Thank You, 2018
Updated: Jun 16
They say that the key to happiness is gratitude. As I look back on 2018, I know that I have so much to be thankful for: friends, family, security, health, and just life in general. I am thankful for it all! 2018 was a year of endings and beginnings; from leaving behind my life in the Pacific Northwest to moving to Dubai, it’s been a year of growth and development. I’m excited to share with you twelve things that I am both proud of and grateful for from 2018, and to share my happiness with all of you!
1. Work, Work, Work, Work, Work
During my last year of university, I worked as a dance teacher, a dog walker, a bridal consultant, and a towel folder (yes, that's a thing). I am thankful for each of these positions as they taught me to balance my time wisely, and how hard one needs to work to make it. Each one of these jobs brought me joy in its own way, and I am grateful for each of them (although my sleeping pattern at the time definitely wasn't…!) 2018 was definitely the year of being busy!
2. Service Above Self
There is nothing that brings me as much joy as helping people does. In 2018, I was an active volunteer with the National Eating Disorder Association, Rotary International, and the Bethlehem Inn Homeless Shelter. No matter how busy I was with work and school, I made it my mission to dedicate my free time to helping people.
The pictures below show some of my favorite volunteer projects that I worked on during the past year. The top left image is from when I spoke on 107.7 The Beat to promote a charity event for my old Rotary club. The picture below it was taken during my last meeting at the Rotary Club of Bend before starting my new adventures abroad. The upper middle photo is from my last volunteer session at the Bethlehem Inn Homeless Shelter, and the photo below that shows the official groundbreaking ceremony for the new living quarters at the shelter. The top right photo shows me with the lovely Ally Galloway, my dear friend who took over the Bend NEDA Walk that I started back in 2015. Finally, the bottom photo is from the last NEDA walk I coordinated. I'm thankful for each of these moments and the friends I worked with during this time!!!
3. Health is Wealth
You never realize how much you depend on your health until it fails you. 2018 was a tough year for my beautiful mother as she was diagnosed with breast cancer, something she battled for most of the year. Three major surgeries and four rounds of chemotherapy later, my mom was finally declared cancer-free! If there is one positive thing from this experience, it’s that I was able to be with my mom every step of the way. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to not be by her side through her sickness, and I am so grateful that I was able to be there for most of her treatments. My mom is my hero in so many ways, and her sickness made me realize just how important one’s health is. 2018 taught me to never take the health of my loved ones or myself
for granted, and I surely won’t from here on out!
4. Graduated from College
First, I wanted to go into broadcast journalism. Then, I decided wilderness therapy was the right career path for me. After that, it was naturopathic medicine followed by psychology. After switching majors so many times, I had enough credits to get a degree in social science. So, I’m proud to say that I (finally) graduated with Magna Cum Laude honors with a bachelors of science degree from Oregon State University Cascades! Next stop: graduate school. And don’t worry: I’ve already committed to studying human rights and have no plans of changing.
The first photo was taken at my graduation party and the second one shows my graduation cap sporting the Oregon state motto: She Flies With Her Own Wings.
5. Said Goodbye to Miss America
I know that a lot of people have mixed feelings about pageants. Often times, pageants get lumped together in one glitzy category, making it easy for people to write them off as anti-feminist or outdated. I recognize this; however, I want to take a second and express that the Miss America Organization is entirely different from other pageants. This program focuses on education, community service, and female empowerment, and I am beyond proud to have been involved with it!
For three years, competing at Miss America was at the forefront of my mind. Each and every day, I dedicated time to my academic, fitness, and social impact initiative-related goals to ensure that I would not only stand out as a contestant, but as a young woman as well. Between the intensive interview, public speaking, and service related experience I gained from three years of participating in this program, I can honestly say that I am who I am today, because of the skills I learned from this program!
Of course, one has to be in the US to compete for the Miss America title, which is no longer a reality for me! 2018 brought the difficult choice of choosing between this dream, and my new one of living and working in Dubai. This was definitely a crossroad decision for me, and one of the hardest ones I’ve had to make; however, I know I made the right one. I am so happy with my new life in Dubai, and everyday, I use the skills I learned from my years in this organization to move forward professionally and personally. I am eternally grateful for the Miss America Organization for giving me both scholarships and the tools to chase my new dreams!
6. Moved to Dubai
No, not Mumbai. Dubai. (Yes, I actually had that conversation). For my friends who don’t know where I am, Dubai is an emirate in the United Arab Emirates. It’s located in the Middle East and is an incredible, cosmopolitan, and exciting place! I want to take a second and address many of the questions I got when I prepared for the move:
Is it safe? Yes. Abu Dhabi (the capital of the UAE) is ranked the safest city in the entire world, and Dubai isn’t far behind!
