Impact of Travel: A Junior’s Experience in French Polynesia


Carmen Bebbington, Editor


This past week I had the chance to catch up with junior AJ Kuzmission to talk about his experience in French Polynesia. Here is what he had to say about his time there this summer along with some photos he took during his visit.


When and where did you travel?

For the whole month of July I was in French Polynesia, which, for people who don’t know, is a territory of France in the South Pacific. French Polynesia is made up of a few different archipelagos, and I traveled in an archipelago called the Society Islands. Within the Society Islands, I visited Tahiti, Mo’orea, Huahine, Ra’iatea, Taha’a, and Bora Bora.



Can you tell us a bit more about your time there?

While I was there, I lived on a sailboat with the group I was traveling with, so I was able to work on my sailing and navigation skills quite a bit. I also got a fair bit of free time on the islands that we visited which gave me a chance to explore and see some places that are otherwise pretty hard to get to. I was on the boat with a group of twelve other students who had already done a trip with the organization that we were with, Broadreach, before. Broadreach ran the trip as a trial run to see if it would be viable to run as a regular program and also to scout the area for good activities for future groups to enjoy. They invited us Broadreach alumni along to sort of act as test guinea pigs.



What is your favorite memory from your time in French Polynesia?

Although it’s really hard to pick between things like sleeping under the stars in the lagoon of Bora Bora and surfing at the famous Teahupo’o surf break, I think my favorite memory is sailing at night. Some of the passages we made between islands took a long time so we would sail them at night. We would eat dinner and begin our sail during sunset and end it during sunrise. It was really fun to pull all-nighters with the group taking turns on watch duty and just hanging out listening to music with nothing around us but ocean for as far as we could see — and amazingly bright stars.



Were there any awkward or funny culture clash experiences?

There weren’t really any substantial situations culture-wise because French Polynesia is for the most part pretty westernized being part of France and all. However, I would say there were more entertaining experiences language-wise. I barely speak any French and trying to communicate with people was really a struggle. Listening to me trying to speak French out of a lonely planet phrasebook is not something anybody who speaks French wants to have to listen to. At the same time, most people that I ran into that could speak English spoke it about as well as I could speak French. I got pretty good at understanding Franglais.



Do you think this travel experience has had a lasting effect on you?

I definitely think so. I got to see an amazing part of the world that I otherwise would not be able to afford to go to. Living on a boat, as cheesy as it sounds, kind of really did give me a different perspective on the world. It made me realize how small the world really is and how interconnected we all are. Living in confined conditions like that really has made me look at things differently, too.





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