There are so many emotions and phases we go through living abroad, let alone the challenges of expat life. As an expat psychologist, I see a lot of common and shared problems.

In this blog post, I want to share my perspective as an expat psychologist on some of the common things I see as challenges in expat life, and what it’s crucial to focus on in order to grow and enjoy your life abroad.

There is both beauty and challenge in expat life. The goal is always to live life to it’s full potential because you deserve it.

Embracing the present as an expat

My preferred approach, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), prioritize’s practical solutions around present and future-oriented strategies.

I believe in emphasizing the importance of paying attention to the present rather than dwelling on the past or looking too far into the future.

Sometimes for expats, it’s about the past and a comparison or wishing you were 10 steps ahead of yourself waiting for that one thing to change.

You know, when we are sad we are nostalgic and we focus, but we focus on the past, how lovely it was, and how perfect everything was back home.

We tend to ignore our present or even neglect our present because we’re longing too much for something.

This is why, as an expat psychologist, my approach is practical, solution-oriented and focused on the present.

We’re a rollercoaster of emotions, use them

In the early stages of expat life you’ll feel a whole rollercoaster of emotions. You’re discovering so many things about yourself and about the place you’re now living, about a new job and about a new language.

Everything is new, and you’re processing everything. Your brain is almost collapsing with information. It’s totally normal to feel like, “oh my god, what am I doing here?”, then the next day, “oh my god, it’s so perfect. I will never leave”, and again, the day after is “no I’m depressed. I don’t have any friends.”

It’s okay.

What’s important as an expat is that you accept what you’re feeling in the present and embrace it.

It’s okay to say today I’m not feeling that great. I’m feeling sad. I miss my mom, my friends, the smell of my city. It’s okay to miss all of that.

When I work with clients an important part is acknowledging and utilizing these emotions as valuable sources of information.

However, it’s crucial not to let them entirely define our identity.

By recognizing and accepting our emotions without letting them overpower us, we can focus on the present and take practical steps towards personal growth and happiness.

If we dwell on cognitive distortions they can creep in so we start to believe our emotions are who we are. If I am feeling sad, I am a sad person. If I am feeling envious, I am an envious person. That’s a cognitive distortion and it’s not reality at all.

When you acknowledge that you missed something and feel sad, you should instead try to focus on the now and what you’re going to do here to feel better whilst acknowledging and recognising that you miss home or that you feel bad, angry, frustrated, envious, jealous.

You’re normalizing the ups and downs and validating the emotions you’re experiencing.

Recognizing that emotions can’t be controlled, but behaviors about the emotions can be, it’s liberating and energizing.

Emotions are neither good or bad. They have something to tell us, they have a purpose and provide us with information. There is a goal or purpose for feeling sad or angry. It’s my job to empower and provide you with the tool to get to that information.

Taking ownership of you expat experience

For expats in the early stages of their journey, this rollercoaster of emotions they may experience, the fluctuations between excitement and doubt are completely normal.

By accepting these feelings and redirecting their focus to the present, expats can navigate the challenges they face more effectively.

Challenge your negative thoughts, acknowledge their futility and detrimental impact on your emotional well-being.

Expat life can be a beautiful but challenging journey.

In understanding and accepting your emotions, reframing negative thoughts, and embracing the present, expats can take ownership of their experience and navigate the challenges with greater resilience.

The power of my Counseling – It’s about staying present

With my dual background as a psychologist and coach, I’ve gained a unique perspective on the differences between coaching and psychology approaches when it comes to expat support.

With my approach I combine strategies from cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and coaching, concentrating on the importance of focusing on the present and future rather than dwelling on the past.


Well, it’s really the source of all problems are directing our attention to the past or too far into the future, and ignoring the present. Always wishing that we were either 10 steps ahead of where we are, or could go back 10 steps.

If you’re navigating the challenges of expat life, you’re not alone. I’ve worked with over 400 expats who’ve experienced similar challenges. As an expat psychologist my expertise offers valuable support to individuals in all stages of their expat journey and give you the confidence to move forward in your expat life, enjoying it to it’s fullest.

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.