Making your own life in a mining town

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By MiningFM's regular contributor Sarah Long

Having spent the majority of the past two years travelling, with three months being the longest time spent in one place, I'm getting used to starting over. But travelling is all well and good, now I'm facing my biggest challenge. I'm moving in with my Mr Miner in a real mining town - leaving my latest job, friends and lifestyle for the new and unknown.

It seems like the perfect time to think about what travelling has taught me about starting over. I hope that by sharing my ideas I might help others out there too.

1. Ask friends/colleagues before you go

Network, network, network. Before I left home in the UK I was inundated with offers of "my friend has a friend whose auntie's second cousin lives where you're going…" So ask around, take down contact details, email before you go. Even if you end up being the most popular person in town and never actually have time to meet up with this 'associate', they might be able to tell you some essential local tips or offer a friendly cuppa and slice of cake on those down days.

2. The schoolyard

Those of you with kids have an easy way to meet people. Picking up and dropping off littlies in the playground or at nursery is a great way to get to know familiar faces and start a conversation and you already have common ground. For those of you with older children who would be red-faced at even the thought of their parents being seen in the schoolyard, join a school group, help out and have fun.

3. Get a hobby

I'm a writing geek, hence I ended up doing writing for MiningFM, but sharing my passion has often led to me making lasting friendships. Start something new for yourself. It's good to have your own interests, whether joining a sports team, fitness class or book group. This is an escape just for you, and as well as meeting people it will give you time to relax. It's is a great opportunity to pick up something you previously loved and left behind, whether it was the school netball team or a college art class, it's time to take it up again.

4. Start your own group

I’m a sucker for a book group personally and seem to start them wherever I go. But whether you like to knit, walk, shop, play trivia or just drink coffee you can find friends by starting your own interest group (even if the common interest is just being a mining missus)! The internet is a great source for things like this: search Gumtree, Facebook or use MiningFM's online forums to find like-minded mates.

5. Get a job

After-work drinks or social lunches can be a brilliant way to make friends with new colleagues, and maybe even meet their friends. I spent a whole month travelling the east coast of Australia with a colleague of a friend! If you have kids, maybe a part-time job during school hours would be possible. If you’re going back to work for this reason it’s important to choose a job with opportunities to meet people, such as in a café, restaurant or shop. If you can’t commit to a full-time job, try somewhere like Vinnie’s or the Salvos who are always looking for volunteers.

6. Use your partner

Use your husband, boyfriend or significant other to arrange a double date or night out with other couples. This can be difficult with rosters or if he is shy, but worth a try especially as they will have the best understanding of your situation and could even be new to town themselves.

7. Be community minded

If you don't have kids and can't join the school council, there are plenty of other community groups crying out for your help. Why not try the CWA, a local church or visit www.volunteer.com.au for more ideas. Not only will you feel very virtuous for helping out a good cause, you'll also feel less like an outsider and more like you're contributing to your new town.

8. Go back to school

TAFE courses, university or even just evening classes - this is a great time to do something for yourself and there are lots of options for part-time study if you already have other commitments like work or children (or both). Using your brain and extending yourself will increase your self esteem and you will meet people with a common goal and interest.

9. Throw a party

Hard when you don't know too many people, so this is more of a task for a few months down the track, but invite all of the people you've met through the activities above and have a good time. Whether you throw a dinner party, go to the park for a picnic with the kids or have a casual weekend barbecue, add a little Dutch courage, relax and go for it.

10. Be confident!

This applies to all of the above. You just have to throw yourself in headfirst. It can be intimidating, but most people are unlikely to be right-out rude to a stranger, and if they are, who cares? You probably won’t see them again and wouldn’t want to be friends with someone like that anyway. Take a deep breath, smile, say hello and introduce yourself - often where one friendship starts, more follow.

So the last thing to say is good luck! And if any of you reading this live in Orange (and still have room in your diaries) get in touch because I could use some new friends and man do I throw a good party! Just click here to send me your details.


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