Reflecting on 2018

Happy new year! It seems like just last week I was writing 2012 at the top of my school books! I can not believe that I’m going to turn 17 this year and that we’re one year away from my high school graduation! I feel like I say this every year, but this year more than ever this phrase is very applicable: it has been a BIG year. I feel as though I’ve gone through one of the toughest years of my life, but I’ve definitely learned a lot. The biggest lesson of all was learning about myself as I grow older and becoming more independent.

But before I get into an in-depth reflection I thought I would share a few of my highlights of the year:

  • Taking my blog to a new level with my photography, and doing more collaborations.
  • Making some great friends through my blog!
  • Launching the #ExpatWisdom Project on my blog
  • Having my writing published by The Expat Kids Club
  • Did my first product collaboration with Evolve Beauty
  • Doing well in school!
  • Did lots of charity work, which I loved every moment of
  • Making it halfway through my Junior year classes!
  • Running at big Cross Country and Track competitions & placing
  • Running my first half marathon
  • Did my longest flight ever and traveled to a place I’ve always wanted to visit (Australia)
  • Went to summer camp and became more independent (this was very outside of my comfort zone)
  • Did my first ever interview on camera!
  • SO MUCH personal growth
  • Became less stressed (I think)
  • Went to a Taylor Swift concert!
  • Made friends all across the world
  • Ate some REALLY good food!
  • Traveled to: Oman, London, Hatta, Washington D.C., New York, Newport, Boston, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Florida, Lebanon, Morocco, and Australia

WOW, that’s a jam-packed year! When I was writing that list I was so proud of everything that I’ve achieved this year, everything I’ve been through, and how I’ve come out on the other side. I feel like I’ve really grown up this year (and I don’t mean turning 16) but in terms of my perspective and my actions. Going to summer school was really an eye-opening experience. Living by myself for the first time, and doing everything for myself made me realize how important my family really is to me, and also what kind of a person I am. This year more than ever, as I mentioned I’ve learned a lot about myself. I’ve learned that I’m a simple person (if that makes sense?). I like simple things, I don’t like flashy parties and dramatic experiences, I’m much happier with a smaller group doing things I really love. I’ve learned that it’s okay not to follow the crowd, just to do what makes you happy, but also at the same time if you choose to do you, you don’t need to care about what everyone else is doing. I’ve learned that there are some things worth forgetting, and some things worth holding onto. When I say holding onto this also applies to my relationships all over the world. This year I kept in touch with friends I’ve made in different countries, who I still talk to every day, and it’s almost as if they’re in Dubai with me. And also holding onto the family who doesn’t live in Dubai with me. For some reason this year more than ever I’ve missed my family who lives abroad even more, and every time I fly back to Dubai after visiting them, the feeling of homesickness gets a little harder to deal with. But I guess as any expat would say that this is only something time can heal. I’ve learned to focus on what’s important to me, as it’s my Junior year and I’m drowning in work I’ve had to make decisions between how I spend the little free time I have and who I spend it with. I’ve learned that stressing doesn’t make anything easier, in fact, it only makes situations worse. I’ve learned not to let others actions affect me, as they don’t always have your best interests at heart, the only person that will always look out for you is actually yourself. In short, it’s been a blast, it’s been a struggle, It’s been a huge learning experience, but I think I’ve come into 2019 knowing myself better than I ever have, and I’m happy about that. There’s still a lot of things I want to do in 2019 so here are my goals.

  • Spend more ‘me time’
  • Revamp my blog and make some changes
  • Start my college applications and hopefully get into college!
  • Meet up with friends across the world
  • Let myself be the only one who determines my happiness (and even though it’s a cliche that’s a big one for me)
  • Visit at least one new place
  • Spend more time with my family
  • Go to the beach more (that seems a little silly, but I really love spending time by the beach)
  • Do well on my SAT and exams
  • Explore Dubai more as I only have a year and a bit left here
  • Use social media less (I’m going to write a post about this soon)

As you can see it’s going to be another busy year, but I’m up for the challenge! Going into this year having learned so much, I feel as though this year is going to be a good one. And as for you guys, I want to say thank you for continually reading my work and supporting me, this blog has been a place where I can interact with you and also share my thoughts. I hope that I can continue being a positive influence on you all! Let me know what you achieved last year and what your goals for this year are in the comments, I would love to hear them!

Happy New Year

Little Miss Expat


Christmas traditions from around the world

Hi everyone!

