Life Lesson

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TIn Hawaii it’s easy to tell who is a local. Their roots make them who they are, such beautiful kind souls. I loved how they admire every piece of their culture.

They all know how to hula dance and what each move meant. Every hula dance has a story and the way they told those stories were breath-taking. It was difficult for them to teach others how to move as fluently and as graceful as they did because it was just in their blood. It’s hard to teach a natural given talent that you’re born with.

The locals also know every single story, including all the myths and history about their island that they’re so proud to be part of. Most Hawaiians see the beach as a way of life. This was my favorite lesson I took back with me.

They would say, “Life is like the ocean. Sometimes the ocean is calm and is the home to the most beautiful and gentle animals. Then other times the ocean can have treacherous waves, deadly currents, and home to dangerous animals such as sharks.”

The Hawaiians taught me that if you stick to your roots and know you’ll always have a place to call home then the storm will always pass.

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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!

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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!

Malama Kanaloa Festival

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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.

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.

Big Island, Big Fun

Hello! Welcome to the inside scoop of living on the Big Island! My name is Rebecca Green and I was lucky enough to live and study there for five months. Hawaii is an oasis that most people dream to someday visit.  My experiences are worth sharing because they cannot compare to any experiences I have ever had in the states.  I quickly learned that people from the states such as myself are call “mainlanders” or people from the “main land.” From the moment I walked off the airplane I have gained memories that make fantastic stories.  I could talk forever and even write a detailed book about my time there, so I thought a blog would be perfect. My readers will be fully prepared if they ever visit the Big Island. My readers will also get to experience the life of a local as I was able to see “hidden” places that most tourists do not know about. My readers will also learn the best places to visit, the best and worst hotels to stay in, safety tips, what to do when you see a giant cockroach, what restaurants have the best food, where to shop, how to surf, about the classes at University of Hawaii at Hilo, what a loco moco is, how to prepare for jumping off a 60 ft. cliff, fun facts, and much more. Just to throw a fact out there for you; at sporting events, professional coaches do not wear suits but Hawaiian shirts (The ones with the crazy patterns of island images). Hawaiians are filled with pride and happiness when it comes to representing their culture.  I want my readers to feel the passion the locals have for their state and embrace it. On the Big Island they have no highways because the people do not want the hustle and bustle of a highway.  In MA, where I’m from, some people tend to speed on the highway. I realized that Hawaiians are at a slower speed, are more relaxed, and take their time through life.  The lifestyle is so different down there that a busy city girl like myself had to learn how to take a breather.

I did end up keeping a journal but a blog is better because here other people can benefit and learn from my experiences. If I blog steadily throughout the next year I hope to carry out a great reading fan base and influence readers to go visit the Big Island.  The Big Island of Hawaii is such an extraordinary place to visit as one side of the island, around Hilo, has little tourism with local markets, huge waterfalls, black sand beaches, lava tubes (that you can actually visit and go inside them), and must see little “hole in the wall” food and shopping places.  The other side of the island, near Kona, is known for its breath-taking beaches, famous Kona coffee, and activities that sure please any tourist.
I was a young college student during the time spent in Hawaii, so prepare for risky adventures that you should never tell your parents! Thank you for reading, hope you enjoy my blog!

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