If You Want to Find Yourself, Get Lost in Fiji

This blog post is courtesy of Amanda Pinnock an ASU online student majoring in Global Health. She attended the ASU: Fiji: Culture, Health and Environment program. She was also a recipient of a Study Abroad Office Travel Grant.

My name is Amanda Pinnock and I am a 27-year-old full-time, working single-parent. My favorite pastime is reading; I love books about adventure, travel, romance, and any book that has a strong female lead. I never knew that the way that I describe my favorite type of books would be the same exact way that I describe my summer study abroad program in Fiji. 

Amanda - Fiji 2.jpg
My home-stay brother climbed a tree just to pick out the freshest coconut for me to enjoy

I chose the Fiji study abroad program for three major reasons:

  • It was the cheapest option.
  • It was the shortest length, only spanning over eight days in June. I am a single-parent, so leaving my child for weeks at a time was not an option.
  • It directly related to my Global Health major by concentrating on research, service and volunteer work, as well as being immersed in a completely different culture that is rich in history, food, religion and environment.

The cost of this program was most appealing when searching through my options to study abroad. This program was among the more affordable options, but still promised to be life-changing (and it sure did deliver)! I was awarded a $1,000 Study Abroad Office Travel Grant as well as a $1,500 Summer University Grant. Suddenly, this program became realistic because it was now affordable. I came out of pocket less than $700 due to financial aid and applying for one of many scholarships available for study abroad.

In Fiji, I discovered my passion for people and my love for travel. Once I stepped off the plane I knew I was in my element; experiencing new foods, smells, weather, religions, and languages with every step that I took. Once interacting with the villagers of Votua and having them explain their culture and their history, I knew this was an experience that I would remember for the rest of my life. Fijians are some of the happiest and most humble people that I have ever met and in 8 short days they completely changed my perspective on life and opened my eyes to a whole new world. This program made me realize things I took for granted, such as running hot water, indoor plumbing, and the luxury of having plenty of food to eat. Although Fiji and Fijians are rich in many ways, money is not one of those ways. This program made me realize my passion for those that are less fortunate, as well as the importance of getting clean water and nutritious foods to everyone. It incited my interest in non-profit organizations like The World Food Programme and CARE, which are now parts of my future career goals.

It is so cliché to say that my study abroad experience was life-changing so I would like to say that it was perspective-changing. It put into perspective what are necessities in life and what things are actually just luxuries. I found myself in Fiji, the real me, the part that was dying to get out of a 40-hour work week with the same mundane routine. So now my favorite saying is, “If you want to find yourself, your true self, get lost in another country.”

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