leaving fiji soon

Things are wrapping up here, and this could be my last post from Fiji! Hopefully not though, I still have one more in the works.

My courses are all done, as well as exams. Yesterday a big group of us went to the forest park one last time as most people leave today or tomorrow. Last night we had our farewell evening and we’ve been wrapping lots of things up and having lots of nice dinners.

Alex on the rope swing:

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Our girls night:

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The Canadian girls this semester:

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They are awesome. Me, Christine (Vancouver from SFU too), Liz (Guelph), Maggie (Guelph), and Catherine (Quebec City). Canada is big, but it doesn’t seem as big when you’ve lived near both ends.

I’ve decided that I am electronically cursed.. my netbook power cord has stopped working so I will really be technology deprived for the next while. I’ll leave Suva on Monday and fly out to New Zealand on Tuesday. I have some ideas of plans, but I’ll try to figure out more of that stuff this week. I am hoping to visit Pam (Grandma’s cousin!) in the first few days. It’ll be a bit challenging to keep doing all my prep without a computer, but I’ll figure it out.

During the first week of exams, the new stadium in Suva had a New Zealand Classic All Blacks rugby game vs Fiji 15s. It was a lot of fun to go to! SFU barely has practically no school spirit and the games are boring, so this may be the pinnacle sports game of my entire university career! The American students here were shocked when they heard that. The Classic All Blacks team are all ex-All Blacks, but they were still alright. They were slotted to win, but Fiji dominated 33-14! I had no idea what was happening at most times, but it was still very exciting.

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vatu-i-ra passage and many suva adventures

It is the beginning of the 2 exam weeks, but I don’t have any exams until the 2nd week. Two and a half week long study break? Fine by me! A lot of USP students get really fuffed about exams here but they don’t bother me at all.

This past week, I went up to Safari Lodge (3rd time is the charm) to hang out/snorkel/possibly do some diving. 9 of us went up and it was lots of fun! I got to snorkel a ton where I saw coral and coral and more coral. Acropora party! Butterflyfish mayhem! I felt nerdy.

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Ever since I did my dive course I really wanted to do dive the Vatu-I-Ra passage. The dive instructors at Safari Lodge have been travelling the world for the past 7 years and diving at pretty much every dive site known to man. They said that these sites were the best BY FAR, so we did it!

Patrick, Chris and I did a two tank dive at Half-Vatu at a dive site called Malaise. It was incredible. The only way I can really describe it is imagine the best coral picture you’ve seen in National Geographic and then imagine better! We got to go through a huge number of coral tunnels and we saw an unbelievable amount of giant coral fans. Everything was just massive and with such beautiful colour. Sometimes we could look up through a few holes and you could see the surface with red fish floating through and 20 kinds of coral at different depths – absolutely stunning. There is no way that I can describe it to you to do it justice.

Lauren went snorkelling at the same spot at the same time and he thought it was phenominal as well. This trip was his first time snorkelling – he is spoiled (as am I!!). Chris took a camera down so I will hopefully post some photos or videos at some point, but the colours don’t really come through.

We also went to Colo-I-Suva this week, which is always a blast. Yesterday a few of us went to my friend Tui’s farm and it was really great. His family owns a great piece of land in Nausori (about 25 minutes away) and we made a lovo from scratch. We made palusami (dalo leaves with onions, fresh coconut cream that we squeezed and either corned beef or tuna), yams, cassava, dalo, and chicken. It was delicious and I really appreciated him inviting us up there. It was incredibly fun and Tui and his father are two really great people.

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Credit: Evan

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Lauren and I are on a ‘strict’ get-back-into-shape-regime involving pull-ups and ab exercises. I did about 3 sit-ups two days ago and my abs still hurt. Our diet has also changed to bagels and bagels alone because Lauren has mastered the art of bagel-making. YES.

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I finally got my netbook in the mail (took 7 weeks when Canada Post says it will take 5-10 business days even to Fiji) and have been installing Lubuntu on it and getting it up to snuff. It’s nice finally have a reliable computer again.

