Experiencing UH Hilo – Hawaii Travel

Being Ukrainian and growing up in the Czech Republic, I came to Hawaii with my head full of expectations and uneducated stereotypes. My home university, Anglo American, happened to have an exchange program in University of Hawai’I at Hilo.

I came to Hawaii to study at UH Hilo on a university exchange in 2012. Living in Hawaii for four months was an incomparable experience that is hard to put into words. But I’ve been trying to describe it since the day I set foot on the Big Island.

Being Ukrainian and growing up in the Czech Republic, I came to Hawaii with my head full of expectations and uneducated stereotypes. My home university, Anglo American, happened to have an exchange program at the University of Hawai’I at Hilo, and since coming to Hawaii has always been a dream of mine, I jumped at the opportunity to come here. I thought I would spend four months sitting on a white sand beach under a constantly blazing sun surrounded by hula dancers. And, that I’d have leis thrown over my head wherever I went by ukulele-playing locals.

Some of this did actually happen: August was really sunny, I saw a graceful hula dance at the talent show during orientation week, I bought a cheap lei in a souvenir store, and I do hear students strumming a ukulele on campus every once in a while. But, Hawaii turned out to be so much more.

Instead of white sand beaches, Hilo has many beautifully unique volcanic beaches to offer like Honoli’i and Richardson. Honoli’i has a river flowing into the ocean creating a calm area to swim in while the waves in the ocean offer a great surfing environment, and the small beach is surrounded by cliffs and palm trees. Richardson beach is completely different with lots of different enclosed areas to swim in and also lots of areas to just sit around and have picnics. It is even known as a place to spot turtles. The two beaches also showed me a lot about Hawaiian culture.

At both beaches I saw the strong bond between the Hawaiians and their natural surroundings; everyone was careful to clean up after themselves after eating and picked up every bit of litter that they dropped. There was also a great respect for the turtles, which are not to be touched, and the locals watched my friends and me carefully as we approached the turtles to photograph them, and would have probably jumped to their defense if we got too close or disturbed them

There was also a strong sense of family and community at the beaches as big families gather together and set up tents to have picnics and chill. Also, everyone would gather together and cheer whenever a child caught their first wave surfing. It was amazing to watch and the friendly locals would always make me feel included by randomly saying hello and interacting with me.

I also discovered that Hilo is far from being constantly sunny, but I have never seen a more mesmerizing rainfall. The rain here is warm and you can see it bringing life to the whole island as all sorts of critters crawl out from hiding and the plants just seem to dance as the drops hit their leaves. The rain here never seems to bring anyone’s moods down.

On Tuesday and Thursday at six P.M., the hula class at the Student Life Center continues no matter the weather, with friendly upbeat instructors for both beginners and the advanced classes. After seeing a hula dancer perform at the talent show during orientation week there were quite a few people wanting to learn this unique form of dancing.

All in all, Hawaii turned out to have much more to offer than I ever imagined possible, and UH Hilo is a big part of it. Being given weekly opportunities to travel around the Big Island and experience new activities is just one of the perks of the university. There is something here for everyone to participate in, from trying out your public speaking skills on the school radio station to volunteering to help with the beehive to pretty much any club, sport and activity that you can think of.

As an exchange student for one semester, I am truly amazed by UH Hilo. I will have many ideas to take back and suggest to Anglo American, my home university, to make it at least half as good a university as this one.

Originally published here: https://issuu.com/kekalahea/docs/issue4fall2012

This post was updated on June 14th, 2018: the text, as well as title and headline, may have been edited, proofread and optimized for search engines. The featured image may have been changed due to copyright or quality issues.

UHH Students Help Watershed Project

The Kohala Watershed Partnership is dedicated to helping rid of non-native species and helping those that are native strive. Every month volunteers go to the mountain to do a variety of tasks from planting trees to sterilizing those that shouldn’t be there.

UHH Students Help Watershed Project was originally published at 12:05 on October 10th 2012 in the Hawaii Tribune-Herald. It has since been removed from the website but below is the original article.

The Kohala Watershed Partnership is dedicated to helping rid of non-native species and helping those that are native strive. Every month volunteers go to the mountain to do a variety of tasks from planting trees to sterilizing those that shouldn’t be there.

Earlier this month, a group of the University of Hawaii at Hilo student volunteers went to the mountain with the Kohala Watershed staff and spent a few hours clearing up ginger plants that were suffocating other native species.

The work was not only rewarding but gave the students a chance to see part of Hawaii that not everyone gets to see.

The Kohala Watershed Partnership is always looking for more volunteers to help out in the mountains or in other ways. Visit http://kohalawatershed.org/ for more information on the organization and to learn how you can help.

“Kohala, known to most as an extinct volcano on the Big Island, is more than just one of the oldest volcanoes on this island. Kohala Mountain is now the home of certain species of plants and animals that cannot be found anywhere else in not just Hawaii, but the whole world,” said UHH exchange student Olena Kagui, one of the volunteers.