It’s only a few hours until Christmas now, and I thought I would do something extra fun for my last festive blog post of the year. Most of you guys who read my blog posts are from completely different parts of the world! On the same day, I’ll have readers from: England, UAE, Vietnam, Singapore, Greece, Germany, the U.S., France, The Netherlands, and Canada (to mention a few!). And I love this! I wanted to appreciate this global community in the festive season… So I’ve gathered festive traditions from bloggers all across the world and asked them all to write a paragraph sharing a special Christmas tradition that they each have. I hope you enjoy reading about what people all across the world do to celebrate this season. They may seem like small things, but these little traditions are what makes the holidays so special for everyone. Feel free to comment one of your holiday traditions in the comment section at the end of this post!

New Jersey, USA

Natalie Park – Capturing Life on Camera Blog

“Every year, my family and I play “Dirty Santa” where everyone brings a gift that is around $25. Everyone gets a number and goes around and chooses a gift in the order of their numbers. The fun in the game is that you can steal presents so the later numbers have the best shot. Every year my Grandma brings the worst gifts. At this point, I own a crystal vase, some vitamins, and too many regifted candles. It has become a running joke in my family that my grandma is the worst gift giver!”

Kent, England

Jasmine – Just Jasmineella Blog

“Hi I’m Jasmine and I’m from England, Kent. One tradition that my family and I have is having new Christmas pjs on Christmas Eve. I still get really excited about this! Every year my mum wraps up a fresh, new, festive pair of matching pyjamas for me and my sister to slip into right after a lovely hot bath. She has done this ever since we were tiny, when we were babies it was little Christmas sleep-suits! She always picks a beautiful set that starts the excitement and build up for the next day. They tend to be a traditional button up style with a Christmassy print of some kind. I love doing this because it’s so lovely when me and my sister are opening our presents in matching pyjamas in front of the Christmas tree. We usually have a photograph of us both in front of the fireplace on Christmas Eve leaving a snack ready for Father Christmas and a carrot for the reindeer. These are special Christmas memories that I will always treasure and wish to carry on with my own children when I’m older.”

Florida, USA

Liddy Dow – @itsliddystyle

“First off, I want thank Little Miss Expat for having me on her blog. She is such an inspiration and has an amazing story that I connected to from the beginning. She has achieved so much this year and it’s a privilege of mine to called her a friend on Instagram!  My name is Liddy and I run the Instagram Fashion account, @itsliddystyle. Little Miss Expat asked me what my Christmas tradition is and I would love to share it with you all. Before I moved to where I live now, every Christmas Eve we would go over to my families house and have a huge party. My favorite part about that upcoming day was picking out my fancy dress to wear that night. I looked forward to it ever year. It was an exciting night that was filled with laughter and love. Continuing with another tradition I have, is every Christmas or so my family rents a beach house and we stay for about a week. It’s always so nice to see all of my cousins and family together at once. My favorite memory was a couple of years ago when we decided to dig a HUGE hole in the sand. It look us all day and in the end it could fit all 6 of us cousins in it. (We even made sand stairs and a bench inside). It was such a fun experience to work with my cousins and I will never forget it.  But those are my Christmas traditions I have. Thank you again, LME for letting me share my experiences with you on your blog. I hope everyone has a great week and have a happy holiday and Merry Christmas!”

Cairns, Australia

Elina Passant – Just So Elina Blog

“My favourite Christmas tradition would have to be our little Christmas Day vlogs we make every year. My mum started filming Christmas morning when I was 2 on her old camcorder, you know the ones that record onto tapes instead of sd cards. As I got older I started adding onto her little videos, so once she filmed us opening presents I would film who we were spending Christmas with, our animals and whatever Christmassy activity we were doing that morning like making a gingerbread house. We continue to make the vlogs to this day and I love it because I get to look back on past years and my favourite Christmas memories. It’s also what started my love for filming videos, so it’s really been a win win tradition.”

Erfurt, Germany

Sixtina Alwardt – Six Miles Away Blog

“ADVENTSKALENDER

One typical German tradition is the Adventskalender. It basically serves as a countdown until Christmas. Starting from the 1st of December until 24th, you can open one “door” per day. Each of these doors is filled with chocolates (usually).

However, over the years these calendars changed in shape, size and filling. Lots of companies sell these calendars with their products. This can be herbs, toys, cosmetics and so on. You can even buy couple calendars nowadays. Super cool idea.