The other day Liz, Lauren and I saw a Hindi movie called Yamla Ragla Deewana 2. I can honestly say that, to me, it was one of the worst $6.50s I’ve ever spent and 3 hours long gone. The plot was typical… two con-men want to marry a girl with money but accidentally gets engaged to the wrong girl, but add in sumo wrestlers that literally fall from the sky, an orangutan that paints and likes to hang out with lady orangutans, an evil person whose ‘lab’ is in the space exhibit of a science museum and a Super Sheik that can blow people away using his mind. Wow.

There are a billion movies coming out that everyone wants to see in the next 2 weeks: Great Gatsby, The Internship, Man of Steel (all this week), and Monsters University and World War Z (next week).

And yes, through the movies and having fun I will be studying. I am at a pretty good place right now with classes which is good because they are all at the same time. I already finished Health Psychology (final mark: A!), and I am going into all my exams with good marks (A+ in Marketing, and B+ in Marine Biology – WHAT!!!). I still need to check my Ethics mark, but I’ll do that today.

I’m also getting ready for New Zealand more and more.. seeing if I can get more job bites and deciding where I want to fly to at first. I also need to figure out how I am going to pack and where I will stay.. all depends on everything really. Lots of options so hopefully narrow that down a bit more before I have to leave. It’s looking like I will try to start work as soon as possible…. I am hoping for some relevant experience but I might do some odd jobs until I can find a job like that.

Oh and lastly, here is a picture of Christine after her Diablo act at the USP Talent Show. She won second place and won $600! We were all very proud of her. Also, she is awesome. She has inspired me to take some circus lessons at Circus West in Vancouver (where she goes too). Hopefully I will have enough money to do this because I think I would really like to enjoy it. I would love to do the main-en-main course, or a silks course. But main-en-main would be awesome! PS: Diablos are really fun

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And a Stomp-esque group:

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first month, second semester

The first weekend back in Fiji, I went with the new international students to Tavualevu (north of the main island, Viti Levu). I had been near there, but not quite there, so it was exciting to go somewhere new!

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The green dish at the bottom with the hard-boiled egg is my favourite Fijian dish. It is called roro and made from dalo leaves with spices. It is ultra-delicious.
Fun fact! If you cook dalo wrong, it will make your throat itchy

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the chamba I received
Jillian’s photo

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The village we went to was very religious – they made it really clear right away that non-Christians were not the preferred choice to be welcomed. This was definitely the most uncomfortable I have felt about my beliefs since I have been here. When we first got there, we partook in a church service, which I enjoyed experiencing, but then at the end of the service they were asking for someone to thank them for allowing us into their village and for us to give them our blessing. I was suggested to do it, but I refused. I found this decision pretty difficult – has anyone else ran into something like this before?

Although, spending some time in the village was really nice and we were welcomed by everyone with open arms. The best part was being able to jump off a big tree into the water, and drinking grog with all the adults. It was REALLY HOT when we were there.

One of the ladies in the village gave me a chamba, which is traditional Fijian dress. I got a really nice looking one.

The weekend after our first week of school, Kate and I threw a big pool party/international-meet-local potluck-y get-together and it was awesome fun. It was great to meet more of the group and, although not many locals showed up, for our new friends to meet our old friends. It’s been nice to live off-campus just for something different. It’s nice to have our own space as well.

Here are two pictures from off our balcony:

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The pool party: (you can see the ocean from the pool!)suva-6

At the student bar:suva-5

The third weekend, I travelled to the west to Mt Batimalu near Lautoka to hike with the Suva Rucksack club (mainly an expat outdoorsy group). Liz, another Canadian exchange student, came as well. Our original plan was to hike up the Saturday, spend the night in a bunk on the top and hike down the next day. On the way there, we had to cross a river with the truck which was EXTREME. Naturally, our driver Matt, missed the shallow part and we went rocketing through it at a massive diagonal. Wicked. We ended up getting there pretty late (the other car had a flat tire) and the weather was bad, so we hiked the next day up and down.

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You snooze you lose on the best lying spots
Nameeta’s photo

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Please don’t fall please don’t fall
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The view was not the greatest

The view was not the greatest

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Other than the hiking, in general, sucking (I really do hate hiking, I am not sure why I go haha), it was a great time! Good company and lots of laughs.

