Monthly Archives: January 2011

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Pillbox Hiki In Lanikai!!

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Category : Nikki Walsh , Student Posts

Hey guys this is my first time posting! I just wanted to tell everyone that they should definitely do the Pillbox hike in Lanikai, it is gorgeous and it didn’t take that long.  At the top you have a beautiful view of lanikai beach and the two magic islands :). Also at the top are old world war 2 bunkers that are pretty neat!

Me on top of the bunker :)

I went this past sunday and after the hike I got a guacomole, bacon and cheeseburger from Teddy’s and a smoothie from Jamba Juice! After that I went to the Lanikai beach and layed out for a little, however, it started to rain s I had to head back home 🙂

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Student Spotlight V: Whitney Grathwohl and Brittany Klein

Brittany Klein and Whitney Grathwohl

Meet 2 students who have become fast friends since connecting on Facebook and becoming a part of the program, A Semester in Hawai‘i at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa.  Whitney Grathwohl from Missouri and Brittany Klein from Long Island, New York are sharing a semester in Hawai‘i and enjoying classes at UH and the sites in Honolulu. Already tan and acclimated in 3 short weeks, the girls have been to beaches and the zoo, gone hiking in Manoa and surfing in Waikiki. They’ve even hit the books, studying for their many classes at UH.

Brittany’s home school is Penn State, which is much larger than UH.  “People (at Penn State) are more stressed, looking for internships and jobs, and they are very involved with organizations on campus.”   At Penn state she is part of the “No Refund Theatre” group and an a cappella singing club called, “NOTA” (None of the Above).   She describes people here at UH as more laid back and friendly and “doing their own thing.”  A Human Development and Family Studies major, Brittany decided to attend the ASH program months ago and has a boyfriend who attends the Shidler College of Business at UH.  She is organized and active and has already found a job on campus.  Furthermore, Brittany is enjoying classes, thinking of becoming a career or relationship counselor, and is most looking forward to swimming with the turtles in the beautiful waters here in the islands.

Whitney’s path to UH is a quite a bit different from Brittany’s.  Whitney, who is a sports science and psychology major, applied at the last minute, finding the program through a search on line.  Looking for a change of pace from going to school in the small college town of Moberly, Missouri, Whitney acted spontaneously after discovering the ASH program and quickly made her decision to spend some time in Hawai‘i.  She was also a college athlete, running middle distance track, until an injury cut her running career short.  The road to recovery has been difficult, and the adjustment to life without running and competing is on going.  She is using this semester in Hawai‘i to stir things up and reevaluate her life.  With plans to do more surfing, visit the North Shore, snorkel at Hanauma Bay, and hike Stairway to Heaven, Whitney will have lots to do to keep things exciting.

Seeing life through these young women’s eyes is wonderful.  Every day is filled with hard work, discovery, and lots of fun.  The future is bright, wide open with possibility, and, at least for a semester, full of sunshine and warm breezes.

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Whales and Cupcakes

Yesterday’s Diamond Head Hike was on Martin Luther King Day, and the trail was awfully busy with eager hikers.  At the summit, we had to negotiate around the crowd to take pictures.   But it was worth the trouble!  The crater and mountains were completely green from all the rain, and the ocean color ranged from aqua close to shore, to violet beyond the reef, to deep blue towards the horizon.  On one side the city sprawled out along the coast and up onto the ridges of the mountains.  We picked out famous hotels, dorms, fancy houses and other sites among the clusters of buildings.  I have been to the top of Diamond Head at least 50 times but always marvel at the views!

View of the Gold Coast near Waikiki

On this trip there was much excitement as the crowd spotted whales breaching and spouting water from their blowholes!  Beyond the lighthouse they swam, enjoying the warm waters of Hawai‘i.  (In the winter whales vacation in Hawai‘i and then return to Alaska in the spring.)  I couldn’t get a picture but hope Tim got it all on his video camera.  Just as quickly as they appeared, the whales swam off, on to other playgrounds.

Whale watching

After descending, we sat on the grass to eat oranges and popsicles.  And since it was Tim’s 21st birthday, I made lemon cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.  We talked about travelling the world, skydiving, and bungee jumping, and even waxed philosophical for a while.   There’s a lot to do and see this semester!

