It was clear to me from the start of my studies that I wanted to spend a semester abroad. As a result, I spent my fifth semester at Hawai’i Pacific University in Honolulu. I lived on the paradise island of Oahu for four months. In addition to the turquoise water and the white beaches, the inland is lined with tropical forests and high mountains.
My arrival was a bit bumpy as I had already organized an apartment in advance, but it wasn’t available at short notice. Accordingly, I had to look for other accommodation on site. However, it is the rule that international students come to Hawaii without permanent accommodation. So for a few days everyone is quartered in the hostels until they have gradually found accommodation. Fortunately, I found what I was looking for after only 5 days and moved in with three Swiss people in Waikiki. The rental prices in Hawaii are extremely high, which is why we each shared a room. At first I was a bit skeptical about this, but it’s an experience I definitely don’t regret!
My university life in Hawaii started with an orientation week at the beginning of the semester. During this time I met most of my future friends, explored the campus, and got some tips about Honolulu from older students. The university differs fundamentally from that in Germany. The examination performance is made up of several components, while at German universities a final examination in the semester typically determines the grade. I was surprised that attendance in the lectures is compulsory and that in most courses it even accounts for up to 10% of the overall grade. For my visa I had the requirement to take four courses in order to qualify as a full-time student. Fortunately, I managed to put all of these courses on two days a week so that I had enough time to get to know the island and its people better.
The island’s bus system is considered to be one of the best in the United States, so it made it easy for me to get from Waikiki to Downtown Honolulu, where the Hawai’i Pacific University School of Economics is based. It definitely cannot be compared with German standards, as the duration of the journey is relatively long, but it is extremely advantageous. However, a semester ticket for the bus is included in the tuition fees of the HPU. So there are no additional costs for this be taken into account. Nevertheless, I bought a car together with my three roommates at the beginning so that we could get from A to B faster and easier in our free time. According to Abbreviation Finder, HPU is the abbreviation of Hawaii Pacific University.
So when I wasn’t busy doing homework, preparing for tests, or doing group work , I used the time to hike and explore the beaches. It was important to me to leave Waikiki as often as possible, because this part of the island is heavily populated by tourists and hardly reflects the real Hawaii. But as soon as you drive out of Honolulu, the beautiful nature for which Hawaii is known worldwide extends there. Accordingly, you can spend a lot of time outdoors there. Hiking, jogging, swimming, surfing, snorkeling and boogie boarding are just a few of the recreational activities that can be enjoyed in Hawaii.
Snorkeling equipment can be purchased relatively cheaply at Wal-Mart, while surfboards are of course a bit expensive. Here it is worthwhile to compare offers on craiglist.com, but it is also worth taking a look at small surf shops, as often used surfboards are sold there for fair prices. At the end of the time, the surfboards can then be sold again via craigslist.com. For beginners, Waikiki is also the perfect place to take their first surf lessons.
The North Shore of Oahu is the hot spot for professional surfers, especially in winter. From mid-November to January, a large number of surfers travel to Hawaii to surf the world-famous Banzai Pipeline. The annual world tour ends there in mid-December with the Pipe Masters. So it’s definitely worth a visit. But not just in winter, but at any time, the North Shore is a wonderful place to relax and escape the hustle and bustle of Honolulu.
For me, the semester abroad in Hawaii was one of the best experiences of my life. I have developed personally as well as linguistically and I can only recommend everyone to venture abroad. It’s a unique opportunity to experience something completely new and meet people from all over the world. A saying that motivated me to do my semester abroad was:
“Life begins where your comfort zone ends.”