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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may

I have less than two weeks of classes left and I am almost done this semester! The past while has been filled with everything! I’ve finished up the course work in two of my classes, Marketing (going into the final with an A+!) and Ethics & Professionalism in the Public Sector (just submitted my final project, but I think I will have an A going into the final!). I have work left to do in Marine Biology and in Health Psychology. Luckily I will only have 3 finals this semester, because Psychology is all course work and smaller tests.

Last week, Safron hosted a fried chicken night/pot luck at her place, and it was delicious and awesome. I brought over cookies (which had about a 50% burnt rate, so my tutorial the next morning was happy too).

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Credit: Saf

The upstairs neighbours got broken into as well unfortunately so now we have a security guard man and we have heavy duty doors being installed. It is a bit of a hassle, I am glad I am leaving soon just so I don’t have to deal with it anymore. They’ve caught one person though, the robber’s associate unless he is a robber as well. They’ve recovered Katelin’s iPod and iPhone, but no luck on my end so far.

We had a bbq with all our neighbours and they are all so lovely. The upstairs neighbour (Ralph) said I could borrow his bicycle whenever I’d like, so I used it this past weekend. They are really nice.

Katelin made pumpkin curry for the dinner (for anyone that has been to our house, this is a staple food) and I dissected some prawns. It involved a lot of screaming but I peeled and deveined all of them! YAY!

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Each Tuesday I’ve been hanging out with Jonah & his floor and having cheapo pizza and seeing movies. Last last week I saw Pain & Gain, which was pretty dumb.

We also had a huge scavenger hunt on Friday night where you had to run around and take photos of your team. That was very silly and very fun. I was on a team with Liz, my friend Ryan from my Marine Bio class, and Benedict and T who we got to meet!

The Coke Games were last week, which I basically can describe as the Olympics of Fiji. It was a high school track and field meet, and they just opened the new stadium and EVERYONE was there! I got to see some heats and the 400m finals and the 100m finals. It was a lot of fun and Ryan gave me lots of insight. I was very impressed by the students that were running without shoes. (ow)

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They gave out paper hats and they are awesome! When he first handed it to us, I wondered why he was handing us a piece of paper…. I thought the hat was silly at first but the sun was so hot that I ended up wearing it almost the whole time.

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Also last week was the USP Got Talent Semi-Finals and Christine (from SFU) has made it through to the finals (this week!). She does a circus act with the big yo yo.

I did some research and helped out with the Management & Public Administration debate team and our team won the first round! The argument was “China is not a threat to Pacific Island Countries Self-Determination” and we were against the motion. This was the quarterfinals, and they go against Accounting & Finance next.

Last week I went to the fish store “1 kg of tuna please!”, but then once I got home and made some sushi I realized that I bought one of the worst probably-going-to-be-extinct-soon tunas to buy. Now I feel like a terrible person. And the worst Marine Bio student.

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There are A LOT of exciting things coming up:

– Lauren gets here in two days!!

– only 1.5 weeks of school left!!

– Fiji vs New Zealand All Blacks rugby game!!

– my first ever wine tasting!!

– Fijian river rafting trip

– Volcom Fiji surf competition!!

naloto village

Last weekend, I was lucky enough to go on a weekend field trip to Naloto Village in Tailevu. The field trip was organized by the Psychology Student Association and was mainly a community service/team bonding field trip. It is nice having classes all across the school (this semester I am taking classes in the Management & Public Admin, Psychology and Marine Science/Biology departments).

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Here is a picture of where we went. Look how many places I have been already! I have been doing very well.

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It should have taken us just over an hour to get there, but we ended up getting lost and it took us about 3 hours. But as always, you will eventually get there… as we did! We took a truck with a covered canvas back on it, which was lots of fun and also very dusty. You can’t fall asleep in those cars because you will either fall off the bench or hit your head on the wire cage behind you. Ow.

On the way there!

On the way there!

When we woke up the next morning we could see where we were and it was absolutely beautiful. The village was a little peninsula and was surrounded by the ocean on all sides. In the morning, my group did a bit of a clean-up but most of the time was just spent getting to know the other students. I was happy about this because I had a pretty killer cold and called it a night both nights before many of the other students.

"cleaning up"

“cleaning up”

There was two other international students on the trip, Katelin and Saffron (Saf is from Georgia). It was a bit awkward because the village would not let us sleep in the houses with the other students because they wanted us to have the nicest accommodation out of everyone. We stayed in a house owned by a lovely lady and had mattresses, pillows and blankets on the floor to share. We were all ready and brought blankets and pillows, and hoping to stay with all the other students but if someone invites us in and is so gracious, it is pretty rude to refuse.

Where I stayed

Where I stayed

The international kiddos got salusalus

The international kiddos got salusalus

As it was special occasion to have so many visitors, the people in the village went into the ocean flat and collected kaikoso (reef clams). The last time they took them in was 7 years ago, and I learned that they are a Fijian delicacy. I learned how to open the clams, how to scrape them out and make them into kaikoso kokoda (kai-ko-so cuh-kun-dah) which was the raw clams with their juices mixed with a small amount of diced onion, chilies and limes. I am lucky to have tried them, but I didn’t really like them that much. I managed to eat quite a lot of them, but it got harder and harder as the meals progressed into more and more kaikoso. We just have popped open at least 200 clams and that only made about 3L of soup. Over the weekend, I’d say there was 100 L of soup that I saw being made. Would that wipe out the entire clam population?