DIY Adventskalenders also become more and more popular. This basically means someone in your family is making and filling it for you. This way they are more personalised.

Adventskalenders really don’t have an age. Young and older people enjoy them equally every year.”

Buckinghamshire, England

Lexie – What Lexie Loves Blog

“For the last couple of years, my family has welcomed a new tradition… our Christmas Morning Muffins. Every Christmas Eve my mum makes up a batch of these orange and cranberry muffins, and in the morning we bake them and have the fresh and warm. The cinnamon-ny, fruity taste is delicious and just reminds me of Christmas. It’s a small, simple tradition but it really does make my Christmas morning… we love huddling around the breakfast table eating them!

Rohini Kudva – RoRo K Designs Blog

“My family loves watching movies and every year we always take one day before Christmas to have a long marathon. The marathon usually includes Elf, The Holiday, All of the Holiday episodes from Friends, a Charlie Brown Christmas, and many more. I’m the only one that enjoys Hallmark Movies, so we only watch a couple. My aunt makes really yummy gingerbread cookies and ginger tea, which we eat while we watch the movies. It’s something I always look forward to every year.”

Dubai, UAE

ME!

I’ve grown up spending Christmas in different places around the world, but one of the traditions that is pretty steady in my family is our Christmas walks. In my family after we eat Christmas lunch, we all go for a walk (to work off all the food we ate!) and to enjoy the winter nature of England before we go back to Dubai. Only after the walk are we allowed to open our presents!

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Thank you to all the bloggers around the world who collaborated with me on this post!

I hope you enjoyed reading about these Christmas traditions from around the world! Comment down below a Christmas tradition you have and where you’re from! Merry Christmas everyone!

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Running My First Half Marathon

This time last year I set myself a goal: I was going to run a half marathon before 2018 was over. No doubt it was an ambitious goal, but I achieved that goal on December 7th 2018, when I ran the Dubai Creek Striders Half Marathon!

Yesterday morning I woke up bright and early (well actually not so bright, because the sun hadn’t even risen yet) at 3:50am ready to go run. I run competitively for high school cross country, but I never race any distance greater than 5K, so this was something I was not used to.

The whole week I had been holding in my nerves and telling myself that it would be okay. I was more excited than nervous to be doing something that was so out of my comfort zone, and I would be doing it alongside some of my teammates, but I still had some pre-race jitters. When I arrived at the athlete’s village at 5am, I’m not going to lie, I kind of felt like I was about to throw up, but I was also super hyped to run! There were so many runners, and I’ve never been at a race that big in my whole life. It was amazing and terrifying at the same time.

When I crossed the starting line I hadn’t even really computed what I was about to do. I was about to run 21km. What. There were so many people around me and hardly any space to run in, I was kind of panicking, what was I getting myself into?

However I didn’t let this deter me, I just thought to myself that 3 years ago I wouldn’t have even thought myself capable of running a 1km race, let alone a 21km race. I was proud of how far I’ve come, and I knew I had the strength to finish this race, however hard it would be.

And I’m glad I adopted that mindset because it was one of the most beautiful races I’ve ever run. I’ll never forget the view as I ran into my second kilometer: I turned a corner to see a hill, and above the hill was a huge bridge with thousands of runners moving gracefully above me, I had never seen so many people so dedicated to achieving the same goal, and it was really inspirational.

If someone were to ask me what I thought about while I ran, or how I kept myself occupied for such a long time, I wouldn’t know. I think I was just enjoying the run so much myself, that I didn’t think of it in a negative way. We ran across the Dubai Creek which I’ve never been to before, we ran across bridges and saw the sunrise, and we ran through the souks of old Dubai.  I was truly inside my own head, having a good time.

When I crossed that finish line with my family, friends, and teammates cheering me on, I felt like I was about to cry for a second and started tearing up. I know, weird right? It’s something a lot of runners experience when you cross your finish line, you’re so emotional in many ways that you just feel like crying. I was so proud of myself for achieving something like this at age 16, I was so happy with my time, and I was also surprised and relieved that I had finished the race.

It was honestly the most draining, tiring, exciting, fun, and memorable day ever, and I am so glad that I got the opportunity to participate in this. It reminded me of who I am, and what I can achieve. I ran this race for myself. When I ran this race it showed me what I am capable of. Thank you to my family, my coaches, and the race organizers, for allowing me to achieve my goal and enjoy (almost) every moment of it.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my race experience. I know it’s a little different from what I usually post, but this was an experience that I  really wanted to share on here, and I hope it inspired some of you guys!

