by: Clare Sweeney
One of the biggest themes from Fiji for me was time. The way in which I define time and it’s importance has now been entirely transformed. We would constantly joke about being on Fiji Time, but it was absolutely true. There’s island time, which includes relaxing and being stress-free, and then there is Fiji Time, which also includes relaxing and being stress-free, but is so much more than just that. To me, when I think of Fiji Time, I remember playing volleyball each night before dinner, making bilos tirelessly, journaling in hammocks during the sunset, and telling stories on the grog matt. There is no other clock I’d rather follow than that which tells Fiji Time.
In America, we are constantly on the clock. Our lives are go go go, anxiety inducing, and unnatural. I realized that the stress and anxiety I had been feeling the prior semester were completely gone from my mind while in Fiji. I didn’t think about my worries or responsibilities from back home because I knew that most of them were truly were insignificant, everything would still be there when I returned, and there was nothing I could do about them while 7,000 miles away. Without my typical jam-packed days, I was permitted, for the first time in a long time, to be still. I was able to spend my days at the pace in which I pleased. I was able to journal for as long as I needed in order to feel like I could identify and process all of my emotions. I was able to spend genuine time getting to know and learn from everyone on the island. Because of all of these things, I now live a simpler, more peaceful life. I now have the confidence to place value on things that actually have value, such as the importance of relationships and being kind to all, whereas before it was easy for me to pour all of my energy into things that were shallow, fleeting, and frivolous, like shopping or gossip. As my feet hardened and my heart softened, my priorities changed in a way that has led me to be my best self in a different way than ever before, and I have living on Fiji Time to thank for that.
A group of five of us students got scuba certified while in Fiji. During our fun dive day, Sibley and I had the opportunity to name a section of the reef off of the coast of Vorovoro. Nothing stuck out to us right away about what we should name the reef, but we did both like the idea of calling it Fiji Time Reef since it was such a central theme of our group’s experience of living on the island. Because both Sibley and I placed such immense value on living on Fiji Time as much as we did, we decided to leave Auburn University 2017’s mark on Vorovoro by naming that part of the reef Fiji Time Reef. We hoped that it would serve as a reminder for future students and visitors to appreciate the way in which living on Fiji Time makes better humans out of us all. Those who get to dive in Fiji Time Reef have the privilege of seeing one of the most beautiful, virtually untouched coral reefs in the world. However, the physical underwater beauty paired with the obvious breathtaking landscape of the island itself still can’t compare to the allurement and magic that is in everyone and everything on Vorovoro.
There was something so pure about getting to live on Fiji Time. At first, our sunny island days went by quickly. We were all so enthralled by Vorovoro that none of it seemed real. But by the end, Team Fiji, Bridge the Gap, and the Auburn group became one; I could tell this by the way in which we laughed, worked, and loved. The final days were sweeter than ever and also passed more slowly. While my body is living in the United States now, my heart is forever living on Fiji Time. Vinaka vaka levu.