The years of school bells and classroom activities are now a mere memory in the minds of thousands of school leavers.
With the release of the Fiji Seventh Form Certificate Examination results on the 28th of December, 2012, students are now beginning to find themselves in the real world where they are faced with daily decisions pertaining to their lives ahead.
Many of the students depend heavily on scholarships to make it to tertiary institutes of their choices and in Lautoka, Neha Naidu, a former student of Natabua High School, says she is already feeling nervous about life ahead.
" I am currently waiting for a reply from the PSC as I have applied for the Local Scholarship and also the Multi Ethnic Scholarship. If I do get a scholarship, I plan to study either Nursing at FNU or Marine Studies at USP." she said.
Similarly, Arts student Shyal Singh plans to pursue a Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting and Economics. She feels that she too is in need of a scholarship to continue with further studies. When asked about her thoughts upon leaving high school, she said that it was "sad".
"I think I will be sad as many of my friends and classmates will be in other institutions and we will not see each other every day" she said.
Arita Hue will most probably be headed towards the University of the South Pacific to fulfil her dreams of getting a Bachelor with her two majors being Accounting and Law. The 19 year old says that she has to study privately as no scholarships are awarded for Law.
"This experience will be very hard, probably because everything will be so new to us. It will be really different to whatever we have been used to. Parents will not be there to look out for you. It's scary" she said.
Shayal Sharma agrees. The Home Economics student, who is most likely to pursue studies in Nursing at FNU privately, says that the biggest challenge will be social, adding that it would be hard to adjust to new friends and a new environment.
Rajiv Rao, another student, says that tertiary education is for him. He plans to attend USP and like Singh, plans to complete a BCom in Accounting and Economics. When asked about his future goals, he simply said, "I would like to be an accountant".
An aspiring medical student, Chetna Shiuram says that she will be going to university for certain."From a very young age, I have been trying to focus a career in medicine, but after seeing my marks in FSFE, I'm not too sure of that career now, but there are other possibilities open too, so that is good"
As a very illuminative chapter closes in the lives of these young students, a new chapter opens, which promises good and bad events that will test these students and plenty around Fiji and give them new and exciting ways to lead their lives.
*Shayal Devi is a former student of Natabua High School. She is one of four prizewinners for the Best Young Writer awards in the 2012 School's Design Your Own Newspaper competition.