“Where is Fiji?”
“What do they look like?”
“What do they speak?”
“How does it look like?”
These were the initial reaction of friends and family when we first told them that we were going to Fiji and occasionally, there would be well-meaning chimes of, “Oh, have fun in Japan!”
Sent on a mission to discover the answers to all the questions and (secretly) super proud to be the first 15 NUS Geography Majors to step foot on Fiji, we packed our bags and set off for a ten-day fieldtrip to the South Pacific island from the 15th to 26th of September.
Otherwise known as Big Fiji, the island of Viti Levu has an area that is slightly more than ten times the size of Singapore, but hosts ten times less the population. While there, we had the privilege to be part of a joint Geography expedition with the University of the South Pacific (USP). 70 Geography students accompanied Dr Mark Stephens from the School of Geography, Earth Science and Environment at USP. Our group of 15 Physical Geography students was led by Assoc Prof James Terry from FASS and Adjunct Prof at USP.
When we got there, we were greeted with friendly calls of “bula” (“hello” in Fijian) wherever we went. We probably did look queer to them, standing out as a conspicuous bunch on the streets with our fair skins and surprisingly fluent English. We were also mistaken as Japanese tourists so many times!
At our first stop in Nadi, Assoc Prof Terry was featured in a public lecture organised by USP’s Lautoka Campus. He shared about investigating a number of recent and historical tropical cyclones and the nature of their physical consequences for island environments in the South Pacific and beyond. Before joining the USP students on the 19th, we also had the chance to visit several key sights such as the Valley of the Sleeping Giant in Nadi and Lautoka town.