An unforgettable semester in Suva November 18, 2019

By (University of Wisconsin - LaCrosse) - abroad from 06/27/2019 to 11/08/2019 with

UW-Platteville Education Abroad at the University of the South Pacific (USP)

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
So much personal growth! Go with an open mind and absorb the world around you. I learned much more about culture, the world, and myself in the last 5 months than I have in my entire life. Be willing to listen and ask questions.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

I took general education courses that I had saved for abroad while in Suva. I would highly recommend this! I had three courses, which was extremely manageable. The professors were helpful and had a lot of interest in the international students. All courses were set up on Moodle. The courses were much less intense than what I would expect them to be at UWL, however the final accounts for 40% of your grade, which is different than how it is in States.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The International Office at USP was quite helpful for helping with problems out of your control, i.e. bed bugs (common problem in South Pacific in my experience), or the wifi network being down. Helped with all administrative stuff with study permits and all.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived in 11th hall, one of the campus housing buildings. It is apartment-style with shared kitchen, bathrooms, and living spaces with private bedrooms. The bedrooms were quite nice with a built-in desk and we had our apartment cleaned by staff each weekday. Its a good experience living with so many different cultures in one small space. The kitchen however was quite limited with space and items, making cooking a challenge.

* Food:

good and bad- cooking in halls was very difficult!! I have never eaten so much pasta and ramen noodles in my life. We did not have an oven and the pots and pans were quite limited unless you want to buy your own set- our apartment just shared all the dishes we had. Even the majority of local students just eat a lot of noodles and toast and things like that. BUT if you go out for Indian food or make friends with some locals, you can have some of the best food of your life. I miss all of the curry so much already, and if you get the chance to have Lovo, enjoy it! absolutely delightful.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I was able to make friends with some Fijians as well as Indo-Fijians. I would highly recommend integrating yourself as much as possible and talking with locals in class. They can be a bit shy but don't be discouraged by that. Whenever you're out and about in Fiji, people will make you feel like family. Also, this program includes a village stay, which was one of my favorite parts. I felt so at home and like I was experiencing the real Fiji- not just the beaches like everyone thinks!

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I had a few small health problems while abroad which were easy to address at the Health Center on campus. Any prescriptions needed are free with the health insurance we have through this program. However, the standard of medical care is not like the States and you must remember that. My friend did have dengue while abroad, which was not diagnosed until after it was passed and was misdiagnosed multiple times with unnecessary antibiotics prescribed. I got the CDC recommended vaccines before traveling.

* Safety:

Suva is one of the more dangerous parts of Fiji. Do not travel at night, and be aware of your surroundings. Especially as a female. There have been incidents of assaults, as well as one incident during my term where my friend was followed/chased by a guy while walking home alone from a nearby restaurant. Petty crime is common, so be aware of where your phone is, especially while out clubbing. When taking a taxi alone, always sit in the back seat. If you are smart about your surroundings, chances are, you'll be fine.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes

The culture of Fiji was one of the best aspects of being there, and something I look forward to experiencing again some day.

Finances

* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

Cost of living is quite low, so what you spend is totally up to you. If you eat on campus and don't drink, saving money would be quite easy. Traveling is also quite cheap and most taxi rides will be less than 5 USD.

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Traveling around Fiji is probably one of the more expensive parts but so worth it still! Save money to do these trips, especially the Yasawa islands. I did a solo-trip through the islands and it was one of the highlights of my trip.

Language

* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Living on campus
  • Kris (On-Site Coordinator)
  • Freedom to travel during semester
* What could be improved?
  • Program fees- quite expensive
  • Easier application
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? That it really is as laid-back as they say, and there is no need to stress or worry about adjusting to the culture. I was a bit worried about the culture adjustment, but Kris will help to make sure you are dressed respectfully for your time in the village, and I found adjusting to the culture quite easy as they are so friendly and loving.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Nearly Native or Trail Blazer
Craving the most authentic experience possible, perhaps you lived with a host family or really got in good with the locals. You may have felt confined by your program requirements and group excursions. Instead, you'd have preferred to plan your own trips, even skipping class to conduct your own 'field work.'