Breaking Stereotypes is an online series to show off ordinary Arab women who are changing mindsets. Today’s post is special to my heart because I am talking about a woman who inspired me to be me today! An Iraqi woman who fought the odds to become successful! My grandmother, Faiza!

My grandmother was the 1st woman in her neighborhood to study medicine, I remember hearing stories about how much support she get from her father, how she challenged everyone to study!

Her Life

In the age of 18, she got married, she told me that she cried in the beginning, she didn’t want to leave her study, She wanted to be a DR. My grandfather on the other hand, was a man of science, he let her continue her studies till she got her Phd in Bacteriology.

In her years in collage, she had 2 kids and waiting for the 3rd. She was a mom, a Dr and a wife.

In the age of 25, both of grandparents went to England to finish their studies. At that time, she had 3 children and a full time job. They wanted to make something of theirselves and their daughters.

After they came back to Iraq, She started working in , they created their own life with their 3 children. She started teaching in the university and that’s when number 4 came along, she was pregnant, teaching and taking care of 3 other little girls.

my mom always used to tell me: ” I have no idea how she manage, I can’t manage 2 kids”. I believe she was just super women.

like any other woman, she faced a lot of problems, a lot of people gave her a hard time, she was kind, pure but we all have enemies.

By the 5th child, life has torn her apart yet she was strong, she took care of her girls, gave them the best education possible. She made sure that her name wasn’t going to waste.

Leaving Iraq

At the age of 60, War happened. I can’t tell much about how she felt, my grandmother loved Iraq with all of her heart. The hardest thing was when she had to leave. Babo (as I call her) used to open the news and cry about the tragedy of Iraq.

Babo moved to Amman, she used to love life, always ready to travel, to share some positivity in the world! No one forgot her beautiful smile walk down the street.

In 2016, she was diagnosed with brain tumor that took her life only 1.5 months after. It was one of the hardest thing in my life, to say goodbye to a strong and an amazing woman like her.

Even after her death, she took care of her girls, she worked so hard in her life to make a difference and she made it in me.

You will never hear her story in the media, yet she is the perfect example of a strong Iraqi woman who broke stereotypes!!

Follow this link to check the 1st episode Breaking stereotypes-Fatimah Alawwad!

I lived in Turkey/ Istanbul for 1.5 years, It is the place where I started my journey, A place where I found myself! A place I call Home.

I wanted to share my love to this country and encourage you to discover a new and an exciting place! You won’t forget Turkey’s magic.

I created an 8 reasons list on why you should visit this fascinating country:

1- You can travel the world in just one country.

Every weekend I used to book a flight and explore one of Turkey’s magic cities. I got to experience flying, booking , all of the travel process in just a domestic flight.

Then you enter a new city with that is different and unique. Every city has their special components, Every city has a outstanding place or a city-named dish that is worth the way.

Balloon rides in Cappadocia is like a balloon ride in Myanmar! And a beach day in Fetihya is like a Sunday after noon in Nice!

2- Food!

I can’t stop rambling about how good the food is in Turkey. Fish,Kabab, kanat, iskendar, Baklava، waffle, kumpir and many many many more!

Every dish got it’s own signature that makes a simple much like a glorious meal. You don’t have to be rich to eat food in Turkey! I used to eat a 3.5 TL meal (chicken and rice) and it was yummy!

Follow this link to read more about cheap and good Food in Istanbul Food dupes in Istanbul!

3- There is always something to do.

Whatever you do, working or studying, Turkey will never let you have a boring day. There is always some activity going around; A shopping festival, an Ataturk Holiday or simply a ferry ride from the European side to the Asian side.

4- A mixture of modernity and history.

The fantastic city of Istanbul got the best in two worlds. You will be able to travel down in history with every site in Istanbul, yet you will feel the modernity in the malls and in the technology involved in the structure of the city.

The layout of the old building mixing with the new ones is a sight you only can see it in Turkey and specially in Istanbul.

5- Transportation is accesable!

Having some kind of transportation is important in every city and in Turkey you won’t be disappointed. You will find a bus, a metro, a tram, a ferry and a taxi!! All public transportation are covered with just one card!

