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Final thoughts on Fiji

June 28, 2010

EDITOR'S NOTE: Throughout the summer, ASU students studying abroad will be writing back to the states about their overseas adventures. Fostering international student experiences is just one part of ASU's commitment to making a global impact.

Marie's blog:

Last day in Fiji, and it has been a blast. So far, we have spent hours on the beach and in the water (the snorkeling here is beautiful, by the way), gone zip-lining, planted coral and crops, and spent time in a local Fijian village. It has been busy, but it has also been relaxing, simply because we are in Fiji and I can leave my room without putting on five layers of clothing.

So of all those wonderful adventures, which has been my favorite? The village stay, of course. There was plenty of welcoming, gracious Fijians, affectionate children that were entirely too cute, more food than I could eat and, of course, the kava. What is kava? It’s an enormously popular traditional Fijian drink made from the roots of the kava plant. It is also a mild narcotic. When we arrived at the village, as per custom, our entire group took part in a welcoming ceremony – the kava ceremony. Later, after a traditionally cooked lovo dinner (that was so, so yummy), there was song, dance and more kava to go around. The room – which was about a quarter of the size of a basketball court – must have had 60 people, all sitting on the ground. It was so humid outside that there was steam in the air all around. People were dancing, singing and we ASU students had a multi-song performance of our own. Although I retired at midnight, the music kept playing well into the night. The next morning, there were beach walks and crab-hunting expeditions with the local children. For those of you considering going to Fiji with ASU: Do it.

As far as school work is concerned, today we worked on our service-learning project. As I mentioned before, this involved both planting coral and planting crops such as banana and toro (think potato-like root vegetable) for the village. How cool is that? I can now forever brag that I have planted coral in an effort to preserve the miraculous reef systems of Fiji’s Coral Coast.

As my study abroad trip draws near, I leave with a few tips for future travelers:

  1. Bring granola bars with you. They will save your life because not all food is provided and there are plenty of long bus rides made easier by some sweetness.
  2. Pack as little as you can. There will be washing machines if you need them, but there is little worse than having to lug around 80 lbs. of clothes. And since we move at least twice a week, the lugging adds up.
  3. Bring Dramamine, Tylenol, Benadryl and Neosporin.
  4. Bring your computer. Even though it is optional, having it around will make your life a lot easier.
  5. Walking shoes. Seriously.
  6. Your Fiji village stay family would seriously appreciate it if you brought toys for their kids, clothing, first-aid supplies and aspirin.
  7. You do not need a knee-length skirt for the village stay. No matter what the packing list says, it definitely needs to go to your ankles.

But, no matter what you forget to bring, you will have an awesome time.

End of story.

Marie Manning, a global health major, will be a senior this fall. She is studying abroad in New Zealand, Fiji and London this summer.