Losing hope of being happy in Australia.
I'm a 27 year old woman, born in Italy but of mixed race Dominican. I've lived my childhood and teen years between Italy and Dominican Republic and I'm very close to all my relatives and my family as is usual in my two cultures. Family is everything.
When I was 20, I met my now Fiancé online through MMORPG (we are both into gaming) and after a 6 year ordeal to get money and Visas, with me coming and going from AU multiple times, we've been finally living together for a year and a half in WA, in a small town near the beach.
It made sense that I'd be the one moving, since I know English and I've traveled all my life, while my SO never left his town. We get along well, and the relationship is rock solid.
Sadly, my problem has been the complete isolation I am in since I've moved. My SO has no family to speak of, dad was never in the picture and mother is an alcoholic and and an addict so I've never met her. Other than him, I have no friends, no connections, nothing. Although I partly blame this on Covid, our little town was not affected by any regulations, we never closed shops or had to wear masks, it was business as usual. I feel terrible all the time, I've always been on the shy side but in Italy I had a few solid friendships that kept me sane, and the boundless love of my family. Here I wake up in silence, spend my day in silence, and only find solace in my SO's company after work.
I suffer from depression and anxiety disorder, plus PTSD, which brings me to how I finally broke. I had found a job after my bridging visa was approved, and sadly I was repeatedly abused mentally for weeks, which constantly triggered my PTSD which is work related, as I've been abused in the past.. I thought moving countries across the world would have helped, and yet I've been hurt again, had to be hospitalized for a week. I'm being followed by a psychologist and a wonderful GP, but while I feel better after I talk to them, the feeling never lasts. The extreme hour difference between here and Italy makes it so I can never hang out with my friends online, and I find myself not contacting my family so I don't worry them.
I cannot relate to Australians here, they make fun of my accent, my food, my mannerisms. I go along, thinking jokes are the norm here, but no one has space for me in their world. I'm cute to have around so they can ask me random questions about Europe, but it never goes further than that.
I wonder if I'll ever be happy here.
Almost daily in this forum there is members expressing they have no friends and are lonely. I don't think your nationality is relevant. Aussies will accommodate you into their groups if you show eagerness, although admittedly some small towns can be cliquey, so it's harder to make friends.
I suggest you visit the local council seeking groups, cooking, sewing, games etc. Making friends means being proactive, making effort regar dfless of shyness and so on. Eventually such groups go to venues celebrating birthdays, end of year etc and their is opportunity to go to another ladies home - that's how friendships work here.
Another example is Australian football. You can't just pick a team, if you followed the players you'll have better chance of becoming a fan.
The other option is to utilise you husbands knowledge of locals, invite couples for dinner that he knows.
Stay at it, you'll fit in eventually.
Thanks for your reply.
I feel like my nationality matters, not as "I am x nationality so they do not like me"
but as "the way I was brought up and my culture makes it so it is very difficult for me to relate and fit in with australians here"
although I admitted that I am a shy person, I never said I do not make efforts to be out there and make friends. I've been outside, talking to people and going to events way more than I ever did in my hometown in an effort to form connections, to no avail.
I wouldn't be here, expressing how awful I feel and how isolated I am if I hadn't tried everything available to me.
I am already acquainted with my fiancé's coworkers, but the interactions are superficial. It took weeks for them to even speak to me and call me by name, for the longest time I was just "the missus". Now I may get invited to the occasional pub night, but no matter how much effort I put into speaking to them, I can never relate. Conversations die, no progress is ever made. I swear all they want to know is if I can cook x dish, say x word in italian/spanish and so on.
My fiancé doesn't have any other friends outside of work, and we don't know of other young couples around us. He's always been a loner but the difference is that he doesn't mind, he likes it that way.
I do not mean to imply that the problem is the people living here, I am just puzzled as to why is it so hard to go further than small talk with anyone.
The longest conversation I've ever had here was with a Malaysian employee in an Asian grocery shop, who was also very bitter and sad about living here, our struggles were identical and he had been living here for 4 years now, with no change. While I appreciated being able to relate to one person in months, this also brought my hopes way down. I feel like the only solution is moving somewhere else, like Perth, but in order to do that I'd have to work a lot here, for at least another year.
In relative solitude. If I even get over the workplace abuse I just endured.
I’m really sorry to hear that you are struggling to make meaningful connections in your town. And I’m very sorry that you became so unwell that you required in-patient care.
I can remember feeling the same loneliness some 30 years ago when I first arrived in Australia. I also relocated for love.
I really understand that you are trying to make friends and I know it isn’t easy. The truth is that it takes some time to get past the superficial conversations. This was particularly true for me with my partner’s friends. They were all nice people but I really needed to make my own friends. I met most of my friends at the time through work or they were neighbours.
It took years to create memories with others and build the kind of friendships that I had left back home. If you’re going to persevere in Australia you need consider that it may take years to feel like you belong.
