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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Savusavu, Fiji

Mar 30, 2019

Savusavu, Fiji

An expat in Savusavu, Fiji talks about the realities of living in Fiji. She and her husband quickly realized that being a resident and being a tourist are two completely different things.

What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?


Did you receive any cross-cultural training for your move abroad? If yes, was it before or after the move?

No training, but did over 4 years of research before moving here. Met a lot of other expats who were already living here and they did not enlighten us to the perils or dodgy people that live here.

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If they speak another language in your new country, do you speak the language? If yes, did you learn the language before you moved or while abroad? If no, are you planning to learn the language?

Slowly learning the Fijian native language.

Were you worried or concerned about culture shock before you moved abroad?

Not too much. We thought we had done significant research.

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How significant was the culture shock you experienced when you moved abroad?

Just awful. For a religious country (there's a church in every village, sometimes two), the fraud, the theft, rape and drug related crimes are abundant.

Expats often talk about going through the "stages of culture shock." Examples include the honeymoon phase, the irritation-to-anger stage, the rejection of the culture stage, and the cultural adjustment phase. Do you feel like you went through these or any other stages as you settled into the new culture?

Very much so. We are extremely angry about the fraud committed against us, from two individuals that we had known for few years, prior to moving here. Between the two of them, we have lost over one third of the money we have invested here. And the Police do very little to help you.

What, if any, were some of the changes you noticed in yourself that might have been caused by culture shock? These might include things such as anger, depression, anxiety, increased eating or drinking, frustration, homesickness, etc.

Definitely anger, anxiety, depression. Frustration at Police and Authorities who do little to help you. Homesick and wishing we had never moved here.

What are some things you appreciate most about the new culture?

It's picturesque and quirky. We love our surroundings, which to be honest, keeps reminding us why we moved here. We have met some lovely people, despite the crooks.

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

Trying to remain positive and moving forward. Problem solving, as every day is a challenge.

Did you "commit" any embarrassing or humorous cultural blunders? If you did and you'd like to share them, please do tell!

We have become infamous, the majority of people who live here know our story. We can only hope that by telling our story, that we can save others from being cheated by these two crooks also.

Do you have any advice or thoughts about culture shock you would like to share?

Don't believe the "bula" smiles and greetings. Unfortunately it is mostly false. Being a tourist here and being a foreign resident are two completely different things. Be wise about who you befriend and who you give your money to.

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8 Tips for Living in Fiji

Expats in Fiji talk about make the move to Fiji and what it's like living in Fiji. Topics range from the pet quarantine to the Coconut grapevine to culture shock.
Expats in Fiji talk about make the move to Fiji and what it's like living in Fiji. Topics range from the pet quarantine to the Coconut grapevine to culture shock. ...

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