After two full days of travel, we finally arrived in Papeete, Tahiti. It was late, it was hot, and we were all exhausted. Nevertheless, our semester abroad experience has officially begun. A lot of changes are about to happen, and we have no idea what we have gotten ourselves into.
After we had arrived at our “home” for the next four months, we were all a little bit stunned. Each room is equipped with only the essentials: a bed, wardrobe, desk, and shower. We are each given one plate, bowl, cup, fork, spoon, knife, and a pot and pan. No air conditioning, no wifi, no hot showers, no washing machines, but somehow we’ve made it through our first two weeks just fine.
We knew before coming here that we would be without a lot of what we are accustomed to in the U.S., but the adjustment wasn’t as bad as we had anticipated. Living without all of these things we are used to, we are slowly learnin that these things, especially the wifi, are just necessary evils. It is manageable to live without.. We get Internet every few days, and we just make it worth our while. When we aren’t sitting on our phones all day, we actually are able to experience the Tahitian lifestyle and immerse ourselves in their culture and spend quality time with each other.
Living the way the Tahitians do is definitely different from how we live back home. Tahitian lifestyle is all about relaxing. They do not keep a watch on to track their every minute and pack their schedules with things to do. They do not know how to follow a routine. A lot of these things have been challenging for us, who come from a structured class schedule, work schedule, and have every minute of our lives planned. Here, the class schedule changes weekly, sometimes the professor cancels class and we don’t find out until we get to class. Sometimes the bus just doesn’t come, so we don’t go anywhere then. The biggest thing that we have learned so far is how to be more flexible. Everything changes all the time, and we just go along with it.
There are a lot of things that were different from what we expected. We were told to expect things to be like nothing we expected. The lifestyle is very different, but we cannot complain because they live such a relaxed life that we are fitting right in. We have indulged in the traditional foods here: poisson cru, ceviche, several delicious island fruits, and of course dessert. Here they don’t have fancy cupcakes and cookies, they have eclairs, pastries, tartes, and macaroons. So far we have not found ourselves starving yet.
It’s hard to believe that is has been almost three weeks since leaving home, and we have done so much already. We have been lucky enough to live in the heart of downtown and are easily able to walk to everywhere we need. We have explored most of the city, including the marchée, which holds several different fresh fruits and vegetables from the island, and several little shops full of Tahitian souvenirs. We have traveled to Tahiti Iti, the smaller part of the island, and were able to see our fair share of beaches and sunshine. We also took a ferry over to Moorea and took a boat tour around the beautiful island and made a traditional Tahitian meal using only ingredients grown on the island.
Of all of the changes and difficulties we have faced so far, nothing beats the scenery here. The sun, the trees, the fruit, all of it makes living here worth it. While everyone at home is dealing with snow and freezing weather, we are in shorts and sundresses enjoying the 80 degree weather. We have been given this amazing opportunity to immerse ourselves in this culture that is not our own, and find new ways to challenge and change ourselves throughout the process. We are excited to see how we will grow throughout these next 3 ½ months.