During my stay in Hawai’i I considered visiting California on my way home to Germany. I wanted to see the west coast and meet up with some friends. When I saw that one of my favorite musicians would play a gig in San Francisco, I booked a flight. Besides, my friend Kenny lives in the San Diego area; we decided to see the concert together and started planning a road trip through the state. It was the best decision I could have made for the end of my stay in the US. We made so many unforgettable memories. Let me tell you about this adventure!

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The Oceanside pier

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The first night in San Francisco I stayed with Ania and her two cats, who I met in my last couple of weeks on the North Shore in Hawai’i. We had some drinks and she showed me around her area. The next day we met Kenny and Ben, who I also got to know in Hawai’i. He’s an amazing photographer and moved to San Francisco about a year ago. We took some photos in his studio and he introduced me to several districts in town. I absolutely fell in love with the city and the vibe. In Height Ashbury the streets are full of hippies, hipsters, colorful dressed people and some crazy ones. And guess what, by chance I stumbled upon a bar where we had some Kölsch (German beer from my hometown Cologne). At night we had dinner with Eva, a German au pair I met in Hawai’i, Ania, Ben, and Kennys sister and her boyfriend joined us as well. It was a table mixed up with people who didn’t really know each other – but we had a good time!

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Kenny & Ben in San Francisco

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Driving through the city

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Kenny at night (looks kind of evil, right?)

I got to see the Golden Gate Bridge and went to Herny Jamisons concert. He plays Folk music and is on tour in Europe, too. Eva invited us to come to a house party with her and we all had a lot of fun. I met a guy who is DJ and moved to Germany last week. Small world..

Kenny and I also spent two nights in the Yosemite National Park, located east from San Francisco. It was breathtaking to see huge cliffs surrounded by pine trees and rivers. The first day we drove through a broad area until we arrived at our small wooden house next to bass lake. The second day we went on a hike and saw well-known landmarks like El Capitan, Half Dome and the Yosemite Valley. We hiked to a waterfall, and couldn’t believe our eyes: In front of the waterfall was a huge gorgeous rainbow. While having lunch some squirrels sat down next to us and tried to steal our food.

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My desktop wallpaper in real life: Half Dome

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On our road trip through Yosemite National Park

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Kenny taking photos at sunset

Our next stop was L.A.; at first Malibu where we stayed with Kenny’s cousin, then Venice where we stayed with one of his friends. Almost 7 years ago I lived in Australia for half a year and got to know Fitzi, who lives in Frankfurt. By chance she was in L.A. at the same time and we met to stroll around Santa Monica and Venice. Isn’t it weird how you sometimes have to travel to meet people, who actually live next to you at home? We really enjoyed seeing each other again and the day ended with some cocktails in a bar in Venice.

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Marc & Fitzi

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The road trip continued to Carlsbad, located about 40 minutes away from San Diego. I got to know Kenny’s family and his hometown. We went to a farmers market, watched sunset, had some beers and made a way too spicy dinner. His roommate Dustin joined us to walk around the pier in Oceanside (yes, that’s the actual name of the town), had some tasty burritos at their regular Mexican food place and played bowling.

Early on Friday morning we left to Las Vegas. The girlfriend of Kenny’s brother celebrated her birthday for the weekend and she invited us to come with her and some friends. We had so much fun! Vegas is a plastic city, so colorful, noisy, full of party people and freaky figures. What were we to do but party?! I watched people gamble, saw strippers, dancers, homeless, drunk and funny people. It’s a great experience to see Vegas, but I think once is enough and I would never want to live there.

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Las Vegas

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We had some fun nights in Vegas

On my last day in California I went to Blacks Beach in San Diego. The cliff at the beach provides a beautiful view over the ocean and parts of the city. I met so many nice people during my stay in California, especially all of Kenny’s friends and family members who I really like. The road trip through the west coast was the best possible ending of my adventure living in the US. Leaving the States made me heavy hearted and happy at the same time. Leaving people behind that mean a lot to me made me sad, but at the same time I couldn’t wait to see all my German friends again. If it wouldn’t be hard to go, I would not have left my mark. I’m so grateful for everything I got to experience for the past couple of months and I’m taking myriad of unforgettable memories home with me.

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Santa Monica

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Bye, Cali!