“It is also an important source of rainwater that supports the unique native species living on the mountain as well as providing water for human communities. There are certain species of plants and animals that are not native to the mountain that are threatening to damage the ecosystem and in doing so kill the rare species living there,” she said.

This post was updated on June 14th, 2018: the text, as well as title and headline, may have been edited, proofread and optimized for search engines. The featured image may have been changed due to copyright or quality issues.

 

Living with Pets, Nika Kagui

I will never forget the day I came home from school to find a tiny puppy sitting on the stairs. With her big eyes, wet nose and chubby pink tummy, it only took Nika one second to make me fall in love with her. She made my whole family come alive and change.

Living with Pets, Nika Kagui was originally published in The Bridge, the magazine published by IWAP – International Women’s Association of Prague. Nika Kagui was more than just a pet, she was a beloved dog that was part of our family. We still miss her every day, but the memories of her are no longer sad.

I will never forget the day I came home from school to find a tiny puppy sitting on the stairs. With her big eyes, wet nose and chubby pink tummy, it only took Nika one second to make me fall in love with her. She made my whole family come alive and change. My busy mother found time to take her on countless of walks every few hours, my neat germ-phobic father heard her howling one night and she’s slept in his bed ever since, and I discovered the true meaning of unconditional love.

But there were many sacrifices too. We couldn’t go on as many family trips, we worried too much about leaving her with others. Also, just like many other purebred Labradors, Nika had many health problems; one vet even recommended that we ‘don’t waste our time and money and put her to sleep’. She had hip problems among many others, and she was at risk of not live past 3. We decided to take our chances and vowed to keep her alive for as long as possible as long as she didn’t suffer and had the will to live – and boy did she love living.

She was always full of energy and curiosity. Among driving in the car and playing with Leia, a puppy we bought for her because she couldn’t have her own, her passion was swimming. She would climb the ladder into the blow-up pool in our garden with confidence; look at us to see if we were watching her and then jump in and swim for hours. When she got out she would dry herself on a towel that we laid out for her. Watching this regular routine never got old and always raised our spirits.

But despite the happy moments, there was also a lot of worrying involved. She underwent over 7 operations over the 8 years and 5 months of her life. Seeing her shaved in strange placed, bandaged up, limping with sleepy eyes after a long operation was always horrible. But no matter what state she was in, she would greet us warmly; wagging her tail, begging us for a treat and making us scratch her back. Her eyes always twinkled with gratefulness and happiness that made every single sacrifice worth it.

When she died in surgery a few months back, we were devastated. She was more than a dog: she was a member of the family, a friend and a reflection of ourselves. She fought for her life until the end. When her heart stopped during other surgeries, she would make it beat again. When we worried that we were selfish to put her through the operations, she showed us that she too wanted more than anything to live. Her bravery, determination, happiness and her endless supply of love is something that along with the memory of her will be with us in our hearts forever.

This post was updated on June 14th, 2018: the text, as well as title and headline, may have been edited, proofread and optimized for search engines. The featured image may have been changed due to copyright or quality issues.

Charmingly Calm Calafell, Travel Spain

Calafell, Spain – a popular European travel destination for people from all over the world. Statistics show that the yearly number of tourists is around 45 million. Calafell, situated in the Catalonian province of Tarragona, is a quiet town perfect for a calm relaxing vacation.

Calafell, Spain – a popular European travel destination for people from all over the world. Statistics show that the yearly number of tourists is around 45 million. But where do all these tourists go? Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia are among the most popular, especially during the summer.

Unfortunately, the crowds of tourists attract street vendors who will nag you until you buy something, and as soon as you get rid of one, another will pop right up. Plus half of these tourists are students looking to get drunk and make some noise all through the night. So this is why, when choosing a city in Spain, a group of friends and I opted for Calafell, a little town about 25 miles south of big and boisterous Barcelona.

Calafell, situated in the Catalonian province of Tarragona, is a quiet town perfect for a calm relaxing vacation. Being used to crowded beaches where you have to step over people to get to the sea which has more sun screen than salt water, I was surprised by how few people there were. Our first there day, June 1st 2011, we only saw a few dozen families, quite a few runners and a bunch of children from a class trip.

The atmosphere was really peaceful and we couldn’t resist spending the whole day working on our tans and enjoying the many waves from a sand bank about 40 meters into the sea. As the week progressed there were a couple of busier days, where people rented speed-boats and sailboats from a dock about 2 miles from our hotel, but there was always a relaxed air about the beach.

Our apartment-style hotel, Costa d’Or, very reasonably priced at 700 euros for a room with two double-bed rooms, a living area, a bathroom with a bathtub, a kitchen with a spacious fridge and gas stove and a balcony for a whole week. The staff was friendly and helpful but had poor English, though they were patient when communicating with and aiding us.

