or dm me on Instagram @Little.Miss.Expat. I hope you enjoyed reading someone else’s story and hearing their advice!

See you next week!

Little Miss Expat

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I want to hear your stories! – Special Announcement – THE #ExpatWisdom PROJECT

How many of you have ever been through something and wished that you had someone beside you to help? Ever wished you had a community where you could talk about your experiences, share your advice, and help others going through what you’ve been through?

That’s how I felt when I first became an expatriate, I really wished I knew someone who had done this all before and someone who could tell me that everything was going to get better. That’s why I created this blog, I wanted to be that person for other expats and teenagers, I wanted to share my experiences in order to help others.

It’s been a little over a year since I started this blog, and the community we’ve created has grown to become something beautiful! I write about my experiences and try and share my advice, and you guys share your stories and your advice in return. It makes me so happy whenever I think of the relationship I have with you guys, and the internet friends I’ve made from this blog. That’s why I wanted to expand this into something larger that can reach more people, I wanted to build a larger community.

If you’ve been following my Instagram (@Little.Miss.Expat) you will have seen that I’ve been hinting at a big project that I’ve been working on for a while, and this is it. The #ExpatWisdom Project.

I wanted to create an online space where people can write about a life experience that impacted them, and share their advice with others from all across the world. An online community where we can reach people from all seven continents, and hear about each others own unique experiences and how we made it through them. It’s called the #ExpatWisdom Project, and it’s going to be amazing!

You don’t need to be an expat or a blogger to be a part of this community! I want to hear about YOUR experiences, whatever they may be (however a lot of them will be about expats)!

If YOU want to be a part of this project:

  1. Go to this page, or fill out the form at the end of this post which gives me your contact information and an idea of what you want to write about.
  2. We’ll get to know each other and I’ll ask you to write a bit about your experience and we’ll collaborate in a post.

Ways YOU can get involved!

  • Post about this initiative on your social media using the #ExpatWisdom. As this is a community and we want to share it with as many people as possible!
  • Fill out the form or contact me at littlemissexpatblog@gmail.com to be featured or at least start the conversation about being a part of this project!
  • Share this page with someone who may have something to share or want to be a part of this, we want to hear from everyone!
  • And stay tuned on this site for the first  #ExpatWisdom post!

I am so excited to be launching this project and to able to create this global community! But I do need your help, share this post or the #ExpatWisdom online, so that we can grow this community and share as many experiences as possible! I really hope that you all consider being a part of this community, and sharing an experience and your advice. The first Expat Wisdom post will go live next week from a very special writer, so stay tuned for that!

You can find all the information about this project here

I can’t wait to see the amazing things we do with this project!

Little Miss Expat

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