Hawai’i VII

Countless days at the beach. Salt on my skin. Wind through my hair. Soaking in the sun until the light fades and the sky turns into all these beautiful purplish colors, like someone painted the sky. The moon, the stars, the sound of the waves never ending. Walking through streets with palm trees and flowers everywhere. Nights on the road, listening to music. Drinking wine with friends. Laughing. A different life feels sometimes like a whole different world. Turning strangers into friends.Turning friends into strangers. Having coffee and conversations that stay in your mind. Listening to the sound of a guitar or an Ukulele. This easy life. So slow. So sweet. So remarkable.

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North Shore

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Hanging out at the beach at night

Goodbye Hawai’i. A couple of days ago I left the island and flew to San Francisco. It’s still hard to believe that almost 5 months have gone by that fast. I can clearly remember the first night I arrived, seeing the skyline of Honolulu for the very first time, the first early morning at the beach, jet lagged but happy, my first days and weeks when everything was new and exciting. And now everything has come to and end. I’ve spent some wonderful days up in North Shore where I lived for the last three weeks. Most of the days I visited my friend Bianca at work, had some coffee with her, went to the beach and hung out at my house with some girls I became really good friends with. As if living in Hawai’i didn’t feel like being on a vacation anyways, I really enjoyed the days away from busy Honolulu. I went on some hikes, watched sunset, camped out at the beach once more and met a lot of new people living around the northern part of the island. I also had a lot of time to reflect about my whole experience living so far away from home. I decided to write this very honest blogpost about the bad times I had. I noticed that (especially through my Instagram profile) people assume I had 5 wonderful months living the easiest, paradisal life. And yes, I did. But there are not only good times; there were times when the only thing I wanted to do is go back home. It’s about your attitude towards bad things happening; how you cope with these moments.

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Camping out at the beach


Hawai’i may seem like the absolute paradise to everyone. And indeed, it is paradise; nature wise. Looking back on my stay I wouldn’t want to talk about Hawai’i in a bad way. But there are some things that have to be said; I want to share my experiences, opinions, and thoughts about this place. I want to share the other side of the coin. As an old, wise quote says: not all that glitters is gold. Especially speaking in the tone of social media, where everything is beautiful, and no one ever shows the shady side of an experience. I want to share my experiences just as they were, naked, true, and not decorate them and make them more beautiful as they were by only showing the beautiful part.

I came to Hawai’i all by myself without knowing anyone. The first two months were a challenge. It was difficult to get to know people; even in school it wasn’t easy at all to make friends. In my small classes people were busy with studying and working to afford college. Some of them already had kids, or were in a relationship and didn’t have an interest in getting to know someone who would leave in a certain period of time anyways. My roommate was working and didn’t know a lot of people either. I went to coffee shops, to the park, the beach, art exhibitions, but didn’t get to know anyone being interested in a friendship. I felt lonely at times. For a girl it’s always easier to meet guys, but most of the time they weren’t interested in a friendship either so I didn’t stay in contact. To most of the people I hung out with more than once I found my way to through photography. Slowly, I got to know more people. I’m a very open minded person and I don’t care about your origin or age if you’re a nice person. I made friends with people who were in their mid-40s. What also made it hard to have a permanent circle of friends, is that Hawai’i is an island and a place where people stay for some weeks or months and then move on to their next destination. I got to know a lot of people who left the island.

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The night sky in Hawai’i

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In my new home in Haleiwa

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Picking some Guava when hiking

During my stay I also met a lot of people who disappointed me. A lot of people who I trusted, and who misused my trust. People who I thought were my friends, and turned out to be people who didn’t care about me at all. People making promises, the same people breaking promises. Unreliable people. Selfish and and disrespectful people. Unbelievably naive people. Maybe I was naive too. I know very well that these kinds of people are everywhere, and a lot of people from Hawai’i won’t like me for saying that, but there are plenty of these people on the island. By saying plenty, I mean plenty. A lot. So many. To be honest, I feel like a lot of people with problems and personal issues from the mainland come to Hawai’i and think that paradise will fix their problems. Instead of making a change and working on themselves, they ignore that, change their home and think that’s all it needs. Believe it or not, a lot of people in Hawai’i are lonely, unhappy and have several issues with themselves. I noticed this as time passed. At first I thought it’s me, meeting the wrong people, maybe seeing Hawaii in a too negative light. But as time passed, I got to know more and more people, also some beautiful and trustful human beings, and they confirmed my whole view on that topic. Hawai’i is the home of broken people. So many sad people faking smiles and faking a beautiful, paradisal life on social media. Being in paradise won’t make you happy if you’re not happy with yourself. Of course, being in an overwhelming surrounding may lift up your mood, but it will definitely not repair your broken heart.