In the distance, Koko Crater and Koko Head

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Final Hawaii Blog

I just spent 4 months in Hawaii. Right now it doesn’t quite register. Like how it doesn’t register that it’s snowing in Maryland and I’m about to step off the plane in shorts and a t-shirt (at least I’ll get to show off my tan).

Hawaii has been an amazing experience and I want to share my story with future ASH students so they can get a glimpse of the possibilities that await them in Hawaii.

My main concern with school was that I wanted to do as little of it as possible so I registered for only 3 classes and chose classes that were only held on Tuesday and Thursday. I definitely recommend this as it allows much frolick time. Working out this schedule with classes that would transfer credit back to UMD was a bit of a headeache though.

If you’re interested in classes I took, then read the following:

HIST151 World History up to 1500 with Prof. Bentley (8/10 rating)

I like this class a lot because I felt like I needed to learn some history so I was interested and motivated to learn. Bentley is also a pretty good lecturer. He wrote the textbook for the class so it is a very organized and easy to follow class.

LLEA122 Greek and Roman Mythology (8/10)

I liked this class not because it was really boring (it was amazingly boring), but because it was really easy. I usually couldn’t bring myself to sit through this class but I faithfully attended every Exam Review session because the TA, Josh Hevert, tells you everything you need to know for the exams.

GEOG405 Water in the Environment with Prof. Tom Giambelluca (9/10)

First off Tom is awesome. Everyone calls him Tom and he is an extremely knowledgeable professor but also a great guy. Throughout the semester we worked ona research project involving the manoa stream watershed. We installed 2 weather stations, recorded all kind of data, and were like amateur scientists. It was actually pretty great.


I spent the first few days at a hostel on Seaside avenue called Hostel Aloha (right next to campus), to get my bearings with UH. Then I spent a few days in a hostel on Lemon st. in Waikiki to be close to the beach. I finally found a place in Waikiki on Craigslist and ended up staying there for September and October. My roomates were awesome: A 29 year old ex-mormon gay guy who had just quit working at Greenpeace and a 25 year old girl from Colorado who dropped out of UH pretty quickly. So with 2 unemployed roomates and my own open schedule we adventured often and camped out at North Shore almost every weekend.

After 2 months I got tired of living in the city so I moved up to North Shore. I had always wanted to be a WWOOFER (willing workers on organic farms) so I went to the farmers market in Haleiwa (Sundays 9AM-1PM) and talked to all the farmers about WOOFING on their farm. I ended up WOOFING on a chicken farm that was 200 yards from Chun’s Reef surf spot. In exchange for 10-20 hours of work a week I got to live in a little shack on their property. My responsibilities were to give the chickens food and water every day at sunrise and in the afternoon, as well as other tasks and projects. I also helped with the chicken production (catching, killing, de-feathering, cleaning), which was a little disturbing at first but eventually became normal. This was one of the coolest places I’ve ever lived. North Shore is an awesome place and has even better surf (at the right time of year). If you’re interested feel free to contact me.


The first couple weeks I took the Bus everywhere. The bus service is really good and it can take you almost anywhere on the island. After a few weeks I bought a van on Craig list and this opened up the island a lot. This sparked much more exploration, surfing, and camping trips. I got lucky too and got the van for real cheap and managed to sell it for more than I bought it. (If you’re interested in buying a vehicle there are many people that will sell for cheap because they are trying to leave the island).


Down to Earth Grocery store: on the corner of King and University. You might think its expensive since it a health food store but they have specials that are very reasonable. Plus, they have the best peanut butter! You grind it fresh

in the store yourself!

Bangkok Chef: Awesome Thai food. Almost fast food. Very large portions for cheap. I call it the Chipotle of Hawaii.


This is the best part. Lets start with the best…


I learned to surf here and got totally hooked.

Winter Season (Nov. – March): Large waves in North but small in South

Summer Season (March – Sept.): Generally flat in the north but good waves in the south

The windward side is more remote and unexplored for surfing so I don’t know much about it.

The south is a good spot but can be crowded since its so close to town.

White Plains on the West side is a good beginner spot. The leeward side is risky because they say you’ll get your car broken into there.

The north is one of the best surf spots in the world. Large swells hit the north about once a week in the winter and can produce VERY big waves…the biggest I saw were about 30 feet and people were surfing them!

