Teenagers in a Foreign Country
by Mizuki Yokoi
One day, my mother said to me, “Are you interested in studying abroad?”
At the time, my best friend had moved far away, my grades were poor, and I was not enjoying school.
I didn’t know what I wanted to do and my mental health was unstable. My mother suggested that I go to Fiji.
I was anxious about leaving my friends, family, and my love of dancing, and also spending time alone in a country where I did not understand the language.
I was nervous, but more than that, I was excited to be in a new place, so I made the decision to go.
So, I spent my entire high school years in Fiji as an international student.
Fiji is an island country in Melanesia, part of Oceania in the South Pacific Ocean.
Those who live in Fiji speak Fijian and Indian or British English. I lived with an Indian host family and went to a local junior high school. There were only 20 Japanese students in school.
As Fiji is a developing country, water and power outages were common, and I sometimes took cold showers and sometimes slept in total darkness. Japanese people are easily seen as having money, I have encountered theft many times, and once, I was even hit. Having grown up in a very privileged environment in Japan, Fiji was a completely different world for me. Some of you may have thought there was no way I could ever live in such a place, but I didn’t really want to go back to Japan.
Why do you think that is?
Because I was very impressed by the people and nature there. Did you know that Fiji is a country that has many times ranked first in the World Happiness Survey? People living in Fiji are always smiling, positive and sociable. The night sky is full of stars, and the climate is very warm and comfortable all year round. Growing up in Japan’s digital society, where I had to constantly be aware of my surroundings, Fiji freed my mind and set me free. I also created a dance club at my school, performed at festivals, and taught dance to students.
Going to Fiji was the biggest turning point in my life.
Fiji gave me a sense of independence, broadened my way of thinking and gave me confidence in myself.