Where is home?

Hi Everyone!

I have finally finished school for the summer, and I am so so happy! Every summer I travel back to London, to spend the summer holidays here, and this year was no different. I’ve been in London for around 3 days now, and it has been amazing. Usually, I don’t hold high hopes for the summer weather in London, but it has been sunny and warm the whole time I’ve been here so far (but I don’t want to jinx it).

I came back to London in Spring Break as well, and that’s when this blog post idea popped into my head. It’s kind of weird coming back to this place where I spent 12 years of my life; seeing how much everything has changed, and how much I’ve changed since I lived here. It’s funny that when I’m in Dubai I call London home, and when I’m in London I call Dubai home because I don’t really know which one it is.

London still holds all these memories for me, but I can not imagine myself living here anymore, and I love the life I have in Dubai. So which one is my home? When I’m feeling lonely or I’m having a bad day in Dubai I wish I could be back home in London. But when I’m in London and it’s cold and rainy I wish I could be back home in Dubai. Sometimes I feel like my definition of home just changes depending on my mood.

Perhaps a better way to answer this question is to unpack the word home. I’m sure we’ve all heard that cliché saying ‘the home is where the heart is’ but when you think about it, it’s true. The reason why sometimes I feel like I want to go back home to London is because, that’s my safe place and I have fond memories of it, my heart wants to be there when I’m feeling certain emotions such as sadness and loneliness. But, on the other hand, sometimes my heart wants to be in Dubai when I’m ready for an adventure and some sun.

This is totally okay, it’s kind of like the concept of Horcruxes in Harry Potter, how you can split your soul into pieces and leave them in different places, but it’s less gruesome. As an expat, or a third culture kid, my heart is all over the place, different places in the world mean different things to me. And that is okay. You don’t have to fit into one specific box, you don’t need to have just one home. I’ll be the first to admit, the place I call home changes all the time, but it’s never just one place. My home will always be made up from different places.

What are your home’s, and where do you feel like you’re from? I hope this post was interesting for you, and that some of you can relate. Let me know in the comments!

Little Miss Expat

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Travel Essentials

Hey Everyone!

The summer holidays are so so close, and I am super excited to be heading out on all my summer adventures. I’m traveling a lot this summer, and I’m going to be taking a lot of plane rides. So I thought it might be useful to share what I usually take on the plane with me, and a few of my travel hacks for anyone else who is also traveling this summer.

When I was younger, I used to hate plane rides. I would get terrible plane sickness, and I would just find the plane journeys so boring. Luckily, since then I’ve grown out of my plane sickness, but there are still things I ensure to do on the plane to keep myself entertained.

To be completely honest I kind of enjoy the calmness of a flight, because it’s a block of time where you’re not connected to the internet (unless you use OnAir) and you can take some time to disconnect. I never used to fall asleep on flights, but now I’m so tired all the time (life of a high school student) that I usually just sleep for a lot of the flight. However, there are other things I like to get done on a flight, which I’ll share in this post.

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So, onto my travel essentials; I like to be prepared for any occasion, but from all my experience with flights I kind of know what I am going to need. Number one is a sturdy bag that closes properly, I don’t like traveling with a tote bag or something similar because you can’t zip them shut. And I prefer a backpack to a carry on case,  because you can just keep a backpack under the seat in front of you and it’s easier to get things out. The backpack I usually travel with is from Herschel, and it’s sturdy and easy to carry around.

In terms of essentials for the plane, the two things that I always make sure I have are a spare pair of socks and another huge sweater. I don’t know why, but for some reason, I always get really cold on plane rides, so I like to be prepared. I usually travel in a hoodie or a sweater in the first place, but I bring a second one for when I get really cold. Also, while you’re not wearing the second sweater you can ball it up and use it as a pillow. My feet also get really cold, so I am sure to have a spare pair of socks packed in my bag.

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For entertainment, I pretty much know what I enjoy doing on flights, but it may be different for you. If I’m on a plane where they have some movies or TV shows I’m interested in, I’ll just watch them for a bit, and if they don’t I’ll probably just download something on my phone, and use my headphones. But I don’t really watch TV for the whole plane ride, in fact, if it’s a short ride I actually just read a book, and for longer flights, I’ll watch some TV, but I like to also read, sleep, and get some homework done. I know it doesn’t sound very appealing, but if you’re on a long flight, you have a whole chunk of time where you can be productive, and I like it because it cuts down the amount of work I have to do when I get to my destination. I usually save the homework such as reading and taking notes for flights, things that don’t require too much energy. (also be sure to pack chargers for your laptop and phone + an adapter)