Sunset Beach

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Sunset in Haleiwa

I didn’t expect these difficulties when coming to Hawai’i. But I’m glad everything has happened as it happened. Only in this way, I learned all the things I learned. You can watch yourself get more and more independent, grown up and self conscious. At some point I realized I don’t need anyone else to rely on, as long a I can rely on myself.

In between stumbling over all things that are new, learning to accept, learning to adapt, you find something else: yourself. This island makes you feel lonely sometimes, but also has something magical. It’s on you how you cope with the bad times. So far away from my everyday life, it seems as time would stop. Just freeze. Being busy with life back home just disappeared, and I got very clear about a lot of things. About who I want to be, and who I want to be surrounded by, who’s presence I desire and who’s presence I don’t need. About the simple things in life: who stands beside me, who really has an interest in me. I learned how I really want to live my life, and how I don’t want to live it. I learned who really is my friend back home, and I learned who is my friend in Hawai’i. The bad times just make you appreciate the good ones, and I know now how to turn the bad ones into good ones.

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My last weekend in Hawai’i

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Ania at the beach

Hawai’i VI

12 days left in Hawai’i. Let me tell you what happened the past couple weeks on the island. If you read my first Hawai’i blogpost, you can possibly remember that I planned on moving into a treehouse, a place I completely fell in love with. Things got messed up,  eventually I didn’t move in and found an apartment to stay. Guess what happened? I went to this place again. Some friends and I had a barbecue at the beach and by chance I got to know Eva, a girl from Germany who lived in San Fransisco for the past year. We started talking and as it turned out she stayed at the treehouse for a week. Sometimes accidents like that make me doubt coincidence. This place is a secret spot on the island and not a lot of people know about it far less where it is located. She invited me and my friends to a house party at the treehouse, and I visited her the next day again.

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Eva in the treehouse

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Eva & Kermit

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Me sitting in one of the nets above the rainforest

The owner of the property is an older man who seems to be a very thoughtful and spiritual person. He built the treehouse over 35 years and owns other properties like this one in Bali, Sri Lanka and other islands. Huge trees connect various wooden buildings up in the air. Walking over that bridge in the photo gives you a breathtaking view over the skyline of Honolulu. Words can’t describe the atmosphere there, listening to the sound of a waterfall underneath you, surrounded by starfruit, papaya, passion fruit and avocado trees it feels like a fairytale sitting in nets stretched onto overgrown and tropical plants.

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Eva’s “room”

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“The Christmas ball”

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The house area

Over the past months I figured that a lot of people (especially from Europe) don’t know that the state Hawai’i consist of 8 main islands. Oahu, the island I’m living on, is the one with the biggest city Honolulu and the most population. It was my dream to see another island before I leave, and by chance Marvin, a photographer I know from Germany, had a job appointment on Maui. That was the perfect opportunity to fly over to this island, spend some time with Marvin and experience Hawaii’s incredible nature a bit more. The flight was not even 30 minutes and the island completely overwhelmed me. It’s definitely the most beautiful place I’ve ever been to; Endless roads through eucalyptus or passion fruit trees, next to huge rocky cliffs, red sand beaches and from time to time very bleak landscape. We stayed in an air bnb which was more like a hostel, with self-made bamboo showers outside, and small comfortable huts where we slept in. Lizards came out to sunbath in the morning, and beautiful palm trees and flowers decorated the whole place.

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Our air bnb at night


photo by Marvin Kleinemeier (Instagram: @bob_sala)

On our first day we drove around the western part of the island, which is very diverse; you drive along very curvy roads through rainforest, and suddenly you end up in a very rocky surrounding with almost no plants. We stopped at some lookouts and ended up in a restaurant called “cheeseburgers in paradise”. By accident I got to André at the airport, a German guy  who travels the world for about two years now. He rented a car and we drove around the southern and eastern part of the island, also known as “road to Hana”. The road is known for beautiful spots like bamboo forests, beaches and waterfalls. I planned on staying two nights but then all flights were fully booked and I spontaneously stayed another night. That was the best decision I could have made as I moved into the hostel André was staying at, and we went on an adventure the following night. There is a volcano in Maui which has an amazing lookout above the clouds – but you have to reserve a ticket 2 months in advance. Sam, an American girl, booked this ticket and invited us to come with her. With her and Jan, another German, we got up at 2 am, drove up to the Haleakala volcano crater for about two hours and waited another two hours for the sun to rise. Luckily this night there was a solar eclipse! It was freezing outside (of course I was wearing short pants) and all of us were tired. Eventually the trip was totally worth it. Clouds were slowly floating over the mountains until the sun rose clear and warm, and transformed the rugged landscape into a gentle and sun-drenched painting.

