At the risk of sounding cliché, five weeks ago I could never have imagined the opportunities and incredible experiences that coming to Samoa would give me.
I am a volunteer from England with Projects Abroad, and was fortunate enough to be placed at the Samoa Observer as an aspiring journalist.
Travelling alone was a daunting prospect, but from the first day my new family became just that.
The way in which each member takes pride in contributing around the house and at the family business is something I genuinely found shocking.
From a world away, where it seems people are in a constant struggle against life, forcing themselves to go to work, to just carry on, it’s refreshing to see people truly enjoying life.
This has extended outside of my family. One of my goals has always been to find a career in which I actually want to get up and go to work each day.
During my time helping at the Samoa Observer, I think I may have found it.
I have been truly honoured to work with a passionate, dedicated and undeniably talented group of people. In such a short time I have learnt so much, and have been astounded at the opportunities I’ve been given.
During my placement I have interviewed the Head Coach of Manu Samoa, Namulauulu Alama Ieremia; the Captain of the Welsh Rugby team, Jamie Roberts; sailed around Apia harbour with the Yacht club; and attended a United Nations discussion; to name but a few of the surreal experiences I am yet to come to terms with.
The island itself is more beautiful than I can attempt to put down in words.
In England it is cold or raining the majority of the year, so escaping to the other side of the world to get a good tan seemed like a natural decision.
Having never travelled alone before, I thought I’d dive in at the deep end take the three flights totalling 31 hours in the air, and visit Samoa first.
However, I think the rest of the world will have to wait as a return trip to Samoa and my new friends is at the top of my wish list.
My love of all things edible has definitely been nourished and I will miss the food almost as much as I will miss my brown skin.
The beaches of Savai’i can’t be compared to anything else I’ve ever experienced. Nor can To Sua Trench, which, if you survive the ladder, is undeniably one of the most beautiful places on earth. There’s never a dull day when you’re in paradise.
I love a good timetable, a neat diary and pride myself on never being late, but the person I used to be is most definitely gone. They’ve been replaced by a lover of the unknown, and can’t remember what it was like to ever have worries. Let’s hope I can still function in busy England, if not then I suppose I will just have to make the permanent move back.
I would like the opportunity to thank everybody at the Samoa Observer for taking me in and teaching me more about writing, and giving me more journalism experience in five weeks than 19 years in England afforded. I would attribute this to the Samoan culture and their indescribable ability to make a stranger feel like a friend.
The Malaki’s, my host family, are also an incredible group of hard working people that I will always consider to be part of my family. I feel honoured to have met so many amazing people and have loved every second of my unforgettable summer in Samoa. After my friends back home see the endless beautiful photos, I’m sure we will all be back.
I could write for hours about the unbelievable experiences Samoa and its wonderful people have given me, but it would be far more interesting to visit the beautiful island yourself!