I hope it’s okay to ask, but I’m wondering if you’ve talked to your partner about how you’re feeling? No pressure to answer. Just hoping that you’re receiving adequate support. Also wondering if he would be willing to relocate with you?
Kind thoughts to you
thank you for your kind words, Rose.
My SO would be happy to relocate actually, he says he hasn't got good memories of the town either, and with no family connections he's free to go wherever.
I guess it all comes down to money really. We are both doing non-specialized jobs, although he's studying for something better. It's still too expensive for me to study, so I wait.
Tomorrow I will find out if I get to keep my job and I am terrified to go back into that environment, but I have no choice. I am determined to feel like I belong here, for him, for us.
It's just that my mental health disorders disrupt this determination every other week. Even with medication I feel deep despair and I can't sleep most nights. I think if I had some sort of social hub to go to, people to talk to at the end of the day, these symptoms would at least ease a little... but I guess there is nothing else to do but tough it out, right now...
I hope I am tough enough in the end.
I've recently joined a lot of Facebook groups for Italians living in Australia, to see if there were more successful stories to cheer me up and I found that most people actually agreed with me that making meaningful friendships here might be the most difficult part of it all! at least I know I'm not alone in this struggle.
Sorry to hear moving across the world, trying to fit in & make friends has been so challenging.
Do you think the fact it’s a small town, majority of the people being Australian that makes it harder? I only ask as I live in the city & am surrounded by people of all nationalities. Even my own family is an eclectic mix. Polish grandfather, Belgian grandmother, dad was born in Belgium. My mum is Aussie, my sis married an English guy, my other sis married a Greek guy & I’m dating a Sri Lankan guy. My aunt married an Italian, my dads cousin (Polish) is married to a Polish woman & when we have get togethers it is an exciting mix of languages, foods & cultures. To me it’s the norm, but I can see that it could be quite different in a small town.
you mention people making fun of your accent. This could be the case, but I think one of the best things about a lot of Aussies is the ability to joke around, laugh at ourselves & tease each other. My workplace here is also a mix of nationalities. One woman is Russian & yes, she has an accent & very occasionally gets her English words muddled. We all laughed when she described something as “big fun” but it wasn’t because we didn’t like her or were teasing. It was really endearing & it’s now become a part of our work vocabulary. If we organised a night out, we ALL describe it “big fun”. I guess to the person who said it originally, it could feel like teasing, but from my perspective it means you belong, we accept you whether you can speak English properly or not & we will incorporate the way you say things into our conversation to show you fit in.
I also noticed you said you had been referred to as “the missus” instead of people using your name. I think many of us have been called “the missus” at some point. Even me, the first guy I dated was maybe a bit “bogan”, all his mates were the same & every single persons girlfriend was referred to as “the missus”. But then with other partners, circle of people that phrase never gets used.
I think being apart from your family is a great hardship. I know I would be lost without mine. Maybe you can start making a blog or videos to send them? Show them the landscape, the weird foods we eat or the dumb things we do? They can then read/view it in their on time but it might help you to still feel connected with them?
If you can find any community or social groups that may be of interest, try them out.
Best of luck, I hope you eventually find your place here in Aus
In reference to
"I wouldn't be here, expressing how awful I feel and how isolated I am if I hadn't tried everything available to me."
We don't know in one post whether you've tried everything. Many haven't when they post here.
So if you've "tried everything" could you be specific as to what advice you are looking for?
Thanks. Hope you feel better since chatting started.
You are certainly not alone. Your Italian Facebook groups sound like a good idea. Back in my day, we didn't have social media, so I joined an in-person cultural club from my homeland (Canada). I found I really liked talking about politics, places, experiences from home with people who knew what I was talking about. I suppose it filled an early void.
Last night I was trying to remember how I got passed superficial conversations with acquaintances. One thing I remember doing was hosting a lot of dinner parties. This environment gives you a more relaxed opportunity to talk and people don't "move on" (like what might occur at a pub), so there is more meaningful conversation.
I'm willing to bet that some of your partner's friends would love a home cooked Italian meal ... is there a couple you could invite? Maybe invite people you could see yourself being friends with if given the chance to really get to know one another.
I have to be honest, I'm a bit concerned about you trying to "tough" it out. My strong belief is that mental health comes first--before work, school or even a partner. And given you've just come home for hospital and certainly don't want to go back, I'd like to encourage you to practise some self-care. Daily exercise should help to life your mood and might help you to sleep at night. A healthy diet and good sleep is also really important. I don't know if you've ever tried mindfulness, but if you're interested there is a helpful free app called Smiling Mind available.
I also want to really encourage you to think carefully about whether or not returning to your job is worth it. If you were bullied at work and you're not well enough to return or it's not safe for you to return, you can apply for workers' compensation, which will provide you with financial support and help to safely re-enter the workplace. You can also contact Fair Work to see what your options are in the event that you are unfairly dismissed.
On a positive note, I want to let you know that it is possible to settle and enjoy a new life in a new country. I've been here some 30 years and wouldn't change a thing about my life, despite the early struggles.
Kind thoughts to you