All roads lead to Rome and sure enough you will find a way to get there in Turkey.

Follow the link to read more about transportation cards and my favorite application to use while moving around 101 guide to your 1st week in Istanbul!

6- A home for an international community.

Students and Travelers from all around come to visit this mesmerizing place. In Istanbul alone I got to meet more than 15 different nationality from all around the world! I had made friendship that will last a lifetime with them! I got to experience and share moments with people from different cultures and end up learning something new from each one of them.

7- You can be yourself.

I always struggled to find a place to fit in, to be the real me! And I found this place in Istanbul and all of the city I traveled to! You are never too weird, or too cool or too unique. There is a place for you in this beautiful country.

You can wear shorts or a hijab, NO ONE will annoy you or make you feel uncomfortable.

8- Cat heaven.

One of the most noticeable scene in Turkey is animals. People every night put food for cats, dogs and even birds! They love and care about their animals, and you see that in the animals themselves. All of them are fat and lovable. All the dogs are under government care.

 If you are a cat lover like me then you will love Turkey.

Hello again wonderful people, today’s blog is about a place that we don’t hear a lot about; Pakistan!!

Pakistan is one of the countries that is known for it’s bad reputation hehe or let’s say it in another words (media doesn’t LIKE it that much). However, we are here to change this cause I believe there is beauty in every country we visit!

I went for 7 days and visited 2 of the big cities, Lahore and Islamabad.


I landed in Lahore, the airport was one of the basic airports in the world, a simple line and a passport guy! what I liked that they included women in the welcoming desks ( good sign).

To be honest I was a bit scared when I arrived, I thought everywomen will be covered from head to toe but guess what! They didn’t, they wear modest cloth and all of my friends were uncovered! They streets where 2 times wider than any country I visited.

I believe Lahore is the city that holds the real culture of Pakistan. As I heard from my friends, Lahore city is very old, they used red bricks to build houses and building, it is the main capital of Punjab! You can see both sides (modern and traditional) next to each other in a very special way. Although I was the only tourist there heheh but I enjoyed it.

One of my favorite moment is when I visited the Badshahi Mosque, it was something out of this world, the beauty of this mosque was in it’s details, I seriously can’t describe the peace I felt there.

That guy was totally posing for my picture.


I left Lahore and headed to Islamabad, again I thought I am going to see this really outdated city with no technology and stuff but guess what? It was even better than Lahore, again the streets were extremely wide. Metros, cafes, restaurants were available. Islamabad was more advanced than I imagined.

1st stop in Islamabad was Monal, I got a car, drove all up in the mountain and waited for the sun to go down, sat in this beautiful restaurant and just ate a bunch of meat.

2nd stop was Faisal Mosque the 3rd largest mosque in the world!!! So imagine my surprise when I saw it! it was so WHITE and modern. You can see from the picture how small I am haha.

Before I end this post, I have to talk about food! Of course since India and Pakistan is neighbors and I am like a Indian movies geek I imagined that I will love every meal there!! The food was tooooo spicy for me! ( You can imagine) Pakistani cuisine has a lot of food to offer, chicken, meet , everything!!

Money wise, you can cheap street food or expensive fancy restaurant meals!

I really wanted to share my experience with you all! I hope you enjoyed this one, don’t forget to share and like my facebook page The Zeina Diary!!

You are amazing, never ever forget that!! 

This might not be my normal travel blog post but it is what every girl/woman loves to read! Skin Care girls!

As a traveller ( I don’t travel that much *hmm*) my skin get damaged easily and if I don’t take the time to take care of it, baby will get angry.

I used to have a very bad skin before I leave for Turkey, but with all the free time I had in Istanbul, I was introduced to the world of youtube and it’s where I got my knowledge.

The most important part about taking care of your skin is knowing your skin type, for me I have an Oily/acne prone skin which means ALOT of work and pimples *sad face*.

I will divide this to my Morning routine and my night routine, FYI I am a very lazy person so this will be the easiest routine ever.

While traveling you need to carry on only the essentials because of the obvious reason YOU HAVE NO SPACE!

  • Please note although I am using Neutrogena products but this post is not sponsored by them.

Morning Routine

Clarisonic brush

I started using this a year ago and my skin has shifted.

