project review

Once in a lifetime experience turns into new life!

Review submitted by Jill Mclean
Review date 13 May 2016


Arriving into Nadi airport, the first thing to hit was obviously the heat! Over 30 hours of travelling and it would be another 4-5 hours before reaching the final destination.

Getting the public bus was not for the faint hearted, but did allow me to experience first hand some Fijian culture – the crowded, busy little bus, stood me in good stead for my arrival into the capital. I arrived on a Saturday afternoon, into the middle of rush-hour traffic, a march of the military going through town, and the Saturday market. With the heat, noise and people everywhere I was glad to find a taxi quickly and make my way on a very quick journey to my accommodation.

It took me a few days to get my bearings and sort out my sleep patterns, and after completing my health and safety training and medical training, I was ready to start work at the newspaper. The first people I met were the editor-in-chief and his wife who also works at the paper. They set the bar for other locals – extremely welcoming and friendly, making me feel instantly at home.

Work was much more than I ever expected – the staff becoming friends instantly, and meeting people and experiencing things that I never thought imaginable. Within my eight weeks at the paper I have met various dignitaries, rubbed shoulders at parties with ambassadors, had dinner with the ex-Prime Minister, the list seeming endless of wonderful experiences that no-one at home would ever believe.


I found that although I was working a lot and not having as much free time as the friends I had made doing the teaching projects, I was experiencing far more Fijian culture and learning so much whilst doing so that it never felt like work. When I did get free time at weekends, when not staying local and socializing and drinking the dreaded “grog” with workmates, I was able to get out for a few days, visiting placed such as Nadi, Levuka, Caqalai island and Colo-i-Suva, all of which were amazing experiences and providing me with feature articles for the following week.

One thing I was worried about before coming to Fiji was the food, but with so many cultures converging here, and the development that is occurring in the country, it is always possible to find something to eat, and of course the hundreds of barbeque stands that line the streets where it is possible to get chops, sausages and anything else the Fijians decide to throw in, anytime of night.

Another worry was what to expect from the wildlife. Unfortunately, the mosquitoes in Fiji got a taste for me, and I have constantly been covered in bites, welcoming reaction from people on the street, such as “you poor thing” or “those bites look horrible”. I had to remember that Fijians in general speak their mind and usually don’t mean any offence by this – I applied my mosquito repellent, liberally doused myself in tea tree oil and prayed they would leave me alone – they have yet to do this. Other than the millions of lizards darting around walls everywhere, and the odd mongoose bouncing through the grass, I had no problems with any wildlife, not seeing much except the fish when I went snorkeling. However, there was one giant spider I saw that was as big as my face – my Fijian hosts laughed and told me that was a small spider – luckily they have yet to prove this to me!

Overall I have loved my two months in Fiji at the newspaper. It has been an amazing experience, one which I do not want to end, which thankfully does not have to... By either pure luck or because I proved myself to be an asset to the company, I have been offered a job and the chance to stay, which I have jumped at and accepted. So for me, there is no goodbye to Fiji, rather a hello to a new life on the other side of the world!

Read more about the Fiji Journalism project.