How do you deal with living in a place you don't like?
January 31, 2008 2:04 AM   Subscribe

How do you deal with living in a place you don't like? (Brisbane, Australia)

The obvious amswer is to move, and I was all ready to be out of here by now, but I was trying to get registered as a nurse in Canada and they took 6 months and 300 dollars to tell me that without 3 months experience in maternity nursing I can't get registered there. As I'm a guy and it's not a requirement for registration here it's very difficult to get a maternity ward to let me get the required experience (I was expecting to have to do a few weeks rather than a few months as my area of work is high acuity surgical nursing, which is pretty damn far from maternity!) So for the time being I can't leave unless I want to stop working!

I find Brisbane to be very unfriendly, and thought it was just me until I had a holiday in Canada and met more friends there in 5 weeks than I've managed here in 6 years. I've also had other people I've come into contact with at work (from much different social circles) complain about the difficulty of meeting new people in Brisbane. Most people here seem to stick with their friends from highschool for life.

Anyone know of good ways of dealing with not knowing and not meeting many like minded people in a particular geographical place that they're having trouble leaving?
posted by Silentgoldfish to Human Relations (25 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Move to a different part of Australia?

It's going to be harder to make friends if you think that you are going to leave as soon as you can. Regardless, there are about a zillion threads here on the subject of how to meet people and make new friends. I suggest checking those out.
posted by grouse at 2:28 AM on January 31, 2008

I moved to Brisbane after high school, and after a year or two had a great group of friends through uni and (far more importantly) my soccer club. All the traditional advice applies - do something outside work, join a club, whatever. But if it sucks that much, can't you move within Australia and keep working?
posted by jacalata at 2:30 AM on January 31, 2008

Best answer: move to melbourne, mate
posted by evanm at 2:45 AM on January 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

Brisbane totally rules, I'm not sure what you're doing wrong. I guess Brisbane is based on "circles" in a way that few other cities are, because of the whole private school network, the insularity of various subcultures, whatever - but if you can break into a circle, you should be set. How old are you?
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 2:56 AM on January 31, 2008

Best answer: Move to Melbourne.

I moved to Melbourne from Brisbane in 1990.

I still have family there, I like to go back, but yeah, not to live. Move to Melbourne.
posted by mattoxic at 2:58 AM on January 31, 2008

Best answer: Melbourne is an incredibly open society compared to Sydney - it's thriving. I lived there for 5 years and made many interesting friends with incredible ease. But that's when I started to believe that making friends was just too easy - so I moved to Sydney, which sounds a lot like Brisbane, and now I have a bunch of friends, but they're mostly in Melbourne. Sydney is quite cliquey - not utterly impervious, but pretty close to it.

Move to Melbourne.

I reckon it's the bar culture (Melbourne) - pubs are too noisy and lack the requisite intimacy to sufficiently accommodate casual banter. Does Brisvegas have liberal liquor licensing laws - or are you corralled into humoungous drinking establishments filled with noisy, real estate obsessed people shouting at each other, whilst pouring their money down the throats of poker machines, like we are, here in Sydney?

Cooler climes tend to favour reflection and intellectualism also, I always find cooler places filled with more interesting people (a generalisation for sure, but it just seems that way to me).
posted by strawberryviagra at 3:24 AM on January 31, 2008

I live in Brissie and I meet new people all the time.

But that's not what you asked. You asked how to deal with living in a place you don't like. As you say, the obvious answer is "move" but the other option is "change your routine." You say you find other Brisbanites unfriendly. Fair enough. But maybe you just haven't met the right ones. Think about where you hang out or go out when you do go out. Are they friendly places? Maybe you could go to other places where you might meet nice, friendly people. Small book shops, the library, one of the less popular beaches down the coast... I dunno. Whatever suits your style and your temperament, I suppose.

