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!
six miles away in iceland
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

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