First step is to pop open the clam shells

First step is to pop open the clam shells

They made kaikosa in three different ways: kokoda (raw, right), cooked kokoda and cooked in lolo (coconut cream, left)

They made kaikosa in three different ways: kokoda (raw, right), cooked kokoda and cooked in lolo (coconut cream, left)

I was able to experience going to a village church on the Sunday as we were there during the Methodist service. The service was 99% in Fijian so I am not sure what they were saying, but the hymns sounded very nice.

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I really like this picture. He is eating a soursop

I really like this picture. He is eating a soursop

me and Neil

me and Neil

We ended up getting back in the evening, and since we all had no food in our kitchens, we decided to grab food and then head home. That evening two of my classmates came over for my ethics class and we studied as we had a test the next morning (A+!!). I got in the top 2 of the class, not sure which of us got the highest mark.

marine biology field trip

The last 3 days that Dad and Kate were here coincided with my field trip for my Marine Biology class. We always joked that they could stay at the same place as the class did, and it turned out they did! We stayed at Tubakula Bungalows along the Coral Coast (south of main island, Viti Levu).

My Marine Biology class is a great group of people. Most of the people on my trip are in my lab on Fridays, which is the smaller lab. Everyone is incredibly friendly.

The first day we snorkelled just outside the resort and laid a transect to examine substrate (where the tape lay), invertebrates and fish. It had really high sedimentation there (so, cloudy) and not super nice (partly because of the river run-off nearby). The second day we went to a marine protected area down the road near a village called Votua and did the same thing. It was much better though, but a lot harder to do the transect because there was more coral there.

part of my group

part of my group

I didn’t see anything spectacular but the marine protected area did have quite a large number of fish! I was surprised. (Marine protected area means that visitors are regulated along with fishing rights and researchers)

Luckily I sent some pictures to my group mates before the break-in so I have some itty bitty pictures to share.

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baby parrotfish, so cuuute

baby parrotfish, so cuuute

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butterflyfish (vagabond)

butterflyfish (vagabond)

crown of thorns starfish

crown of thorns starfish

HELLO FISHY

HELLO FISHY

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damselfish

damselfish

angelfish

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The rest of the field trip I hung out and met my classmates which was great. We drank grog, cooked food, hung out on the beach, had a big bonfire, played in the pool and generally just laughed and laughed and laughed. I don’t think Dad and Kate appreciated being woken up by my classmates swimming at 5 in the morning, but I guess they’ve had lots of training.

We had a lot of downtime too and one afternoon, the three of us went to the Kila Bird Park and saw iguanas, peacocks, boas, owls, parrots and lots of other living things. I didn’t like holding the iguana.

All in all, it was a fantastic field trip and I can’t believe it counts as part of school credit! I had an amazing time and it would definitely count in my top 5 Fiji experiences.

off to get scuba’ed!

This extended weekend I am off to get scubatified on Nananu-I-Ra! I am excited. And nervous. And excited. I will also meet up with Katrina there probably. This week she has been in the Yasawas which has been awesome because I have had an intense amount of work to do. This week I finished a 10-page lab report, a 3-page group Marketing assignment, an interview with a public servant and tomorrow I have a mangrove field trip.

Next week I have a presentation. Then Dad and Kate get here!!!! Then in the two days between Easter and Taveuni I have two midterms, a paper, a lab report, a massive research paper and another field trip that I am totally going to miss because I didn’t realize I had it when I booked my flights. Oops. Then Taveuni for a week!!! And then a 3-day Marine Bio field trip. And then two midterms the week after. Plus normal school work. Yeepers!!

In other news, my May and June are looking quite empty!

In other other news, today Kate and I got Hunky Dog hot dogs from the cart downtown and the bbq sauce dripped off on my arm and one of the hot dog dudes wiped it off for me! If you are a regular you get excellent service. Hahahahaha

back to auckland

Flights are cheaper than taking the bus/ferry to Auckland, so I took a flight the day before I flew back to Fiji to Auckland. Best part, other than the view, was the Lord of the Rings safety trailer!!!

I also got to see some of the North Island. Parts that I missed.. next time!

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Mt Taranaki

I met up with two friends that I met at HangDog. They were going to Big Gay Out (Auckland’s PRIDE festival) so I went with them and we got food afterwards. There was live music which was nice. I crashed on Sandy’s couch which was very nice of her. The next day I met up with Sd (a Fiji friend) and then flew back to Nadi!

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It’s been pretty good being back! It’s been nuts busy, because I volunteered with Orientation and been very busy catching up with everyone. I’ve been getting along reallllly well with some of the new international students which is awesome. Kate’s and my flat is totally awesome and super close to campus (though you have to high jump over 800 rabid dogs to get in or out). It should be a lot easier to adapt the second time, which it was, but I’ve been feeling pretty sick a lot of the time. I’m not sure what upsets my stomach here but it really does, and stopped while I was abroad. The weather is also insane, it rotates between our driveway melting and dripping down the hill or torrential downpour x2. I’ve been getting super dehydrated but I’m not sure if it’s possible to drink more water!!! Kate and I had a big housewarming party last weekend and it was tons and tons of fun, and I’ve got to go swimming every day at least once which has been great.

I picked my classes too! I am taking Marine Biology, Ethics and Professionalism in the Public Service, Marketing and Individual and Community Health Psychology. It’s a pretty hard semester actually, a lot more than last semester. The bio and psych class I think will be challenging because it isn’t my major and they are final year classes… but I’d rather take something interesting here where my marks don’t matter, then Bio 101 and Psych 101 back home. I think I’ll get a lot more out of these classes. I’ve met a lot of my classmates and it’s been nice being back somewhere familiar-ish.

I’ve been doing a lot of slacklining too, which is like a loose tight rope, and I’ve been getting better!

This weekend I am going on a hiking trip. I am a bit nervous.