Plus points: it is small, it will get the job done and it will clean your deepest pores.


Neutrogena Spot Stress Control

We all get a little bit stressed during our trips and this will prevent spots, it is magical, seriously it’s one of ultimate hauls. You can use whenever you feel there is a pimple trying to come out.


Neutrogena 2 in 1 ( Mask + Wash)

You can use the above or this one to get clean in the morning. This can be used both as a mask or as a cleanser so if you have a little extra time give your baby some love.

After preparing the skin some might use Cleansing lotion, However I noticed it made my skin very dry and I just was’t comfortable using it.

Moving to cream, I used to use Loreal day cream for my age group, it was OKish.

After it finished I searched for products that are more gel based and gurl I found it in Neutrogena gel cream!! Just Amazing, my skin was less oily and more fresh.

Fast forward to night routine, after along day of walking and discovering, it’s time to remove makeup give your skin a little me time and have a good night sleep!

Removing Makeup two ways:

Either by Neutrogena Hydro boost facial wipes SIMPLY wonderful and it will keep it hydrated through the weather change between countries.


Use Bioderma Make-up Remover and remove everything then hydrate your face  with any type of Oil you have, Oil keeps your skin fresh and ready to rock the next day.


Lastly you are beautiful just the way you are <3, Thank you for reading this not so travel related post and wish you a great day ahead!!

Please Share and Like my facebook page The Zeina Diary.

Another country added to the list! YAAAY! Lebanon is not your normal country to travel to .. It’s an small Arab country with European mentality! And though I searched a lot, there were little information about how to adjust and enjoy this country at the most.

So here are Zeina’s 10 tips to be an expert tourist in Lebanon!!

1- Dollars is all what you need to move around the country.

Don’t worry about not having a Lebanese currency, they all take dollars! just make sure to download Currency App to make sure you are not getting fooled :p

2- Transportation in Lebanon is complicated, Taxis’s work both as a private taxi and also ” multi people taxi, i.e Serfees”. They can pick up other people which means cheaper for you!

Taxis have red plates!

Prices for serfees: 2000 LL for one person.

3- Don’t feel shy when you negotiate the price of the taxi, LITERALLY you will find more than 10 taxis passing the same street at the same time. NEXT!

4- In Airport don’t take your taxi from the main door, take it from the 2nd floor and don’t pay more than 30$ (which is still expensive)

5- RENT A CAR! Best thing we did in lebanon was renting a car! Rent a small car, gas is cheap and WLAH you just saved 100$ for a trip outside beirut!

6- Local Food!! Sometimes all of our money goes for transportation and food and since we saved on transportation, food is now the problem!

Buy from local restaurants in al Hamara, my recommendation is “Sandwich w nos” cheap and tastes good.

7- Either choose a hotel that offer breakfast or buy Mankeesh from locals in the side streets! You will save one meal in the day.

8- If you want to enjoy the sea view then visit Korneesh better than Roshaa, less crowded and more enjoyable.

9- Don’t count on anyone and do your own research! Everyone told me that lebanon is just for nightlife (so sad and so not true)!! Driving in Beirut in the night by the water while listening to virgin Radio was one of the beautiful moments in Lebanon.

10- Lebanon is not expensive!! It all depends on you .. If you are going to spend all of your money on fancy places then Lebanon is expensive but if you just think before you spend 50$ then it will make a huge difference.

So here you go your 10 tips! Share and like if you thought this was helpful or can help someone!! And don’t forget to Like The Zeina Diary.

Today’s blog post is going to be more personal, I want you to know ME more, about Zeina! and more about why I started this blog!

Name: Zeina.

Age: 25 years old (OLD)!

Nationality: Iraqi, Arab.

Education: Chemical engineer and MBA holder.

Status: Single (haha).

WARNING: this is going to be long Post!!!

One upon a time there was a girl name Zeina and that girl decided she wants to travel and here is her story.

Before finishing my degree, I decided that I want to study masters outside the country, for one single reason I wanted to be independent, I wanted to find the real Zeina.

