Thinking about becoming an expat?

I started on my expat journey the moment I moved from the little town I grew up in to the capital of Chile. But, the first time I started travelling was when I was when 30 was on the horizon (I was actually no more than 28). I decided to follow my dream to backpack through Europe.

How I became an expat

I moved from a little town in Chile called Valparaíso to the big city, to the capital.

It was awful. I felt lonely. I didn’t know anyone. Nobody wanted to be my friend because everybody was already befriended, now that they were adults. It was Post University, so in a time when you don’t have time anymore for new people.

I was climbing the corporate ladder working 24/7.

Suddenly my 30’s are on the horizon. That’s a crisis. I have to follow my dream. I want to backpack through Europe.

So I quit my job, everyone said I was crazy, “how are you going to do that?”, “You’re not going to find anything after, you’re old” The typical cons about quitting your job and just going traveling. But I did it anyway.

I spent one almost a year travelling through Europe alone.

It was magnificent.

I came back to Chile after the year and the corporation I was working for before I left took me back. I came back on a Thursday and I was working on the next Monday.

One year later, I became an expat and quit for good because I moved to Europe and have not once looked back.

Becoming and Expat: What to Expect

What to expect: It’s ok to feel the way you do

Quitting and travelling alone, becoming an expat, I didn’t know what was going to happen. The worst thing? Being apart from my family and my closest friends.

The typical thing that I experienced myself, and that I see over and over again? It’s a phrase that I always hear, “I feel like a toddler”, or “I feel like a child”.

Why? Because when you get that cultural shock and helplessness there’s the feeling of not knowing what to do, what to say, where to go or where to ask for help. Like, you can’t even go to the doctor, a haircut, or order something to have lunch or a coffee.

There’s this fear of something big going to happen and not being able to communicate.

This fear is so big that some people cannot even leave the house.

All my clients are independent women, they have worked their whole life. They are used to solving things and then suddenly, becoming an expat they feel like they can’t even go outside the house without fear.

I describe it like walking with a spotlight the whole time, like, “oh, they’re going to find out that I’m not fluent”.

What to expect: Forget what you ‘know’

There are physical affects to becoming an expat. What you thought you knew about you, may not be relevant to where you are now in your life abroad.

What do I mean?

We don’t keep bearing in mind the things that affect us:

  • Food or allergies
  • Type of water water
  • Sleeping habits
  • Eating habits

These things can change you, for example, sensitize your skin, your hair.

Those aspects are also going to influence your mood. They affect directly your mental health.

Becoming and Expat it's ok to feel the way you do

How you treat yourself matters

I discovered that especially among women – and especially among high achieving women – how they treat themselves, how they speak to themselves, how they refer to themselves, the way they see themselves or how they describe themselves matters.

It’s really frightening to me to see powerhouses treating themselves in a negative way. But, not only that they are masquerading it in fun, in a joking manner. You know, “How am I such an idiot? I’m so stupid. Haha”.

I’ve become a ninja at spotting it even if you’re not aware of it.

Some people think that being harsh to themselves, it motivates them to be better. But it’s the complete opposite.

You are creating a story that you are telling, and your brain gets used to that. It starts to justify things like, okay, it didn’t work, because you’re stupid.

If you can’t learn a language as fast, you think you’re stupid.

You can’t go out and buy something by yourself because you’re stupid.

You’re not able to meet new people, you’re stupid.

You are NOT stupid! You need to treat yourself with kindness and compassion.

Becoming and Expat: What to Expect - Pinterest

Change the way you think about you

Even if you’re mental health aware, look for help when you need it when becoming an expat.

Positive affirmations and repeated mantras can work, but if you don’t believe in what you’re saying then are you faking it until you make it on your expat journey?

You need to get below the surface on a deep level to see true transformation.

You can work a lot on yourself and reframing, but you have also have to take care of yourself physically. If you are not taking care of that part, you can’t take care of your brain and your soul.

If you’ve become or are becoming an expat, it can seem an overwhelming experience, but it doesn’t have to be. If you are struggling with adapting to expat life abroad remember that you are not alone. Reaching out for help is the first step towards healing and finding a way to make expat life work for you.

Find out more about my methods and approach here.

Do you want to know more about on how to overcome Limiting Beliefs of life abroad? Check my Workshop here

Searching for useful and effective strategies? Download my 9 Tools to overcome Expat Anxiety Freebie

Want your 30-Minute Free Consultation? Book Here! and let’s start the road to the expat life YOU want to live!

Check the testimonials of clients living the life abroad they want!

By your side,


If you are an expat woman who wants to live a joyful, successful and fulfilled international​ life, Gabriela is the Licensed Psychologist and Mentor you need.

She helps you reclaim your self-confidence back and design your expat life in your own terms. Gabriela has more than 20 years of professional experience, speaks 3 languages (sometimes in one sentence, like you!) and has supported more than 350 expats overcome anxiety and burnout, build meaningful relationships and enjoy their international lives, wherever they are, wherever they are heading.

Gabriela offers counseling to expat women in Spanish, English and German.