How I Feel After my Study Abroad Semester

Aaaaaah! I’m finally home… I can’t begin to explain how much I’ve missed my family and friends. It’s a blessing to be back safe and sound. I’m grateful for this opportunity but I’d be lying if I said I felt that way all along…

To start off, I started packing 3 weeks or even a month before I was supposed to leave, that’s just how excited I was haha. At times, I felt so homesick that I started radiating negative energy to everyone around me. The other international students didn’t want to leave and were surprised at how excited I was to go back. How can I not be? I have an amazing, exciting life hamdellah. I have a lot to go back to. Towards the end of the semester, it was hard to remember the reason I chose to go and I honestly couldn’t wait to go back. But if it wasn’t for this experience, I wouldn’t have valued my life in Dubai or how to really be independent & lift myself up whenever I feel down. Because of these five months, I’m sure I can handle whatever comes my way…good or bad.

And now that I’m home, a lot of people keep asking me about my experience which I find so hard to answer. How can I sum up so many mixed emotions into one sentence? It felt like a rollercoaster ride with lots of ups and downs. There were a lot of moments that I will forever cherish and many others I will try to forget. A lot of people ask me if I would recommend it to anyone, my answer is, it depends. These are some points you should think about before taking this decision:

  1. Do it if you’re always looking for a change like me. If you feel like getting out of your comfort zone and trying something new.
  2. Think about everything you’re going to jeopardize by being away, your relationship, your friendships, the opportunities or things you might miss out on back home.
  3. Choose the place you’re going to CAREFULLY! A lot of people ask me why I chose Missouri and the answer is, I didn’t. Well, technically I did but it wasn’t on purpose. I chose four universities in California and when the study away office asked me for a fifth one, I chose Missouri State University without researching the place… four weeks later I got an email saying, “Congratulations! You’ve been placed at Missouri State University!” So yes, you can imagine my disappointment if my expectations were California. BUT that was the reason my experience was different and unexpected. I got the true, midwestern, American experience that I never got before from all the times I visited the US.
  4. Pack lightly haha. I know you think you’ll need that coat or that purse when you leave but believe me you won’t and you’ll end up buying everything there. This is coming from a girl who shipped 2 boxes, 2 bags, 1 carryon, and one backpack…
  5. Be 100% sure you’re IN and you’re doing this! When I arrived, my mom freaked out because of how cold the weather was and insisted on bringing me back to Dubai. To be honest, I wanted to listen to her so badly… I was freaking out myself and just needed to leave. But instead, I calmed her down and I realized I’ve come a long way and remembered all the reasons I chose this! & here I am..

Going back to how I feel now, I feel uncomfortable. There are so many things and people that I got used to that are not with me anymore. I feel like I’m out of my comfort zone again and I have to get used to dealing with the same people I had no problem dealing with before my semester abroad. The only thing that is different now is me. And I’m grateful for this 🙂

Growing up, we take so many things for granted. The food, the people, our parents, and the Arab lifestyle in general. To say the least, we’re used to getting everything delivered to our doorstep even at 1 AM. We’re used to our parents paying our tuition, giving us our allowance every month, and buying us EVERYTHING. But back in Missouri, almost every student works and earns their own money which made me feel like a spoiled brat. So appreciate and thank your parents every chance you get.

The point is, sometimes you need to temporarily get away from your life to realize and see how blessed you are.

Happiness at your Fingertips

I’ve recently had some bad days where I constantly felt down, unmotivated to do ANYTHING, and it just felt like I wasn’t really myself. And so, I got up one day and decided that it has to stop & I needed to take control of it.

I started noticing some simple situations that happened randomly but still made me feel energized, happy, or care-free. And so, I created a list!

This list has some things that can make my day slightly better and maybe yours too! But, watch out, there might be a couple of contradictory points so just do the opposite of whatever that you usually do! (If that makes sense)

  1. Update your music playlist. Image result for music sign png

    Yes. This works. Listening to music can cheer you up but listening to different genres and songs every once in a while can have a greater impact. If you’re feeling down, avoid listening to sad music. Don’t make it worse for yourself! Listen to music in every chance you get. It can help block your thoughts and keep you in your own bubble whenever you’re in public.

  2. Smile. Image result for smiley face sign png

    Most of the time, our faces frown without us being aware of it or even without a valid reason, it’s just our resting “frowning face”. Be aware of your frown & try to smile even if you’re not really in the mood for it. In other words, fake it till you make it. 

