Mind, Body And Phone
With a kind heart and the brightest smile, you ever did see, Eileen Lahi redefines what influencing means on social media. Originally from Estonia, Eileen moved to Qatar in 2015 for work. She got her first camera when she was 15 years old since then she has been taking photos of everywhere she goes. When Instagram was introduced to the world, she started sharing her photos thinking it would be the perfect platform to build a community. For nearly ten years, this hobby grew on her until everything changed. While developing her eye, she also developed a new career as a creative, remaining true to herself and sharing her light with the world. Here & There met with Eileen to talk about everything travel, from her big move to the places she’ll go and how she has been adjusting to her new way of life after COVID.
What were the biggest challenges you had to face as an expat?
I moved here by myself - without any family or friends. I didn’t know anybody here and that was definitely the most challenging part. As much as it was all exciting and new - it was also very lonely and isolating. Every new beginning is hard. It took me about half a year to settle. I made some friends. I got my driver’s license. Rented a car. Decorated my apartment. Joined the gym. Made some friends. Became better at my job. Step by step I started to become comfortable with the life I was building here. I grew to love this place and all the opportunities it gave me. Now - 5 years later - I can say without a speck of doubt - every challenge on the way - was more than worth it. You just need to give yourself some time.
What does travelling mean to you?
Everything! It changed me in more ways than I will ever truly understand. It has connected me with wonderful people all around the globe; it has strengthened my faith - just by being able to marvel at the beauty of God. It has made me more open-minded, more tolerant, more compassionate, more understanding, more loving. But even more so - it has taught me things I never learnt anywhere else in life. It has enriched me and continues to do so.
What’s your best travel memory?
So many! I’ve been to nearly 50 countries to date, so it is really hard to pinpoint one. If I had to choose - I’d probably say travelling to the Maldives - when I was able to give my mother the vacation of her dreams. She cried happy tears almost the entire trip.
Where would you like to travel next? Why?
At this point, I haven’t travelled in 8 months so…ANYWHERE! However, the TOP of my list is Japan, Australia, South Africa and South America. I’ve never been to any of these places before and have heard amazing things about them all. I’m longing to explore and witness them for myself!
What are the must-have/tips to travel peacefully?
Try to be open-minded. Travel is almost never glamorous. A lot of things don’t go according to plan. A lot of unexpected things happen. I feel travel is a great test of friendship and even marriage! (laugh) You see a person’s true colours when you travel together. So have the patience to accept the things you cannot change. Embrace the road and embrace the ride. Try to be flexible and just go with the flow. In the end - all of it - even the messiest moments - will make up great memories and great stories!
Was it hard to adjust to a new normal at home?
I went through some personal losses in my life just at the beginning of COVID lockdown. I did not really feel the difficulties of the enforced confinement - because I confined myself regardless of what was going on in the world. I needed that time to be with myself, in isolation - so honestly, for me, the timing of the global lockdown was more of a blessing than a hardship. I could have never thought about travelling or work at the time. I got all the space that I needed.
How does a day in your life look like now?
Now that more than 6 months have passed - I am starting to really have the travel bug. I’ve gotten back into social media and content creation - I started by anything ‘home’ related - plants, decoration, DIY-s, cooking. It was different - but it was actually really nice! Now I focus more on just showing the world more of Qatar.
Words by Alexa Bouhelier-Ruelle
Photos provided by Eileen Lahi