The University of Hawaii

Camp College

So what is it really like to go to school in Hawaii. Are classes really on the beach and do people actually major in surfing?? Well—if you are into things like Marine Biology, which is a very popular choice here, then yes sometimes class really can be at the beach! We do have surf clubs and excursions but for actually studying you’ll have to stick to the basics ;) Being in such a unique place our school does offer some unique experiences! For example, Hawaiian Studies (all about Hawaiian history) is a requirement to graduate. We don’t live in a college town so gatherings are usually beach bonfires and group hikes. Finally, while we may be considered the 50th state the food here is beyond unique! 

The University of Hawaii + SaltWaterVibes

When you venture to the island, there are some things you should know. In fact I wish someone would have told me this stuff before I came! Because of the Aloha lifestyle and Hawaiian Time graduating can take a bit longer than expected. In fact the 4 year graduation rate is one of the lowest in the country coming in at a whopping 19.8%!! Dedication to the books can be much harder when the ocean is taunting you in the distance. Also, AC is a delicacy here in Hawaii! The buildings are rather old, so there is no proper Air circulation. Always carry a Hydrofalsk because those walks to class can get toasty!! 

The University of Hawaii + SaltWaterVibes

But besides some minor setbacks, coming to UH could be one of the most interesting things you will ever do. From now until the day I die I have one of the most intriguing conversation starters by saying “I graduated from UH.” People love to hear about your experience and what it was like to live in Hawaii. 

So what is college life really like here? Well as you could have guessed, it does involve a lot of time at the beach! Freshman year I would go every second I could, even in-between classes! I often took my notes to the beach for study time and my readings were done under the sweet breeze of palm trees. Having beach life surly doesn’t mean its all fun and games though! There were plenty of beach gatherings I missed, or sunny days I would be trapped in the library, but it is always about balance. You have to work hard so you can play hard, and that is especially true here. Coming to Hawaii you will quickly get accommodated to how different life can be here, but I guarantee you will always carry your Aloha Sprit with you where ever you go.

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The Food

As a freshman you will get quite familiar with the Café. It is an awesome place to meet people, gather with friends, and talk story. However, our food here is not any Standford or Princeton. You will get quite familiar with local food and rice for every meal, yes even breakfast! Get used to life without Chipotle and Chick-fil-a…yes it actually is that hard. But between the shave ice, and chicken Katsu I’m sure you’ll find a favorite right away.

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The School

Like I mentioned, the University is pretty old and they like to keep the originals! While the buildings might not be in the best shape, looking outside the window and seeing Palm trees blowing in the ocean breeze surly makes up for it. We are currently going through some budget cuts so depending on the major you choose, classes could fill up fast. Luckily the University of Hawaii spreads across 9 campuses over the islands and credits transfer super easy between campuses! So if you need a gen-ed class, it might be wiser to take it at KCC down the road! I lived in 3 of the dorms on campus and it is super convenient living while going to school! It is right on campus, close to the Café’s and the bus stops right in front of them! It is a great alternative as Hawaii rent is beyond expensive. They are rather old, but again you're in Hawaii :) Other wise I love our campus, the palm trees & tropical flowers everywhere make walking to class enjoyable! 

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The Life

People always ask me what it's like going to school and living in Hawaii and I feel like I have one robotic answer, "oh it's great, not much to complain about here in paradise" only because if I said something like, "it's great but some days leave me miserable" people would think I went metal. We all forget people have problems in paradise. I love to be positive and truly truly try to find the good in situations. However, sometimes I feel we need to advocate and talk about issues to bring awareness and open up the table for change. So these are the three biggest 'issues' I had going into UH. Again, I am sharing only because I think it's so important to talk about these things. It's all something I wish someone told me before I came to school here. 

  1. Yes it's part of America, but it is not America. Hawaii was there own thing before the U.S bought it and took over in 1956. That means they have there own race, there own language, there own culture, and [had] there own government. This briefly crossed my mind before coming here but I didn't truly understand what that meant until I moved here. Unlike the mainland, you will not find many many chain fast food, stores, company's, or banks in Hawaii. It's all local. Which is a good and bad thing depending on the situation. To start, be prepared for new foods, you live in the pacific now so all those cultures make up our restaurants, our grocery store items, and the PRICES! Shipping fee adds just about $1-5 on any one item. When you live here you have to get a local bank because there are no mainland banks or ATMs here. Trust me when I say get a local bank: you have no idea how expensive those ATM fees get fast.

  2. The second 'problem' at UH is everyone's least favorite R word but it has to be talked about: racism. Back to the the whole "we took Hawaii over" didn't leave the best look for white people here in Hawaii. In fact the local term is Haloe, which is any foriegn person. This I was completely unaware of when I came to UH. For the first time, I was living as a minority. It can be tough, and it is quite an experience to walk into a class room and be the only white kid. But it has taught me so SO SOOO much and opened my eyes up to even more, so I will forever be thankful for that.

  3. Transportation. Yes this made my top 3! When I first arrived on island I dreamed of my baby blue moped taking me from beach to beach, and then I learned just how dangerous it is to ride a moped here. So I tried the bike thing, but after two stolen ones and never makings off campus I knew this wasn't the solution either (great for getting to class, not great for anything else). So then as any student, using my free bus pass, I tried that route! But after factoring and extra hour into my schedule just for transportation, I was over it. So I bought my self an island beater. For $1000 bucks you can get a pretty decent set of wheels, and people are constantly leaving paradise so it's easier than you think. How ever if your not ready for that kind of commitment Uber and Lyft are a lifesaver here! Anyway-- traffic here continually makes the 'Top 10 Worst Traffic in the US' list year after year so even though its a little island, it has LONG travel times. They are working on Rail, but that still could be a few years before it is up and running.

The University of Hawaii + SaltWaterVibes

I would never trade my experience here at you UH Manoa for anything. It has been the biggest blessing joining this Ohana  and becoming an University of Hawaii Alumni. I guarantee this will be one of the most unique college experiences you will ever have. Beach days are far and plenty and adventuring is a daily occurrence. Even if you don't stay all four years, or take 10, this place will change you for the better forever. 

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The University of Hawaii + SaltWaterVibes

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