  3. Be kind & spread love on a daily basis. Image result for heart sign png

    Remind your friends and your family of how much you appreciate their existence in your life. Even when it’s uncalled for in the middle of the day. You’ll be surprised of how much love you’ll get in return.

  4. Invest in something you love. Image result for fun sign png

    No matter how crazy things can get sometimes, give time to something that you love even if it’s as small as buying a book, going to the gym, or even starting a project you’re passionate about.

  5. Be lazy. Image result for lazy sign png

    Doing absolutely nothing on a Friday night is socially, mentally, and physically OKAYGive yourself a break without having to think about deadlines or evening plans. Almost anything can be postponed for later. I’ve been doing that a lot in the past few months and it feels GREAT.

  6. Be productive. Image result for work sign png

    It really cheers me up when I tick off my “to-do” list. Yes, I have a to-do list because I tend to forget a lot of things and I try to organize my thoughts as much as I can. So, finish up your assignments, or plan that trip that you wanted to go to, or go watch your favorite movie!

  7. Socialize. Image result for socialize sign png

    Spending time alone can be great for you but too much alone time can turn you into a loner! Surround yourself with people who enjoy your company and turn down plans that don’t interest you. Don’t waste your time on negative or fake people just for a “fun” night out.

  8. Don’t open any social media for a day. Image result for no social media sign png

    Sure, social media is fun and helps us feel connected to the world. But taking a break from it can be great for your mental health. It can give you a chance to look at your own life without having to constantly compare it to what you see on Instagram or Facebook. I have actually noticed a shift in my mood when I stopped using social media for a DAY. I just didn’t care how everyone’s day was going, I needed to focus on mine.

  9. Cook. Image result for cook sign png

    This has got to be the hardest thing for me but one of the things I mostly enjoy. Although it doesn’t happen often, but cooking your favorite meal is way more satisfying than eating it in a restaurant. Search recipes and start exploring your kitchen!

  10. Let go of everything that is beyond your control. Image result for let go sign png

    This took me a long time to work on and achieve. If you’re facing a problem, fix it. If the problem cannot be immediately fixed or if it is beyond your control, then stop worrying about it for the time being. I can think of many problems that could happen tomorrow or even months from now, but worrying and obsessing over them won’t help. Everything that happens, happens for a reason. And believe it or not, it is for your best even if you don’t see it right now, you’ll find out why it happened soon enough. So be patient.

The New Normal

My study away experience has started three weeks ago and I’ve never felt this confused in my life like I’ve been feeling lately. Although I’ve been to the U.S four times before, I’ve never visited this part of the country, The Midwest.

I often ask myself …

Where am I? What have I done? Why did I do this? What now?

Before my arrival, I had different expectations of the city and the people I’ll be surrounded with, let alone the weather. And everyday that passes by, I’m still learning how to adjust these expectations and make the best out of it.

I come from Dubai, a modern and diverse city with a luxurious lifestyle that we often take for granted because we forget that it’s an added value. But on the other side of the world, it’s the exact opposite. Springfield is pretty much flat to me. It’s a simple city with everything just around the corner. Surprisingly, many people knew what Dubai is and a lot of its attractions like Palm Jumeirah but many others thought it was located in India.

Being an Egyptian girl who was raised in Saudi Arabia and currently lives in Dubai, I feel like wherever I go I’m breaking the stereotypes.

According to them, I have all the answers!

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I’ve never felt like a freshman at AUS, even when I was one 3 years ago. I’ve known my way around campus, I knew a lot of students, and I wasn’t seen alone on the first day of classes back home. But it took me around 3 days here to get to know my way around and how the system works. Luckily, I don’t think I’ve experienced that much of a change academically compared to other international students.

Springfield, Missouri is a quiet city with not a lot of places to explore which is why the campus is full of life and lots activities to do. My day starts at 8 AM and pretty much ends at 5 or 6 which means I get to go to bed at 9 or 10 pm (no more dark circles under my eyes).

There are a few Arabs on campus (Saudis mainly) but the majority of students are American which kinda makes international students feel outnumbered in classes. People are generally nice and welcoming but they’d never initiate a conversation. My favorite thing is that I’m spending time alone without having people stare at me as if I’m a loner or a freak! (Yes, people do that in the Arab world or come up to you and ask you, why are you sitting alone? Do you wanna join us? No, I’m not depressed and I’m totally fine staying here, thank you…)

Over the next few months, and when the weather gets warmer, I plan on visiting nearby states to get to know this side of the country better.

