My thoughts on spending a semester studying in Tahiti

By: Erin Magoffie

I absolutely LOVE Tahiti, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think I could live here permanently. I think this is a cool place to study or to spend some time as a young adult, but I would never raise a family here. It’s FAR too isolated. I can see how natives here never leave the island and experience life outside of French Polynesia. It’s a little freaky, actually. 


Let’s see, where do I even begin….


The food here is super duper fresh–and that’s a change, haha! When we go to the market (at 5am on Sunday mornings, mind you) we can get produce that we know is grown right here on the island. Avocados the size of my forearm! Mangos that weigh 2 pounds! And bundles of 5 pineapples for $8! It’s insane! At the store, everything is rather pricey, but that’s to be expected because many products are imported. Most of the food here is kinda bland because traditional Tahitian food doesn’t call for many spices and I wish spicy foods were more readily available. People at the Foyer think we’re crazy because we put siracha sauce on just about everything! Oh, and they don’t really use potatoes here…We get weird looks for making hash browns as well, lol. 


School has been a ton of fun! I’m taking 9 classes right now, 7 of which are in French. My French comprehension skills have skyrocketed, because I’m busy trying to keep up with these professors. The schooling system is totally different here and I’m still trying to get used to that, but I don’t mind it. I’m taking a course in American Lit at the university and that is SO COOL! The texts we’re reading are simple (it’s their second language so who am I to judge?) but the perspective they bring to the table it completely unlike what I contribute. The class and prof are also super excited to have a REAL LIVE AMERICAN in an AMERICAN Lit class, haha so that’s fun. I’m constantly being asked to “pronounce this,” or “read this,” just because, “we wanna hear your accent” (most English speakers here have to choose between a British or Australian accent because most English profs come from those two areas, so an American accent is a rarity). I’m also volunteering in a few English pronunciation and communications classes and that’s really fun as well! The profs are super excited whenever I come in—especially if I bring the whole Simpson crew—because they know their students will actually be engaged the whole time. One day, we had a Prof come up to us a and say, “Wow! I’ve never had to tell my students to LEAVE class before! They had so much fun just talking to you guys!” And that’s amazing to me, haha.

The Foyer Des Jeunes Filles is rather lackluster. It doesn’t have WiFi, AC, or hot water, and it has a lot of bugs and is overall just dirty. Oh, and my ceiling leaks when it rains. So that isn’t so fun. BUT it is a good place to interact with other French-speakers, like at dinner time.


I also started an internship here at the US Consular Agency. It’s been amazing so far! I absolutely love it! It’s kinda a pain to get to (2 bus rides and about 3 hours of bus-wait time) but I don’t mind. 


I’m never bored here. And I have yet to be homesick. I’m really craving some coffee and Mexican food, but I think I’ll live! I’ really excited to come back home and see my family and friends, but I’ll never forget this experience of “studying in paradise”!