project review

Loving every minute in Fiji

Review submitted by Camilla Kiernan
Review date 11 Nov 2015

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I’ve been living in Fiji for a month now, and even though it feels like I’ve been living here forever, it also seems like I have only been here for a week.  My time here is going too fast!  Everybody has been amazing, there hasn’t been a single day that I haven’t laughed or been happy!  I have never known such friendly, amazing people in the world – that’s talking about everyone that I have met in Fiji.  They are such easy going, relaxed and hilarious people, that you feel like you’ve known them all your life, but really you’ve only known them for a few hours whilst you’ve been getting doped on the tanoa (a large carved wooden bowl) full of kava.

I couldn’t have been put in a better home stay.  I’m learning to speak Fijian at a pretty good rate, everyone is so helpful and patient with me.  Even when they tell me 10 times how to say a sentence, I still say “wait, so how do you say it again?”  I love everyone there, it’s so much fun and I get to meet all the people in the local community as well as all of their friends and family from all over Fiji.  The amount of extended family is insane, it makes it so difficult to learn the names, especially when they’re names you’ve never heard of before and at first impossible to pronounce.  I’ll be going to a local school in the middle of Viti Levu for a week teaching first aid and living in the village there.  That’s all because at home (in Fiji), one of my brothers teaches and lives there … so living with a family gives you the opportunity to go to places in Fiji that you could never buy!

Working at the Red Cross means I’ve had the chance to meet people from Red Cross branches all over Fiji, such as Taveuni, Savusavu and even Rotuma.  Since everyone in Fiji is so welcoming and hospitable, I feel I’m really at home here, despite it being the other side of the world.  I know I can go to these people’s homes and they’ll welcome me gladly, which is brilliant because I know I can locate myself all around the different islands.  I feel that I’ve really got to know the “real Fiji” – the traditions (and there are some really odd ones that you have to get use to), the people, the food and I’m even now beginning to feel when its cold in Fiji!  At first I thought it was hot all the time but now it gets to 20C and I class that as cold!

Out of the South Pacific, I think people call this part of the world a little bit “lazy”, but that’s not the case at all.  Fijians like to take their time with everything, take an easy, relaxed approach with life, and not stress over the things that the Western world does.  They also like to certainly delay things a food few hours!  I performed in a Fijian choir at the biggest church in Fiji and was told to be there for 2pm … I should have known it would be “Fiji time”.  We ended up beginning just after 4pm, but no because there was a problem, just because it’s Fiji.

When I booked my place to come over to the South Pacific, I don’t think I realized how different the culture would be to England.  Here, in the villages, you don’t need money at all – you go to wash in the river and go to catch your own food.  I went to a place called Serua at the weekend, and the boys used spears and did night fishing to catch these beautiful fish that were coved in what looked like leopard print scales.  We ate it the next day for lunch before church.  It was some of the best fish I’ve ever eaten, not to mention how beautiful it was, and it was just caught with a spear the day before.  I’ve got so in to the Fijian way of life, for me it’s perfect, and I know that I am not going to want to come out of it.

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