The End

My last day in Hawaii, I ended with a bang!

However, this bang was not planned.

I ended up flying home on a 14 hour plane ride with a mild concussion.

Not the most ideal situation.

Our last night in Hawaii, my roommate and I went to bed early after a long peaceful stroll through campus as we reminisced about the unforgettable memories.

I fell asleep with a huge smile on my face knowing that I took advantage of the island, made friends, and had the time of my life.

It was suppose to be a peaceful relaxing sleep…

At 4am I woke up to a girl screaming at the top of her lungs!

The worst sounding screams I have ever heard in my life. The screams were worse than horror movies! This girl was getting attacked!!

With my hands shaking and heart pounding I was in panic mode. I controlled my shaking hands to dial the campus police’s phone number that was posted on the back of our door. Before the officer could say hello I quickly blurted out, “I’m in room 322 and I hear this girl screaming, please help, I’m too scared to go help her.”

I tried to make out what the girl was screaming. I swore I heard her say, “Help, I’m getting attacked!”

My heart felt like it was going to burst out of my chest. The next thing I know, I’m on the ground.

I woke up to my roommate crying, police officers around me, and extreme chaos outside. The police thought I was the one who got attacked. My sister had to point the police in the other direction to save the girl.

The medical assistants put me in the ambulance and rushed me to the hospital.

Finally, my roommate told me what happened; I passed out, hit my head on the dresser, and fell to the floor.

That explained the pounding headache.

Still in the ER, I had only four hours until I had to be at the airport.

The doctor highly recommended that I shouldn’t fly.

This plane ticket was over $1,000 dollars, I had to go!!!!!

Two hours later I made it back to campus with my fancy new hospital bracelet and ice pack. I asked my neighbors about the girl who was attacked. They said she wasn’t attacked. Confused and angry I quickly asked, “What do you mean?”

As it turned out the girl was not screaming, “help, I’m getting attacked,” but instead, she was screaming, “Help, I’m trapped.”

The girl was trapped in her bathroom with no light, no phone, and all alone, since her roommates left for winter break. The bathroom doors would randomly lock if it was shut. There’s a precise way to shake the door or even use a bobby pin to unlock yourself. I understood her situation to be quite scary but I was still mad that I misunderstood her screams  incorrectly.

Due to my misunderstanding I got nervous, passed out, and had to fly home with a concussion.

I sure went out with a bang, ouch.

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Kona Community

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Like I have mentioned before, Kona is a fun and exciting place for tourists! So many activities! During my time in Kona I have been on a submarine, I parasailed, learned how to paddle board, saw dolphins swim next to our boat, visited the most beautiful beaches, shopped, stayed at the Royal Kona Hotel, experienced my first Hawaiian Lau at the Kona Marriott, dined at the nicest restaurants, walked the strip (Ali`i Drive) at sunset, and more! All of these experiences were such fascinating eye openers. The most eye opening experience was one I cannot list. It was not an activity, but a way of life. Kona has pride in getting their community together, staying strong, having a positive vibe, and helping one another.

What’s so wonderful about Kona, that I  wish I knew before, is that they have a calendar online providing activities for the public. Kona’s goal is to gather the community to come together for fun, eventful, family and friend bonding activities.  I hope these activities and resources help you make the best of your Kona trip!!

Although Kona does not get snow, the town still takes advantage of winter-like activities! Kona has a lot going on for the month of December for the community! Let’s check it out!

On December 13th
Get Ready for the 30
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Annual Kailua-Kona Community Christmas Parade!!!! The parade will begin at 5:00pm at the Kekuaokalani Gym, located down Ali’I Drive past Coconut Grove Marketplace. There is a theme every year! And This year it’s “Na Mele O Kalikimaka,” meaning; The Songs of Christmas. Go on down to Ali’I Drive and experience the 75 floats of local businesses, non-profit organizations, musicians, schools’ teams/clubs, children, dancers, and of course Santa and his reindeer! All donations go towards the Menehune Holiday Food Drive. Royal Hawaiian Movers company tells us how volunteering at the past Kailua-Kona Community Christmas Parade was such a successful community effort. Watch how the community comes together for such a wonderful cause at past Kailua-Kona Community Christmas Parade!

The great part about these activities is that they are free and open to the public. Kona abides by Hawaii’s rule; living the HI life. Hawaiians want you to enjoy the sun, company, and feel the love and support from one another! Everyone who has ever visited can happily say that they were part a beautiful and heartwarming ohana (family).

Moving on to December 14th,
Kokua Kailua Hulihe’e Palace free concert is featuring exciting talent such as Merrie Monarchs men’s glee club, Kumu Hula Etua Lopes and his halau Na Pua U’I O Hawai’o. Be at the Palace’s South Lawn with your own beach chair or mat at 4:00pm to enjoy a magical evening.

December 24,
Mokuaikaua Church’s Christmas Eve Candlelight Service. Dive into the history at this heartwarming event takes place at Hawaii’s first Christian church that was established in the 1820’s. The event begins at 7:00pm starting with caroling and then the candlelight service will begin. All are welcome to the event where they will celebrate the holidays with hula and Christmas hymns. It really is a beautiful thing to be a part of! When I visited the Mokuaikaua Church I was lucky enough to feel how special and see how beautiful the old church was! See how the Hawaiian’s celebrate this holiday season! I recommend to spend your holidays in peace and visit the Mokuaikaua Church!

