The decision to spend a semester abroad in Hawaii was not difficult for me. Even if all the organization and the financial effort can be a hurdle to decision-making, it was worth all the effort and every penny. If you are into breathtaking landscapes, paradisiacal beaches and relaxed people or if you want to surf every day, then you have come to the right place in Hawaii. What I experienced there has fundamentally changed and is simply indescribable. Nevertheless, I will try to convey my impression. In short: it is a huge adventure playground.
Organization and application:
The organization in advance was very time-consuming and you can easily lose track of things in a paper war with the US embassy, the student loan department and the HPU… Fortunately, the MicroEDU Team is at your side and supports you with all problems Ask.
Still a few tips:
- In any case, contact MicroEDU, as you will get all information and, if necessary, help there.
- Start planning and, above all, organizing the semester as early as possible (6-9 months). It can be done later (3 months) but then, as in my case, it becomes very stressful.
- Don’t be afraid to visit the embassy, they are very nice there. If you ask yourself about your motive for the visa, then don’t surf… Scientific / professional career sounds better;-)
- Before visiting the embassy, you should also get some more detailed information about your course content, which you can then cite as a motif.
- In any case, plan enough money and a fat buffer for all eventualities such as advanced medical bills.
- If it comes from the exam dates at your home university, then fly as early as possible (1 month in advance) so that you can have a relaxed apartment search and settle in.
Exhausted and tired, I arrived in Honolulu at night and was very happy to find a clean bed and a nice, helpful staff at the Seaside Hostel. The next morning, however, my dream of an island paradise was somewhat destroyed because I woke up in a large American city.
Honolulu is much more American than Hawaiian, in my opinion, and Waikiki seemed more like a big tourist trap to me. Not only on the streets but also in the water there were crowds, so I decided not to move to Waikiki under any circumstances.
I searched for apartments in Downtown, Kaneohe, and Kaimuki on Craigslist.com. After almost 3 weeks I found the right flat share with cool roomys, large lanai (terrace), own room, 20 minutes by bike from downtown campus for $ 660 warm with internet. That was an absolute bargain for the usual $ 800- $ 1000 in the area.
The bus semester ticket was very helpful in the beginning, but you can get around Honolulu much faster by bike. Since a lot of bicycles are stolen in downtown and Waikiki, a good lock and definitely a license is recommended. A scooter is registered more like a bicycle in Hawaii and should also be worth considering, as it is much more expensive ($ 600- $ 800) than a bike, but is completely sufficient for the island. A car that drives starts at around $ 900 and is a lot of hassle to get.
I opted for a mountain bike with a board rack and the semester ticket and both were worth it, as you can take the bus with more stalls and take the bike in city traffic or to the surf spot. Unfortunately you are not allowed to take boards with you on the bus (not even on the bike on the bike stand). So if you want to go to the Northshore regularly in winter, you should at least think about a scooter or be able to store your board somewhere there.
The HPU is basically ok. However, I had the impression that teaching there is relatively unscientific and that a lot has to be learned by heart. The expected level of performance is roughly comparable to that of the upper secondary school level in Germany, and this is how the lessons work. You have a lot of but simple homework to do and the exams are mostly multiple choice. Nevertheless, I have to say that I learned a lot of new things during the semester and that there is nothing to criticize about the content of the subjects. The professors were all fine and you would have to make an effort to fail somewhere, but also to get an A. That applies at least to the courses I have taken (ENVS 3002, ENVS 3010, MARS 1010, ECON 2010 and ANTH 2401).
Life in Hawaii outside of university can be very diverse. There are countless surf spots, hiking trails, beaches, reefs for snorkeling, various events and so much more.
Basically you can be prepared for sunshine, but you are always well advised to wear a portable rain jacket in winter, as the weather can be changeable despite at least 23 ° C.
Groceries are generally expensive and you should be financially prepared to spend at least $ 300 per month if you have a Safeway membership and only buy fresh groceries in Chinatown. A Costco membership is only worthwhile for drivers because of the extremely large portions.
To be honest, the party life in downtown and Waikiki didn’t knock me off my stool, but it’s still a nice change from partying in Germany. McKelly’s Irish Pub is recommended because of the live music and the “First Friday parties” are expensive but worthwhile.
Those who surf should stay away from Waikiki or be there before sunrise. The crowds are pretty annoying. The same goes for “Sunset” and most of the neighboring spots on the Northshore. Turtle Bay offers a good alternative and is also less current. Diamond Head is recommended in the south, but crosswinds can be quite annoying. Ala Moana (especially bowls and Kaisers) are also highly recommended, but can be crowded on particularly good days. It is worth leaving your boards at home and buying the right plank on site, as the prices are very good, especially for used boards. In addition, almost every spot is a reef break that greatly shortens the life of your boards, especially in “Publics” in Waikiki.
And a few more little tips: Checking the forecast is worth it. Locals have right of way in case of doubt.
If it is crowded, then take care of Haoles and Touris to avoid accidents. Read more student reviews on Liuxers.
I took another 4 weeks to tour all the islands and would recommend the same to everyone. As I said before, Hawaii can be one big adventure if you just dare. I had the best experiences outside of paths, barriers and guided tours. Good preparation before every trip has always paid off. Especially a headlamp, enough water, a knife and good walking shoes are essential. Hitchhiking is especially good on the Big Island and Kauai.
- Oahu: Climb Haiku Stairs, Pipeline at Northshore, Waimanalo Beach, Waimano Falls, Manuawili Falls, Chinamans Hat.
- Big Island: Lava Flow (free from Volcanoes National Park), Volcanoes National Park, Waipio Valley, Cliffjump from Southpoint, body surfing at Green Sand Beach, hot springs at Isaac Hale Beach Park, snorkeling with dolphins in Kealakekua Bay.
- Maui: Surfing Honolua Bay, Hwy to Hana, sunrise over the clouds on Haleakala, Drumcircle on Little Beach, Kahekili Hwy.
- Molikai: Halawa Valley, Palau State Park, 20 Mile Beach and the ferry ride that is guaranteed to see whales in winter.
- Kauai: Na Pali Coast, Waimea Canyon, Kokee State Park, Surfing Kalihiwai, and Hanalei State Park.