When you’re a teenager and also an expat, life can be difficult – unless you’re one inspirational girl living with her family in Dubai.
When my husband and I first made the decision to move abroad with our three young kids, we knew the timing was right. They were young to become expats and the adjustment would be minimal compared to a teen, who is already rooted in their social and academic life.
And while it has not always been smooth sailing moving overseas with three toddlers, it has been much more emotionally manageable. A three year old’s biggest worry is when their next snack is.
I now worry that when our adventure abroad comes to an end and we must once again relocate, the kids will be older and experience the tougher side of being an expat. Relocating as a teenager.
So, I was excited when I met Little Miss Expat, a teen expat who has a rather inspirational story. This gives me hope! At only 17 years young and with the wisdom of a seasoned expat, you can imagine how excited I was to hear her story. I pray my own children grow to be as appreciative of their expat experiences as she is.
She overcame the scary uncertainty that being an expat child can bring and is thankful for it. Now she runs her own blog, is finishing up university and has adjusted beautifully well to life as an expat.
SHOP FASHION FROM SPAIN
A Teen Expat’s Inspirational Story By Little Miss Expat
12-years-old. That’s how old I was when I became an expat, barely even a teenager. Looking back, almost 5 years onwards, I can’t believe that I went through such an extreme change – moving all the way from London to Dubai.
If I do say so, I am quite proud of my 12-year-old self!
To the Parents of Expat Children
Today I want to write to any other expat children or to parents who are too scared to become expats because of their children. I want to share my experience and how it has truly changed me for the better.
At the age of 12, you still don’t really know much about yourself. You’re just starting to decide who you are and what you enjoy. So to pick everything up and relocate with family to the other side of the world – well, that’s a colossal sized change even for an adult!
I think many people are often scared about moving children at young ages. Will it upset them? Will they fit in at school? How will it affect them for the rest of their lives? These are all valid questions and the only way to really know the answer is to hear it from someone who’s DONE IT!
Here’s What I Gained
It’s no secret that I found my expat experience challenging. But looking back now I would not change a thing about it.
Moving to a new place and experiencing a whole new way of life, gives you something that you can’t get anywhere else.
It’s a real character-building experience that most people, adults included, won’t ever get. It makes you learn a lot about yourself and what you’re really capable of.
There were days when I wished I could have my old life back, just to move back home or go back to my old school. But looking back on those moments now, they stemmed from being uncomfortable with my new surroundings.
I didn’t know much about where I was, and I was around people whom I was not familiar with. Scary stuff!
Fast forward five years and I can confidently say, I love my new home and my expat life!
Here’s What I Learned
Yes, that first year after I moved was very tough but I made it through! And it really did teach me many things that were necessary in life. Things that I don’t think other children learn until much later into their teenage years.
1. I learned to stick up for myself.
2. I learned to open myself up to new cultures.
3. I grew my confidence.
4. I also grew a thicker skin.
5. I learned to adjust to new surroundings.
6. And I learned what I truly value in life.
The number one thing that really got me through that shaky transition becoming an expat was the people around me, my family.
It’s hard to move somewhere completely unfamiliar. You feel alone and isolated a lot of the time, especially as a young teenager already experiencing enough emotional uncertainty!
SHOP HOME DECOR FROM SPAIN
My Advice to Expat Children
My advice to any expat child would be to make sure there are people you feel comfortable talking to, whether they’re family or friends, maybe even a teacher. Often, I just wanted someone I could talk to about what was going on and feel less alone, less lost. It’s too difficult to keep those feelings bottled up inside!
And please please, don’t be angry or afraid as an expat child. One day you will most certainly look back on this time and be thankful for all it’s given you. A world of opportunity and new adventures lie ahead – take advantage and enjoy the ride!!
About the author:
Hi everyone! I’m Little Miss Expat. I’m a teenage girl who moved from London to Dubai when I was 12-years-old. My expat journey has taught me a lot but most importantly about the global community that we share.
I strongly believe that we all have something to contribute, which is why I started my blog to share my experiences and to create a platform for others to share their stories on as well. If you’re interested in seeing more of my writing head on over to my blog www.LittleMissExpat.com or (@Little.Miss.Expat).
If you have any questions do not hesitate to contact me at LittleMissExpatBlog@gmail.com.