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Forums / Multicultural experiences / New Immigrant Feeling Lost and Alone

Topic: New Immigrant Feeling Lost and Alone

12 posts, 0 answered
  1. LostInAustralia
    LostInAustralia avatar
    5 posts
    7 September 2016

    Hi,

    I don't usually frequent these kinds of forums, but I am at a loss about what to do next. I am a long term expat who has arrived with my Australian husband over a year ago. While in our former postings it took me a while to settle in, make friends, and feel like I belong, things have been taking a lot longer here. I haven't been able to make the network of friends I would have done in other places, in spite of finding work, joining clubs and classes, trying meetup, reaching out to random people at cafes... my usual tactics don't seem to be working. People are just too busy, or not interested in acquiring new friends, or I can't talk to them about interests in common, no one seems to have a background like me, and if they do, I am not finding these people. Where are they?

    I suppose it doesn't help that before my husband and I were in the same situation, but now he has fallen back into his old social groups and hobby (which I don't share). His friends are nice, but not the people I would call up on the phone. He seems to be oblivious to my struggle, I am sure he is not, but I feel like he is living his life and has forgotten what it used to be like to not have a network.

    I have come to a point where I am wondering what the point of being here is aside from my husband, who I am crazy about and when he is here everything does go a bit better. But he travels about 2 weeks of every month, so I am left to my own devices. I have gotten tired of going to Meetups and reaching out to people with no result, the few friends I have are from my home country for the most part but to be honest I don't really click with them. This is the first time, having lived in 4 countries, that I haven't been able to find a "tribe" and a reason to exist apart from my love for my husband.

    I would appreciate any advice, bearing in mind that I have tried all the usual stuff to "get a life" in Australia because I am at a loss as to what I am doing wrong. This is really affecting how I feel about myself and my ability to reach out, it all just seems pointless. I am usually very good at this, what am I doing wrong?!

    Thanks...

    1 person found this helpful
  2. blondguy
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    blondguy avatar
    11402 posts
    8 September 2016 in reply to LostInAustralia

    Hello Lostinaustralia

    Apologies for the late response...we are normally prompt in responding.

    Welcome to the forums and to Australia too :-)

    I dont think you are doing anything 'wrong' at all. You are an intelligent and well articulated person.

    Like yourself I spent years in a few countries and ended back here when I was young. Making friends was hard at school here as I still had a Canadian accent and didnt understand why everyone swore all the time...what Aussie Rules was or meant..the list was endless.

    You have only been here for a short period of time. Your husband is fortunate as he seems to have better luck with assimilating. You mentioned going to 'meetups'....Is that with clubs or groups?

    Time allowing volunteering is always a interesting way of jumping in and meeting people....Volunteering is not only rewarding but you will meet people as a result.

    Its great to have you on the forums...I hope you can post back

    My kind thoughts

    Paul

  3. LostInAustralia
    LostInAustralia avatar
    5 posts
    8 September 2016 in reply to blondguy

    Hi Paul,

    Thank you for your kind reply.

    I am glad there is someone here who understands where I am "coming from", some things here are so similar to home and some things are quite different, especially the slang! I have heard from other immigrants from English speaking countries that it is very hard to integrate into Australian schools, so I do understand that this is an issue that cuts across a lot of levels. I don't understand it because Australians themselves are amazing people once you do get a chance to get to know them, it just seems to be much easier to know an Australian out of country rather than in-country....

    My husband is more than lucky, he is actually Australian and has picked back up with his old friends and his running group as if he has never left, as he has slotted right in to a ready-made life, I feel (I think understandably) jealous and I do think this is one of my problems. Unfortunately I can't just slot in with them because they are from running, which is a sport I don't do, and his work environment, so I just don't have exposure to those people except maybe once a month....

    I did, before I started working, attempt to find volunteer work, however it seems that in the area where I live there just isn't much need for my skill set. I suppose, perhaps I do need to make the effort and perhaps travel to parts of the city where my background might be of more use or where there are more general opportunities...

    If you move from one city to another in Australia, how on Earth do these folks make friends if they don't have any contacts in the new city?

    Thanks again for your reply,

  4. blondguy
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    blondguy avatar
    11402 posts
    9 September 2016 in reply to LostInAustralia

    Thanks for replying Lost. Its always great to get a response.

    If I had to move interstate to a new city many people would have the same difficulty with meeting new friends. It does take some time. I guess your husband is one of the lucky ones

    The friends I have made have been made mainly through work but I have made many new people here that have been really supportive to me with my depression.

    You are very welcome to be part of our community. There are many kind people here that will be happy to chat with you. being alone in a new country would feel isolating.

    I hope you have good day and a better weekend :-)

    Kind thoughts

    Paul

    1 person found this helpful
  5. Doolhof
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    Doolhof avatar
    8854 posts
    9 September 2016 in reply to LostInAustralia

    Hi Lost in Australia,

    I was born in a small community here in rural Australia. My parents were not from that region, so my sisters and I were not treated like locals. Most of the kids at school had families going back 5 generations in that region.

    Now many years later, my husband and I have moved from the city to a small country town. We had an incident with a neighbour. She told us that she was born here so what she says counts. Oh dear. I thought to myself, nothing has changed.

    I am a Christian, so I joined one of the local Churches. Even there I sometimes feel like I don't fit in. The strange thing is that my Mum's ancestors arrived in this region in the 1860's. Many are buried in the local cemeteries. I have looked up in a family history book and found I am actually distantly related to some of the people I have met here.

    So what I am getting at, it doesn't have to matter if you are a local or from overseas, some people are just not going to welcome you in no matter what.

    For me, I have learnt that it doesn't matter if I do not become great friends with people. I am part of a group who meets every week. Some times I feel like part of that group, sometimes not at all. I am learning to just make the most out of the time I have there.

    Regarding volunteering, I have just signed up to help with the "Riding for the disabled" in our area. I don't know anything about horses, only that the last one I stood next to bit me on the arm. It is another opportunity to be with people and with animals.

    The local council may have a whole range of volunteer options listed for your region.

    My suggestion is that you make the most of the opportunities that come your way at all the social happenings you attend. Could you ask work mates if they want to go tot he movies or out for a coffee?

    I joined a walking group last week. I know one of the ladies there. I ended up talking with different ladies. We won't become best mates probably, but at least I had people to talk with.

    Check out the Social Zone here as well. It is not the same as chatting face to face with people, but you will get to interact with other people.

    Like Paul mentioned, you are more than welcome to chat here.

    If you have any Aussie slang you don't understand, we might be able to help you with that as well. Ha. Ha.

    Cheerio for now from Mrs. Dools

    1 person found this helpful
  6. Clym
    Clym avatar
    3 posts
    10 September 2016 in reply to LostInAustralia

    Hi LostInAustralia,

    Firstly, I am sorry to hear you are in a tricky place. But thank you for your post, for I feel similar, and have felt I was going a bit crazy with it. It always helps to know you're not alone in your experience.

    I AM from Australia, but have moved interstate to a new city. Like you, my partner seems to have adjusted much better than myself. All her friends are also based around specific interests or work. I work from home, so that doesn't help! My current city, Melbourne, is really different from my home city (even the accent & some slang terms are different) so I feel like I don't quite 'get' lots of things that the people here seem to value, and equally they often don't seem to even know what I'm on about. (I even bought a Dictionary of Australian Slang to help me!)

    I am told (by other newer residents) that Melbourne is quite hard to 'break into' - maybe this is the same for your city too? The people here can be a bit focussed on kind of investing in and propping up their local 'identity' which is (subtly) not as welcoming or open to people who are not in on all these local references.

    I enjoy reading - which may not be for you - but I've been getting a lot out of fiction by migrants as it talks about the little fine details of alienation or strangness that just don't get mentioned in everyday conversation, but which are so resonant. It also validates a different way of seeing, and the richness of the experience of living in many countries, like you have done.

    I also madly brainstormed volunteer options (it took a while!) until I found something that suited me (Community Visitors Scheme and Oxfam).

    Wishing you all the best.

  7. Doolhof
    Champion Alumni
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    Doolhof avatar
    8854 posts
    11 September 2016 in reply to Clym

    Hi Clym and LostinAustralia,

    I was listening to a discussion on the radio recently about loneliness and how people can feel very alone even within their own family or when surrounded by people.

    I don't understand why some people seem to attract others to them, while some people can be standing there, alone, like they are invisible.

    When I feel alone, I try to do something that makes me feel happy. I have learnt to be content with my own company.

    If an opportunity presents itself to talk to someone, I try and make the effort.

    It doesn't always work, the other person my just not be interested in starting a conversation and that is okay too.

    One day I called a wrong number on my phone, the person on the other end was up for a chat, so for half an hour I had a wonderful conversation with a person I had connected to by chance.

    I'm not suggesting you call random numbers, then again, you never know...

    Cheers from Mrs. Dools

  8. pikkumyy
    pikkumyy avatar
    5 posts
    19 September 2016

    Hi lost in Australia,

    I moved to Australia with an Australian partner and can understand how isolated you can feel.

    Making friends can be tricky but when you are depressed it gets even harder. Aussies are quite open and welcoming in general, but specially in bigger Citys the pace is hard and if you work fulltime with long commute times it is hard to find time for people.

    I hope you find friends and start feeling more settled.

  9. LostInAustralia
    LostInAustralia avatar
    5 posts
    20 September 2016 in reply to Doolhof

    Hi Mrs Dools,

    Thanks for your comment, the story about the horse bite gave me a smile. I have thought about what you have said, and I think what I can take away from this is that perhaps I need to re-adjust my expectations. While I have been lucky enough to enjoy a great group of people around me fairly quickly in my other expat destinations, I suppose there is no reason why it was assured that it had to happen. I am totally taking on board what you are saying that it happens to Australians in Australia too, and I thank you for sharing that.

    I should actually report back that some old friends of my husband's from the 80s (all ladies) did a Ladies Weekend to another large city in Australia and invited me to come along. I was so stressed about being in this "Big Brother" type situation with a group of people I didn't even know, but I can report back that everything went much better than I could have hoped for and I have been invited around to watch some Australian movies and learn about Australian culture with them. I am so glad I took a leap of faith with them, I almost didn't.

    Regards,

    lost in australia

  10. LostInAustralia
    LostInAustralia avatar
    5 posts
    20 September 2016 in reply to Clym

    Hi Clym,

    I love to read, actually. I very much enjoyed a graphic novel by Shaun Tan called "The Arrival" about immigration, and at the same time I was in Canberra viewing the Tom Roberts exhibit and realized that Tan had paid homage to one of his paintings in the book, which was very cool. When I discover things like this I try to talk to Australians about them because they do seem to enjoy talking about their artistic culture which I knew nothing about until I got here (except famous movies, of course).

    Regards,

    Lost in Australia

  11. LostInAustralia
    LostInAustralia avatar
    5 posts
    20 September 2016 in reply to pikkumyy

    Hi Pukkumyy,

    It is good to hear I am not the only immigrant here :-) . I have a super flexible work schedule and am very available during the day, but not so much at night due to family comittments, so that does make it hard for me to meet people my age when they are most available, you are spot on with the whole work/commute thing.

    Regards,

    Lost in Australia

  12. Doolhof
    Champion Alumni
    • Community champion volunteers who are not currently active on the forums.
    • Life membership is awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
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    Doolhof avatar
    8854 posts
    21 September 2016 in reply to LostInAustralia

    Hi Lost in Australia,

    Hope you are starting to feel a bit more like you belong here. The outing with the Ladies sounds like it went okay.

    You are right about expectations! The main thing is to not feel too deflated when things don't turn out as you had hoped, wanted or planned.

    I will share another story about trying to connect with people, so once again you will realise trying to relate to people and connect can be anyone's problem.

    We moved to this region 4 years ago. I am a Christian so decided to find a new Church. I went to one Church, sat down and was told I was sitting in someone's seat! Another time I said hello to the lady next to me and she turned her back on me. One guy glared at me the whole service.

    Another time there were only about 12 people in the Church. After the service I tried to chat to people but they all closed ranks in their tiny little groups and didn't say anything more than good morning back to me.

    Thankfully I found a Church where I was greeted warmly at the door, I was invited to join them after for morning tea, and when I did so people actually came up, introduced themselves and talked to me.

    So once again as you can see, some people just don't want to be with other people for one reason or another.

    As you have time free during the day, would you consider some volunteer work where you could meet people? Even if it is once a fortnight.

    You might like to use the time to check out the art galleries, museums and other places of interest around you. Strike up a conversation with the people also in those places. You may well never see them again, but you will be communicating with someone.

    Another thing, apart from the Aboriginals who have been here for centuries, the rest of us Aussies are all fairly new to this country one way or another! We are a mixed bunch. Many nationalities have called Australia home through the years.

    It might be interesting to borrow books on Australian migration history and see which nationalities came to Australia since the Europeans arrival. Some of it is not happy reading when you read of the exploitation of different nationalities being brought to Australia for slave labour.

    As a nation we have a lot to be proud of and also a lot to be ashamed of as well. The thing is to try to make all people feel welcome here.

    I will stop my ramble now! Cheers from Mrs. Dools

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