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Road to Hana

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Haleakala crater at sunrise 6 am

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The night sky in Maui is incredible!

What else happened? Me and my roommate Melissa had to move out of our apartment in town. The contract for the flat was set up for one year and the landlord wanted to use it for himself. As I was supposed to move in at a friends house, located in Honolulu as well, I didn’t look up any other options where I could live. Due to a misunderstanding I didn’t end up living with my friends. In the morning we had to pack up all our stuff and I spontaneously booked an airbnb in Haleiwa, a small historic town at the North Shore of the island. It’s about an hour to drive there from Honolulu.

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Red sand beach, Maui

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My new roommates

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A beach party in Maui

The air bnb is one of the craziest places I’ve been to. In a good way. It’s a light flooded house with a couple of rooms, 2 bathrooms, a nice living room which goes over into the kitchen. It’s more like a hostel as you have roommates and bunk beds. The rooms are tiny, but comfortable. Outside the house are melon and papaya trees, and surfboards decorate the upper wall. Right now there are about 12 other people living in the house. The owners are Blake and Alexandra, a young married couple. There’s Sal, 28, a hispanic guy from Arizona who paints tennis courts and studies philosophy. Another guy, Brandon, 23, who grew up in Germany and emigrated to America when he was 10. He’s an instructor for Scuba diving. An older guy, who presumably left his wife and dog, looking for an apartment. Sergio, a 30 year old guy from Cansas, who was dreaming of leaving home all his life, and eventually came to Hawai’i. We had some longer conversations, and he told me he wants to go to Europe soon and see all the countries over there. He writes novels. There is Juan, a guy from Argentina, who offered me his fresh made Mate tea and some banana bread in the morning and we listened to traditional Tango music from Argentina. Kioki, a Hawaiian guy. Bianca, a girl from Florida, who I became good friends with. She works at a food store. In my room lives another girl from Seattle, who came to Hawai’i for a wedding and stayed longer to explore the island. Everyday I meet new people and it feels like this is another chapter of experiencing Hawai’i.

So many different people, different cultures and different lives. During the day it’s quiet in the house, but at nighttime, when everyone finished work, they come together to sit outside with a beer and a cigarette. I feel like everyone is pretty much doing their own thing, but they share this house and that connects them, no matter how different they are. I’m glad I get to spend my last days surrounded by multicultural people and I can’t wait to see San Francisco in a couple of days!

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“little beach”, Maui

the effects of change

Everything is in a constant change. Some things change rapidly, sometimes it’s a slow process and we don’t fully experience it, because we live in and with the transition. There always comes this point where we wake up and start to realize: something is just so different. All of a sudden, after a certain period of time that seems like a rainbow bubble which finally pops. We have the ability to change things. If we don’t change them in their tangible essence, we can at least change the conceptual variable of it. The way we see it, and the way we feel and think about it. The only thing we can not change, is change. That’s what always will be there. Nothing stays the same forever.

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Shot this photo in Maui, Hawai’i

I had some thoughts about this lately and reflected myself about change in my behavior, opinions, and attitudes towards several things. Being away from home, from your natural surrounding, clears your mind. Not having your friends around, who automatically become part of your identity, somehow turns you into a new human. In transition. In change. Well, at least on the paper. The people who meet you don’t know about your flaws, and they don’t know about your loveable traits either. They absolutely have no clue who you are and what made you the person you are today. In that, I see a great chance. And a tiny bit of work, too. Work in the sense that you have to show or convince your surrounding that you’re a cool ass person. Because, how should they know you are? The amazing opportunity in this consists of defining yourself in a new way. At home you’re sometimes inhibited to act in some ways, because that’s not how people know you. People build up their own image of the person you are. And most of the time, the first impression determines their whole view on you. Forget about that! I learned to do whatever I feel like doing, to write about what goes on in my mind, and if people don’t like that – well, I simply don’t care.