Do you have to cover up? Nope. I dress the same way in Dubai as I did in the US!
What do you wear at the beach? A bikini!
Can women drive? Everyone can drive. (:
I’m thinking about doing an entire post answering questions about the UAE! If you have any, please send them forward. (:
7. Moved in with a Partner
Do you remember what it was like to move in with your partner for the first time? What about when the two of you had never actually lived in the same city before the move? Ah, me too! 2018 was definitely the year for leaps of faith, and I am beyond thankful for this one in particular.
Back in May, I made the move to Dubai to be closer to my partner, Simon. As previously noted, we had never lived in the same city before- much less apartment; however, we got to know each other from a year and a half of daily communication (thanks Skype) and numerous international vacations in exotic places. So, it was a few steps above 90 Day Fiancé, at least!
Anyway, this move had the potential to be a total disaster. Simon could have been a complete nut bag, or worse- he could have not liked dogs; but thank goodness- from living with Simon for the past seven months, I can confirm that he possesses neither of those evils; in fact, he is practically perfect in every way. (:
8. Learned how to cook (kind of)
I know Simon is reading this now and rolling his eyes, but I promise you- it’s true!! For those of you who know me, you know that I am the queen of microwave meals, and snacks. You also may know that I am just as happy having bottom-shelf wine as a 25 dollar Dubai cocktail; it’s just who I am! But, I’m proud to say that I now know how to make rice (hoorah!) and cook veggies (cue hallelujah chorus). Not to mention, I made a mean Minnesotan delicacy for a Christmas gathering that Simon and I went to the other day: sweet potatoes with pineapple and marshmallows. Miraculously, no one wound up in the hospital, and it was actually pretty delicious if I do say so myself! (Shout out to my beautiful grandmother for the recipe and for your tireless efforts to teach me how to cook! Love you!)
9. Started a Blog
This was something that I had wanted to do for years. For quite some time, I enjoyed watching YouTube videos covering all things fashion, travel, and life in general. I even developed a liking for certain bloggers, and to this day, I follow their posts regularly. Between my move to the UAE, and the beautiful Olympus Pen Epl7 gifted to me by my grandma (the same grandma who tried to teach me how to cook) I decided that 2018 would be my year to start my blog, Katharinehn. I’ve taken a bit of a hiatus, but I am happy to say that I will be posting new written and video content in 2019! Stay tuned. (:
Now that I live in Dubai, it is so easy to travel to new and exotic places! In June, we had the pleasure of going to Katmandu, Nepal which was an incredible and eye-opening experience. We also went to Muscat, Oman for the second Eid holiday (not to mention the three other times I crossed the boarder for visa-runs. (Unsolicited political opinion: Let’s not build a border wall, okay? Okay). Both of these trips were incredible and I’m so grateful for the travel opportunities that we had in 2018. Simon and I have a new list of countries to travel to in 2019, and we can’t wait to get started!
If you want to check out the vlogs I created for these destinations, here are the links:
11. Learned how to use Public Transportation
Okay, this is a huge accomplishment. For those of you who know me well, you know that I get lost walking out of my front door. An example of this is shown from my time as an exchange student in Denmark from 2012-2013. During my exchange year, I was fortunate to have been able to go on a two-week tour of Europe; this was also around the same time that I was training for my first half marathon. I kid you not, I got lost in every. single. one. of the countries that I ran through during that time. Which, if you think about it, is quite the accomplishment!
Anyway, using public transportation has always been a bit intimidating to this directionally-challenged girl. Even using a taxi was nerve-racking the first time I did it out here (mostly because the drivers don’t always know where they are going). But- it was one of my 2018 goals to turn into someone who could confidently use public transportation, and look at me now: Katie Noyed is officialy a #metroqueen TM.
12. Worked Abroad
Currently, I work as an English teacher with young students from all over the world. Just as there are over 200 nationalities represented in the UAE, my job allows me to work with students from countries like: Switzerland, Syria, Italy, Malta, India, China, and of course the UAE. I love it! Everyday, I’m inspired by my students, because English is often their second or third language. It’s truly amazing. Additionally, I laugh daily due to the silly things my young students say. For example, one student said, “One time, a lizard crawled on me.” And no, we were not talking about lizards. Another time, a few students and I were talking about our lovely receptionist who was visiting her family back in the Philippines. After a few minutes, a little girl with crooked purple glasses asked, “Is she real?” To which I responded, "Yes, sweetie. You've met her." There is truly never a dull moment at my job!
So, there you have it, folks! Those are my top twelve experiences/learnings from 2018. I am so grateful for the life I have, and appreciate beyond words all of the love and support I have from my friends and family. May 2019 be just as incredible as 2018! (: