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  • Writer's pictureAffy Bhatti

Overcoming Loneliness and Thriving as a Migrant In Australia

Updated: Oct 31, 2023

migrant in australia

For many migrants that come to Australia, the “land down under” represents many things, including opportunity, adventure, and the chance for a new beginning. However, as with any major change in life, making the most of a move to Australia is not without its challenges, especially when it comes to the emotional and psychological aspects of migration.

The single biggest challenge is that of loneliness. Even when you’ve moved with family, or a spouse, feeling like you “fit in” with your new society, your new workplace, and your new life can feel overwhelming.

The Loneliness of Migration

At Bless, our founders, Affy and Mo understand that feeling of alienation and isolation, because we went through it ourselves.

"When I first arrived in Australia, I felt a profound sense of loneliness that came from both my geographical and emotional disconnection to what I knew and had grown up in,” Affy said. “I had a social circle back home, but nothing here. I didn't have anyone to talk to. No one to hang out with, no one to go to the movies or the gym with, no one to watch or play football with. Had to build it all from scratch. That takes time and effort."

"The loneliness can be overwhelming at times,” Mo added. “You really do miss the deep connections you had back home, and it's not easy to replicate that in a new place. But we knew we had to push through it to chase our dreams."

Different Relationships, Different Challenges

For migrants, building new relationships in a foreign land can be challenging. Often, they have left behind their friendship circles and support networks. Understanding where to go to integrate into a community, find hobbies, and make friends can be surprisingly difficult, and something that locals might take for granted.

Moreover, some migrants might face racism or bigotry, or feel anxious that they might be exposed to this, which can add another layer of complexity to their social lives. Most Australians are open-minded and open-hearted, and love the contribution that migrants bring to this country. Getting past the concern that you might have a negative experience with the locals is a difficult first hurdle to overcome.

There are plenty of community organisations out there that can help migrants settle in. Alternatively, it’s possible to tap into the local diaspora and leverage the experience of migrants who have been here a while. It’s just important to make sure that you use that as a stepping stone to the broader Australian community.

While the diaspora can be such a valuable resource when settling into Australia for the first time, it is important to avoid the temptation of remaining nestled within a single community. Not only does this limit your social circles, but it can also lead to missed opportunities for personal and professional growth.

Navigating the Cultural Gap

One useful avenue to the broader community in Australia is sport. Australians love sports, and have a global outlook on it. There are the local favourites (good luck understanding AFL the first time you watch it! – a sport unique to Australia), but Aussies also love cricket, rugby, any Olympic sport, tennis, football, and more.

For many migrants, this is a great way to reach out and start forming roots in their new homeland. But what if you’re not interested in sport? Other areas of culture in Australia, be that politics, the arts, or social activities (such as BBQs) need a point of reference before you can begin to really appreciate them.

The bigger challenge, then, is the “water cooler” talk at work - whether in the office or online. As co-workers talk about sporting results or what they got up to over the weekend, to a migrant it can become an alienating experience if they don’t have stories of their own to share.

It's important to remember that Australia is a diverse country, and Australians are curious people who love finding out about things they didn’t know previously. Don't be afraid to explore new hobbies – yes, your co-workers will want to talk about the cricket results with you, but they’ll be equally fascinated by a festival or event that you attended that they didn’t even know was on!

Why Is All Of This Important?

Mental health can be a difficult subject to broach – especially when you’re feeling like the stranger to the party. Many Australians have no point of reference for this experience, either, and while they will want their new co-worker or neighbour to feel at home, they’re not necessarily going to understand what they can do to help make that happen.

One of the most important things that a migrant can do, as they start to integrate into their new home, is find a “mentor” that they can reach out to, who understands the life journey that they’re going through.

Simply being able to talk to someone who has been in your shoes can make a world of difference.

Keep That Connection Back Home

Finally, it is vital to keep some kind of connection back home to maintain your emotional well-being. Thanks to technology, it's easier than ever to bridge the distance, and in Australia, there are so many ways that you can do it.

Staying in touch with family and friends back home is one obvious example. But there are other things that you can do, too. Australia has a diverse and multicultural media landscape, with radio shows in many languages, as well as community newspapers and the SBS, which is predominantly a television station for ethnic communities. Using these resources as a way of remaining connected to your native language, and keeping up to date with global news, are important ways to continue to connect with your heritage.

While the journey of living and working in Australia as a migrant for the first time may have its share of challenges, it is also an opportunity for personal growth, resilience, and building a brighter future. Simply knowing that you’re not alone, and that there is a community of individuals and businesses that understands your experiences and wants to help you make the most of your life in Australia can make all the difference… and you aren’t alone.

Australia is a country that loves its migrants, and we are all here to support you.


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