Getting out of my comfort zone wasn’t the easiest thing for me and I pretty much have to remind myself daily that this WILL be the best experience of my life. I’m still learning how to adjust my expectations and how to avoid any negative thoughts like feeling homesick. And I know that by the end of this semester, I’d be a master in controlling my thoughts and making the best out of anything that comes my way. & this, to me, is why people call it the best experience of your life!

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You’re All You’ve Got; 2 0 1 7

Wow, can’t believe 2017 is almost over, felt like it was yesterday. The new year is always an excuse for people to upload funny memes, resolution posts, and complain about how 2017 was the worst year of their lives. However, this day can be used as an opportunity to look back and reflect on everything you’ve been through and everything you would like to change.

For me, 2017 was one of the most peaceful and stable years in my life. It’s the year that I’ve decided that I’m all that I have and I’ll continue to choose my happiness over everything and everyone.

Here are some of the things that I learned throughout this year and things I hope to change:

  1. Ever since the beginning of 2017, I decided to say NO to the things that I don’t want to do and to stop faking it! What’s the point of doing something you don’t truly believe in? What’s the point of pleasing someone while annoying yourself? So, if you haven’t learned to say no yet, please do yourself a favor and start doing so!
  2. Every day, I still try to believe in myself and the things that I can accomplish. Although no one can be productive or motivated 24/7, taking one step at a time is always better than standing still. No matter how many people try to make you believe otherwise and belittle your baby steps, remember that their opinions reflect on them and not on you. This is why I started this blog. With small baby steps, and with every post,  I believe I could influence someone to do something they’ve always wanted to do.
  3. As cliche and redundant as this phrase might sound, “keep your circle small and stay out of toxic relationships”, it has changed my life to the better. It’s ALWAYS about quality and not quantity. Having a few people that support, love, and care about you is sooo rare but it’s all you may need. What’s better than detoxifying your life from all the negative people who smile in your face but secretly wish they had your life? NOTHING. This was one of the things that I’ve done a few years back and has made me value the people in my small circle. So, if you decide to do that, look closely and pick wisely. Look at your friendships and your relationship and decide if you would want them in 2018. If not, don’t feel guilty about ending it & refer to number 1.
  4. I think at this point of my life, I’m in full control of my thoughts and emotions. Being self-aware of your actions and the words you speak is a skill that I’ve mastered. Every word you say and action you do counts. And before you judge someone, always put yourself in their shoes and think of what they might be going through. I also learned that stressing about the small things is pointless and at the end everything will be okay and you will make it through. So have hope and know that putting your mind to something and working towards it, will get you what you want.
  5. Be independent and make your own decisions. Don’t stress over things that are beyond your control. I always follow the “five” rule. If it won’t matter in 5 years, don’t spend more than 5 minutes worrying about it.
  6. Do not listen to what people have to say about you. The people who are close to you already know who you really are and for the people who don’t know you, their opinions are irrelevant.
  7. I learned that getting close to God is the best investment and the most guaranteed one. It’s the only one that will last and add value to your life. So pray when you’re in need and pray when you have it all…

I hope 2018 brings you and your loved ones peace and comfort. Do good and be good, and always try to be the best version of yourself!

Relationships

Since I was in school, dating was the trend and the topic of all gatherings. It was always cool to be involved with someone, and I was. But was it always healthy?

I’ve always been around my older sister and her friends when they talked about their problems in their relationships. I was always interested to listen to them and their thoughts. As I grew older, my opinion mattered (the harsh truth) and they asked for it whenever I was around.

I’m also very close to my mother and my relationship advice always comes from her. She always told me that dating teaches you compromise and selflessness. It teaches you the talent of understanding someone else’s point of view.

You’re not always right and he’s not always wrong.

If there’s something that I learned, is to never ever compare your relationship to anyone’s. No one is perfect and everyone has their problems no matter how perfect their relationship might seem. One of many problems in relationships is trying to make your partner change (even though no one changes, EVER). He’ll never change and you won’t either. So it’s either you start accepting each other’s flaws and stop putting your hopes up by trying to change them or just END it.

I’ve dated at a young age, and I’ve dated when I was mature enough to be in a relationship. And yes, age does matter so when your parents tell you that it’s too early, it IS too early. However, I’ve never regretted being in any of my relationships because I think it’s just a continuation of events. Everything that I learned in my first relationship has helped me in the next ones, so it’s never really a wasted experience. Many people who are currently dating told me that they wish they never dated before their current girlfriends/boyfriends. I think that’s completely wrong. I’m not saying that a person should date many times for it to be “right”, I just think that marriage shouldn’t be the first dating experience because it takes soooo long for two people to get along and know their differences. And what happens if it’s too late?