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Now for food and snacks, my favourite part! If you have read my blog at all, you will know that I am ALWAYS hungry. So on a flight, where I’m just sitting there for hours, I tend to get especially hungry. I’ll usually eat some of the meal they give you on the plane, but I also like to bring my own snacks. Things like popcorn are good to have, and protein balls fill me up for a really long time so they’re great to have with me. (the protein balls I have are the Sarahs_Day x The Health Lab ones) I’m also the kind of person that usually drinks A LOT of water throughout the day, and normally I stay really hydrated. So on a plane where you naturally get dehydrated, and I don’t have constant access to a water tap, I struggle a bit. It’s a good idea to bring a reusable water bottle that you can just ask the flight attendant to refill it. Also before I get on the plane I also like to get 2 huge bottles of water that will keep me going for the flight. One more thing that I keep in my plane bag is mint flavoured chewing gum. If you’re just feeling a bit groggy after a flight, or your ears are blocked from the altitude mint chewing gum will really help you.

Also if you get airsick, mint chewing gum will help take away that nauseous feeling. Another thing that will really help is finding a scent that will relax your body. What I mean by that is, using a roll on perfume or oil that will calm your body down and make you feel less nauseous. When I was younger and I felt really sick on flights, my dad used to cover a small towel with perfume and give it to me, and that would distract my body from feeling nauseous and sick.

I’ve created a downloadable list that has all of the items that I’ve been talking about so that you can easily tick off what you have for your flight. Little Miss Expat In Flight Packing List. I hope reading what I take on flights has been useful, and please be sure to let me know in the comments anything else that you take on flights, I would love to know! I hope everyone has an amazing summer and enjoys their travels!

Little Miss Expat

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It’s that time of the year again… ‘Moving Season’

Hi guys,

As the school year draws to a close, and the summer holidays are getting nearer, I for one am super excited! But for any expatriates, it ushers in this dreaded time of year, the moving season. For anyone who lives abroad, or goes to an international school, the end of the school year means saying goodbye to some people but also meeting a lot of new people in September.

I for one really dislike this ‘season’, it will always be really hard to see friends leave, and any expatriate will know the struggle. Especially in a place like Dubai where a lot of people only stay for around 2 years before they move onto their next home. And for someone who’s used to being the one leaving, it’s hard to be the one staying behind and saying goodbye.

Last year one of my really good friends moved to Paris, I still miss seeing her every day, but I’ve been lucky enough to visit her. I thought it might be interesting to get her input on this topic and ask her a few questions about what it felt like when she moved. Here they are!

What did you find the hardest thing about moving?

Honestly, the hardest thing about moving was adapting to a new city. Since I moved to Paris, at first, it was really difficult for me to speak French when ordering coffee, or shopping around. My mom or friends would have to order food for me! Eventually, I had to start speaking French and doing things myself. I just needed the confidence! Another thing was socializing with new people. I found it really awkward to start conversations with new people (despite being very talkative) because I was scared that they would judge me. But don’t hesitate to start a conversation with someone! They might end up being one of your really close friends.

How did you feel in your first few days in your new home?

I don’t think I’ve ever been more stressed actually! When our boxes arrived, we had 168 of them! Everything was all over the place! I felt the most stressed with my own stuff because I had to find my school supplies, arrange my room (which was a complete disaster), and figure out where to place everything. A few days later, all the boxes were gone and we could finally enjoy our new home! I really love our apartment now and feel completely relaxed when I come into my room.

Looking back now, are you happy where you are now and that you moved?

I am really happy that I moved. However, it did take me a few months to actually realize that I wasn’t going to move back to Dubai. I was really sad and down at the beginning of our move (despite being in Paris!), but I knew that I was going to visit Dubai and keep in touch with my friends 24/7. I’ve learned so many things about this city, and have had so many new and fun experiences! Paris is a really amazing place to live in, and I am beyond lucky to call it my home.

What’s one thing you will always miss about Dubai?

This sounds super cheesy but my friends! I’ve known some of my friends there since I was in 4th grade, so it was really hard to leave them. I had the best memories ever there and I am so so lucky and grateful that I get to keep all of those souvenirs with them.

Is there one piece of advice you would give to someone moving?

Get out and about! When I first moved, everyone kept inviting me to go places with them, but I was so nervous because I didn’t know the city. Looking back, now I regret not going out with those friends because I’m sure we would have been much closer now. Some tips: download some apps for your city! Apps such as CityMapper: tells you when the next train, bus, or metro arrives. Dojo: a great app to show you all the new restaurants, and activities to go to in multiple cities! Bandsintown: tells you all the artists playing in your choice of city! These apps are essential especially when you don’t know what to do or where to go!

