Monthly Archives: April 2011

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Blog Competition Winner

Thanks to Brittany, Daniela, Jordan, and Nikki, who all posted on the blog this semester! It’s great fun to read about your adventures in Hawaii and at UH.  Take a look at the winning post by Jordan Serra, right below.  Scroll down and read more about what’s waiting for you. Don’t you wish you were here, too?

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A Semester in Paradise

North Shore Skydive

If you asked me a year ago, as I was patiently waiting for the mounds of Rhode Island snow to melt, if I could imagine going to school in paradise for a semester, I would have most likely laughed and trudged away.  Little did I know what the second half of my junior year would turn into.  I’ve never truly believed that I belong in the area I was born and raised in; for someone who lives for the four months out of the year when I can walk to the beach from my house, snow and frigid temperatures have never appealed to me.

I live for the beach, surfing and the sand.  I am an active musician who enjoys playing mellow, acoustic music for visiting tourists on the seawall in Watch Hill, Rhode Island; what was I doing buried in snow?  The beautiful, lush environment of Hawaii has always been my calling, and it is where I have always belonged.

North Shore Sunset

In the weeks before enrolling at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, I had literally no idea what to expect.  I had never been to Hawaii, and I really had not heard much about the school.  Luckily, a few friends from my home university of Roger Williams in Bristol, Rhode Island had attended the previous semester.  They aided me with the many questions I had about the application process and the school in general, ultimately finalizing my decision to study “almost” abroad in paradise.

I have already accomplished many experiences during my short time here in Honolulu, but a few have drastically stood out among others.  One of the most prominent was my skydiving experience over the coast of the North Shore.  It was definitely one of the most surreal moments of my life, and a day that I will remember always.  My tandem partner told me how amazing the drop zones in Hawaii were; in fact, that was the reason he moved to Hawaii from the mainland.  I know how luck I am that my first skydiving experience was over one of the world’s most beautiful shorelines.

Flying with Aloha

The reality of jumping out of a plane 14,000 feet above the Pacific did not truly hit until I was hanging out of the tiny airplane, waiting for the three second countdown to end.  Gliding through the warm Hawaiian sky and clouds was simply amazing; accomplishing a feet humans really aren’t meant to accomplish is truly an indescribable experience.  Following the release of the parachute was a relaxing, astonishing glide down to land.  Floating safely over the water to the airfield just past the shoreline was a “flight” I won’t soon forget.  My mother understands my appetite for adventure, however my father just could not fathom why I wanted to jump out of a plane thousands of feet above land.  That experience is why.

One professor in particular made my experience at the University of Hawaii at Manoa a much more memorable experience.  Professor Jon Osorio, professor of Hawaiian Studies, is one of the most caring and passionate individuals I have ever met.  He is an expert on true Hawaiian history and genealogy, and he is also very politically involved Hawaiian politics.  Osorio cares deeply about his Hawaiian ancestry, and this is one of the many emotions you leave his class feeling deep inside.

Osorio has taught many original and loving ideas of the Hawaiian people, including the concepts of  ‘ohana, the lolli’, and ‘aina.  ‘Ohana is the concept of how important family is to the Hawaiian culture.  The principal organizing unit in ancient Hawaiian society was the family, and the more family a person had, the better their life was to live.  As someone whose family is the number one priority in their life, I can personally relate to this Hawaiian ideology.  In this class we also visited the lolli’ which is located right next to campus.  The lolli’ is an area of fishponds and taro cultivation.  Because Hawaiians once had a limited amount of resources on their island, the natives would care for the island like it was their child.  If Hawaiians did not go out and clean their lolli’s taros, then they did not have clean water to drink.  One quote stood out to me; “the land itself is the backbone of the people.”  If more people brought back this type of ideology today, as the Hawaiians are attempting to do, this world would be a much happier place.  The final concept is the ‘aina, which goes hand in hand with the lolli’.  The concept of ‘aina is caring for the land, and reimbursing the nourishment that it has provided to you.  Replant the trees that are cut down, clean the water that is drank, respect the land and it will keep on providing.  In a world where our most beautiful rainforests are being demolished and our majestic animals are being killed for profit, individuals need to recognize the importance of the ‘aina.

