How To Stay Rooted When Calling A New Country "Home"

By Kelsey Marie. Photography By Deun Ivory.

The last time I shared my self-care routine, I was working 12+ hours a day and living in Brooklyn. Since then, I’ve left the 12+ hour work days behind and I relocated to a new country — for love.

I’m not gonna lie, the first two weeks were pretty tough and I had moments where I felt scared, anxious and questioned my decision to move so far away from the familiarity of family, friends and my life as I knew it in NYC. I would think about the 6 hour time difference, 15 hour flight from Johannesburg to NYC and the strangeness of living in a new city — I was shook.

It felt like I was coming in and intruding on my boyfriends space. He cleaned out his closets and got rid of some of his things to make room for me. It may not have been a big deal for him but for me I couldn’t help feel like I was being intrusive (I grew up as an only child so maybe that’s where that feeling comes from).

It wasn’t until my third week that I started getting into a steady routine, learning my way around Johannesburg and feeling like this is my home and I’m not just here on a vacation.

I have always been a strong believer of self-care because if you don’t care for yourself, then who will?

I had unpacked all of my belongings, bought new items to ease my transition (full length mirror, scale, blender...etc) — I had settled in. What I didn’t do was continue my practice of self-care. When I first got here, I was staying up late & waking up early. I was drinking way too much red wine, champagne & coffee (talk about a lifestyle change ha!).

During my second week in Johannesburg, I started to implement the self-care practices that I did before I moved here and I am sure that’s the reason why in my third week here I felt more at ease and at home.


Getting sufficient sleep is very important to me.

Sleep is necessary so that your body can rest and repair itself. I hate waking up late, so going to bed at a reasonable time (let’s say 10:00-10:30pm) is key. I feel my best when I get around 7/8 hours of sleep at night.

When I first got to Johannesburg, I would fall asleep around 1:00am which was entirely too late. I started enforcing a bed time to myself and I’ve been sticking with it since.

Sleeping helps with weight loss and boosts your creativity, so I will forever stan getting enough sleep every night.

Time Zone Probs

The time in South Africa is 6 hours ahead of the time in NYC. Let me just explain how difficult this was at first: I was going to sleep at 1:00am here which was late for me but only 7:00pm in NYC! I would wake up around 7:00am which was 1:00am in NYC. This led to so many unanswered texts to my friends. I felt a bit lonely in the mornings because none of my friends in the U.S. were awake.

When I started enforcing my bedtime at 10:00 - 10:30pm, that was only 4:00 - 4:30pm in NYC — my text responses got even more delayed until I reminded myself that this is my home now. I shouldn’t keep thinking about what time it was in NYC and I should focus on the city I live in.

Weirdly enough, when I changed my mindset, my communication with my friends and family improved. I made it a priority to carve out time everyday to communicate with my loved ones while still being present in my life in my new home. I also made myself open to making new friends here and cultivating new relationships.


The food in South Africa is very fresh and it has me really questioning the food industry in the U.S. I can literally taste the difference in the produce here — so delicious! This has made it easy for me to continue eating clean.

I’ve been ‘adulting’ and going grocery shopping & cooking vs. going out to eat. Being mindful of what you put in your body is one of the ultimate forms of self-care in my opinion.

Cooking has become enjoyable because I knew exactly what’s going into my meals and I am able to give my body the nourishment that it needs. It’s also great that I am saving money in the process.


As I mentioned earlier, when I first moved here, I was drinking way too much red wine and coffee. These both have health benefits — in moderation. However, I was overdoing it. Drinking too much of either beverage can leave your skin dehydrated and dull.

I started to decrease my intake of wine and coffee and prioritized drinking water and tea. I’ve even surprised myself with how my skin has a natural glow and radiance now.

We search high and low for the latest skincare product and invest in facials, masks and exfoliants but water is the first thing that needs to be on our list.

I truly believe in natural healing thyself through food and plants and I’ve learned that water is the ultimate healer.

Spending time with myself

When I lived in NYC, I would walk around for hours exploring new places, exhibitions and things that I never saw before — I love exploring the city that I am in. I don’t like staying inside of my home for too long because the world is full of so many interesting things to see.

Exploring by myself is enjoyable because I am on my own terms and I get to spend time with myself. It’s important to invest time in yourself and essentially date yourself. Since I’ve been here, I really enjoy going out by myself and exploring various coffee shops and art galleries in Joburg.

I’ve been reading, writing, drawing and painting a lot. I have come to find peace with my passions and goals. Spending time with myself is the self-care practice that I didn’t know I so badly needed during my move to Johannesburg.

If you’re an expat, nomad or thinking of moving to a new city/country/continent: please know that maintaining self-care practices are so important. Not only does it help you transition into your new atmosphere, but it also gives you a sense of familiarity.

Maintaining your self-care practices reminds you of who you are no matter how far you go.

If you have any self-care practices that helps you to adjust to new environments; leave a comment below and let me know!

Kelsey-Marie is a Johannesburg based creative working in the film/television industry. She is also the founder of