If you want to trade the bustle of the city for the serenity of nature, Fiji might just fulfil all your study abroad dreams. The country, located in the South Pacific, has nine regions of varying sized and equally beautiful islands, perfect for some weekend island hopping.
Though students of all types and studies will equally appreciate the volcanoes, pristine waters, and interesting life of Fiji, biology majors in particular will enjoy the tropical ecosystem, coral reefs, while budding anthropologists and sociologists will be intrigued by the still present customs and social structures of indigenous Fijians.
Photo Credits: Christian Haugen.
Fiji is a fantastic study abroad option for people looking for a destination that's a bit off the beaten path.
English is one of the three official languages of Fiji, and is spoken by much of the population since Fiji was a British colony and English was the only language used by the government until 1997. The other two languages are Fijian (spoken by the indigenous peoples) and Hindustani (speaking by the Fijians who are descendants of the Indians sent to Fiji by British imperialists). All universities use English as the language of instruction, so language barriers are not a concern when studying in Fiji.
Universities have on-campus, dorm style housing available for students. This is a reliable option for study abroad-ers in Fiji. Many older students also live off campus in houses or apartments. If you find housing off-campus, it is suggested that you check it out in person (or get trustworthy photos sent to you) to ensure that you are getting what is advertised.
Despite their relaxed lifestyle, Fijians still know how to buckle down, so don’t expect school to be a total breeze. In 2007, the Fijian Ministry of Education enacted the Higher Education Commision, dedicated to improving the quality and standards of higher education in the country. The universities in Fiji are quite similar to those in America. Many departments and courses overlap and instruction is in English. The University of the Pacific has particularly strong research resources, though.
Though quite large in size (if you add up all the islands), many of these regions are still inhabited by Fiji’s indigenous peoples or have uninhabitable terrains. The two most built up cities, and major cities for international students to study in, are located on the biggest of Fiji’s islands: Viti Levu. They are Suva and Lautoka.
Suva is Fiji’s capital, and though it is not the most culturally rich city, it is probably the most modern city in Fiji. It is the seat of the government and also home to some gorgeous botanical gardens (study spot, anyone?). The University of the South Pacific and The Fiji National University are the major universities in Suva, but there are also popular medical and nursing schools. The city also has a bustling nightlife, where bars and clubs often stay open until 5am (party animals, rejoice!)
The second largest city, and home to University of Fiji, is Lautoka. The city is much less built up than Suva, and is more of a tourist destination. Be sure to check out the Botanical gardens, Hare Krishna temple, and the Sugar Mill, which has been a major source of the city’s income for over 100 years. Lautoka is less of a major city than Suva in terms of cosmopolitan areas and nightlife.
Visas are not required for people of most nationalities staying in Fiji for less than four months. For more information and specifics on how to apply for a visa if you plan on staying for longer, check out the Fiji Embassy website in Washington D.C.
Social Life and Student Culture
Fijians have a very laid back, relaxed attitude. There is the notion of “Fiji time”, where people generally arrive late to appointments, meetings and arrangements. Some of you might find this to be a welcome accommodation to your chronic tardiness, while those of you who fall on the more anal side punctual side of things might need time to adjust to this. Regardless, a semester in Fiji ensures you’ll come back less tense, more relaxed, and maybe even with lower blood pressure!
Sports, predominantly soccer and rugby, are also pretty prevalent in Fiji culture, so you can find some quick pickup games if you’re in the mood. With so much water around, its no surprise that water activities are also popular in Fiji: snorkeling, water skiing, kayaking, and fishing are all easily at your disposal while abroad.
Though Fiji isn't known for being outrageously expensive, it's nice to have a little extra cash in your pocket. Here are some scholarships that could help.
- If you're going through GlobaLink's AustraLearn program, they offer students grants and scholarships.
- More Study Abroad Grants and Scholarships
With its nature, rich culture, and up-and-coming universities, Fiji is an excellent study abroad destination for those of you looking to leave the big bad city. Coral reefs, rugby matches, and the laid back lifestyle are awaiting your arrival!