Manoa Falls... Part of the 'Aina


Just recently, my roommate and I took an island-wide road trip after renting a brand new 2012 Ford Mustang convertible.  We made many stops throughout the day, including Waikiki, Sandy’s Beach, the Dole Plantation, and the North Shore.  Driving through the North Shore pineapple fields with the wind blowing through my hair will be an experience I will always remember.  This trip was a ton of fun, and I felt feelings that I am sure are only felt on these islands.

Oahu Roadtrip

To conclude, my experience at UH will be a four-month experience I can safely say I will never forget.  Another safe bet is that I will come back to this island, whether it be in a month, a year or a decade, I’ll be back.  Pieces of the Hawaiian culture will forever be apart of me now, and I am thrilled to spread that love to my friends and family back on the east coast.  Even though Rhode Island will always truly be home for me, Oahu has become my home away from home.

Home Away From Home


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f o o o o d d d d d d d.

Category : Daniela Guzman

i’m from california. a very, veeerryy diverse place. and the funny thing is, i’ve tried more different foods here in hawai’i then i have in california. it’s kinda funny, and weird, and delicious. =]

me and my three friends (maida’s the one in the picture!) decided to go to this egyptian restaurant (WHAAAAATT?! egyptian?!) which i had never tried before, so i was stoked. we walk in and to our shock, it’s sort of a fancy place..and we were coming from the beach, so we were faaaaar from fancy. it was kinda funny seeing us walking to our table with our heads low hoping no one would see us, ahhaha. anyways, so we ordered our food and waited in excitement because..they were going to have a BELLY DANCING performance! our food arrived and we all died and went to heaven! it was sooooooo gooodd! i can’t remember exactly what i got, i think it’s lamb and humus with a delicious salad..hmm..not sure, but i DEFINITELY recommend this place! it’s near campus but i don’t know the exact directions. the place is called pyramids, if i’m not mistaken and it’s a little pricey ($25) but WELL worth it! =] plus, the performance was very entertaining!


it’s kind of hard to see exactly what this is but it’s called a pastel, i believe. it’s brazilian food that we happen to randomly find on an adventure in waimea and haleiwa, north shore. i happen to go a couple weeks ago to where the food truck is located but it wasn’t there =( i’m not sure what happened to it, if the owners are still in business or what is going on but i hope they return! they were located next to a safeway out there. this stuff is soooo yummy, it’s like a hot pocket but better! it’s stuffed with your choice of chicken, cheese, and/or vegetables and then it’s fried! not expensive at all and the owners are super friendly!


i haaaaad to try grits with shrimp and cheese at this soul food place that is near campus! it was like, $12..? soo good! i went with my friend rob who got fried chicken with cornbread and collard greens! seriously, try it! i loved it! =]



ohhhhh maaaaaan. on this day, i learned that there is nothing better than home-made PUERTO RICAN food! my friend Giovanna’s parents were visiting and she asked them to broaden our horizons with this delicious meal! words cannot describe how amazzzzing this dish was!


aaand of course, the HAWAIIAN food is a MUST here! me and my cousin went to the luau at PCC (polynesian cultural center) and this is what was served! i personally am in love with hawaiian food! it’s just tooooo good! i highly recommend this as well! my favorite is the chicken long rice! mmm yummy!





aaanndddd lastly, the most diverse and unknown food of all..                               =]

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Category : Student Spotlight

i just wanted to saaaaayyy,


guys, anna is tooo awesome! if you are debating wether you want to come out to hawai’i for a semester but you’re scared, DON’T BE! it’s a scary thought but you will always have anna for support! any questions, she will help you! a lot of people don’t care; once you are here, it’s you on your own..NOT IN THIS PROGRAM! anna’s just awesome! i don’t know how else to put it! she cares about everyone & will give advice if you need it! aaaaannd, today is her birthdaaaay! so anna, i hope you’re having an amazing day! enjoy it, be happy, and thank you for helping me out whenever i needed it! HAAAPPYY BIRTHDDDAAAYY!

