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Top tips from long-term migrants: How to survive your first year in Australia

Portrait of young woman pulling suitcase in the airport arrival hall. Source: Getty Images

Settling in a new country can be challenging and tough in the first few years. But if you are proactive about integrating and adapting to a new life it wouldn't be that hard according to long-time migrants Rebecca Smedley and Melanie Nicodemus.

"If you can try to get out there and meet new people, be part of the scenery, do it. Don't just stay at home, meet your neighbours," says Ms Smedley.

How to survive your first year in Australia

Get involved 

Volunteering is a great way to get to know new people and develop strong relationships and is a great option for people who really want to get involved and feel part of their new community. Volunteer positions can be found online, through local ads or postings, or just by asking. Look for some neighbourhood organisations that are of interest and introduce yourself, letting them know what you can offer. 

AMCS looking for volunteers
Australian Multicultural Community Services is currently looking for a Filipino/Tagalog speaking Volunteer Visitor.
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Reach out, meet new people 

It’s not always easy to meet new people, regardless of where you are, but having a social life that you are used to and people you can call on in a time of need are vital to feeling at home in a new country. Joining a group, volunteering your time, or becoming a member of clubs that appeal to your interests can all help you develop a network of friends.   

Filo Slang
Stay in the loop and add these current Filipino slang words to your vocabulary.
Getty Images/XiXinXing

Learn the Aussie English

Australians have their own accent and slang. There are a few Australian slang words that you should learn to help you get through day to day life. Although Australia is an English speaking country, arriving into the country with little knowledge of the most popular Aussie slang words may just get you into a few awkward situations. Aussies have a tendency to shorten most words in the English vocabulary therefore it is best to learn the Aussie way.

What's your Aussie English favourite?
Australian flag with pile of books isolated on white background

Expect the unexpected

You may experience emotional extremes, from loving your new environment and enjoying everything new, or have bouts of homesickness and frustration with some aspects of life. While the initial phases can be the hardest (and most rapidly changing), you’re realistically going to experience some mixed feelings over the years, at times, as you face different challenges in a new environment. The enduring benefit is that during the transitional process you will likely grow as you discover how to adapt and thrive.

Uni anxiety
Learning how to manage anxiety takes time and practice, so it’s not helpful to wait until stress levels are at a peak before seeking help.
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Meet your neighbours and seek out help if needed

Though you can find the information you need from the internet it is still best to go out and meet your neighbours. Living on the same street as people means that you are probably going to get to know them eventually but making introductions as early as possible may give you a few helping hands whilst you’re still finding your feet. Whether you are seeking help with directions, need recommendations for somewhere to eat or simply want a friendly face to talk to your neighbours could prove to be invaluable friends when you first relocate. Befriending neighbours is also a great way to quickly develop a social circle outside of your job and get to understand the new culture sooner rather than later.


neighbours could be key to home security