How to feel like a local in a new place

How to Feel Like a Local in a New Place

By Marina Gonzalez Biber

You’ve spent time thinking it over. Your friends have told you that they wouldn’t have the guts to do it. Your family has asked you to reconsider it. Your mind is set: you want to travel to a new destination and live abroad. On top of that, you want to do it alone.

Even though you haven’t surrendered to the arguments your friends and family have made, there are some fears and worries that remain when it comes to taking this step. 

“Is it really a good idea to move to a country where I don’t know anybody? Will I regret traveling alone? What if this is all a mistake?”

These questions are absolutely normal. Before a big change, our anxieties try to convince us to stay where we are, that what we don’t know is bad for us. But you are aware that anxiety doesn’t always tell the truth.  

These methods will help you feel more confident when moving to a new place: 

  • Book a Greeter: The first moments in a new place can be key, and they could set the conditions for how you will feel there. Hire a Greeter when arriving at your new place so she can help you discover the city safely. A Greeter can, in a couple of hours, make your fears, insecurities, and worries fade away.

  • Go back to your hobbies. Use the strategies that worked for you before. For example, if you played basketball, did yoga, or loved to cook, do that again.

  • Reclaim the rituals you used to do before moving (reading a book at night, buying flowers on Sunday, trying a new restaurant each month…)

  • Make the neighborhood yours. The things that are familiar to us are always the most comforting. This is why after a long while, our neighborhood, the store owners that we see regularly, the way to the gym; all these things become more and more familiar and give us security. 

   What are you waiting for?

  • Stop the comparisons: Keep an open mind and try trusting your inner voice. Things that are different can turn out to be positive. Avoid idealizations.

  • Give it a meaning: Surely you’ve had (or will have) moments in which all you think about is going back home. When this happens, remember why you decided to take this step. What did you want to achieve? If you haven’t taken that step and traveled abroad, I propose an exercise you can do before you go to your new place:

Marina in Penang, Malasia

A letter to your future self

Write yourself a letter in which you list all the good things about living abroad in the country you’ve chosen (the more details, the better).

Give yourself a pep talk and address all the doubts you have, remind yourself of the reasons for your decision.

Reading it back will make you smile and will help you overcome those moments of doubt.

  • Allow your plans to change. Have you tried to adapt to a culture that is very different to yours but it’s just not working? Did you plan on working remotely but you’ve realized you’re not interested in that? Did you believe moving someplace else was going to change something inside you and that hasn’t happened? 

If your initial plans (getting to know a new culture, changing your work routine, starting fresh…) haven’t been fulfilled, that doesn’t mean you’ve failed.

Maybe there’s another strategy that will help you more. Give yourself permission to adapt to a life that is present, not the one that was planned in your head. 

  • Change your focus: when we feel anxious, we usually focus on our problems, difficulties, and the things that haven’t worked out. Dedicate a part of your mental efforts to finding the positive elements in your day to day life. It’s not about ignoring the things that worry you, but it’s focusing on not giving them 100% of your attention. 

  •  Support groups: Even if you’re traveling alone, you certainly want to meet new people. A way of getting to know others is socializing with people that have the same interests as you. To find them, social media is a fantastic tool. 

  • Use the language: If what is stressing you out is facing the language of the country you’re in, studying and taking classes will not be enough. Your stress will most likely have to do with the fear of not being understood, believing that your accent is an obstacle, or convincing yourself that learning the language is impossible. These limiting beliefs condition your learning of the language you would love to speak.

The good part is that if you know the reason you have a problem, you can look for the right tools to face it. The great part is that you have these tools here:

Masterclass:  “Keys to handling and reducing anxiety when learning a foreign language”. In less than 30 minutes you will have all the keys to removing the barriers that stop you from speaking in a new language and feeling integrated in a new country. 

Marina in Singapur

Who is Marina Gonzalez Biber?

I am Marina González Biber, a Spanish psychologist in Germany. I offer psychotherapy so that you feel good living abroad. I have specialized in migratory grief in order to help other people who have left their country and who need to solve or face problems that cause them anguish.

My website:

My email:

My Instagram: @psicologaexpat

My Free Guide for Expats:


Como integrarse como una local en un lugar nuevo


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