Join book clubs, if you like books. If you don't, there's other clubs. There's medieval societies, art classes, political parties you can join (and go to branch meetings for), desperate and dateless balls (you don't need to try and pick up there; just meet and make new friends); there's lots of stuff to do if you actually look around. And you obviously like Metafilter, so organise a Metafilter meet up and actually go to it.

These are all just the first few things I thought of. I hope they help, and I hope you come to like Brisbane as much as I do.
posted by Effigy2000 at 3:32 AM on January 31, 2008

Oh right yeah, actually useful suggetsions. Um, Avid Reader in West End has a really good book club; Tuesday nights at the Alibi Room in New Farm are cheap tacos and all the bonhomie you can stand; or if your tastes incline that way, you could go to a club that's about a genre you're into - Common People for indie stuff, Faith for goth shenanigans, and there's a good hip-hop thing Sunday afternoons at (I think) the Met. In an exception to the rule, I've found the various Brisbane music scenes incredibly open and welcoming.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 3:43 AM on January 31, 2008

That's odd. I moved to Brisbane from Malaysia in 2006 and I find it hundreds of times friendlier than any other Australian city. Moreso than Sydney or Melbourne. And I come from a minority culture - I'd get racism back in Malaysia, but in Brisbane? Life has been awesome. I don't get cat-called, I don't get hassled, I never have to fear for my safety, help is always nearby (I sometimes get panic attacks at the most inopportune times).

Whenever I get into my "nobody likes me!!" whine (which happens when I'm stressed), my sister and my friends remind me that it's about attitude. If you're going to expect people to be unfriendly, well then you'll find unfriendly people. Sometimes you aren't really looking for unfriendly people per se - it's just that stress takes hold and everything seems like it's working against you.

I understand that you deeply wanted to be in Canada but couldn't, and that's stressing you out. I didn't plan on going to Brisbane - I was hoping for a dream job in Denver that didn't pan out. It took me a while to adjust to Brisbane; the first few weeks I was in tears (culture shock + uni shock + stress). But it's possible. Takes a while (and sometimes, like in my case, a boyfriend) but it's possible.

Hell, I found New York annoyingly unfriendly and cold. Many people disagree with me. I still have friends there, so it is possible to get a life somehow (if you're not willing to move).

Get involved in the arts/creative scene in Brisbane. The people there are really friendly and open (particularly the smaller-scale ones). BCC-hosted events are also another good place to get to know people. West End and South Bank always has something on too.

Re: Effigy2000's suggestion for book clubs - I know of a book club based in Brisbane that you can join. The people at the Brisneyland are hella friendly too.

I personally just got involved in EVERYTHING that looked interesting, and that's how I found friends. It can be a little lonely (I lived on campus for a year and a half and while I have friends and a boyfriend, it can get a little cliqueish) but we still managed.

What sort of things are you into? Are you a partier, or more sedate? MefiMail me if you want; I'm always on the lookout for friends and I can connect you to people.
posted by divabat at 3:52 AM on January 31, 2008

Also, as far as high school friends: not according to my college friends. Many of them are from Brisbane, but while they do keep in touch with their high school mates, their social circle is very wide and varied. My Brisbane boyfriend has high school mates he's close with (he and his best friends have been mates since pre-birth) but besides the best friend, he's possibly closest to his exchange friends in Denmark.
posted by divabat at 3:56 AM on January 31, 2008

I suspect your problem is more related to the people you find in your profession or workplace than in the city itself. You are problem just stuck with workmates who have all grown up in Brisbane and who don't really want to open their minds to different people. The one thing I learnt about Brisbane (and this is from quite a few years ago now so I dont know if it is still that way) is that it has a very polarised social scene. There is this dominant outdoors, extraverted, easygoing, sun and surf culture. Long-term Brisbanites usually always fit into this scene to some extent. Then there is a very sharply opposing alternative culture scene which rejects the mainstream views and sort of fight against it. I found the alternative people are very alternative compared to those in the bigger cities. The divide made it hard for people who didn't fit into either group.

