The Newport Detox

Hi Everyone!

I’ve been wanting to write this blog post for a while now, and I finally got round to it this week. As you might now, for about a month during summer I traveled all across the East Coast of the United States with my family, and I had a really great time. We visited Boston, New York, and Washington D.C. – all the large cities – but one of my favourite parts of the summer was stepping outside of these big, bustling cities, and spending a weekend in the peaceful, coastal city of Newport.

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For my whole life, I’ve grown up surrounded by the ‘city buzz’. Even though I lived in a small town in London, we spent most of our free time in central London, and Dubai is one of the busiest and most happening cities in the world. So it’s fair to say that I’ve never really had much experience living a ‘rural life.’ In fact, I’m so used to living in cities now, being able to go anywhere at any time I want, and expecting it to be open, that when we go on vacation to a smaller city or rural area, I find it really hard to stay busy.

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But this summer, a weekend trip to Newport was exactly what I needed. In case you didn’t know I just started my Junior year of High School, apparently, the hardest and most stressful of the four years, or so everyone keeps telling me. And this summer I was busy with lots of extra homework, SAT prep, new blog posts, and just other bits of work, that there were some times where I felt like it wasn’t even summer. So taking a weekend away from all of this stress, in a really beautiful place, what precisely what I had been longing for… and Newport did not disappoint.

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We spent the weekend staying in an adorable beach hut, with the ocean on one side, and beautiful greenery on the other. The sunsets were amazing to watch, as the light reflected off the ocean and sparkled, it was really magical. We traveled by boat to the mainland every day where there were lots of small boutique style stores, but there was something so unique and quirky about this town, it’s not your average shopping street. I think what I enjoyed the most was just being so detached from my busy life. Spending a weekend in Newport allowed me to just enjoy what I was doing and be in the moment, I didn’t have my phone with me, and I didn’t worry about doing any homework the whole weekend, I just let myself enjoy where I was.

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IMG_4918IMG_4884Something else I really enjoyed while we were there was going hiking. Well I say ‘hiking’ but really the hike we went on was more like a scenic walk. Nevertheless, I loved it.  I’ve never really had the opportunity to do this, because as I said I’ve always lived in cities, but now these beautiful trails were right on my doorstep. My family and I did the famous Newport Cliff Walk together one day, which is around 3.5 miles. It was breathtaking. On one side of you there’s the ocean, and on the other side are the exquisite Newport mansions. There’s something about being so close to the ocean that just clears your mind and lets you forget about all your worries and stress. I would 100% recommend it for anyone visiting Newport.

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I’ve uploaded some of the photos I got while we were in Newport throughout this post, but they only show a tiny fraction of how beautiful it actually is! Have you ever been to Newport? And where’s your favourite place to go, to ‘clear your mind’?

I hope you enjoyed this post!

Little Miss Expat

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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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