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January 17 2022 10:02 PM ˚
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European influencer thrives and strives for more

AJNABEYAH
(Photo: Handout)
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AMMAN — Home is where the heart is for Natalia Papadopoulou, a social media influencer of European origins.

Papadopoulou, also known as “Ajnabiyeh” (meaning “foreigner” in Arabic), is a 23-year-old content creator living in Jordan alongside her Greek father and Polish mother. She moved to Jordan with her family when she was a child because of her father’s job, but never had the chance to learn or speak Arabic because of the societal “bubble” she found herself in. Although her friends at the American Community School were all of Jordanian origins, they only spoke English.اضافة اعلان

Papadopoulou, who has over 2 million followers on TikTok, enjoyed living in her new home but she faced a few problems regarding the cultural expectations that she said Jordanians have about foreigners.

“I had to face this whole stigma that people have against foreigners that I did not know they had,” she said. “I had to experience the whole thing firsthand.”

Papadopoulou moved to London in 2016 to pursue her studies but soon discovered that she had an unbreakable bond with the country in which she grew up. In an interview with Jordan News, she said that she felt “homesick the minute she boarded the plane.”

Knowing that she wanted to stay in Jordan, Papadopoulou realized that she had to improve her Arabic — which is why she turned to social media. In order to learn how to properly speak the language, she developed a strategy.

“Something that really helped me improve my Arabic was that I made sure to post all of my content in Arabic,” she said. “Even if I make mistakes, I have fans and friends who are always correcting me and helping me out.”

Soon enough, she grew a large following on TikTok and Instagram who enjoyed helping and correcting her linguistic mistakes. Eventually, she went viral for her efforts to learn the language and the deep love she displayed for Jordan.

Growing up, Papadopoulou was very self-conscious and suffered from stage fright, but creating videos on social media helped her gain confidence and overcome her anxieties. She found a source of happiness in connecting with people and is always motivated to craft more content, she said.

The young influencer is already planning to set up a few businesses in Jordan in the future, but she has not launched any of them yet. She hopes to implement ideas that serve the local community, such as supporting small businesses in Jordan, creating local products, and employing women in impoverished areas. 

She used to volunteer at Jerash Camp, a Palestinian refugee camp. However, “I never really publicized my humanitarian work,” she said. “I always felt like it was something personal.”

Empowering women is another mission in which the young influencer wishes to invest her time.

“I would like to be of help in employing women in smaller areas of Jordan,” she said. “I also want to help empower women, because I feel there is this stigma around girls taking risks and speaking about what they believe.”

 “Do not be afraid to take risks,” she said. “You might get hated on and people might say things that are untrue about you, but if you keep on going and don’t let that affect you, you achieve amazing things in your life.”

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