Additionally, the reception is open 24/7 so you can come and go as you want and you can always leave the keys there if you don’t want to risk losing them. There is also a beautiful outdoor pool that unfortunately gets little sunlight: but this shouldn’t bother you too much since the hotel is less than 55 yards from the beach. It is also walking distance from many stores, small supermarkets and even the train station.

Although there is a kitchen in the hotel, it’s still nice to eat out every once in a while. Near the breathtaking Esglesia de la Santa Creu, Calafell’s most famous landmark, I found a modest little restaurant where I got a tuna sandwich and sangria. The cheap sangria was only average-tasting yet still refreshing and ridiculously simple sandwich containing only bread with the best tuna that I’ve ever tasted. I also had dinner at a tapas bar, whose name I don’t remember, near Costa d’Or; the food and sangria were amazing and the prices were good, but we were unfortunate with a mean-spirited waiter.

Calafell is a nice town filled with friendly locals (one even let my friend come inside his apartment on the top floor of a nearby building and showed her a unique view of the town and told her the entire history). There are things to do other than swimming, like nordic walking and other group activities. No street vendors will disturb your peace on your way to the store or on the beach. But best of all, if you get bored of the tranquility of the town, you can buy cheap train tickets from the centrally-located station and go to one of the neighbor towns like Tarragona and Sitges. There’s Barcelona too of course, just 40 minutes away. I will definitely return to Calafell again someday, and who knows, I might even run into you there!

This post was updated on June 14th, 2018: the text, as well as title and headline, may have been edited, proofread and optimized for search engines. The featured image may have been changed due to copyright or quality issues.

Adolf Wölfli’s Controversial Crazy Art

Adolf Wölfli (1864 – 1930) a self-proclaimed Swiss artist, composer, writer, farm-laborer, soldier and much more was orphaned at the age of 10 after being both physically and sexually abused. He was sentenced after attempting to commit a pedophilic act and was eventually hospitalized in the Waldau Mental Asylum near Bern, Germany, where he spent nearly half his life. The Asylum was also the place where he developed his passion for creating art.

Adolf Wölfli (1864 – 1930) a self-proclaimed Swiss artist, composer, writer, farm-laborer, soldier and much more was orphaned at the age of 10 after being both physically and sexually abused. He was sentenced after attempting to commit a pedophilic act and was eventually hospitalized in the Waldau Mental Asylum near Bern, Germany, where he spent nearly half his life. The Asylum was also the place where he developed his passion for creating art, composing music and writing stories and so he combined all of these by writing books which he illustrated and wrote soundtracks to. He created art and wrote stories until he died of intestinal cancer in 1930.

This type of art is known as brut art, or raw art, which is a term used to describe art created outside the boundaries of official culture. Some artists, like Jean Debuffet, focused particularly on the art by insane-asylum inmates when regarding this particular style. Interest in this type of art grew mainly in the 1920s and Adolf Wölfli became known for his art after the publishing of his psychiatrists, Dr. Walter Morgenthaler’s book. Andre Breton, a surrealist was also very impressed with Wölfli’s art and even referred to the entire body of his work as being one of the three or four most important works of the twentieth century.

One of his best-known works is 45 volume illustrated book in which he narrates an imaginary story of his life. This 25,000 page story contains 1,600 illustrations and 1,500 collages. Wölfli also had many smaller books where he would tell stories of his imaginary travels and inventions. There are paintings in the exhibition of his interpretations of places in the world, like the Gulf of Mexico, and a list of all the things that he supposedly invented. He also produced bread-art or single-sheet drawings which were painted with the purpose to sell them, and he began painting them in 1916 and continued painting them until he died in 1930.

A majority all of his pictures have one thing in common: they are full of color and the pages are filled completely with lines, shapes, lists of numbers, words and sentences, musical notes and in some cases cut outs from newspapers. Mostly drawn in color pencil, the pictures are very chaotic and intense, and there are so many details that one could observe the pictures for hours and still not see everything that’s there. His music, which is played in the background of the exhibition, is also very intense and creates a feeling of unease and builds tension in the listener. The pictures in the exhibition will easily grab one’s attention and the uniqueness of the art and the story of the artist will truly make this an exceptional experience.

You can see some of Adolf’s works in the Adolf Wölfli Foundation in the Museum of Fine Arts Bern in Switzerland along with regular exhibitions in various art galleries all over Europe – none of which are open at the moment but keep an eye out for them. The Museum of Fine Arts Bern is definitely a place that you shouldn’t miss out on. It has over 3,000 paintings and sculptures and 48,000 drawings, lithographs, photographs, videos and films. The art in the museum varies greatly and includes both international art from all over the world as well as old Swiss art – with a multitude of genres including the unique Brut art of Adolf Wölfli.

This post was updated on June 14th, 2018: the text, as well as title and headline, may have been edited, proofread and optimized for search engines. The featured image may have been changed due to copyright or quality issues.
Adolf_Wölfli_Schähren-Hall_und_Schährer-Skt_Adolf-Ring
Adolf Wölfli, a Swiss artist created art in a prison asylum.