Do it for your aiga nu’u ekalesia, yourself!
Fa’aulu Iaeva Amitai of Safa’ato’a-Tai Lefaga, Tanugamanono and Sa’anapu recently graduated from the Victoria University with a Bachelor of Commerce.
The completion of her three-year undergraduate degree programme — where she majored in commercial law and management and minored in marketing — marks another chapter for the 21-year-old, who is the fourth daughter of Iaeva and Fa’aatuolo Amitai.
Speaking to the Samoa Observer, she said she is happy she completed her undergraduate studies.
“I feel grateful and thankful that I have completed it, but I also kind of miss the all-nighters and procrastinating on assignments, and the freedom and the adventure while living in the capital. But I am super thankful that I have finally got what I have been chasing for three years.”
According to Ms. Amitai, there were many challenges in her three-year journey as a student.
“Being that far away from home with no elders to depend on like you used to back home, I would say that there are a lot of challenges I faced, during my times of studying abroad.”
“Firstly, the transition from the foundation level at NUS to my first year in Victoria University is mind blowing. The educational system in Victoria University is very different, and for a fresh-off-the-boat — it was quite overwhelming to experience learning through a web-based system, where you can find all the information you need. “
“Homesickness is a challenge I would say was the most difficult. I mean, living abroad is awesome when everything is going well. But when the heavens seem to conspire against you, you can really feel on your own. But as I remind myself daily, when it’s for family, you got to keep grinding,” she added.
Language was a major challenge for her, as while she was fluent in English, getting a grip of and understanding the local accent was a hurdle she had to overcome.
“Overcoming the language barrier is probably the most obvious of the challenges of studying abroad. You know when you thought you were fluent, but find you’re unable to understand the strong local accent.
“Worst when the lecturers have Irish, Indian or Scottish accents, that would be a waste of one hour sitting in a lecture and not understanding a thing the lecturer says, but that’s when ‘revising’ comes in ha-ha!” added Ms. Amitai.
Staying motivated to ensure she attended classes, especially during the chilly winter months, was another challenge she had to overcome.
“Staying motivated to attend classes is another challenge, especially during the winter classes where your bed is nice and warm to sleep in all day. But it is called ‘study’ abroad for a reason, and thus requires an effort on the part of the student.
“Like one of my lecturers said ‘if you want to pass, get your a** to class’. Time zone annoyances, overcoming cross cultural barriers and even feeling like an outsider are all the other challenges. But I’m thankful for those who were there to offer support and encouragement, and most importantly my God who guided me throughout this whole journey,” Ms. Amitai added.
Despite the many challenges, Ms. Amitai is grateful that she made her parents proud and were her greatest supporters.
Her absence from home and family enabled her to learn a lot and she dedicated her success in her studies to her loving and supportive parents as well as extended families and friends.
“If there is one thing I have learned when I was away from my family, it would be that if you go to the Lord in prayer during your down times, you will feel as if your family is not that far away from you.”
“The Lord was my source of strength throughout these three years, and without him, I wouldn’t be able to complete this significant milestone and this whole journey would not have been possible.”
“Also, these scholarship opportunities are limited so when you get one of these opportunities, give it all your best! Do it for your aiga, do it for your nu’u, do it for your Ekalesia, and do it for yourself!”