When I first moved to the United States from Fiji, the biggest culture shock I had was realizing that people’s lives revolved around a timetable. Dinner was set at a specific time, homework was set at a specific time, and meeting with family was set at a specific time. This was not the norm for me especially coming from an island culture where hanging out with someone occurred spontaneously rather than on a schedule.
For my family, the transition from Fiji to the United States was difficult. We had no idea how to access healthcare, find a job, or even enroll into school. For my parents, it seemed as if they were starting their whole lives from scratch, as if they were a child trying to learn to walk for the first time. For me, my burdens weren’t as heavy as the ones my parents were carrying. Their first jobs in the States were transitional jobs which provided the most basic needs for our family-food and shelter. They were and still are the true heroes of my story.
Growing up, I rarely ever thought about the fact that I am a migrant, until I went to college. For the first time in my life I had no idea who I was. I somehow felt I had to learn everything again. I didn’t know how to maneuver through the education system and instantly felt out of place. What helped me integrate into college was learning from those individuals who struggled in the same ways I did. It was encouraging being surrounded by people who were willing to beat the odds, surpass all stereotypes, and simply succeed just to prove to themselves that they were/are “more than good enough.” Through all of this, I learned that my upbringing paved a way that led me directly towards assisting others in their migration journey.
What I loved about Fiji was my community. I miss being surrounded by a community that knows me inside and out. Fiji was that for me. People constantly ask me “Where is home for you?” but it’s such a difficult question. I think for me, Fiji laid out the basic foundations of my identity while California molded me into the person I currently am. Who says you have to have one place you call home?