I suggest you go to Google, search for "brisbane forums" and "brisbane chat", sign up to about 10 of the ones you see, and post your concerns to all of them trying to arouse some conversation. You might just meet likeminded people who have gone through the same problems. Also look around - lots of overseas nurses there. I would, however, share more of your interests and background than you have done here so people get more of an idea of who you are.
posted by zaebiz at 4:07 AM on January 31, 2008

Yeah, it's what you get out of a city. I loved the fact that I could live in brookfield/pullenvale/Mt crosby and drive into the city easily.

Brisbane kinda had the guts ripped out of it. My favourite pubs and venues were all pulled down and replaced by big empty spaces.

RE racism, again it's experiences, My SO is chinese, we go up to bris for christmas every year, and yeah, in whitebread kenmore we certainly detect that we are different. Melbourne has a big chinese community.

Brisbane closes at 9pm. Not as boring as Perth.
posted by mattoxic at 4:08 AM on January 31, 2008

Go country. There's bunches of small country hospitals screaming for nurses, you'll have a wild experience, you'll be exotic and appeal more to your favourite gender - can't lose! How about Mt Isa? or Darwin? Or much closer to home/Brisbane but with a terrible social scene (I think, I don't know, I'm old and married with kids), Ipswich. Though I think the social scene here is mainly doing laps in your car on a Friday night, if the drags or speedway aren't on.

I actually want to move too, but not because Ipswich/Brisbane is bad. I've really enjoyed living here, but I want fresh pastures, new sights, different experiences. However, it's important to be stable for my kids to finish school and build their independence, and so it's about 2 years and 11 months till I move away. I dream of the places I'm going to go, and stalk them on the internet and google earth. I read about them in the library. And the rest of the time, the normal time, the every day living, I just try to have the most fulfilling life I can, while waiting for my dream. I do things that are important to me (arty stuff), and I work in a job that I value with people I like, and I study, you know.

I've got a plan, and what can't be changed, must be endured. What's the alternative? I could run whining through the streets, and what do I accomplish? Notoriety is all. So, build your plan. Find alternatives. Talk to the people you work with about different places they've lived and worked, and if they can recommend a hospital to you where you can get the experience, and maybe even a contact. Think of it as a challenge that you are perfectly capable of overcoming. Make plans, set deadlines and do. Just like every other difficult thing you got over.
posted by b33j at 5:09 AM on January 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

Born, grew up, and live in Brissie (I refuse to call it BrisVegas... grrr, irony co-opted without ironic intent annoys me), & I sort of know what you're getting at about the close friendship circles here. My sister and I were talking just the other week about how so many people we went to school with still hang out with & / or married people from within a 5 minute walk of the house they grew up in. By contrast, I've kept in touch with nobody, and only her best friend remains from her schooldays.

I've since mentioned this to a lot of my friends from work, etc, & was surprised to find out only 1 couple out of maybe 30 didn't meet through school somehow. Yeay, 'tis truly an inbred place...

FWIW, I've found it easier to strike up casual friendships with people in Sydney & Melbourne than it is here, though quite a bit of that may be due to the "new place, less inhibitions" factor. But, while both are nice places to visit, Sydney's a shithole and Melbourne weather gets annoying after a while ;-)
posted by Pinback at 5:22 AM on January 31, 2008

From one who has truly been in this situation at least more than once, I can give you this insight - create your paradise and most ideal living situation within your 4 walls. Whatever it is that you love, desire, crave and find the most blissful - you create and instill around you. Whether it be art, aromatherapy, music, beautiful colors, textures, sounds, animals, cooking, friends - you bring your paradise inside. If you have sensory issues like sounds or smells coming in from the outside - mask them. Use incense, white noise, drumming - whatever it takes to neutralize that. Placement of items does count - feng shui if you will. Make sure your own living quarters are clean and serene so that what goes on outside doesn't effect you so much. And know that when the time is right - moving is very much an option. Cheers.
posted by watercarrier at 5:52 AM on January 31, 2008

