From Sweden to Samoa. That is sure a long way to come.
But for Volunteer Jesper Josseon Lof, aged 20, he is adapting well to the dramatic change in climate, from the snowy mountains of Sweden, to the blazing sun of Samoa.
Jesper is living on the remote West coast of Upolu on a five-week project, helping teaching in schools and around the village.
Jesper has found this experience thoroughly enlightening and humbling.
“I’m really enjoying living in a family who don’t have the luxuries of back home,” he said.
He remarked on their lack of materialism and believes they are a happy people despite a lack of luxury.
“I’ve found the people so friendly,” Jesper has been truly immersed in rural Samoa, and is reaping the benefits of the islander’s famous hospitality.
The biggest difference from back home is how the family stick together.
In Sweden when you turn 18 you find your own place.
“The grandparents, children and grandchildren all live together as a nuclear family. They have a strong bond,” Jesper wasn’t expecting to be part of such a close-knit family who centre their lives on each other, sharing everything they have.
Although here primarily to help in the community as much as he can, Jesper is also a qualified diver.
“The wide range of fish species, sea turtles and healthy coral reefs” played a big role in his location choice. “I’ve been diving all-round the island; Fagaloa Bay on the East Coast is perfect for diving.”
A forty-five minute drive from the capital, the Bay’s surrounding area is known for conservation reasons.
The village of Ta’elefaga lies within view of the bay, near the Malata River.
Surrounded by waterfalls and mountain forests, Faga-loa Bay is an ideal back drop for adventurous water activities. Jesper added, “Going there gave me the paradise-like experience that I came to Samoa for.”
He has met several other tourists travelling alone, with whom he spends the weekends.
They rent a car together and drive the scenic coast road stopping frequently to take a dip in a waterfall, have a drink in a luxury resort or just relax and take in the breath taking views on this once in a life time trip.
Travellers tend to understand the relaxed atmosphere that encapsulates the Samoan way of life, and are always eager to make new friends from across the world, and share stories about what brought them to the tropical paradise.
Jesper is off to Return to Paradise resort this weekend. The beach is a highlight of the island, as is the onsite entertainment and food. His snorkelling gear packed, he will doubtless have an extraordinary weekend.