A semester abroad at Hawai’i Pacific University, Honolulu, Hawai’i, USA
At the very beginning there is planning. You should decide as early as possible at which university you would like to spend your semester abroad. Only then can you concentrate on the preparatory steps necessary for this university. For me it didn’t take too long to choose, because there were only two universities to choose from and only one was in Hawai’i…
After you have found the right university, you should quickly find out what is required for an application. MicroEDU was very helpful in this. In the case of Hawai’i Pacific University, these include: the general application documents including transscript, passed TOEFL, evidence of international health insurance and, if applicable, letters of recommendation from professors from your home university. Because if you want to take courses from the Master’s program, you have to be able to show two of them. The choice of course can, but does not have to be submitted with the application. It is advisable to clarify with the German professors in good time about any achievements abroad that may be recognized in order to then select the courses. If you are too slow, the courses may already be completely filled. The course size is only about 25 students on average. It is also very important to know that you can only apply for a visa with a successful application and corresponding confirmation letter. For some time now, everyone who applies for a visa has to appear in person at one of the three embassies. The conversation that supposedly decides whether you get a visa or not consists of just a few sentences. So you really shouldn’t worry too much about that. Visiting the embassy can, however, take a few hours. I would like to briefly mention that it is definitely worth applying for BAföG abroad, even if you cannot get it in Germany. The chances are generally good and it helps enormously financially. You realize that you should start planning in good time, because you often have to wait until one thing is finished before you can start another. I would therefore recommend that you start collecting information about a year before the semester abroad begins.
At some point, however, the time had come and it finally started! After a very long day and two 9 hour flights, I finally arrived in Honolulu. I had booked myself into a hostel for a total of three weeks in order to be there before the rush of other students, to be able to explore the area and to look for an apartment. There are people who manage to find an apartment in two days. There are also people who manage to do all the planning in the two to three months before the start of the semester. However, I would strongly advise against these attempts.
The search for an apartment was the first major stress test. The rental prices are incredibly high. If you want to stay in Waikiki, where everything takes place except for the lectures, you can do more calculations. After 14 days and several hours of searching every day, I finally found a place in an existing flat share. The room was tiny and was shared with someone else. For that I had the cheapest rent of all, $ 500 a month (including all utilities). What a bargain… Many gave up the search early and accepted to pay more. In my estimation, the average price is around $ 700 per month and you often still have to share the room. The food costs are also extremely high. The USA is a bit more expensive than Germany anyway and then there is the distance to the mainland and the tourist surcharge in Waikiki. It can happen that some foods are three times as expensive as at home.
I can’t write anything in general about the HPU, as it depends a lot on which program you study and which courses you take. The HPU is located in Downtown Honolulu and has a small additional campus on the other side of the island that can be reached with a free shuttle. There is also a third campus which, as far as I know, only serves marine biologists. Downtown the lecture rooms are spread over many different buildings. During the breaks, people meet in the pedestrian zone between the buildings, where there are many small shops where you can get something to eat. However, there is no typical American campus as one might expect from movies. There is also no cafeteria where you can eat cheaply.
After I had a lot of problems choosing a course, I decided to take two study-relevant and two non-relevant courses. Due to the small classes and (depending on the professor) compulsory attendance, you feel like you are back at school. For me it was the case that a lot of collaboration was required during the semester. So you should read the accompanying books for every course every week and often had short quizzes and at least one lecture plus essay per course. In return, the final exams (finals) have a lower weighting than here and there are also the midterms in the middle of the semester, which have about the same weighting. Of course, it depends on how the individual professors handle it, but in general it can be stated that the American system is very different from the German. In any case, significantly more cooperation is required than in Germany. As a result, you only take four to five courses on the undergraduate level (Bachelor) and three to four courses on the Graduate level (Master) on average. Another not insignificant cost item that is often forgotten are the course books. These cost up to over $ 150 depending on the course and can only sometimes be found cheaper. Unfortunately, at the end of the semester, you only get a part back if you sell the books back. Another not insignificant cost item that is often forgotten are the course books. These cost up to over $ 150 depending on the course and can only sometimes be found cheaper. Unfortunately, at the end of the semester, you only get a part back if you sell the books back. Another not insignificant cost item that is often forgotten are the course books. These cost up to over $ 150 depending on the course and can only sometimes be found cheaper. Unfortunately, at the end of the semester, you only get a part back if you sell the books back.
However, despite the work-intensive lessons, free time should not be neglected. As expected, Hawai’i has something for everyone. Athletes in particular will get their money’s worth. I enjoyed surfing and hiking in the mountains the most. The waves are better in the south in summer and better in winter in the north. If you have fun with it, you can buy a used surfboard (around $ 300) and try to sell it again at the end. The sea and the mountains can be reached within a few minutes from anywhere in the city. The bus connections are good and cheap ($ 2 each way, regardless of the distance, across the island), but you cannot rely on the times of the timetables. Some people buy a bike, a scooter, or even a car. If you live in Waikiki I would advise against a car, because the sea is only 2 minutes away and downtown buses run every few minutes. This distance is actually not that far, but thanks to traffic and a stop at each block, the bus takes a good half an hour. The last bus leaves around 1am, but most of the clubs are in Waikiki anyway. Read more student reviews on Andyeducation.
Finally, I would like to try to compare the Hawai’i Pacific University with the University of Hawai’i (UH for short). Of course, I can only do this to a limited extent and only based on what I overheard or heard from friends who were there. The HPU is clearly one of the cheaper universities in the USA (tuition fees are around $ 7000 per semester) and since it is a private university, it makes no distinction where the students come from, everyone pays the same. This is different at the UH, because it is a state university. Locals, i.e. Hawaiians, pay the least (around $ 2,000), American citizens of other countries a little more, and international students around 9,000 dollars. Therefore, many Hawaiians prefer the UH and most internationals prefer the HPU. Of the 11 or so 000 students, several thousand come from abroad, which makes for a very pleasant international atmosphere. Locals are hard to get to know, however, as you meet Germans on every corner. You can see it how you want… In addition to the Germans, there are a lot of students from Sweden and Norway. The range of courses at the university is significantly larger (it also offers mechanical engineering, for example), but so are the classes. Some of the lectures are also attended by well over 100 students. The UH is the larger university and has its main campus in Manoa, a district of Honolulu that is a few minutes inside Waikiki. At least from the outside, this makes the impression you know from the typical cliché college films. (Note from MicroEDU.com:
However, you should not fly to Hawai’i with a cliché, otherwise you could quickly be disappointed. I’m just saying: In Germany not everyone walks around in lederhosen and yodels all day…
I hope this short report will help you a little to decide whether you want to spend a semester at the HPU.