One week in Fiji is done and gone, and I am now on the plane for something I hope is fun. Australia: here I come!
As I reflect back on what I just experienced—a week of traveling, classes and living with people I have known as long as I have been in Fiji—I think about all the wonderful memories I have accumulated that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
I don’t think two of us had the same experience, as we all have different mindsets and ways of going about new things. Here are a few things I took note of along the way:
Have an open mind
First and foremost, have an open mind about EVERYTHING. This is something that comes easily for me, but I have seen others struggle with change and it can really dampen the mood. This goes hand in hand with culture shock, which occurs when one is thrust into a new environment. The best way to deal with culture shock, in my opinion, is to try to be as relaxed and understanding as possible when it comes to new things, which can be anything from foreign food to lack of Internet connection.
AIFS, the program through which I am studying abroad, could have been a bit more organized. Even our homestay parents mentioned that they usually get an itinerary so they know what we are doing and when we are free or occupied. We were not even certain where or when our first day of class was, which was definitely concerning. Another bummer was the lack of planned events. The first day, we were supposed to go to a temple and did not due to the rain. We only had three short excursions planned (besides the island trip), which is far less than prior groups. I am fortunate that Walter took us to his village. If he didn’t, I would have really felt like I missed out.
Make the best of any situation
With the above concerns in mind, I also always think it is important to make the best of what one is given. This is useful not just for traveling, but for every day life. Nothing is ever going to go perfectly, but if one just rolls with what she gets and takes advantage of what she can, thing usually work out pretty well.
I’ll admit it, Fiji was not what I expected. However, in the end, I learned so much culturally by living with a family. I did fully enjoy anything I got to do, and I am simply grateful that I was able to experience the country.