I didn’t know much about Hilo before coming here. But it didn’t take long to fall in love with it. The culture shock began on campus, where strangers said hello to me left and right. A friendly cleaning lady even asked me to call her “Aunty.”
Five weeks later the various aspects of the laidback nature of the locals still never cease to surprise. As an exchange student for one semester, the thought of leaving in 13 weeks saddens me greatly. I can no longer imagine falling asleep without the soothing acapella of coqui frogs. Or looking up at the sky back home where I’ve never seen a single shooting star. I’ll miss seeing rainbows after a long warm rainfall.
What I love the most about UH Hilo are all the chances we get to explore Hawaii and Hawaiian culture on the weekends. The Outdoor EdVenture Trips takes me paddle boarding or going to Hapuna Beach. There is always something to look forward to during the week. These rips are never a letdown.
One of my favorite trips so far was a volunteering trip to the Kohala Mountains. The mission was to rid the rainforest of non-native ginger plants. We also got to see a beautiful view from the high mountain. The ride in the four-wheel drive through a herd of cows was bumpy and had our adrenaline pumping. We had the honor of seeing protected parts of the rainforest that not every local gets to see. Finally, we also helped native Hawaiian rainforest species by sickling away overgrown ginger plants. It was oddly satisfying and relaxing.
I know that my time here will be amazing and I will go on many more trips, Hawaii can make even the most dormant of people embrace the spirit of carpe diem.