Leaving her home in the U.S. at the age of 21 brought life-changing opportunities for this month’s entrepreneur. After spending a decade in Spain and then moving to the Middle East, Chelsea’s environmental concerns and activism only grew throughout the years. Now in India, she shares the journey that led her here.
Before she decidedly changed her location and career, Chelsea Juneidi was working at an an e-commerce company in Barcelona, where she did internal communications, planned corporate events and helped establish a company culture. She described her position there as a Chief Happiness Officer and despite the fact that she was still enjoying it, Chelsea was ready to move on and become her own boss.
Author and creator of the popular blog My Amman Life, Chelsea moved to Jordan in 2017, only some months after her first visit. Now residing in Bangalore, India her work has not taken a break. She is still sharing useful information, promoting zero waste and behavior change towards a more sustainable way of living.
Chelsea’s concerns for a sustainable lifestyle are legitimate, necessary and timely. In fact, we have all been appalled with the recent news of the Amazon burning at an accelerated pace to give way to cattle farming. With meat production being one of the main causes for environmental degradation, water usage, ocean pollution and wildlife decline due to deforestation, it is no wonder why Chelsea is vegan and why her efforts are directed towards educating her audience on possible ways to eat locally in a way that is both conscientious and delicious, as well as how to shop and live more sustainably.
Her initiative to curb the use of plastic in Jordan by inviting the local companies to not offer straws at all and appealing to the general public to stop their use, goes hand in hand with one of the UN’s Environment Programme Goals: Sustainable Consumption and Production which aims to substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse by 2030 . And although most, if not all, of the restaurants Chelsea and I have been together to in Amman bring you a straw by default, I have seen people choosing ceramic mugs and metal cutlery instead of disposables.
One of the reasons why Chelsea’s efforts deserve attention is that she has personally been in contact with Jordanian businesses and organizations that promote recycling, upcycling, organic farming and eco-hiking in order to find out about their practices and to share their story. Let me say though, that she has an unshakeable code of ethics that dictates how, and if, she will review and feature those places on her blog. A couple of times Chelsea has shared with me how disappointed she has been when some of the companies that have approached her don’t really stand out for what they portray online. The term greenwashing comes to mind.
Considering that Chelsea has lived abroad for nearly half of her life, the question about her desire to live in a different country seemed obvious, but I wanted to know more. This is what she said:
“The first time I traveled abroad I was 9 years old. My family and I went to London and Paris. Two years later we went to Spain. So from a young age I developed an interest and understanding that the world was a much bigger place in need of exploring. My junior year in university I chose to study abroad in Spain and lived in Madrid for a year. Needless to say I loved it , so I decided to move there after I finished my studies.”
With all that Chelsea has learned throughout her years abroad, I was curious to know what her most rewarding experience as an expat had been. It was a pleasant surprise to hear her response:
“Learning a new language! Becoming fluent in Spanish and now trying to learn Arabic is something that is very rewarding because it’s allowed me to develop relationships and communicate with people I might not have known if I didn’t learn a new language.”
And what about those challenges expats inevitably face? What has been the hardest experience of living as an expat? Chelsea states:
‘Friendships. People don’t tend to stick around in one city for very long when you have an international group of friends. However, it’s nice to know you can have friends all over the world.”
If you’re a follower of The Elephant Soul’s monthly expat entrepreneur interviews, you know that this is a common argument. Saying good bye to friends will always be hard, no matter how many times you’ve done it.
As for pursuing her passions as a creative entrepreneur, Chelsea has remained open and flexible to the opportunities she has found along the way. She shares:
“I would say my passion is not one specific career, but rather having the chance to do many different things. From age 21 when I moved abroad I have changed careers a lot! Now 10 years have passed and I’m in my most fulfilling and happiest “career” working with my husband on a chain of falafel restaurants in India and other projects in the food industry. But to better answer the question, I think I gave my passion a chance when I quit my 9 to 5 job and moved abroad to Jordan in 2017 after nearly a decade in Spain. It was a decision I made on a whim and just based on passion.”
Isn’t that inspiring? Risk-taking takes a lot of courage and inner-strength especially when you leave behind the place you’ve called home for a decade. With this in mind, I wanted Chelsea to advise those women living the nomadic lifestyle on how to pursue their passions.
“Today everything is online so being a nomad is easier than ever before. If you want to always move around and not stick to one place for too long, find a way to make your passion portable by implementing it online.” She stated.
To conclude this month’s interview, I wanted Chelsea to share what her spiritual practice is, as spirituality is a big component of The Elephant Soul. This is what she said:
“Before my son was born a couple months back I was doing a daily meditation using the Calm app. I definitely need to get back to that! It really was a great way to start my day as it slowed me down to just take a minute to breathe and relax before a day of running around. Since having my son my focus is to be full of calm and positive energy as I want him to grow up from day 1 with a relaxing and happy home environment.”
When Chelsea is not busy doing research, writing or finding ways to live in a more environmentally-friendly way, she likes going out for long walks or enjoying a big teapot full of black tea with fresh mint. You can connect with Chelsea on Instagram, facebook or follow her blog. She is also moderates the Vegans of Amman facebook group. Come join!