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My Time in Hawaii :)

Tags :

Category : Nikki Walsh , Student Posts

Since I arrived in Hawaii in January I’ve done a lot of exploring around the Island.  I’ve been to Lanikai beach an Kailua, the gorgeous beaches of North shore as well as the East side of the islands–Makapu’u and Waimanalo!

Not only have I been doing activities around Oahu, for my 21st birthday and over spring break my parents joined me on a birthday extravaganza to Kauai! It was amazing.  We hiked the Kalalau trail, took a catamaran boat ride over to the forbidden island Niihau and did a Helicopter ride among many other things! The helicopter ride was awesome. It went all over the island and I don’t believe i’ve ever seen so many waterfalls in my whole life 🙂 Pure beauty.

Last weekend over Easter break I spent some time with a couple new friends from work! We went mud riding and it was awesome climbing up dirt hills and off roading to Secret Beach. Upon our arrival to the beach we all hung out and barbecued. Pictured below is my friend Cindy and I in the back of the jeep on the way to Secret Beach!

This was my first Easter I haven’t spent with my family so it was nice that I got to spen it with my neighbors whom I’ve become very close with–“My Hawaii Family <3” We went to a skate demo in chinatown and then cooked steak for dinner!

Another fun thing that I got to do while I was here was go to the water park wet n wild in Kapolei! EVERYONE SHOULD GO! It was so fun, I felt like a little kid again running aroud to each water slide 🙂 I’m definitely enjoying my time in Hawaii and I’m trying to do as much as I can do before my time is up!!

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On a perfect Sunday in Waimea on the North Shore, my friends and I pulled up to pristine turquoise waters of the bay and the sparkling sun as usual.

“I love Hawaii, but so far I haven’t found any seashells to make jewelry with,” said my artistic friend Jana, sighing as she laid back on our gigantic blue sheet. At that moment, a tiny white object in the sand caught my eye. Floppy hat in hand, I scuttled over to find a miniscule sea shell, flawless in shape.

“Jana!” I called, “Look what I found!” I yelled over. When I held up the small treasure Jana squealed with delight. “Let’s find more!” she beamed. We decided to split up and I headed for a small sand dune to our right.

As I scoured the particles of sand, I found a matching shell. And then another. And then another. I became consumed. Suddenly, a Hawaiian baby wearing bright pink sunglasses wandered over my way. I prepared to do my usual “Hello! How are you” in my gushiest baby voice, but instead I was ignored by the sassy infant. She reached down into the sand next to me and pulled out a seashell just like the ones I had been collecting. My eyes widened. How did she know what I was looking for?! “Sorry! I guess she wanted to join!” shouted her mother pleasantly as she herded over the rest of her family. Apparently, this baby girl had been watching me gather things in the sand, figured out that I was looking for seashells, and decided that she wanted to help me!

For the next few minutes, my heart melted. The baby and her 8 year old sister would pick up shells, inspect them for quality, and then hand them off to me as gifts. I couldn’t believe it. Here I was, a stranger from another continent, and this family had no hesitation hanging out with me to help me find shells.

“Hey I think I found enough. Let’s get in the water!” yelled Jana as she sprinted towards me with a handful of objects. I nodded enthusiastically and waved goodbye to my new “friends.” As we walked away from the family, I stared down and smiled at my pile of shells. I knew that every time I looked at them from now on, they would be more than just tiny objects made by the sea. They were symbols of friendship and kindness.

“So… what’d you find anyway?” Jana inquired. “Oh nothing…just some shells,” I answered, smiling, “Just some seashells.”