Brisbane Meet-up!
posted by humannaire at 6:29 AM on January 31, 2008

I lived for two years in a town (Boise, Idaho) that I hated. For job reasons I was stuck there for two years. Did I mention I hated it? The one thing that got me through was regularly going to synagogue, which had little to do with religion and a lot to do with being filled with people who also hated Boise. My recommendation is to find where people who hate Brisbane would congregate and join in there. You sound like you're still trying to get to Canada, so you don't plan to make a life in Brisbane. Find people with a common interest - for you that means other people that want out.
posted by johngumbo at 7:53 AM on January 31, 2008

Things must have changed. When I was growing up southerners hated Brisbane because "people always try and talk to you there". There is the two degrees of separation - that every person in Brisbane is only two degrees from anyone else - but I found that helpful for meeting people rather than a hindrance. I also think that when you're on holiday you're more happy and relaxed and it's all new compared to when at home, thus leaving you more more receptive to meeting new people, and that might explain your experience in Canada. Perhaps you're also letting your frustration and resentment with your situation show through your demeanour, which will also limit the amount people want to make friends with you!

I can only echo what others have said, and suggest you find some activities you enjoy and sign yourself up. I am a wholesale introvert, started at UQ knowing one other person out of the student body of 30,000, and never experienced difficulty making friends as you describe. Putting yourself out there is the first step.
posted by goo at 8:44 AM on January 31, 2008

I lived in Perth for awhile and didn't really enjoy it at first. I made it a mission to go out almost every night in different neighborhoods, even if just for coffee, or to see concerts that looked halfway interesting until I found neighborhoods/coffee places/people I enjoyed. I still can't say that it is my favorite place that I have lived, but I certainly enjoyed myself and kept busy.
posted by Acer_saccharum at 12:23 PM on January 31, 2008

I think you've got to move... You can try and try to like Brisbane, but I suspect you might have actually talked yourself out of liking it (I know, ask me about Sydney sometime!).

So, my suggestion would be to move down the coast to the Gold Coast! Much more laid back, friendlier and easy going. Like the country towns b33j was talking about, but pretty much guaranteed to have a social scene!
posted by ranglin at 2:54 PM on January 31, 2008

Brisbane Meet-up!

Sorry, I only talk to people I went to high-school with.
posted by markr at 4:23 PM on January 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'll agree with a few posts here - move to Melbourne.
posted by chris88 at 9:08 PM on January 31, 2008

Response by poster: I think the people saying move to Melbourne have hit head on nail. Honestly, thanks for the tips for meeting people everyone but honestly after this long I think ranglin may be right about me talking myself out of liking this place!

And b33j, I actually had a girlfriend from Ipswich for a while. After we broke up she moved to London and has declared she's never coming back cause she's met so many more people there than she ever did here!
posted by Silentgoldfish at 9:50 PM on January 31, 2008

Yeah, I found Brisbane a bit difficult, probably because it's so disconnected- I couldn't ever really find a suburb/area of Brisbane where I felt comfortable, it seems like the places where all the cool kids go are scattered all over the place.

If you decide to have a meet-up, I'll drive the 6+ hours to Brissie to be there!

Oh, and answering the actual question: when I lived in a place I hated (erm... it was Brisbane, funnily enough), I spent a lot of time in parks, libraries and so on. I found it very hard to meet like-minded people, so instead made the most of places where you could just get out of the house and relax for a bit. This helped me make friends because being in the same places frequently, I became a regular to various waitstaff, and other customers, and it all kind of went from there.

Of course, if you have actual interests, follow them up too.
posted by indienial at 10:25 PM on January 31, 2008

Response by poster: I've visited Toronto a few times and found it both friendly and very similar to Melbourne which I guess lends to the theory that Melbourne is a more friendly place.

The magic words! I visited Toronto on my Canada trip and liked it so much that's where I wanted to move. Hearing that Melbourne is very similiar makes me quite happy.
posted by Silentgoldfish at 2:07 PM on February 1, 2008

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