Growing up, I moved around a whole lot. My parents were always in search of the best opportunities for my siblings and me but also wanted us to grow up in wholesome environments near family and friends. That being said; in my almost 20 years of being alive, I have lived in six different cities across two different continents! Each one had its charms—well, for the most part, and today I’m going to be rating every city I’ve lived in so far!
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia: 2/10
(Jan. 2001-Sept. 2001)
Jeddah was one of those places you barely remember anything from but have like one or two stark memories of. I was born there and only lived there for a few months, but the reason why I rate it so low is because of the horror stories my parents would tell me about living there and because Saudi Arabia has no respect for women’s rights (among other atrocities).
Miami, Florida (the first time): 7/10
(Sept. 2001-April 2002)
When we lived in Miami for this short period of time, it felt more like a vacation than anything. I vaguely remember some memories of a very intense tropical storm and going to Dandy Bear with my family, but that was the extent of my memories because I was like… one year old.
Aqaba, Jordan: 11/10
(April 2002-June 2006)
Living in Aqaba was the actual time of my life. Aqaba was this gorgeous beach town right at the very southern tip of Jordan. We were constantly at the beach with my parents, we knew everybody in the town, our house was adorable and very cottage core, and all my best memories were from there. I remember my parents would take us every weekend to swim at the Movenpick hotel with our family friends, and that’s what I mean by wholesome growing up environments. My parents made sure that we were constantly surrounded by people that we loved and were doing things that nurtured us and enriched us. My parents, especially when we lived in Aqaba, focused on arts and crafts, on making us play outside (we had a dollhouse and a swing set), on teaching us how to swim and be active and on making sure that we grew up happy. We only eventually moved to the capital of Jordan because of how small the medical and school options were in Aqaba.
Amman, Jordan: 8/10
(June 2006-July 2014)
So, Amman was the second half of my childhood and my growing up process. I rate it so high because of the countless memories I made here with our neighbors, my school mates and my family. Amman feels the most like my base because that is where my parent’s home is, that is where my little brother was born, and that is where most of my family lives. I don’t give it the full 10 because of some scattered trauma here and there, but other than that; I love Amman and all of its beauty (and flaws).
Miami, Florida (the second time): 6/10
(July 2014-Aug. 2019)
Miami was definitely an experience this time around. I gave it a six because even though I met a lot of my friends here and made a good chunk of my memories here, I still experienced an identity crisis; not knowing where to fit in. I also didn’t live with my dad for the first two years here since he was still working in the Middle East. I also had to witness my parents being visibly unhappy because they missed their life back home. So, while it was great and I got my first jobs there and I went to high school in Miami, I still wouldn’t say that it was a flawless experience.
Tallahassee, Florida: 9/10
Ah, the love-hate relationship that I have with this town. I rate Tallahassee so high because of the amount of memories I have made here and the fact that I get to live by myself. Tallahassee has taught me independence and self-reliance, all while being able to hang out with my friends every day and attend a beautiful school. I dock it a point because of the current horrible response many people are taking, or not taking, to Covid-19, which makes me very anxious and always cautious whenever I step out of my apartment. Other than that, I am able to look past this place’s flaws because of how much I love my life here.