A huge thank you to my friend for answering all of these questions! And I hope her advice is useful to anyone moving abroad this summer! As the friend who was not the one moving, I also wanted to give you guys a bit of advice, as I know it can be really hard.

One thing that’s really important to remember is that you’re not just going to completely fall out of touch with your friend. Sure, you won’t see them in person as much as you used to, but that doesn’t mean you can’t talk with them any less. You can still call, facetime, message, snapchat each other weird photos, or send each other funny memes on Instagram. Just because a friend is moving away it doesn’t mean the friendship is over. It just means the friendship will take a new form. I still talk to my friend all the time, and we were even lucky enough to visit each other. (some of you might remember my Paris blog post, that’s when I visited her)

Overall, I think it’s just super important to remember that life is what you make of it, you can’t control everything that happens to you, but you can control the way that you deal with it and what you make of the situation. People moving away is one of those situations which is sad, but also exciting as it’s the start of a new adventure for the person moving. And as the friend staying behind, you also have to support your friend with this new chapter in their life. Don’t view moving as something bad, shift your focus, and see it as the start of something exciting and different.

I hope this advice helped some of you! And let me know if you liked this format of this post with the interview. Another massive thank you to my friend and all her advice in this post, I really hope you guys enjoyed it!

Little Miss Expat

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The Most Important Life Lesson I’ve Learned

Hi Everyone,

I wanted to sit down and write a really important post for you guys this week. I feel like I’ve been so busy lately that I haven’t had time to really share my thoughts with you in a while, but I finally have a little bit of time to talk about this. Today I want to share a lesson I’ve learned through experience and a lesson that I think everyone needs to know. And that is the lesson of staying true to yourself and your values.

This week I’ve experienced the power of this lesson once again, and I feel like it’s something that affects your life no matter how old you are.

In this world which is constantly changing, where your popularity seems to be based on your follower count, where people no longer have the connection to talk to each other anymore, and where everyone seems to be ‘following the crowd’, and doing what’s ‘trendy’ instead of what they believe in. It’s hard to stay true to yourself. It’s hard to say ‘no’. It’s hard to catch hold of what you really believe in without being influenced in a negative way. But I’m here today to tell you, you aren’t alone, I for one will always do my best to stay true to myself and my values.

It’s a daily struggle of mine, and sometimes I feel like I’m the only one doing it. But as I’ve said before, and I’ll say it again, the best decision I’ve ever made was to stay true to myself and let my own values guide me. What do I mean by this? I’m a High School student, and every day I see people being influenced and changing what they believe in to fit in with others or to fit in with the ‘right’ crowd. And it sucks. Because that is not what I believe in. And it’s hard, don’t get me wrong. It is hard to stand up for what you believe in, and sometimes it means saying goodbye to people, but being true to yourself is honouring yourself and your thoughts. In 20 years time, we will regret changing ourselves just to fit in with the popular crowd in High School, your own values will be so trampled upon that they will no longer be able to guide you.

Your values, your beliefs, and who you are, are the most important gifts you have, and you should treasure them. They are what makes us unique, allow us to move forward, and enjoy what we do. And that’s why it makes me sad when I see people tossing away their values every day. Because I believe in all of us. Every single one of you that reads my blog. I believe that you are all special in your own unique way, and I think that you should just keep being you, no matter what everyone else is doing. I believe that every single one of you should do what makes you happy, not what ‘looks’ best to the crowd. Let your own values guide you, and don’t do something you wouldn’t do if others weren’t there watching you. Because in the end, that’s the true way to finding happiness.

For me, over the years I’ve had the opportunity to change myself so many times, to do things I don’t believe in. And looking back I am so happy I never did them. Instead, I did what really makes me happy: I watched more sunsets, I ate good food, I went for long runs, I helped others, I spent time with my family, I made great friends, and I couldn’t be a happier person now. Sure I have those days as well where I feel left out or like I don’t fit in, but don’t we all get them? I’m just content with being who I really am, and it’s refreshing not to have to pretend to be someone I’m not.

So to all you High School students out there, this is my message to you. Do not change yourself for anyone. Do what makes you happy. And let your values guide you down the path you were meant to take. I believe in all of you, your own unique personalities, you’re all special.

What are your thoughts on this?

Lots of Love

Little Miss Expat

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5 Of My Favourite Places To Eat In Dubai

Hi Everyone!

It’s been a pretty busy week, with my finals coming up and finishing some exams, but summer is so close!!! It’s also the start of Ramadan, for those of you who don’t know, Ramadan is the month where Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset every day, which means I am fasting, and I’m currently really hungry & dreaming of food, so I thought I would share some of my favourite eating spots in Dubai with you.

As most of you know breakfast is my favourite meal of the day because I am a total morning person, so most of these restaurants and cafes are great for breakfast, but I’ll also share some lunch and dinner spots with you as well!

Tashas Cafe – I love going here for breakfast, but their lunch and dinner is still amazing. Everything at Tasha’s is so well done, the food is always fresh and delicious, and their cakes and muffins taste so good!

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3 Fils – A really cute restaurant in the Fishing Harbour, perfect for lunch or dinner. I love their sushi and sliders, and they also have a ‘mystery dish’ on the menu, which is really great!

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Freinds Avenue Cafe – I literally spend all my weekends here, their matcha lattes are soooo good, and the cafe is such a cute place to hang out with friends. Everything on their menu is so unique and bursting with flavour, I love it.

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Black Tap – Their shakes are AMAZING, my favourite is the oreo one!!! They also serve really great burgers, you can find them in Jumeirah or JBR.

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Salt – This food truck set up on Kite Beach serves (in my opinion) the best burgers in Dubai. They also have a lotus biscuit milkshake, which I absolutely love. The atmosphere of Salt is so chilled, as the ocean is right in front of you, and they have plenty of cozy seating.

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These are some of my favourite eating spots in Dubai, let me know if you’ve tried any of them! What are your favourite restaurants in Dubai or where you live? I would love to know!

See you next week,

Little Miss Expat 

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Being The New Kid – How to deal with moving

Hi Guys,

When I first started this blog my mission was to support as many expats as possible with their moves, and give them some guidance and support to get them through this huge event in their lives. Only a couple of days ago when I was talking to a friend of mine who recently moved from Dubai to Paris, did I realise that I hadn’t addressed a very important subject that related to moving and being an expat. And that is how to make new friends, and deal with just being the ‘new girl/boy’.

Even for people who haven’t moved home from one country to another, we’ve all experienced being the ‘new kid’ at some point in our lives. And let’s be honest, for most of us, it was not fun. Being an expat, adding on top of being a new kid, you’re having to come to terms with a new home, a new city, and knowing no one in this new place. It’s pretty bewildering. I remember before I moved from London to Dubai I had never experienced being a new kid, and my first school here certainly did not make it easy to settle in. People ignored the new kids, made no effort to get to know them, and I was just completely lost and lonely. Over the course of the year, I made friends and learned my way around, but I would never want to re-live those first days of school.

And I realise that everyone stories may not be as bad as mine, or they may be even worse, but there’s still some advice that I can hopefully share with you. The first piece being, don’t forget who you are. I know this is the cheesy quote you always hear in different variations such as, ‘be true to yourself’ ‘be who you want to be’ but there’s a reason it’s so famous. These are truly words to follow. Moving is tough, I know it is. And sometimes all you want to do is fit in and seem normal. Sometimes that means letting your guard down and doing things you usually wouldn’t, or doing something completely against your morals just to fit in. But DON’T. Trust me on this, you don’t need to change who you are for anyone, or to fit in with anyone. And if you’re changing yourself then you’re probably not with the right crowd.

I’m a strong believer that everything happens for a reason, and through experience, staying true to myself and my morals has been the best decision I could have made. In the end, life will lead you in the right path. Make the decisions that you believe in, and everything else will work itself out. Another thing to keep in mind is that settling in takes time. You can’t just move and wake up the next morning expecting to feel like you’re at home. It takes time to get used to your new surroundings, but also for people to get to know you. When I was talking to my friend I remember saying that my second year, coming back after summer break felt amazing not to be new, and to see people I was friendly with in the halls which just made me feel like I belonged there, that’s only something that comes with time and patience.

When moving it’s also important to remember that people don’t define you, don’t worry too much about what people think. It’s practically impossible to make everyone in the world happy, and you’re better off just being yourself. Even though we shouldn’t do it, everyone is still guilty of making judgments without really knowing all the information. When you meet someone new, most people jump to conclusions before they even speak to them. First judgments don’t usually last, and if there’s someone who really has a problem with you, remember, there’s probably something they’re upset about, if they need to find something wrong with you.  (I wrote about it a lot in this post)

Overall, I know moving can be really hard, especially with fitting in at a new school or workplace. Just remember it takes time, but you should just be true to yourself, and not worry about what others think. In the end, your life is for you to live, not for other people to determine. In the wise words of Bob Marley ‘Don’t worry about a thing, cause every little thing gonna be alright’. I really hoped that this managed to help some of you who have recently moved, and please share your thoughts in the comment section for others to also read! Feel free to reach out to me if you have any more questions 🙂

See you next week,

Little Miss Expat 

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Finding Happiness

Hey Everyone!

I’ve been wanting to write a post about happiness and wellbeing for such a long time, and with it being International Happiness week, I thought, what better time? Even though I have so much I want to share with you guys about this subject, I think this has to be one of the hardest posts I’ve written, as it’s so hard to put all my ideas about happiness into words!!

Originally I wanted to share a few tips on ‘how to be happy’ with you guys, but I realised that wasn’t the right way to put it, there’s no specific formula to be happy. We’re all human, we have some happy days and some sad days. So today instead of writing a guide for you guys, I just want to share a few thoughts, and I would really love for you to comment your thoughts as well!

For those of you who don’t know my story, the reason why I started this blog was to share my experiences as a teenage expatriate with others and tell the story of moving from London to Dubai, and how I dealt with it. One thing that goes hand-in-hand with this story is my experience with ‘happiness’. The first year of moving was a tough year for me, and I had never experienced so many feelings of sadness and loneliness at one time. However, through this journey, I’ve come to be at a place where I feel such balance, content, and happiness all the time, that I don’t think I could be anywhere better.

I remember having some days where I would feel sick with sadness, and where I was just totally unmotivated to do anything. And you know, I think most people go through a phase like this. At least one point in your life, you experience a sort of rut, where you just can’t seem to break through this wall. And especially for someone picking up and leaving their home at such a young age, it’s not unheard of to feel this way.

But the question is how do you overcome these feelings, and find your happiness? I could answer this question a thousand different ways, but I’ll just limit it to a few for now. (Bearing in mind, that these are all ideas that I have found through my own experiences.) The first thing that I would say is the key to unlocking happiness is being comfortable with yourself. Truly finding that sense of being, enjoyment, and content is the first step to becoming happier. In this world where we seem to think the number of likes you get on a photo determines how popular you are, and where your follower count is a representation of how many friends you have, it can get really hard to just… love yourself. Think about it this way, if you constantly think you’re not good enough, how can you ever be happy with yourself?

I think this is also something that comes with experience, because I know that when I was younger I would always ‘follow the crowd’ and I would do what everyone was doing, regardless of whether or not I wanted to do it myself. But how can you ever be happy if you’re not doing what you want to be doing? Becoming confident with your own decisions and standing up for what you believe in, is something that only comes with practice. It doesn’t come overnight, but I’m telling you, once you start following YOUR own ideas, doing what YOU want to do, and not constantly worrying about what people think of YOU, you’re well on your way to finding happiness.

Something that goes along with this idea of just being you, is also not worrying about what others are doing. Trust me, I’m a teenage girl in high school, and I could be influenced by a multitude of people and their actions, but staying true to my own values has to be the best decision I could have ever made. It’s come to the point where I don’t feel jealousy when I see what other people are doing if it’s not something I would genuinely want to be doing myself. I don’t see any point changing my own values and beliefs just because of others. This has to be one of the hardest things to put into action, the number of people my age who are peer pressured into making decisions that they wouldn’t make for themselves is something that I think should change. But once you stop caring about what everyone else is doing and start doing things you love, you will find yourself instantly happier.

Something else that I think is worth mentioning, is forgiveness. Even though I myself find this very hard, one huge part of finding happiness is forgiving people and not holding grudges. The fact that you’re spending some of your brainpower worrying or thinking about someone who has wronged you just gives them power over you. In life, there will always be people that upset you, but I think being able to overcome that and forgive them is one of the most important life lessons you can learn.

Going off on the people tangent, finding a group of people that support and care for you, will also affect your happiness. Surrounding yourself with people who know the real you, and are always there for you, is one of the best things you can do. Friends should be happy for you when you achieve something, but also able to cheer you up when you’re feeling upset. Honestly, your vibe does attract your tribe, finding people who share the same values as you, and who constantly brighten up your day, can change everything.

The last thing I want to mention is gratitude. Being thankful for what you have is probably the most important component of happiness. Something as simple as acknowledging what you’re thankful for can make the biggest difference. Realizing what you have, compared to others allows you to see a different perspective, and truly be happy with yourself.

I thoroughly enjoyed being able to share some of these thoughts with you guys! There are so many articles and resources on happiness out there that you can take a look at if you’re interested, I would really recommend it! I would absolutely love to hear your ideas and what you think about this post in the comments!!!

Have a happy week!

Little Miss Expat

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