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Theresa Lippy

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Cultural Discovery

During mid-semester break at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji, I went to the Yasawa Islands and island hopped all week.


Semester Abroad: July 2009

Home University: Towson University

Host University: University of the South Pacific, Fiji
Major: Psychology
Activity: Travel to the Yasawas

Please describe what special activity you did during your semester abroad.

During mid-semester break at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji, I went to the Yasawa Islands. It was a five hour boat ride from the mainland, Viti Levu. I island hopped all week. It was an amazing experience seeing the pristine beauty of the islands. My trip lasted six nights. I visited four islands in total.

What was one highlight of your trip?

There was an opportunity staring at me. When Tavewa Island came into sight from the boat, I knew I wanted to hike up it. I’ve heard from many people that the Yasawa islands were beautiful. They were correct! My friends and I reached a travel agent who booked some of the backpackers resorts where we stayed and we played it by ear once we were on the islands. My Fiji Frommer’s guide also helped.


What did you learn about yourself personally through this experience abroad?

I learned that I’m capable of doing anything. I learned that I can go anywhere in the world that I want and absolutely nothing is holding me back. This trip to Fiji has been life changing and has given me an even greater appreciation for nature. I learned that I am a traveler at heart and probably will never live in the same place for a long time. How can you when there’s so much more to life?

How will you use this experience in your future professional endeavors?

Being in a developing country has an entirely different feel from the U.S, of course, but you don’t actually realize it until you are living there. I feel that my future profession will be greatly impacted by this experience because it causes me to think from a worldly, objective perspective. This is absolutely necessary in the workplace.

How did this experience help you adjust to life abroad?

It’s funny because I actually felt myself get homesick for Suva (the city where the University of the South Pacific in Fiji is!). That feeling made me realize that I am way past the point of getting adjusted and well into the swing of things in Fiji.


What cultural differences and similarities did you see as a result of this experience?

I chatted with a group of local men who were doing their daily routine of harvesting coconuts. They permanently reside on a tiny island, whereas in Suva, life is extremely different. I learned that huge cultural differences not only exist between Americans and Fijians but they also exist within Fiji.


What advice can you give to future students who are interested in being an active participant in their study abroad experience?

Travel within the country you visit! See everything you can, meet everyone you can, and enjoy! Sega na Lega – No worries!
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