December 28th,
After Christmas you will still be part of the culture and feel the community spirit with the Ladies of Waiku’I and Konabob performing at the talk story at the Sheraton Kona. This event provides an unique experience that you cannot get anywhere else but Hawaii. The event includes a free talk story presentation featuring music, chant, and dance.

Kona still impresses me even after leaving the gorgeous town on the Big Island. Other blogs will agree that it is an unforgettable place. It’s unforgettable because of the setting, beauty, scenery, people, but now, also; the activities it provides to the public. Kona opens its doors to anyone and everyone to feel the love and support within the community. You will forever feel like family.

Go For It!

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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!

The Hawaiian Language

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Aloha! That means “hello” which most people are familiar with.

Down in the Big Island of Hawaii the locals use their Hawaiian language on a daily basis. I would hear “aloha” (hello), “mahalo” (thank you), and “a hui hou kakou” (until we meet again) multiple times per day. The sweet lunch ladies would always look at my card see my name Rebecca and give me the nickname of Princess Reba after smiling and saying “a hui hou kakou.”

It was so beautiful to hear.

Not only was their language beautiful but so were the people. Beautiful girls with long black hair and gorgeous skin made up my school. My blonde friends and I stood out as the locals would call us “haole” which means a foreigner, not Hawaiian, especially a white or Caucasian person. We didn’t take this as an insult because it was just the term they would use for people not born or raised in Hawaii. When my friends and I tried to pronounce the street names the Hawaiians knew right away we were foreigns. All the street names to me sound alike and had similar spelling. For example, these are the street names around my school; Kinoole St, Kilauea Ave, Kawaili St, Kekela St, Leilani St, Halekauila St, and Lanikaula St. just to name a few. How hard was that to read? Getting directions was very hard because we could not understand the street names.

Before we left for Hawaii we thought we would be all set after watching Lilo and Stich learning words such as “aloha” and “ohana” (family).

We were wrong. We needed to know more than those two words.

We quickly found out what the “HI life meant” as we were in the mist of living it! The HI Life means the good life. We were living in paradise! Of course life was good; the sun was always out, everyone was friendly, happy, and as bright as the sun!

We also learned how to appropriately use the “shaka.” The “shaka is a hand signal/gesture that originally means to “hang loose.” If someone did something cool or good it is appropriate to give them the shaka. The shaka indicates a positive sign of approval or praise. For example; when we finally were able to stand on the surf board and wide the wave, we received a shaka from all our friends in the water watching. You can also use the shaka as a goodbye wave or a “thank you” signal.

Up in Massachusetts when you let someone go driving they raise the palm of their hand meaning thank you. In Hawaii the shaka would be used for this scenario.

If you visit the Big Island be sure to experience the “HI LIFE” and the unique language!

A hui hou kakou

University of Hawaii at Hilo Round Table

002Attending the University of Hawaii at Hilo was unlike any other education system I have ever been involved in. UHH treats their students as family, or as the Hawaiian’s say “ohana”.

The professors at the university are welcoming and easy to talk to. You would think they were all guidance counselors, they’re so nice! The professors take the time to get to know every student and are always offering a helping hand to make sure you feel comfortable. On my first day, my history professor noticed my Boston accent and asked how my flight was knowing that it was a long exhausting trip. He spent ten minutes of class time giving me tips on how to be more comfortable when flying. He wrote down the names of medicine I should try. He truly cared about my safety and my comfort level. He was pleased to have me in class, and what’s even better is that he treated every student like this. No favorites, just a genuine heart from a genuine person.

Yes, I mentioned History class, but don’t let that fool you. UHH offers classes that will teach you about the amazing Hawaiian culture. I wish I was able fit Hula Dancing in my class schedule. Thanks to the Hawaiian EDventure team I was able to see the techniques up close and personal after they performed at the university. The team dances to honor Pele, the goddess of the volcanoes. Every where I turned on campus I was enriched with culture.

The teachers and students even wore the culture! What I mean is, if you have a flower print skirt, or for a men; an Hawaiian shirt then you will fit right in. The ladies’ basketball team embraced the fashion memo. Usually one would think female athletes as being tom boys, but in Hawaii fashion is so easy and fun to dress for the warm weather and follow the school’s vibrant and welcoming atmosphere.

Heading outside the classroom, there was so much to explore! The school offered trips around the Big Island every weekend. The island even has their own exotic zoo. My five other girlfriends and I felt like we were in the jungle visiting the Hilo Zoo  surrounded by huge trees, bamboo, different colored flowers, and hearing all unique animal sounds.

If we got hungry there were plenty of fun options around Hilo to try. My favorite place to go was the Hilo Farmers Market.  The Big Island Food Blog recommends the Hilo Farmers Market as your only place you need to shop. You couldn’t get the fresh taste or the fun experience anywhere else. The vendors there are always pushing new excited food your way. I have learned how to open a coconut, make homemade guava slushes, and taste baked coconut; all from the Hilo Farmers Market.

All exchange students would agree that the experience at the University of Hawaii at Hilo was unforgettable. I was there for a short five months yet felt part of the school’s family. I involved myself in new cultural activities and experienced a more relaxing way of life that I hope to continue. Do as the Hawaiians do. Jessica, another NSE student; National Student Exchange, said that the experience exceeded all of her expectations.

UHH is a small school to 3,500 students. The professors are able to know each student on a personal level through the small class sizes, a low faculty-to-student ratio that provide opportunities for research and hands-on-learning. It was the BEST experience of my life. Other reviews, blogs, and websites I have researched have positive reviews to back up my opinion that UHH is an extraordinary college.