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North Shore, Hawai’i

Back to my point – Defining yourself. I discovered to ask myself: What kind of person have I been yesterday , who am I right now, and who do I want to become tomorrow? What are my flaws, what are my lovable traits? I have the opportunity to change. I know, I would always have this opportunity at home as well, but finding yourself in a completely different and new life supports that process (or decision?) in a very positive way. I believe the secret tone of finding yourself, lies in changing yourself. There will always be a better version of the person you are right now, and how could you find yourself if you don’t fully dive into trying, experiencing and losing yourself? Get lost along your path. Stumble, fall, back out, get up until you’re on a path that makes you bloom and sparkle. And if you’re on the right track, I promise you, you’ll know it. There is a voice inside you, your gut feeling, that tells you if something feels right, or if you’re just telling yourself it’s right – and it actually isn’t.

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Road Trippin’

Don’t let the past decide who you could be tomorrow or even today. All the things that stop you from discovering, defining and changing yourself, are not the people who tell you who you should be. Not even the whole society. Not the beauty magazines or social media stops you. The only thing that stops you from being the person you want to be, is yourself. It takes time, and also courage, to understand that. Believe in yourself, trust in yourself. The most powerful instrument you will ever own is your own mind. A positive mind means a positive life.

If you want something, or want to be someone, go for it. Put aside the fear of not pleasing certain people. You’re not on this planet to make people like you. You are here to like yourself. And if you don’t like yourself, change. Don’t wait for things to happen, for it to be summer again, for it to get the perfect body or for it to afford fashionable clothes. The point where you think things are going to change due to the circumstances you’re awaiting, won’t happen. Or it happens, and there pops up the next thing you’re awaiting. I know that’s not easy in a materialistic world that aims at consuming and manipulating others. But you can make a change, in changing yourself. A few days ago I got asked if I fell in love during my stay in Hawai’i. I know something inside me changed. I smiled and my answer was yes, I fell in love. With myself.


Hawai’i V

I literally can’t believe more than three weeks passed since my last blogpost. Time is going by so fast. I guess it has to be this way, since I’m leaving Hawai’i in about 4 weeks. At the end of a stay it all gets more and more beautiful, you don’t want to leave and make the best memories – right? I feel like it’s always like this, whether you’re on a 3-day trip or a 2 week vacation, or you stay somewhere for a couple of months… time seems to fly when you have to leave. And then you don’t want to leave. Even if you miss home, your friends, your life back somewhere, you don’t want all these experiences to end. I’ve read this quote the other day, and it totally matched my thoughts right now. It goes like this: Traveling is like flirting with life. It’s like saying sorry, I would stay and love you, but I have to go. One the other hand, if I had more time in Hawai’i, I would probably miss home way more and the desire to be with your loved ones would be more present. Confusing, isn’t it?


Happy times  (photo by Amadeo Agis)

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Sunset at Pipeline Beach in North Shore

Some friends and I went on a beautiful hike called the Maunawili. Although I got about 50 mosquito bites (I’m serious!) on that day, it was totally worth it. We walked through rainforest and got to a waterfall in the end. The water was ice cold but refreshing after hiking through the muggy forest. After months in Hawai’i I should be used to the tropical nature, but it still fascinates me every day. Huge trees, plants with leaves of a size way bigger than a human and various beautiful colors. Can you imagine Mowgli coming out of the bushes? 🙂

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Maunawili Waterfall (photo by Amadeo Agis)

Most of the time I’m at the beach, enjoying the sun before I’m back in cold Germany. One of my favorite beaches is Cromwell’s Beach, it’s not too far from my home and as I don’t own a car here it’s easy to get there by bus. Sunsets in Hawai’i are always magical, sometimes the whole sky shines in purple colors and that’s definitely one thing I’m going to miss a lot.

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Sunset at Cromwell’s beach

Another beach I really like is the Kuilei Cliffs Beach Park, even if it’s pretty rocky and you can’t really walk into the water, it’s never crowded and I’ve spent days there sketching and reading. When you get off the bus at this part you get a breathtaking view over the ocean. I love this lookout, and it reminds me that I wake up in paradise every morning – in one of the most isolated spots in the pacific ocean. Some days, after quiet a while on the island, it still feels unreal to live my life in Hawai’i. I’m unbelievably blessed and grateful that I happened to be here.

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The view at Kuilei Cliffs Beach Park

Last but not least, one of my favorite spots to watch sunset is Tantalus. It’s a lookout up in the mountains next to where I live. To get there you need a car and you drive up a curvy road through huge trees. Once you’re there the view is absolutely amazing. To the right you can see the airport and watch planes fly into the sky. I love to follow the lights of a plane until it vanishes in the clouds and the night sky.

