Experience is your Greatest Teacher

hawaii1Guest Contribution from @mcastillo2617 (www.witnessrealfitness.wordpress.com)

One thing in life I am certain about is fitness. Fitness can change a person for the better and reflect a more positive image. No matter what people go through in life, I believe, their past experiences become their biggest teachers. To learn from those experiences one must be willing to change, adapt, and learn from the past. Fitness is about feeling good in your own body and wanting to help others experience that same feeling.

Visiting a tropical island, a place with no worries and positive vibes is what we should all strive for in life. We all want to be relaxed, focused, more energized, and happy. Exercising can make those feelings possible. Being healthy is a lifestyle, a positive lifestyle that significantly changes lives. Want to go on vacation, you say? Well how about Hawaii anyone!!! Hawaii is a breath taking place with plenty of activities to do, culture to soak in, and friendly people to meet. Just visiting Hawaii for a short period will be a life changing experience. Life and fitness both relate to each other because they both revolve around taking chances and that’s what it’s about at the end of the day. Go out there, take life, run with it, and live for the experience!


Hilo Fun

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Instead of writing about my unique stories about how I rode in strangers’ trucks to get places, how I nearly survived the plane ride, etc; I need to focus on why I created this blog. The HI Life is mainly to help others when traveling to the Big Island and make their experience as smooth as possible while saving money, and knowing where to go.

My top views for other posts have been the ones that involves some sort of adventure! What many people don’t know is that there’s so much adventure right in Hilo! When studying at UHH you may feel that it’s hard to get out of town. But, hey, that’s a good thing! You do not need to go to Kona to find adventure, there’s plenty to do right in Hilo!

1) Kaumana caves
Climb inside the caves and if you have a flash light be a risk taker and crawl through the tubes! Make sure to wear a rain jacket as water drips from the top.
2) Rainbow falls
Take a short hike to the back side of the stunning waterfall where you can cross streams of water, jump off rocks, and have an even better view of Rainbow Falls, rather than taking pictures up front like most tourists.
3) Black sands beach
Turtles! Huge turtles will be there waiting for you as you’ll be floating in the water all day soaking up the sun.
4) Paddle boarding
Thanks to UHH Edventure Club you will be able to paddle board for free in Hilo! It is harder than it looks!
5) Sailing
Another incredible adventure brought to you by UHH Edventure club! Learn how to sail with the best instructors as you and a partner have a chance to pair up and be put to the test! Good luck!

If you don’t want to leave campus than enjoy the huge Olympic size swimming pool, basketball court, tennis courts, and volleyball courts (inside and out)! Don’t forget to stop at the gym and take some of the free classes they offer!

Enjoy Hilo, I know I did!

South Point

me10What’s South Point? It’s a cliff. Yes, a cliff. But I promise you it was the scariest and most thrilling adventure of my life jumping off of that cliff!

Located on the Big Island of Hawaii, South Point is a place for adventure seekers and risk takers. South Point is famous for being the southernmost point in the United States. If you can jump off South Point you might as well be famous too. Take a look on YouTube to see the jaw dropping videos of tricks and crazy jumps done by people! A 40 foot jump into the beautiful Hawaiian waters. Welcome to South Point.

I’m not one to be scared, but standing over the edge looking down at the long view ahead created chills creeping up my spine. With ten girls, I’m proud to say eight of us were able to commit to the jump.

I took a solid ten minutes of alone time to pray, and talk myself into jumping. I knew if I didn’t jump I would regret it because I don’t know if I will get anther chance to go back to Hawaii.

Two of my friends agreed to jump with me as the rest counted to three. This is it. The jump. With a three second count, I realize I forgot how to breathe.

Three! We take a running start to the cliff and jump with nervous looks on our faces.

How was the jump? Let me tell you .. SCARY! It did not go by fast. It felt like I was in the air forever, falling forever. When I landed I hurt my left leg so bad. I landed incorrectly and advise any jumper to focus on the landing.

After the jump we stayed in the water. I was almost in tears from the bad landing but the others were screaming with joy! The current was strong. In the water we had a different view of the cave inside the cliff. I would have never seen that view if I didn’t jump. The current was too strong as it stopped us from swimming into the cave. The jump was enough thrill for me. Laying in the water all you could see was ocean. It was such a calming and peaceful site even though I found myself drifting away with the current.

We then had to climb up the ladder back onto the cliff which was just as scary as the jump. Fighting against the current, swimming to the ladder, it felt like a full on workout. Huffing and puffing I used all my muscles to get myself to that ladder. The only way out. I recommend not to look down.

With one jump down and an instant bruise, I did not jump again. Once was enough. One and done. I’m so happy I jumped, even though it was extremely painful, I knew I would have regretted it if I didn’t!

Eventually the bruise went away, but the memory will last forever.


Yes, I Studied

Throughout my blog I’ve been talking about all the adventures during my time in Hawaii. What I haven’t mentioned yet is studying, the most important part. First of all, to study abroad your GPA must be a 3.0 or above just to apply. Browsing through other blogs I cam across one of my favorites, the ISA Study Abroad Student Blog who talks about the importance of the “study” in study abroad. This blog is so useful because it reminds us that studying is important no matter where you go.

