What goes down during a Verto semester abroad in Fiji? This week, Verto student Tea van Linde will take you on a journey through Suva –– Fiji’s largest metropolitan city. Read more to find out how Tea and other students forged deep friendships through life lessons, shared laughter, and more!
*** This is an example of a student’s experience from Spring 2021. Specific programming and activities are subject to change semester by semester.
Life in Suva, Fiji
On the way to our base house in Suva, Fiji, we saw local villages and stopped at Maui Bay to walk along with the beautiful pier. After three hours of driving and a few bags of Twisties (the most popular snack amongst our group), we arrived at the Suva Motor Inn and made our way to our assigned rooms.
Full stomachs = happy students. What better way to start the day than with a shared breakfast in Fiji?
Rooms 302 and 305 were the kitchen rooms, and I really enjoyed waking up every morning and going to make breakfast with my friends!
We also got to go to lunch in town every day. Every day, you would find a small group of people and head in any direction with the intention of finding a new place to eat or revisiting a favorite. One day, TJ put together a group to make a big stir fry lunch by combining our allotted stipends. It was so much fun! We all enjoyed the independence that came with the city of Suva. It was nice to reconvene at the end of the day with our usual big group meals.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are a staple of markets in Suva!
Throughout the week, we were able to do so many interesting things –– like visit a local TV Station! We also visited the national archives, where we learned about Fijian history and the preservation of it. When we were done with our tour, we walked back to the hotel in the pouring rain.
Usually sopping wet clothes would be a major inconvenience, but we took the opportunity to jump in the pool with our clothes on! As people arrived from the archives, we would call them into the pool. They’d cheer on the ones going down the slide with us. A lot of us also started our Scuba training this week in Suva’s public pool! Personally, the feeling of being able to breathe underwater for the first time was a bizarre one. However, I had a great time and I am looking forward to everything that I will be able to see on the ocean floor eventually!
A semester abroad can be a leap of faith…that leads to jumping for joy with the best of friends.
Ezra and Colleen celebrated their birthdays this week and Suva was such a perfect place to do so! We sang and had cake at the restaurants on the 16th and 18th. One thing I noticed is that birthday cake is considered a finger food in Fiji. It’s super-efficient because, even though it may be a little messy, there are no dishes to wash afterward!
Later on in the week, a few members of the Fijian Peace Corps came and shared about their life-long generosity. They talked about how important it is to be mindful of other cultures and understand that the values and ideals we have grown up with are not always the best answer in any given situation. They also let us try a few new foods and I won a Peace Corps water bottle!
By the seaside and by each other’s sides, Verto students are pals for life!
Shoving a group of nearly 30 different individuals into a new living environment, especially after over a year of minimal human relations and contact, is bound to be a bit challenging. Our group was no exception, but with a little help from our fantastic Program Leaders who organized a proper conversation to work out our disputes as a whole, the group dynamic returned back to its full potential. Our group not only worked out our issues but also took it a step further by adding a student lead compliment circle activity where students would call out an individual in the group for something positive about them. This activity showed how thoughtful and caring everyone in our group is, and shows that each and every one of us knows and understands in our minds that we are here for each other.
The things that we talked about in that conversation came true within hours, as we all offered to chip in and fix Aurora’s phone that was accidentally broken at the pool in Momi. Everyone contributed $5-10 USD and we all handled the situation together instead of letting it divide us.
The week in Suva was a blast, from running around the hotel, to hanging out in each other’s rooms, and to exploring and shopping throughout the city. This was the first time back in a city environment since COVID-19, which was a little bit overwhelming for all of us. However, we all had a wonderful time and cannot wait to go back and visit again before our semester is over!