The ‘I can’ mindset – #ExpatWisdom – Sixtina

Hi everyone,

This weeks blog post is another from the Expat Wisdom series! I’ve been working with Sixtina from Six Miles Away blog to share her expat story. Her blog is a heaven for any traveler or expat, as it’s packed with travel tips and stories, I could honestly spend hours reading it all! She was even kind enough to interview me, and write about my expat story on her blog, incase you wanted to take a look at that!

Her story, like many of the others that I’ve shared in this series, is one that I can relate to. However, the advice she gives is something that I really wish I had thought of during my move, and perhaps it will help you as well!


It’s all about the “I can” mindset, right focus, and positive attitude!

The travel bug had already been awakened in me in early years. Growing up in East Germany (former DDR), my parents didn’t have much freedom when it comes to traveling like us nowadays. As soon as the wall came down my parents, especially my mother started traveling like crazy, of course, taking me everywhere with them. I’ve basically visited 2 new countries every year since I was 1 years old, but I don’t even remember them all!
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The first time I moved abroad, I was only a teenager myself. Wanting to learn English, my grandpa helped to finance a year in an American High School, so I ended up in Kentucky, USA. Around Christmas time I got very homesick, which I guess was normal for a teenager being far away from home for the first time and for a long time in a foreign country, where things were different. However, instead of locking myself up in my bedroom, crying and complaining about things, I focused on the positive points, such as my lovely host family, lots of new food to try, fun entertaining games, and I also called my family back home. I had a great time, and my mum booked a flight to come over for my birthday.
six miles away in a wood house
After studying for 4 years in The Netherlands, where I also got to spend one semester abroad in Mexico and one in Spain, I moved to Ireland shortly after I graduated. I have been living here for 4 years. Being an expat is not always flowers and roses or as easy as it may look online. There are downsides for sure, including organizational, situational and also emotional things.

The first 2 years in Ireland were super hard for me and I was very upset; I didn’t go out, I gained weight and I was simply miserable. Yet it was my own choice to be there, right?

Why was I upset?
I was in an unhappy relationship, I lived in a dirty apartment where I didn’t even want to return to, I had a call center job I hated, I found no hobbies I liked to practice, I had no friends/people I liked enough to hang out with, neither did I have a great social life. On top of that public transportation and weather were bad as well.

After being miserable for around 3-6 months and constantly complaining, at some point I woke up and realized that nothing is ever going to change if I continue complaining. No new job will appear by itself, no agency will come to me offering a new apartment, no social club is going to ask me if I want to join and so on…

I don’t remember what my exact wake-up call was, but in the end, it all comes down to the “I can” mindset, right focus, and positive attitude. First of all, I focused on the things I could change quickly. That included getting rid of that boyfriend, joining social clubs and start hanging out with people that are my cup of tea. A new apartment and job came later on by itself, as I was full of energy and most importantly with a positive attitude.  
girl enjoying sweets
What am I trying to say?
It really is up to us, how we handle situations and what we make out of them. My advice is to get up, focus and change things that are within our reach and stop complaining. Be positive and try to perceive new things with an open mind, rather than find the “wrong” bits and pieces of it. After all, there is always something to learn from every negative and positive situation. You might not see it right at the start, but it will become more clear eventually. All you have to do is stay positive, focus on the things that you CAN do/change, and have an “I can do anything” mindset. The rest will happen by itself, you’ll see!

I hope you enjoyed reading Sixtinas story, and that you can take something away from it! As always, be sure to take a look at the other posts in my Expat Wisdom series, or if you’re interested in being featured feel free to reach out to me at LittleMissExpatBlog@gmail.com!
See you next week,
Little Miss Expat

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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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

‘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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