When people come back from their study abroad trip most people will ask how was it, where’d you go, what’d you see, what kinds of food did you eat, and so fourth. Rarely do people ask about the school work. The myth about studying abroad is that we don’t do any work. This is extremely false. Speaking for myself; It’s just that school work wasn’t the highlight of my time in Hawaii, but it was still a major part. During my time in Hawaii I wrote a 25 page history paper on Alexander Hamilton, memorized 30 different kinds of rocks for my geology class, and wrote many essays for my Asian philosophy class. Work was done.

We can’t always be getting our tan on, we actually have to study. In “Don’t Forget the Study in Study Abroad” post from the blog ISA Study Abroad Student Blog; she talks about how midterms were stressful and that she was always in the library. My point is, yes have fun and take advantage of every adventure, but don’t forget that the classes can also be a rewarding experience. In my geology class I was able to go on field trips to lava lakes … how cool!!! So, go to class and make the best of it! Classes are short, there’s time for adventure after, I promise! Thank you to ISA Study Aboard Student Blog for reminding me of the importance of studying!

Go For It!


I would usually recommend people to stay on a strict budget exploring the Big Island of Hawaii. But not today. When it comes to the last week of your vacation, under serious pressure to fit as much adventures in as you can; then I say go for it!! It’s all or nothing at this point. This is the time you bet it all.

My girlfriends and I were in Kona as every store we passed caught our interest! It was between the tattoo shop and going parasailing, I know, pretty reckless! Since we all thought about tattoos we thought it’d be a good idea, the ultimate souvenir! We decided on parasailing because tattoos might get our parents upset. I called my parents explaining how I need one more big adventure and of course some extra money. I used the typical “all my friends are doing it,” line and guilt tripped them to say yes! At nineteen years old, I know I’m too old to beg for money but it was my last week in Hawaii. I was going crazy because I knew how much I wanted to fit in the next seven days.

I wish I could tell you this great story on how I saved money, but at least I’ll always have the wonderful memory soaring through the air with my best friends in the best place in the world, Hawaii!

Malama Kanaloa Festival


When I attended the University of Hawaii at Hilo I was always late to class as the posters located in the middle of campus instantly caught my attention.  I was so eager to see what was happening in the area and gain new experiences!
The Ocean Day Malama Kanaloa Festival is one I highly recommend, especially for new students or new members of the island to engage in Hawaii’s culture. The purpose of Ocean Day is to learn the importance of protecting Hawaii’s coastal and ocean ecosystems.

Not yet sold? Well, it’s FREE! Dive into culture with Hawaiian music, food, hands-on activities, prizes and more. The atmosphere was so welcoming and learning about the ocean ecosystem was so interesting because I could relate to the topic as I spent almost everyday on the beach, just like the locals. Every single face there was smiling and I wish I was able to attend more festivals! Overall the festival was a heart warming experience with people all ages who cared about the enviroment and enjoyed each other’s company!

Rainbow Falls

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Orientation for school started the day after I landed in Hilo. The bus was filled with twelve other international and first time Hawaiians that had smiles from ear to ear. We were ready to explore. The first stop on our adventure was Rainbow Falls.

We get out of the van in awe. The locals can tell we’re tourists due to our behavior. Cameras are in our hands snapping a mile a minute with sound effects coming from our mouths as we “oo and ah” at everything we see.

“This is by far the greatest thing I have ever seen,” is the first thing that came out of my mouth. Being from MA we do not have waterfalls or jungle like environment. I thought it was incredible.

What is so ironic about this story is that my first adventure to rainbow falls was so unbelievable that I did not think anything else could top it. I WAS WRONG. Every single trip I took throughout my time in Hawaii impressed me more than the last one. Hawaii left me speechless. The views I got to see were breath taking; from the sunsets, to the volcanoes, to the lava tubes, to the beaches, to the car rides surrounded by rainforest and ocean. Most of the car rides consisted of us looking for whales in the ocean – by the end of the trip I saw a total of six! I cannot even describe the happiness that these new environments put me in. I was over joyed. Honestly, I could not believe what was happening before my eyes. My time in Hawaii was surreal. It didn’t seem real because everything about it was PERFECT. This is what traveling is all about – appreciating the beauty of a different place!

If you want to be blown away, go to the Big Island of Hawaii.

The adventures are waiting for you.

P.S. What you should know about Rainbow Falls:
1) No fee – IT’S FREE!
2) Big parking lot, don’t worry about it being too busy because there are many places to get great pictures
3) There is a gift shop across the street
4) Can hike up the right side of the site – will see path way
5) After hiking up the right side you can also go into the woods area and cross a little river to play on the rocks that are behind the waterfall, up above – remember to be careful!
6) Do not hike with flip flops – I learned that the hard way
7) WARNING!! DO NOT JUMP IN THE WATER .. you will never be able to get out, plus you’ll probably die from that jump. Harsh but true.