4 things I miss as an Aussie expat in Fiji
Of course you don't decide to 'up sticks' and move to a foreign country to expect life to be exactly the same as it was in your home country. But, no matter how much you love adventure, and new sights and experiences, it is inevitable that at some point you will miss home, or miss certain things from home.
My family was no different, and I've just asked each family member what they miss the most when living in Fiji as an expat.
Books! and more specifically, being able to buy new releases or going to the library to borrow them. Fiji does have a library in Suva, but our libraries on the Gold Coast (and I'm guessing across many major towns in Australia) have spoilt us - with free internet, millions of books including latest releases, classes etc. We often spend a whole day at the local library in Southport, Queensland. So when in Fiji, it is a sad day when Harry Potter is being released! We've often used online store Book Depository to have books shipped to Fiji, it has always worked well for us and we've had no issue with delivery or theft. While I'm on the topic of books - I know they're heavy in luggage, but if you have spare room, please consider bringing some with you to donate to any local school. They really need it and will be so grateful.
She says and I quote "I really miss Shopkins, and Smiggle, and Kmart stationery". Both my kids get a small amount of pocket money each month in exchange for helping around the house. Each month they make lists of what they are going to buy when the money rolls in. More often than not, Miss 9yrs spends her entire amount on little toys like Shopkins, and various stationery items. So her answer didn't come as any surprise to me. There is a small amount of 'cute' stationery in Fiji, but nothing like Smiggle. It is mostly cheaply made Chinese junk if I am to be brutally honest. Regarding toys, there are brand names like Barbie etc, but they are very expensive, and when you are used to spending pennies on toys from places like Kmart - it becomes 'ridiculous' to spend the amount they are asking at Prouds in Fiji. We bring Christmas and Birthday prezzies with us in advance and hide them. Then we cross our fingers and hope the kids still like them by the time prezzie giving comes along.
Can you believe the thing he misses most is Foxtel! More specifically, the constant stream available of sport 24-7. He is a rugby fanatic, but if that isn't on, any sport will do. Fiji does have a pay television subscription service, called Sky Pacific TV, but it does not match the standard or variety of pay TV in Australia. But he says at least he can always head outside and find a live game of rugby pretty much anywhere in Fiji to watch if he is desperate. The kids also chimed in at this point, and agreed that they missed certain television shows, like Neighbours (no judging!!) and Disney channel on Foxtel. Myself, I actually love television in Fiji - there aren't many local channels so no fighting over what to watch. I love watching the nightly news in Fiji - I find it very interesting. Fijians love Shortland Street (a NZ soapie) so when we are living in Fiji, we get involved in it too (come on, it's a good substitute for the Neighbours and Home and Away withdrawals!!)
A few years ago, it would be coffee! But that is kind of sorted now. Now mine is the ease (and inexpense) with which we are able to buy relative essential items, like underwear or plain black exercise tights. (It's a sad indication of consumerism!) I guess big department stores like K-Mart, Big W and Target have spoilt us. I seriously miss the ease of racing into K-Mart or Target to buy a 'new orange tshirt for Harmony Day ' (that I should have been told about 3 weeks ago!) or a cheap blender because ours exploded all over the kitchen. There isn't a department store in Fiji that compares in any way to these. Sure, they have a few different electrical stores, and a couple of department stores (but they mostly cater to tourists, or very wealthy people!). On our trips back to Australia we make good use of these stores and fill our suitcases with cheap gadgets and underwear. Decent underwear is notoriously hard to find in Fiji. A small variety of Bonds is sold in one of the department stores in Suva, but it is so expensive, I can pretty much guarantee no Aussie would pay for it there. I also believe it is stock which didn't sell well in Australia, so I guess it's 'luck of the draw' if they have your size or preference. Added to this is that clothing doesn't seem to last well in Fiji - it must be the heat, and the washing methods?? So friends, if you take anything away from this blog post it should be to bring decent underwear (and some for your local Fijian friends too!).
There are a few more things I would suggest to pack when making the move to living in Fiji. I will do a specific Packing List blog post soon. Is there anything you don't think you will live without? Share them with me via the comment box below!
Take care, Moce XO