Everything You Need to Know About UH Manoa

what is UH Manoa really like

University of Hawaii at Manoa, College in Hawaii, UH Manoa, SaltWaterVibes, Hawaii College, College Life, Oahu Hawaii

Back in 2013 I made the life changing decision to go to the University of Hawaii at Manoa. My decision to come here was pretty easy. I was recruited to swim for the D1 program here, and knew I wanted to go to a school by the beach. After a few trips to Florida and one to Hawaii -- the decision was effortless. Over the next 3 years I got to have one of the most unique college experiences. I get so many emails and questions from this post about more details of school here so I’ll go over some more aspects of life at UH! If you ever have any questions comment, email, or DM me, I am happy to help! 

Please note all of this information is based on my own personal experiences and opinion

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Social Life

College is a brand new time in anyone's life. New atmosphere, new people, new places, and basically a brand new life. For me I didn’t know what to expect going to UH Manoa and Hawaii in general. I have had a pretty easy time making friends and am outgoing but was still nervous to meet brand new people. One thing about the University of Hawaii is that a lot of the campus is from Hawaii already. In fact only 28% of the students come from outside Hawaii, which is not something I knew before coming. This means a lot of students already have friends, know people, or commute from home. My biggest tip is to reach out to your roommate once you find out becuase they most likely are going to be from here! I met my roommate at Hanauma Bay a few days before school started so we could break the ice. From here she introduced me to her friends at the school and I was able to meet new people this way. Of course you can always meet people in class, on your floor, at social gatherings, and even in the cafe. Just don’t be shy reaching out! The worst thing that can happen is they don’t say hi back :) 

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My life motto with partying has always been - if it is important to you, you will find the parties. I was not the biggest college partier but they do happen at UH. It is not quite like the movies and mainland but more small get togethers or beach bonfires. We do not have any Greek Life Houses on campus so house parties are limited. Dorm parties usually get shut down by the RA’s but some make it all night. A few sports teams have houses near campus and a lot of parties are held here! But like I said, if you want to party you will find it ;) 


University of Hawaii at Manoa is a D1 school! Which means we have a wide variety of sports including but not limited to: football, basketball, volleyball, beach volleyball, swim, water polo, sailing, baseball and more. Our football team plays at Aloha Stadium which is off campus, about 25 min (no traffic) away. On game day the school provides school bus service to the stadium. Some people choose other methods of transportation to enjoy the tailgates, which are super fun! Our Women's Volleyball team has won the NCAA before and is a huge hit for social gatherings. The football turnout might be low, but there are plenty of other fun games on campus to make up for it!

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UH offers a wide variety of classes and majors! From Marine Biology, Nursing, and Business to Communicology and everything in between there is a field of study here for everyone. One unique thing about UH is that you must take Hawaiian Studies in order to graduate. I personally think it was so neat and I learned so much about Hawaii and their culture. Their are so many classes offered here - I took Yoga, Religion, Hawaiian Language, Conflict Management and tons other amazing courses. I graduated with a BA in Communicology and a minor in Business. There have recently been lots of budget cuts causing a shortage of classes so make sure you meet with a guidance counselor to ensure you are on the right course path. The four year graduation rate at UH is the lowest in the country, but don’t let that discourage you! I graduated above the curve in 3 years :)  Check out more statistics about UH on there website here

want a free packing list for uh? Download below!

UH Manoa Packing List | SaltWaterVibes


this guide is full of everything you need to get ready for life at uh


While at UH I had the opportunity to work both on and off campus. I started working off campus at Le Crepe Cafe on Fort Street. It was soo much fun, I loved my boss, coworkers, and loved making crepes while talking with customers. I commuted by bus everyday because parking in Hawaii is no joke. I think getting an off campus job is a very popular choice by students especially those with serving or retail experience. Waikiki has endless stores and restaurants making it a working paradise. After taking on a larger course load to graduate sooner, I needed to work closer. I applied for an on campus job and couldn’t believe I didn't do this the first day! You get paid higher than minimum wage, the hours are from 8:00am-4:30pm, your boss works with your schedule and understands that school is the priority. Not to mention you work on campus so there is no commute! Often times I would go to class work for a few hours go to another class and then head back to work! Then at 4:30 my day was done I could go home and study and get a good night sleep. Plus you will get real office experience and have a job that looks great on your resume, for example I was a Fiscal Assistant (fancy huh). It is the best, so I HIGHLY recommend getting an on campus job. To find out more head to the QLC Student Employment office or apply online through SECE!  

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If you are coming from out of state then you most likely will be living on campus for one if not all your years here. The Freshman Towers are 4  round towers that proudly sit in lower campus. Each room is a unique shape which I like to describe like a slice of cheesecake. Two beds, desks, and wardrobes make up each room with two outside lana’i’s (outside seating area) on each floor plus 4 bathrooms [ toilet, shower + sink in each bathroom]. The floors are co-ed. From here the upperclassmen housing is a variation of apartment style buildings. Here 4 roomates share two shared bedrooms, a kitchen, living space, and bathroom. In all of the dorms there are RA’s in control of each floor to ensure safety. If you choose to live off campus it can be a bit pricy as the cheapest 1 bedroom rent in Waikiki is nearly $1500 without utilities. Some people choose to find friends and rent a small house but just remember you have to commute and park! 

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  • Far from home - may not go home as much as others

  • Life is expensive here

  • Can get island fever

  • Can get culture shock and feel detached

  • You are in paradise

  • Weather is nice - so no walking to class in snow

  • Experience tons of new cultures and people

  • Unique degree and conversation starter

Overall I would never trade my experience here at UH Manoa. It is such a unique opportunity and I learned so many life lessons while earning my degree. Still have a question I didn't answer? Write it in the comments below or send me an email! 

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