My favorite picture from that day.

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kailua beach.

Category : Student Spotlight

♥i love kailua! it really is one of THE most beautiful beaches one can ever go to! the soft sand, the warm water, the beautiful view. siggghhhhhhh.

i enjoy going all the time. it’s so relaxing to just go and enjoy life. there hasn’t been a moment where i don’t think to myself, “i love my much better can it get?”

in the words of kolohe kai, "this is the life."






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My ASAA Story

So… how did I end up in Hawaii you ask?

Trudging to class in unplowed snow 2 feet high is highly overrated.

I remember so many days at Penn State last year when I honestly thought to myself, “This is college?” and looked outside at the dismal grey sky and feet of snow. Besides singing in my a cappella group, None of the Above, I knew I was missing some kind of experience… some kind of meaning. At that point, I made a decision. I was going to have something to “tell my grandkids about.”

Luckily, I was (and still am) dating a rather adventurous guy named Josh who goes to school here at UH Manoa. When he showed me the website for ASAA, I was really excited.

Arguments used on my Dad to persuade him about ASAA:

  1. “It’s cheaper than a semester at Penn State. And I can actually go outside without unintentionally ice skating in the winter.”
  2. “Dating Josh from 5,000 miles away is pretty agonizing.”
  3. “ALL my friends are going abroad in the spring. Do you want me to be alone at school in the cold snow? (sad face here)
  4. “I talked to my guidance counselor, and she said I didn’t have any classes left to take in Europe. So can I go to Hawaii now?”
  5. “I just got 5 classes approved through Penn State. Here’s the proof.”
  6. “So I talked to grandma, and she said I can go. Can I go now?”
  7. “Have you made a decision yet?”
  8. “Dad… I have everything set up. Can I go now?”
  9. “OK so I can go right?”

After a while of that kind of badgering, my Dad finally agreed to let my adventures in Hawaii begin. Reactions were mixed… especially from my guidance counselor who memorably and sarcastically stated, “So let me get this straight… you want to spend a semester in HAWAII….? Um…”

So what does this mean to you, Mr. (or Ms.) blog reader?

If you’re reading this blog, you’re either considering applying for the program or already in it (or running it). If you’re that first person thinking about coming here, do it. You can even use some of my lines for parents mentioned above. Oh, and don’t worry about people that give you funny looks when you tell them you’re studying abroad in Hawaii. They’re just bitter that they won’t be able to shovel their car out of the snow while you lay on the beach.

If you’re that second person, hopefully I amused you with my anecdote enough that you’ll want to read more of my posts.

Either way, I’m enjoying Hawaiian life. Stay tuned 😉

Truly happy. Photo by Whitney Grathwohl (also in ASAA)

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HAWAII 5iveeeee ohhhhh. oh yeah.

Category : Student Spotlight

i heard there was sunset on the beach, HAWAIIFIVE-OHHH style aaannd, since jin, or daniel dae kim, who’s in LOST (best show EVER!), is also in hawaii five-O, i decided to go cuz, it sounded cool! so this is the big screen from where i was sitting..


i actually scooted my way next to that lady in yellow. =] i had to. there was noo way i was gonna miss an opportunity to see JINNN up close and possssibly get an autograph or picture (my fingers were crossed the whole time!). so yeah, it’s one of the amazing things you get to do if you wanna spend a semester abroad in pardissseeeee..


in the end, no autograph or picture BUUUUTTTTTTT, amazing hawai’i..on a beautiful day..on a beautiful beach. life here is beautiful.

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so i’ve been here in hawai’i for two (yes, twwwooooooo) semesters! i loved hawai’i so much that i had to stay. it has been very hard for me, since i’m S U P E R close to my family [who’s in california] but i feel like, if i didn’t stay when i had the chance, i would’ve regretted it. so now i am here.. and i don’t regret it one bit..               =]



this was taken fall2010 football season with last semester’s roommate, julia. =]