I applied for a British university in Uk and for 6 months I arranged everything from papers to paying my whole university fees. The big shock came when my visa got rejected simply for being an Iraqi. I was depressed, I knew I was meant to do something but all my dreams crashed. SOMEHOW God send me a message (British university in Istanbul)! Going to Istanbul was the best thing I ever did in my life!

In Istanbul, I Lived! I found the real me and I found out that I am meant to do good things in life!

I met sooo many people, people loved me and some people hurt me! All of this made me the person I am Today and I am grateful everyday for this!


Why did I started blogging

As a Hijabi woman from a country that is now known for war and destruction, I wanted to make a difference ( As lame as it is) I really want to leave a good and proud Image of Iraq, Women and me to the world.

I wanted to show everyone, That Women especially Arab women can do anything they want! I wanted to show that a normal Hijabi woman like you and me can do something! And thats why I started blogging!


Although I started a travel blog! Its very hard for me to travel because of my passport! I got rejected 3 times to go to Europe because I am a single, Iraqi girl!

How did I Start

One afternoon in my lovely Istanbul, I decided that I will start a blog, I opened my laptop and searched ” How to start a blog for free” cause I was poor, AM STILL POOR! many sites pop up and after a bit of research, I created my 1st blog post 101 guide to your 1st week in Istanbul.

After that, I bought my domain with the money I had ( 15 TL) and after 2 months my awesome brother bought my hosting! Babysteps!!

At the end, I am a simple woman just trying to make things more positive and more bright. I know this wasn’t a travel related material but I hope you liked it! If you have more question feel free to reach me.

Thank you all so much <3 Till next time.

Facebook Page The Zeina Diary.

Hello everyone, welcome to my very first blog!
Let me introduce myself in one sentence, My name is Zeina Atamish, 24
soon to be 25 (ugh) years old, MBA holder and a chemical Engineer, been living in Istanbul for one year and a half and killing it.

This blog will guide you through your 1st week in Istanbul if you were a student, a solo traveller or basically anyone :D. It will include; BASIC Turkish language words, things you must have to move around and basic enjoyable activities.

My brother and Örtaköy Cami

First things first!! Turkish words you need to know!! ( I spend my 1st week saying thank you in Turkish cause I didn’t know anything, ugh struggle is real people, struggle is real):

Merhaba : Hello ( use it with everyone!! like I did ).

Türkçe bilmiyorum: I don’t know Turkish, which believe me, YOU WILL NEED IT. In case you don’t know, Turkish people don’t speak English :)))) * though some of them do.


Cute Fish Street seller posing for a Pic.

Ne Kadar: this is used to ask about the price of anything. USE it and use a calculator or your fingers to understand the numbers, cute right!

Nerede: this word is used to ask about a place; for example: Sultan ahmet nerede? add the place you want to go and this word after it, they will have their own way to explain the road to you 😀 which mean HANDS!

and Of course my 1st word that I learned here, Teşekkürler which means Thank you.

Move on to the second thing that we are going to mention here THINGS you need to have to move around and believe me you need them! BADLY:

1st : Istanbul Kart, which is as shown in the picture, a normal card that is used in every transportation ( Bus, Metro , Mertobus, tramvay and ferries), you can buy those cards from any newspaper places (like in the picture ) which will cost around 6 TL (1.5 $). You can fill it in any machine near the metros, ferries, etc.. one ride will cost you 2.45 TL (0.5 $) the 2nd ride will be half the price.

2nd: APPLICATIONS!!!!! Istanbul has two main used application for moving around; Trafi (Click to download ) and mooveit (Click to download ). They will both show you the way ( I mean if you get lost in the middle of no where with Turkish people all around you, no English! those apps will be your lover).

Finally, you are visiting Istanbul, the city that never sleeps, a beautiful lovely city where both history and present meet. I am pretty sure there is a million page on google that show you the 10 best places you should visit and I am telling you visit them all! But for me, the beautiful things to do in this city are drinking Chai (Tea) with a sea view, walking in old streets, feeding the cats (Istanbul cats and dogs are the best) and mostly feel the culture and the history.


At the end, Thank you for spending minutes of your day to read my article and I will keep posting things I find interesting. Please leave me a comment or send me an email if you need any kind of help in Istanbul.

Disclaimer, All the pictures here are my pictures and were taken by me.