Miranda Needham shunned the popular student exchange destinations of North America and Europe, and instead enjoyed a remarkable semester at the University of the South Pacific (USP) in Suva, Fiji.
"I don't understand why there are so few students studying in this tropical paradise.
I am completing a Bachelor of Education (P-12) and I was pleased with the content in all of the courses I took. I visited Fijian schools and spoke to teachers, and USP has exceptional online learning facilities. I found it incredibly rewarding.
The university itself is a stunning campus in Suva. It has only one downfall: Fiji Time! Getting anything done in a hurry can be a problem.
Living on campus puts facilities at your fingertips. The gym is free and you can join plenty of sporting teams.
My room was medium sized, with a bed, desk, wardrobe and large windows overlooking a creek. We had a diverse group from the US, Argentina, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Cook Islands, Samoa and Fiji.
The staff were friendly and they made you feel welcome. By the end of my stay I felt like I had a new family. I loved the experience and had the best time getting to know people.
I felt safe on campus since the security guards were friendly and ready to help. Off campus, personal safety is up to you. If you are careful and use your common sense then I doubt you will have trouble.
The cost of living in Fiji is reasonable. One semester of housing cost me the equivalent of one month's rent in Melbourne. It is also cheaper to eat out than to cook at home.
The best way to meet people is getting involved in events and living on campus.
The best thing I returned home with was my PADI Rescue Diver certification, which I completed on Kadavu Island. There is also much to learn about Fijian culture that is not mass-produced for the tourists. The real Fiji is incredible, but you just have to look a little harder to find it."
Victoria University has exchange partnerships with over 100 exchange partner institutions all over the world, including the University of the South Pacific.
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