You Are Not Alone

“One of the marvellous things about community is that it enables us to welcome and help people in a way we couldn’t as individuals.” ― Jean Vanier, Community and Growth

The Gold Coast = Community. I moved to the Gold Coast in 2018 and all my dreams became true. As we all experience doubts in choosing our study destination and the calling of a new home, I can honestly say that this is the easiest decision I have ever made. I know it probably sounds a bit like a cliché, but with its beautiful coastal line to its pristine rainforests, how could you not fall in love with this beautiful city? However, I am not here to sell you the ocean, I’m here to show you the Gold Coast is not just a city, it is a community.

Loneliness is a silent killer. Chronic loneliness is debilitating, especially when you are transitioning into a new space, learning about a new culture, and finding your identity amongst the midst of changes. This lonely feeling? Don’t worry, you are not alone. Although we might deny it, I feel it, you feel it, everyone else feels it. Looking back, I thought I was immune to this feeling. I thought that I was an introvert and would just be grateful to live on the Gold Coast, surrounding myself with the beach and nature.

Iris fell in love with the Gold Coast's beautiful natural environment

A sense of belonging

Not long after I moved here I had this overwhelming feeling that something was missing. I felt incomplete. Never would I have thought that I craved a sense of belonging and community. I realised that I had to step out of my comfort zone and open myself to the friendly people that make up this city. It was such a nerve wracking and scary feeling to introduce myself to new people.

I remember making my first group of friends in a casual job at a school, and it slowly became easier to find my people. Then I began to notice how my mood shifted after expanding my social connections through different volunteering prospects and getting involved with local groups.

The number of opportunities that the Gold Coast offered was just UNREAL. This was particularly important when I was also figuring out my identity, hobbies, and passions. I found myself volunteering with children, the city’s youth, disadvantaged groups, elderly people, immigrants, and environmental enthusiasts.

Making connections through shared experience


I created the most wonderful and special connection with the people who make this city magical. I learned about people’s passion by doing things that light up my heart. By getting involved I discovered the many support services in place for people who need help the most, then became genuinely touched by people’s generosity and authenticity by showing them my real self. Most importantly, I found myself throughout this process. I am so grateful for all the gifts that the Gold Coast has given me, especially my little community that I cultivated.

Sometimes we can feel isolated when we don’t know where to start. Sometimes it can be overwhelming with all the social events that different universities and organisations host. But if you dig a little deeper and you’re prepared to give of yourself there is always going to be a community just for you.

You are not alone. Please keep going. The Gold Coast is welcoming. The Gold Coast provides SO MUCH support and resources. The Gold Coast is excited to have you, and I can't wait to meet you.

~ Iris Pham, Master of Clinical Psychology Student, Bond University