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The park at Tantalus


View over the city lights and the airport

About two weeks ago my roommate Stefon moved out. He found a new apartment by himself and Melissa, a Hawaiian girl, moved into my apartment. I’m so glad I met her! She’s a musician, photographer and artist, and a beautiful human being. We spent nights talking until 4 a.m. and I love listening to her playing the guitar or Ukulele. Philip and Felix, two guys from Germany, who spent a semester abroad in Bali also stay in our flat right now. They rented a car and drive around the island for 3 weeks. They both surf, and as the waves are the best in and around Honolulu right now, they stay with us most of the time. It’s nice to have some more people in the flat – we went thrift shopping, watched sunset a couple times, had a beach barbecue at night and went swimming in underwear. Some nights we chilled out at a skatepark next to the street we live in, and last week we went to see Jack Johnson who played in Waikiki. The concert was beautiful. Anyone feels like banana pancakes now?

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Philip & Felix

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China Walls – another spot to watch sunset


Shot by Alyssa Rodrigues

Another hike I loved is the Hamama Falls Trailhead. Similar to the Maunwili, we walked through rainforest, found some tasty mountain apples and eventually arrived at a huge waterfall with water so cold you can’t stand under it longer than a few seconds. Again mosquitos attacked us like crazy. That night we stayed at a flat share of friends and had some cocktails.

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Hamama Falls

The upcoming week I have my final exam in visual arts, and after that 3 weeks of relaxing and exploring! I’ll probably move in with some friends and I plan on seeing another island. College students get the opportunity to fly standby for about 45 Dollars – which is super cheap compared to normal prices. I’m also about to organize everything for my road trip in California, I’ll stay at Yosemite National Park with a friend and we have to reserve a camping site. So excited for everything happening in the next month, and to be honest I also can’t wait to see my friends in Cologne. Mahalo!


Hawai’i IV

Aloha! I’ve seen some new beautiful spots around the island and I can’t wait to show you all the photos. About two weeks ago I’ve met Tristan. He’s half- Hawaiian, lives on the island and knows a lot of secret places that are not easy to find for tourists (including me). We went on a hike called the Pali Puka and to waterfalls called the Jackass Ginger pond. For sunset we climbed up a rooftop with a friend of him. This day was amazing!

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Pali Puka Hike

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Jackass Ginger Pond

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Watching sunset from a rooftop

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A few weeks ago my roommate got a baby kitten. Her name is Lilo, named after the Disney movie Lilo and Stitch. In case you didn’t know: Lilo is Hawaiian! A friend of my roommate found four baby kittens next to a street without their mother. She raised the babies for several weeks until they were old enough and one of them moved into our flat! Every morning she hops into my bed and starts to purr. Is there a way your day can start better?


Welcome, Lilo!

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Photo by Ben Decastro (Instagram: @bendcstr)


Photo by Lauren Woods (Instagram: @_portraitmami )

Another day Tristan showed me two other spots: A beach named “Pray for Sex” located on the western side of the island, and a lookout near an area called Hawai’i Kai. The beach is breathtaking with it’s crystal clear turquoise water and not as many people as at beaches around town. The western side is known for being very local, which means the people who live there are mostly Hawaiians and tourists are not very welcome. The lookout we went to is basically a huge cliff surrounded by rocks where whitecaps are breaking heavily at the shoreline. Your face is moistened by salt water and all you can hear is the sound of the waves. It’s overwhelming!


Pray for Sex Beach

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A beautiful spot to watch the sunset

I’m really enjoying to have that much free time right now, as I only have two days of class until the end of August. I love my arts class; we do drawings, talk about photography, art history and the general field of visual arts. All the other classes I took before were not related to my major in Germany, but this class definitely is and I notice how I actually enjoy doing homework and always look forward to my next class. I spend my days off mostly at the beach. My favorite beach is the Kuilei Cliffs Beach Park, a small beach located next to Diamond Head (a volcanic tuff cone and the landmark of Honolulu).

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Kuilei Cliffs Beach Park

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My every day walk home


Photo by Ben Decastro (Instagram: @bendcstr)

The other day I got to know Amadeo, a photographer, and his roommate Madison, who both study at the University of Hawai’i. Their university is much bigger as Hawai’i Pacific University, and sometimes I think it probably would have been the better choice to study there. By coincidence a German guy, Marcus, was living in their flat for a few days. It was weird to speak German for the first time after two months. Of course I’m in contact with friends and family but I noticed how it actual was difficult to find the right words. All of us went to Kualoa Ranch, a nature reserve on the eastern side. They showed Marcus and me a hidden spot: an area with calm water and an amazing view on the mountains.


