It comes as no surprise that every OFW will encounter the feelings of isolation and loneliness in the first few months after moving to Australia. One of the challenges that I had to face as an immigrant was finding a set of friends that I can rely on. As my way of giving back, here are some of the helpful strategies that I employed in my journey:
1. Accepting an Invite
Make new friends using the traditional way by accepting the invites posed by the Filipinos you meet. It goes without saying that you still need to stay safe. If your gut tells you that you are in contact with a dangerous person then, avoid him or her at all costs. Be careful.
Moving on to a positive scenario. Say you were at the local grocery with your child. With the way you spoke to your child, the cashier noticed that you were Filipinos too. She proceeds to inviting you on a playdate and asks for your number. You accepted the invite and gave her a ring. This is a start of something great as you can interact with your “counterparts”.
You can build a lasting friendship with the cashier. The same goes for your husband and her husband as well as your child and her child.
2. Visiting Social Media Networks
For a home buddy like myself, I find the first method challenging. Another approach that you can take is to meet new friends using the virtual platforms. Start by visiting the popular social media networks. For instance, Facebook has a page called Brisbane Filipinos. “Like” the page and show up for the gatherings at the “Events” section.
Interestingly, there is a platform that is solely built for bridging expats together. This social media network is called the InterNations. Whether you just moved to Australia or still in the Philippines to plan for your upcoming arrival, InterNations offers everything that you might initially need. It allows you to mingle with your fellow Filipinos in Aussie. Furthermore, you can partake in the gatherings hosted by other members. These gatherings ranges from a cozy day trip to an adventurous weekend trip.
3. Being Active at Forums
Similar principles apply to the second and third method. Make new friends by staying active at Filipino forums such as the Pinoy Australia Information Forum. It was founded by a group of Filipinos who aim to migrate to Australia. Nowadays, it is one of the leading online community websites that provide valuable resources for Filipino immigrants.
They have a special section dedicated to face-to-face meetings. It is called the “EB’s and Get Together”. You are free to join or organize gatherings in this section. You can be as direct as one of the postings: “Launceston Tasmania – looking for friends“!
4. Joining Clubs or Communities
There are various communities and clubs that involve Filipino migrants in Australia such as the ones found in this list. If you are into folk dancing, you may consider joining the “Cordillera Dance Troupe”. Bring your pearly whites as you meet new friends who share the same interests as you. This is an easy way to establish a circle of friends in your neighborhood.
5. Interacting Within Your Proximity
In conjunction with the fourth method, you may interact with the Filipinos in your neighborhood by initiating small talks. Start the conversation by using the usual greetings of “Hello!” or “Good Afternoon!”. Then, move on to asking about one’s day. Open up about your family back home to encourage mutual disclosure.
Consider meeting new people at the places that you frequent such as the university, office, and local eatery. Strike a good relationship with your Pinoy classmates by sitting next to them and asking them about the topics that they are currently studying. Leave a positive impression to your Pinoy co-worker by complimenting his or her accessories. Who does not like a genuine compliment, anyway?
6. Volunteering at PACSI
The last method is to volunteer for Filipino organizations. Doing so allows you to meet new people and to help others in need.
PACSI or Philippine Australian Community Services Inc. consists of the Filipino immigrants under the family stream migration. They have FREE services that enable you to connect to other members of the Filipino community. These services include conducting information sessions, special groups, and volunteer work. You can claim their services if you recently arrived in the country or if you are in a vulnerable situation.
To volunteer means that you can interact expand your support network and gain knowledge from others. Since PACSI is a membership-based organization, you must request for a membership form at any PACSI office or download it at pacsi.org.au.
Creating lasting friendships while you are living overseas is one of the challenges that you are bound to face. It is often the number one stressor for anyone who is venturing in an unfamiliar place. However, you must remember that meeting people in Australia is like meeting people at home. It may actually be easier because most Pinoys are relatively desperate to build ties too.