Being from out of town is an odd experience.
Fijians speak both Fijian and English, but they prefer Fijian (I mean, they’ll really only use it if they have to, and will otherwise just speak Fijian even if you’re sitting right there). And since English is used differently, even that is no guarantee that you’ll understand each other. It’s more than just the difference between American English and British English, it’s more like American English and India English.
Anyway, the fact that you have to be spoken to in such a simple and please-say-that-again-but-slower kind of way, it creates an assumption that you can’t do other things for yourself. It’s not that they will think you’re stupid, but more than they don’t know where the cultural differences end.
“Don’t cross the street until you see a green light.”
“Thanks, but I knew about that one already.”
Meeting other Americans is a refreshingly delightful experience.
“Hey! You’re American! Me, too. Where are you from? Let’s get together so we can talk like normal people for a while.”
“Oh, that would be fantastic. I’ve been dying to use slang and dry wit.”
Don’t get me wrong, it’s all a wonderful experience being in Fiji and really trying to absorb the culture. I’ve been attempting to learn as much Fijian as I can. As of now (and as like as I have my notebook in front of me), I can greet people pretty well. I can explain how many kids I have and how old they are. I can say where I’m from and where I’m going. I can ask where they’re from and what they do for work. I can even say if it’s raining or not … in case they needed that information.