Getting a board:

-rent in Waikiki (you can usually bargain with them there)


I found my board on Craigslist. This guy Patrick on the windward side rents/sells boards for a good price and will buy back the board he sells you for half the price when you leave the island.

The Leisure Center on campus does surf trips. I went on one but wasn’t too impressed.


Stairway to Heaven: Stairs leading to top of mountain. Best views I saw of the island.

Manoa falls: nice easy hike near campus


5:30 PM Sat. and Sun. at the field past the Hawaiian studies building on Date st.

5:30 PM Tues, Wed, Thurs, Sat. at Kapiolani Park at the Diamond Head end of the Park (furthest away from Waikiki). Caution: this group can get rough.

Ultimate Frisbee:

Ask Maya or Isaac for info.

Rock climbing:

Small cliff at Makapu’u and larger, harder cliff at North Shore near Mokolueia. Sport climbing but very easy to set up for top rope too. Don’t need any static rope because its set up for you to drag the dynamic rope up through bolts at the top. Check out the Climb Aloha site for info.

Beaches: Oahu is one big beach. Explore, relax, enjoy.

Sailing: Check out Ala Wai Yacht club or Hawaii yacht club. One of them has friendly races on Friday afternoons that you supposedly can join if you ask nicely or bring some beer.

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Spring 2011 Orientation

Small, but cozy!  That’s how I’ll describe this semester’s ASH group.  We have 7 students enrolled in the program, which is the perfect size to get close and share some great times.

Back Row: Destiny Magee, Jordan Serra, Tim Rounds, Whitney Grathwohl Front Row: Nikki Walsh, Britanny Klein

Two students hail from Pennsylvania, while the others come from New Jersey, Rhode Island, Iowa and Missouri. 75˚ in January is surely an anomaly for this crowd.  Our 7th student is an Oahu resident, home for a while from Boston University.

On Sunday as part of our orientation we took a tour of the island of O’ahu with “Cousin Paul” as our leader and driver.  I brought snacks to share.  Cousin Paul enjoyed the Li Hing Mui Mango the most, but some of the others were into it as well!  I wouldn’t say the mochi and rice cracker with seaweed were a hit, but pretty much everybody was adventurous enough to try them.

Well, I know, island tours aren’t really about the snacks!  We also fed ourselves on beautiful sights.  I can’t believe how green and lush everything is from all the winter rain.  Even Koko Crater was completely green except for a long straight trail running up to the top, peppered with hikers.  The Pali Lookout was calm and still this time, without any wind what so ever.  In the fall we could barely walk against the force of the gale caught within the mountain ranges.

Tim, Jordan, and Destiny

Waimanalo Beach with its 12 million dollar houses dotting the coast was lovely.  Families were playing in the water and a photo shoot with a fashion model was finishing up in the afternoon sun.  We snapped photos and let the waves lap around our feet and legs.  Jordan’s shoes almost washed away but were saved in time. No big worry though; replacement slippers are cheap here!

Stay tuned for more posts.  I’m looking forward to interviewing everybody for the Student Spotlight series.  And if we’re lucky, everyone will post something about their experience here at UH.

New friends at Waimanalo Beach

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Saying Goodbye and Hello

Fall Semester was wonderful as I began the new role of “director” of A Semester in Hawai‘i. Getting to know the visiting students and hearing about their adventures at UH was certainly the best part of the job!  It was sad to say goodbye, but knowing the students are off for exciting undertakings on the mainland is good consolation.  I wish them all the best of luck and hope to hear updates as often as possible.

Waimanalo Beach, Fall 2010 Orientation

On Sunday at orientation I’ll meet the new students for Spring Semester. Our tour of O‘ahu will include sites of the city and the country, and we’ll visit green mountains and blue ocean.  Here’s a forewarning:  the Pali Lookout has an outstanding view of the windward side, but it is outrageously windy!  Women should wear shorts (not dresses) so you have a free hand to take pictures! This time I may bring local snacks to share:  mochi, arare, wasabi iso peanuts, li hing mui, dried squid – the possibilities are endless!  New foods, beautiful scenery and lots of sunshine are only a few of the many things to soak up in Hawaii.

Hanauma Bay, Fall 2010 Orientation

I think the best advice to give our new students is to get out of your room, explore the islands, make lots of friends, embrace your classes, and definitely try new things.  This is the time of your life, and 4 months in Hawai‘i will be unforgettable.