All the information below is provided by Pink Pangea community members based on their experiences abroad. Add your voice!
Feminine Hygienic Products
April says: It can be difficult to find products on the island. Tampons can be found in a few of the larger stores (KS Mart for example) but I would not count on being able to buy tampons once you are in Samoa. I had mine shipped to me from the States, as did most of my female friends.
April says: Condoms are available in a few places, such as the drug store at Loufou Center. Birth control is free at LBJ hospital! A quick appointment will result in months of free birth control!
Recommended Gynecologists and Doctors
April says: The only available gynecologist on island is at LBJ medical center. The regional clinics do not generally offer OB-GYN, but services change often, so it is worth checking if you are close to a clinic.
April says: It is common for adults to live with their parents and grandparents. This can make dating an interesting situation. Most Samoans are very dedicated to their families, so be ready to meet extended family members early on! Generally, Samoan men tend to use the phrase “I love you” more easily and quickly than most Americans. Some men look for foreign women specifically, and and may be rather forward when they meet you.
When out at a bar, if a man wants to dance with you, he will ask any men in your company if it is okay. If the man or men with you say yes, then you dance. It’s a good idea to work out beforehand with your guy friends whether you would like to dance or not and to let them answer for you when they’re asked.
Types of Men
April says: There a few different types of men here.
The Warrior: Samoa still has a warrior culture, and it is not uncommon for grown men to solve their difficulties with a physical fight. The warrior is fiercely loyal to his family and his village.
The Fa’afafine – The fa’afafine was born male, but dresses and acts like a female. According to everyone on the island, she is female. Use feminine pronouns when talking about a fa’afafine and treat her like any other woman. Fa’fafines typically wear a lot of makeup and dress more outrageously than other Samoan women.
April says: This is a tricky question. As a very religious place, Samoa is generally not gay-friendly. However, the fa’fafine culture puts a new spin on things. Fa’fafine are not viewed by Samoans as gay; they are straight females. Some Samoans will use this logic to claim that there is not a single gay Samoan on the island. In Samoa the definition of gay is different and the view of gender is broader. Be sure to visit with an open mind!
April says: Women are required to wear conservative clothing. Knees and shoulders should be covered. Women are also expected to act more passively than men and draw less attention to themselves. Of course this is not true of all Samoan women, but it is an expectation.
April says: Each village has a set of chiefs or matai. I did not know of any women matai while I was there. Generally, women are not welcome at the fono, the village meeting between the elders.
Perception of Foreign Women
April says: American Samoans are highly patriotic! They are generally proud to be a part of America and are eager to tell you what part of the States they have visited. Samoans love to talk to you and will ask lots of friendly questions about you and where you’re from. There is typically very little stigma about being American.
April says: Take the bus! The aiga buses are the most fun way to travel! These tropical buses are mainly constructed out of plywood and are each painted with a theme of the driver’s choosing. They play loud island music and have the windows down so that you can catch a fresh ocean breeze. Fare to almost anywhere is $1, for very long trips possibly $1.25 or $1.50. Riding the bus is a great way to see the island and make new friends!
Shady Areas for Women
April says: Near the tuna cannery there is an area called the “dark side.” This is generally where more questionable activity goes on. I would not recommend going to the dark side unaccompanied. The area’s proximity to the tuna cannery gives it a smell that should keep you away if the rumors of danger don’t!
April says: Samoa is very religious and therefore conservative. Be sure to err on the side of caution to avoid offending anyone. Short shirts, revealing tops, and spaghetti straps are all no-nos. Most adult women have their clothes made on island at a sewing shop. If you have the chance, pick up some Samoan patterned fabric and visit a sewing shop to have your very own Samoan ofu (clothes) custom made for you!