Evan (see below) brought equipment to set up a slackline, so we’ve done that a bunch of times on campus. It’s awesome because we’ve gotten a bunch of Islanders to try it. A lot of people are really confused what it is. I’ve gotten a lot better, I can now take up to 7 steps! I have also fallen many times splat on my back and front.

I have really been enjoying my Marine Biology class. It is the first time where I have wanted him to keep talking during the lectures, and where I was looking forward to a lab! What?? Last Friday was particularly epic – we got to go out to a nearby small island and lay a transect (a long measuring tape) and record the substrate (hard coral, soft coral, dead coral, algae, rock, rubble, sand etc) and observe the fish and invertebrates (butterflyfish, sea cucumber, eel, damselfish, urchins etc). BEST FIELD TRIP EVER!!!! It was a bit silly snorkelling in the place where we lay the transect as some places were only six inches deep. I was in charge of looking for the fish/invertebrates, so I decided to lay down in the water with my snorkel heeeheee. It was fun but walking around I felt like I was crushing all the coral (we totally were). At the end, I snorkelled around a bit and I saw a pufferfish! They don’t move very much so you can get really close to them. I also got to try sea urchin raw – it tasted yummy! Kind of like a mussel/clam.

This weekend, I was just planning on hanging out in the city, but Evan (from Minnesota) texted me on Friday saying “we are going to camp on top of Mt Korobaba.. in a couple of hours! be there or be square!”. I still had class at that point, so after class I ran home, jammed my tent in my bag, made peanut butter sandwiches like a boss and ran out the door. Despite the actual hiking totally sucking (I really do hate hiking), it was great fun being able to camp on top of the mountain and learn/play Euchre (minus the hiking part, hiking kinda sucks). It was a bit cold (!!!), I wish I brought my sleeping bag. There were five of us in total – two Canadians, two Americans and 1 Fijian. On the way down, we found some massive waterfalls, pools and even a cave system.

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Hiking obviously means to bring a massive jar of jelly (yum). Albert and Evan

Good morning, Fiji!

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The new international group is massive, and it’s the first time where I’ve felt like I am in the middle age-wise and school-wise! That’s cool! With all the time off and co-ops, I have finally caught up (slowed down?). I have been getting to know some of them really well, and we’ve really been getting along. It’s a great group of people. I have also been catching up with old friends and meeting new students from Fiji and area. We have had lot of shenanigans with lots of people’s birthdays, and even went to Colo-I-Suva one day and climbed a waterfall (deep water solo!!).

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Alden’s photo (right)

After 8 months now of being abroad, I feel like I finally hit stage 2 in the past few weeks. I think the main aggravating factor was the heat. My body really doesn’t handle heat well. There have been a few days where I have changed shirts four times because I am sweating so much. In the past while, I really have been missing staying in one spot for a while. I am getting tired of saying goodbye or see you later to people I meet. I still have barely even unpacked and haven’t decorated at all because I know I’ll just have to pack up again in a few months. This I don’t think is the way to travel! But naturally, I keep extending my trip.. and I am having the time of my life. I’m still not sure when I am going back to Canada….

Kat gets here in three days! That’s nuts. She is meeting me in Suva for the end of the week and I’ll show her around. I need to get a lot of work done tomorrow because I will have 5 weeks of visitors! Yeeps! We have plans to go to the Coral Coast and up to the north of Viti Levu (I might get my dive cert then finally to save some money by doing one instead of two trips). Also, I just booked flights to Taveuni for when my dad and Kate are here. I am looking forward to seeing all of them! 3 days!!

helenka visits suva!

Helenka was in town for one night the day I flew back from Savusavu. I met her after my flight on Sunday morning. We had a nice visit. First we decided to go to the Colo-I-Suva forest park to explore. The weather was cloudy in Suva but not too bad. Chris, Jonah and us two toughed it out and hopped in a cab to get there. When we got there it was POURING!! Torrential downpour. Nevertheless, we had tons of fun (except for my massive belly flop, ow).

Here are two of Helenka’s pictures:

Helenka, me and Jonah

We concluded the day with Ashiyana (best Indian food ever mmmmmmm).