TAKING a break or gap year from studies is a common practice for many teenagers and youths in the US, Britain and other European countries. It's a time for learning and independence, a time for travel, relaxation or in some cases a time to do good by volunteering in underdeveloped or developing countries.
British teenager Emilie Rowe decided to travel to Fiji alone to experience life outside of home.
She was part of a group of tourists that visited the Waisese waterfalls last Tuesday with the Fiji Experience tour group in collaboration with Wainiyabia Village.
Her first time to the country, Emilie said hiking through rugged terrains before finally reaching a natural beauty wasn't a new experience.
She had been to New Zealand for a similar tour and was used to hiking in rough conditions.
Apart from being very approachable, the vibrant teen said her experiences so far were exhilarating and fun since arriving in the country two Sundays ago.
"When I was in New Zealand, I went on their Kiwi experience tour and it was something similar to this Fiji tour," she told The Fiji Times.
"We hiked from the small airstrip nearby to the waterfalls. It's really tiring and muddy but fun at the same time.
"I got to make friends with the guides and also the other tourists on their gap year break as well.
"The people here are very friendly and fun. I've learnt a lot about the culture and traditions here.
"The next experience is bilibili rafting and I've also signed up for open water diving.
"I can't wait to tell my folks back home about my experiences it's going well so far."
In between conversations with local guides, Emilie says learning the local language was another benefit of her trip to the South Pacific.
She said her parents were enthusiastic and keen about her plan to visit Fiji.
"They were very supportive and they thought it was amazing (that I was coming to Fiji for my gap year)," she said.
"I had saved up some cash while also working in New Zealand. I came on my own and it's a good experience doing things on my own, being independent and all.
"At school, I learnt to farm so I'm planning to continue with studies in agriculture when I go back."
After a few photographs were taken of the group, Emilie and her tour group packed up and left for their next Fiji adventure.
Emilie says if time and money allowed, she would return to Fiji for more exciting activities. She leaves for home on May 4.