Australia is known as a land of opportunity, of peace and security. But for a newly arrived it can also be quite daunting, full of challenges and very different to what you may be familiar and comfortable with. Everything is different; the language, the people, the food, the schools, the law, the pace, relationships and the ways in which people communicate. What was acceptable in your birth country is not necessarily acceptable here. It’s almost as if you’re trapped between two worlds; everything you know to be normal and everything in this strange new land, where fitting in means starting over.
It is normal to feel sadness when starting over in a new country. Often this is related to missing your birth land, the family or friends you’ve left behind and the comfort of being familiar with your surroundings. I’m sure you can think of much more things that you may miss. Even the challenges ahead might cause some sadness.
It’s very easy to focus on how far you need to go rather than how far you’ve already come. When we do this it can be quite disheartening. Rather try to focus on the areas where you have adapted to the Australian culture well and give yourself a silent pat on the back.
Starting fresh is a journey of new experiences, opportunity and learning. The greatest asset of starting in a new country is having the language skills to communicate and if you’re reading this blog then my guess is you’ve already overcome that challenge. Well done 🙂 ! Being bilingual is certainly an advantage. It can help you adjust to the Australian culture but also keeping your own.
Being exposed to different cultures can be an opportunity to select the best from each culture. For example one culture may promote family unity and closeness and the other may promote equality. When you adopt both these strengths you can start to form your own unique culture. This can help you recognise what is good from your culture and worth holding on to and what you have learnt and liked about the Australian culture. Starting over does not mean you need to completely let go of your heritage. Maybe you can think of some other strength your culture or the Australian has to offer and start your own culture.
There are real challenges you may face if you’ve recently arrived to Australia and some may not be as easy to overcome. Starting over is scary and sometimes it may feel as if you’re doing this on your own. Try to take one step at a time and remember to continually encourage yourself for all the challenges you’ve already overcome along the way.
This week’s article was written by Mary who is a counsellor in ANGLICARE’s Humanitarian Counselling Program, a counselling program for people who were forced (through various circumstances) to leave their country and now live in Australia.