Kualoa Ranch and the island “Chinaman’s Hat”


Kualoa Regional Park, photo by Amadeo (Instagram: @exceedthelimits)

The next day Amadeo, Madison and I went to Waimanalo Beach, the Makapuu Lighthouse Trail and on a catamaran tour. A lot of different places in one day! Amadeo works for the catamaran company and is allowed to take friends with him on the boat. We had a wonderful time, having snacks, drinking Mai Tai and enjoying the view over the skyline of Honolulu and Diamond Head.

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Waimanalo Beach

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The Makapuu Lighthouse Trail

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The view over Honolulu and Diamond Head

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As I’m exploring more of the island I also appreciate more and more in what an unbelievable beautiful paradise I live. Not everything is paradisaic, for example groceries are at least three times more expensive compared to Germany. Sometimes I can’t really believe how far I am from home, and how different my life in the middle of nowhere is. Thinking about my life in Cologne is surreal, and I know when I’m back in Germany in September, my life in Hawai’i will seem equally surreal. When I’m back in my everyday life and in my routine, my stay overseas will probably seem like a dream, as if it never happened. But this whole stay changes me and my personality a lot. That’s why I’m trying to enjoy every second here, even if it’s sometimes difficult because my views on some things and life are different than the views of several people here. I had some contentions with people, but I know this is just another experience due to a different culture, and in the end these experiences make me grow. I’ve booked a flight to San Francisco, and in September a friend and I will go on a road trip to the Yosemite National Park, Los Angeles and San Diego. I will be sad to leave Hawai’i in two months but I’m already excited to see the west coast. Mahalo!


The Aloha Spirit


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dreamy versus deluded

One thing was going on in my mind the last days. I guess it was just one situation that made me start thinking about this. I was disappointed by an outcome, and it’s irrelevant what exactly happened. Retrospectively, I noticed how humans fall in love with ideas instead of the actual thing. We create an illusion and absolutely love it. We build a whole sphere, step by step, and dive deeper into it every time we think about it. We see so much beauty in an empty shell. Imagination fools us in a trappy way. We believe in an illusion – until we’re confronted with the naked truth… which is not that satisfying most of the time. Simply because it’s not what we expected. My roommate gave me a hint in that direction. He said, I wouldn’t actually like the situation, I would just keep telling myself that I do. I would just like the idea of how it could be, or how it could have been. Admitting that it just makes me sad instead of happy was the first step. Deep inside me, if I would have listened to myself, I already noticed how I actually didn’t like the whole situation. Sometimes we need to hear someone saying that to realize a lot.

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Before it gets confusing, let me put it in different words. Looking at it in the context of fate, we shouldn’t have to force what is meant to be. We dream about certain things, and that’s ok, but why are we so disappointed when it doesn’t work that way? Dreams, ideas, and illusions can give us strength, but at the same time they can let us fall. If we have to put so much effort into something that we eventually suffer from it, it’s not how it’s supposed to be, right?

We fall in love with the idea of a person. We fall in love with the idea of going on a vacation, a journey, traveling. We fall in love with the idea of an outcome of a decision. We pretty much fall in love with the idea of every future event. It’s like we experienced it, before we allow it to take place. Before things happen, they already happened in our mind. Maybe it’s another description of hope. But the problem is that you will never get what you imagined. You won’t get that perfect person, the unbelievable journey without challenging days or the outcome of a decision you’ve had in your mind. You will always get something different. Always. If we notice something is not how we imagined it, we start to ignore it until it’s vast. Until we confess the truth to ourselves. And now that we technically are adults, we should have learned that – shouldn’t we? Why is it so damn hard to stop thinking about what could happen in a day, a month, a year? Why are we obsessed with the thought of what will happen? We like to change uncertainty. We construct a frame of thoughts with an unsteady base.

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You know what? I’m so tired of it. I just stopped. Well, I’m trying to stop. We are smart beings. Deep inside of us we know if something is actually going to work or not. It’s also called gut feeling or intuition. Heard of that before? Sure, you did, but we like to ignore it because we’re stubborn and self-willed. We know this person is making us more unhappy than happy. We know this journey won’t only bring good things and won’t happen as we imagine it. We just know! Realizing that makes us grow, and I believe we become a better version of ourselves. We feel disconnected and not fulfilled at all. But we don’t listen to ourselves and keep on building the idea in our head, like a big cloud, which actually blurs our sight. It makes us dizzy, almost drunk.