Tune in next week for some Christmas content,

Little Miss Expat


Morocco – some highlights – more to come…

I just spent one of the best weeks of my life traveling across Morocco with 10 other students in a rickety old bus, taking photos and capturing moments.

Two weeks ago at 2:00 am I was struggling to do my last minute packing, and I was stressing out because I didn’t know what to expect with from trip. I was traveling somewhere 8 hours away, with a small group of people, with no device except my camera. Something that was very out of my comfort zone.

But I shouldn’t have worried because it ended up being one of the best trips ever, and I enjoyed every moment of it. I traveled from Rabat, to Chefchaoeun, to Fes, and to Casablanca, and they were all beautiful.

This trip centered around photography, and I learned how to use my camera to its full potential, and I got some pretty cool photos! I spent a week capturing moments on my camera and immersing myself in the culture, and I’m excited to share my full experience with you guys!

I’m going to be writing about each city, my trip as a whole, and my photography tips in separate posts, but for now, enjoy these highlights of my trip to Morocco. I honestly had such an amazing time, and I think that can be seen through these photos. Consider this a teaser of what’s to come…

Enjoy!

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The different ‘English-es’ we speak

“Language is the road map of culture. It tells you where its people come from and where they are going.” – Rita Mae Brown

A few weeks ago I was assigned some reading homework for my English class, and I found myself dying to write about it here! It was a piece called “Mother Tongue” written by Amy Tan, and I found my brain going crazy making all these connections… because I could relate SO MUCH to this piece of writing, as I’m sure any other expat can.

This passage highlighted how different people from various cultures use the English language in their own ways. In the narrative, Amy Tan described the way her mother spoke a ‘broken’ English and gave many examples of how sometimes this held her back as people didn’t take her as seriously. She highlighted a really important issue for me, does the way we speak hold us back?

As an expat, I hear people with different accents, speaking in different languages, and different in dialects every day, but I’d never really thought about what this means to them. Does the way we speak ever hold us back and is it an indicator of who we really are? When I first moved to Dubai, a lot of people commented on how ‘posh’ my British accent was. I’d grown up in London my whole life, so I had never known anything different, I thought that the way I spoke was completely normal. However, in my first international school, I became so self-conscious of my accent, that I even looked forward to my language classes, because I knew that was a time where I didn’t have to speak with my ‘accent’.

But this was not a one-way street. Joining an international school gave me the opportunity to meet people from many different parts of the world, and to hear the way they talked. I distinctly remember in my first school in Dubai we were put into ‘sets’ based on ability and most of the children in the highest set for English, were the English kids, the ones who spoke English in what seemed the ‘perfect way’. There are so many examples of this: I recently heard the story of a friend who’s originally from Taiwan, but moved to school in America for a year, and was not allowed to take the AP English class, because the teacher didn’t think she could speak ‘real English’ even though she was one of the highest scoring students in her school on the AP exam.

Before putting all these pieces together, I had never really thought of language as another barrier we have to overcome, or as another means of discrimination. Just because someone doesn’t speak the same way as you, what deems them less than you?

Our world is becoming increasingly global and if we still have these old ideas stuck in our heads that there’s only one ‘perfect’ way to speak and one perfect ‘dialect’ then we’re going to be holding a lot of deserving people back.

We’re all from different places, and perhaps English is not our first language, but the way we speak it and our own variations are what makes us unique. The subtle differences we share make the world interesting. So next time you hear someone speaking a different ‘English’ from you, don’t be so quick to judge, because we all speak in different ‘English-es’.

Have you ever experienced something like this? What are your thoughts on this subject? Let me know in the comments!

Little Miss Expat

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Multiple Moves – #ExpatWisdom – Elina

Hi everyone! Welcome back to another post in the Expat Wisdom series! This week I’m really excited to share the expat story of Elina (@justsoelina), which is quite similar to my own. Her experiences are raw and real, and I think her advice could be very useful for any other teenagers going through a move. Here’s a piece that she wrote for the Expat Wisdom project, I hope you enjoy it!

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New Town Funk

I may not be an expat (though maybe one day, you never know!) but I do know what it’s like to move away from your home town and deal with homesickness. I recently moved 3,500 + km from the only place I had ever known to the other end of Australia. It was the scariest, happiest, and overwhelming and definitely the most forefeeling thing I have ever done.