It’s well-known that there’s a “honeymoon” period or the “inside the bubble” period of 6 months where you think you’ve found your soulmate and everything is just TOO GOOD to be true. Gradually, you start stepping out of this bubble into reality and start facing the true flaws of your relationship. Then, you have two options, whether to give up or for BOTH of you to acknowledge the problems and work on them. Finally, the routine. Every relationship naturally passes through the “routine” phase where couples usually stop putting half the effort they used to put or they just take each other for granted because they’re not pressured by the need to impress each other. This phase is the make it or break it phase of the relationship. You need to start seeing each other more and doing different things to break the routine.

It’s important to know that every phase in the relationship has its advantages and differences. Love comes and transitions into different forms like stability, growth, and responsibility. If you’re seeking to be in the “in love” state constantly, (overflow of emotions and getting butterflies 24/7), then your relationship will not last. You need to ask yourself if you believe that there’s enough potential to overcome the challenges that you will both face.

The hardest part about dating is the risk of losing the person if it didn’t work out. Believe me though, it’s not the end of the world. Having your heart broken isn’t the worst part, you’ll love and be loved again and again. Learn to let go and move on because the best part about relationships is that you end up knowing yourself and that’s the beauty of it.

Fashion Forward Magic✨

Located at the heart of DXB, Fashion Forward S10 is back with its inspiring fashion looks and styles. Unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to attend all three days, but I think one day was enough to explore and move around!

My favorite thing about FFWDXB is its vibes. Everyone is there for the purpose of being themselves whether by posing, dressing up, or just attending the shows. I got to meet some really talented photographers, bloggers, and designers. One of my favorite designers, Mohanad Kojak, was showcasing his latest fall collection. I felt proud that these designs were done by an Egyptian fashion designer.

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Another thing about FFWDXB is MAC COSMETICS. They recently launched a new campaign, “Mix and Mac”, with one of the BEST makeup artists, Hindash, where you can mix different shades of lipstick to create your own personal favorite.

 

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10 EASY WAYS TO LOVE YOURSELF

  1. GO GET YOUR NAILS DONE
    Getting my nails done makes me feel refreshed. For the girls in Dubai and Sharjah, I highly recommend N-Style beauty lounge for manicures and pedicures but not for Gel/Acrylic extensions since they’re easily broken after a week or so.
  2. GO TO THE MOVIES ALONE OR WITH SOMEONE CLOSE TO YOU

Watching a really good movie can take your mind off of things that are distracting you for a solid 2 hours.

  1. SPEND TIME ALONE (USE IT TO DO SOMETHING YOU LIKE)
    I, personally, use this time to write or watch series on Netflix. And by watch I mean finishing a whole season in a day. I’m really into legal and political drama so Suits, The Good Wife, and How to Get Away with Murder are some of my favorite TV shows.
     
  2. GO SHOPPING
    Buy yourself something, even if it’s small and simple. It would make a difference and might cheer you up.
     
  3. GO HAVE A REALLY GOOD MEAL
    Food can always cheer people up. Especially if it’s sushi. One of my favorite sushi restaurants in the UAE is Mori Sushi in Downtown Dubai. 
  4. CHANGE
    Minor changes can lift your mood. Getting a piercing or dyeing your hair can sometimes make you love yourself again. I HIGHLY recommend and trust Amro Ladies Salon (Westin Hotel Branch) for cutting and dyeing your hair.
     
  5. WORKING OUT
    For the people who know me, I was never into the whole “gym and fitness” idea but I’ve recently started doing Pilates and since then it has become the highlight of my week. Working out really does release your stress and negative energy as they say. I go to Pilates Academy in JLT X2. Their prices are reasonable and their trainers are super friendly and professional. 
  6. READ
    Whether it’s a magazine, a book, or even a blog, reading allows you to enter a different world other than what you’re in.
  7. BE PRODUCTIVE
    Finish something you’ve been working on. Study. Work. Finish that TO-DO list on your desk. This will definitely make you feel better.
  8. HAVE A REALLY GOOD SLEEP
    It’s okay to ditch that Thursday night outing to stay home and rest. None of the above steps would work if you’re feeling lousy and tired. So always put your rest first!!