On loneliness and making new friends

One of the biggest worries I had about coming over to Oz was that I would end up lonely. Not to say that I had a partying lifestyle back home, but let’s say you’d rarely see me eating bon bons in front of my 42 inch TV (damn I miss that TV) at night on weekends. (Or weekdays, for that matter.)  

So it was incredibly hard to say goodbye to my good friends, leave all that was familiar and start making new connections in a foreign land. But I was blessed. Very, very blessed indeed to have found good, worthy friends when I came here. I did encounter lots of heartbreak too, however. My first job in an advertising start-up was pure hell because my colleagues were the worst bullies I’ve ever encountered, and I did meet people who took advantage and spied on me. Yes, it can get that nutty. 

But as with all things in life, you live and learn.

A lot of people who moved to Australia do so with their families, so when they found out that I moved here all by my lonesome they’re in awe. Frankly, I thought they were braver than I because they move here with additional responsibilities. They have to not just get a job, but get a job and feed several other mouths. Me? I just have to get a job. Meanwhile, I can eat some instant noodles. But the one thing they say they appreciate about moving as a family is the emotional support they get from their family. When I get sick, I missed having to moan and bitch about it with my friends and family, when I watched a movie, I missed having a movie kaki with me.

But I’ve met several other single folks who came here alone, so we’re not such a rare bunch! And we survived!

But if there’s one thing I hope you’d break is to form little same-country cliques. Nothing wrong with them, but you’re doing yourself a disservice if you only stick to Malaysians or people from your same country. Not only will you be limiting your chances of networking with people who could actually connect you with potential employers (and believe me, it has happened to me a few times – an Australian friend or two has offered to recommend me to a job or two), you’ll be limiting your cultural horizons. 

 I could understand the appeal – I have a network of Malaysians, mind you – but while it will take some time, it’s worth really worth making the effort as it will enrichen you! Their different point of view is refreshing and we learn so much from one another. 

Here are some tips on making new friends in a new country:

1. Join Meet Up

There are lots of groups you can join. Walking clubs, movie clubs, entrepreneurs clubs … and all for free. It’s indeed intimidating to go to one alone, but you could make god connections nevertheless.

2. Join a religious group such as a church

3. Be open to opportunities – staff dinner at work? A chance to join the neighbourhood carpet bowling club? Be open to put yourself out there. You’ll be surprised at the connections you can make. 🙂

4. Have non-(same country) housemates. I currently live with Aussie housemates and I love the rich experience of getting to know people from another culture 🙂

I remember when I was a student in Perth, one of the options I have as an on-campus resident is to have a flat with people of the same country. I thought it was the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard. Yes, again, I can understand the appeal, but you’re studying in a foreign country and you’re cacooning against foreign elements? Why don’t you just study in your own country and save scads of money? Needless to say I ticked the other box, and was rewarded with a rich experience. (Even if the rich experience involved my American housemates having a drunken Coke-bottle-shaking contest which resulted in them cleaning a brown stain off the ceiling.)

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2 thoughts on “On loneliness and making new friends

  1. I came to Adelaide in 2006. It is more than 7 years now. Migration is not that all rosy. It is about how resilient you are. I am lucky to be employed of my profession and chance to deal with the most prominent companies in Australia. Along the way I met many Malaysians who are in my office, my clients office or even competitor office. Most are doing fine despite the initial struggle.

    • Yeah the first two years is damn hard. My first year was so hard I grew white hair! Second year had spots of toughness. Hopefully the hard bits will get less in time 🙂

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