But before we get into that lets back track a bit. I am now almost 16 and up until May of this year I had grown up in small country towns in north east, Victoria. I had moved many times before that, but all had been within an hour radius of each other. I loved growing up in small country towns and I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. But I had always wanted to move somewhere, bigger and different.

So when the opportunity arrived for me to do just that I jumped on it. I was so excited for the new adventure my Mum and I were about to embark on. I counted down the months, weeks and days until the day finally came that we left. I was so excited to leave that I didn’t really think much about how I was going to miss my home town and of course the people I was leaving behind. That is until the moment I said goodbye to my best friend and I actually left. Needless to say the first hour or so of the trip I was a total mess. And then the following days of our road trip I felt really strange and super anxious.

But after a while the excitement built up again and I couldn’t wait to get to my new home! The day FINALLY arrived that I made it to the place I would now call home. I was so happy and excited I thought I might burst. But I also had this overwhelming feeling as everything was so new and daunting. As everything around me seemed ginormous! The shopping centres, the city area, the schools etc. You name it, it scared me!

I had gone from this massive high, to a really bad low. I was missing my friends and the familiarity of my old town. And of course I felt awful for feeling this was because It was something I had wanted for years.

After a few days I started to settle into my new house, We started to explore our new town, spent time with our family and got to know some of our neighbours. Slowly my funk started to fade and I loved every moment of my new life.

Fast forward 4 months, I love my new home and everything feels more familiar and less daunting now.

The top things that helped me get out of the new town funk where:

  1. Make my new room my room: This was such an important thing for me as my bedroom is my safe space/chill zone. So by adding my own touches to it, helped to make it feel homier.
  2. Walk the dogs on a new track each day: When we first moved I was too scared to go off on my own as I was certain I’d get lost. But from walking my dogs in a new area each day, everything became more familiar. Now I know our area like the back of my hand, I may not be able to remember the street names (real life dory right here haha) But I am no longer at risk of getting lost anymore yay!
  3. Face Time my friends: This was a complete life saver for the homesickness. As I knew that even though there may be distance between us, We still had each other’s back.
  4. Explore Your New Town: Again things don’t seem so scary or daunting fi they are familiar. Go for a drive with your fam and take the time to explore your new town and maybe even do a few of the touristy things available.

I hope this post was able to help anyone dealing with the New Town Funk!

Feel free to check out my blog justsoelina.com

Or my Instagram @justsoelina

JustSoElina xx

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3 breakfast spots to try in London

During summer I always go back to London for a few weeks, where my days are filled with exploring new quaint stores and restaurants. One of my favourite things to do during summer is to wake up early and go out for breakfast. In case you didn’t know, breakfast is my favourite meal of the day, so I’m always down to try new places. London is home to some of my favourite breakfast spots in the world, and in this blog post, I’m going to share 3 that I think you should try.

Granger & Co

Granger & Co have a few locations around London, but I’ve only ever visited the Notting Hill one. It’s one of the most popular breakfast spots in Notting Hill, so be sure to get there early if you don’t want to wait in line! All of the items on their menu are so fresh, and they have a lot of imaginative options. My all-time favourite, is their ricotta hotcakes, I’m drooling just thinking about them right now.

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Andina Bakery

My family and I discovered Andina this summer, and we fell in love. Andina is also located in Notting Hill (although they do have other locations). It’s filled with the smell of freshly baked bread, and they display all of their baked goods on the counter, they look so inviting, you can’t help but try one. What I like about Andina is that their food is different from your regular breakfast options; they have a Peruvian inspired menu, and some of my favourite options are their corn cake and their artichoke and swiss chard pie, they’re so good! Whatever you order off the menu at Andina, you can see it being baked right in front of your eyes.

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Farm Girl Cafe

Farm Girl Cafe is one of my go-to breakfast spots. Their light and fresh breakfast menu is perfect for the summer, but their wide array of lattes, such as the matcha latte, rose latte, charcoal latte etc… are the perfect fix for a cold autumn day. I’m slowly making my way through their drinks menu (my goal is to one day try them all!) and I would strongly recommend the charcoal and matcha lattes! I’ve visited their cafes in Notting Hill and on Carnaby street and I love them both. Be sure to try one of their smoothie bowls, or their avocado toast topped with strawberries!

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Those are three of my favourite breakfast cafes in London! Be sure to let me know in the comments if you’ve tried any of these, and what your recommendations are!

See you next week,

Little Miss Expat

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