Not to forget that dreaming is a beautiful thing. We are dreamers and I’d definitely consider myself a daydreamer. Sometimes my thoughts are drifting off and space out, that I don’t even realize what is happening around me. It can be wonderful to step into another world that no one else can touch. Your thoughts and dreams belong only to yourself, unless you want to share them with someone. But we don’t own the ideas we fall in love with. They start possessing us, in an unhealthy way. I’m not saying stop dreaming about what could happen – it’s also a thrill of anticipation. But we should eat humble pie. Don’t tell the story in an unrealistic way before it even happened. Because you know what’s realistic, and what is not. It will make you gloomy. I believe our thoughts and mindset can change anything. I know there are people who have different opinions on this topic, but this is my opinion. Listen to your inner voice – in my experience it’s always right. But remember: There is difference between dreaming of something, and falling in love with an idea instead of the actual thing.

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Hawai’i III

It’s time to give you an update what’s new on the island. Almost two months in Hawai’i now! I literally can’t believe how fast time went by. Soon half of my time abroad will be over. Anyways, as I was busy going to University not a lot of things happened… but at least some things I want to tell you about. My roommate Stefon and I watched the sunset at Ala Moana beach park. It’s a pretty touristic spot, especially for sunset many people go there to enjoy the nice view on Downtown Honolulu. In between tourists I also took some photos, and realized: Even if I enjoy going to touristic spots – so what? There obviously is a reason why people want to see this place. I think it’s beautiful.

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Ala Moana Beach Park

In my marketing class we had a project to support a business which just entered the market. It’s a fitness brand, providing shirts, stickers and water bottles. We organized a hike were we all were wearing the brand’s T shirts. The decision was the Lanikai Pillbox Hike, which I already experienced as I told you in my last blog post. This time it was way more beautiful! We started hiking right after sunrise around 6.30 a.m. and had a breathtaking view.


The Lanikai Pillbox Hike


I also spent some time in North Shore again. It’s just the most beautiful spot on the island, and can’t be compared to the area around Honolulu. If you don’t own a car, it’s pretty difficult to get anywhere on the island except the city center, where the busses work well. The last three weekends I spent at least one day there and the bus drive of 2 1/2 hours (one time it seriously took me 4 1/2 hours!) is absolutely worth it. I figured it doesn’t really make sense for me to get a car if I leave Hawai’i in a short period of time and during the week I can take the bus to go to University. One day, a friend and I went out on the ocean with a jet ski fishing for about 5 hours. I didn’t put on a lot of sunscreen and had the worst sunburn I ever experienced. I underestimated the power of the sun outside on the water and my skin peeled for two weeks! I saw flying fish, turtles and dolphins. And you won’t believe it, but I actually catched a fish!


The North Shore


Morning walk

What else happened? During the week I was busy with assignments I had to do for school, and at some point it felt like I lived in the library or one of the coffee shops. There were days when I had six coffees to survive. Seriously! Now I’m done with all my final exams and can’t be happier to have some time off. Next week my 4th and last class starts, it’s a visual arts class and I’m super excited! If there is one thing I could do all day long without getting bored it is drawing. And if you’re passionate about something, I believe you can’t be bad at it. I actually made shirts with prints of my illustrations, but I’ll show you some photos of them in my next blog post.

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My life during finals week

I also discovered more of the city. One day I just strolled around and went into some vintage shops and cute little jewelry boutiques. I didn’t expect to find that much handmade and individual stuff. I definitely have a spot to get some souvenirs for my friends in Germany now. In one of the vintage shops I got to know Bradley, a super nice guy who I met again at an art exhibition a few days later.

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A cute little shop I discovered Downtown



I also met two amazing photographers, one of them by a funny coincidence. There is one coffee shop I always go to, to study or just to relax and sketch for a bit. I’m there at least three times a week. One day I noticed some exhibited photos and started to look the photographer up on social media. By chance we got in contact and I actually took some photos with him! His name is Ben and we went to a hidden spot on the northern island.

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With Ben in beautiful nature of the northern island


Photos taken by Sophia (Instagram @sophisha_)

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Last week I had another beautiful experience. A friend and I went to the Mermaid caves, located on the western side of the island. It’s pretty dangerous to enter the caves, as many people underestimate the tide and the power of the incoming water. We went there when the tide was pretty high but it was an unforgettable experience! It felt unreal and kind of magic swimming in crystal clear water surrounded my lava stone. As I have only two days a week class now, I’ll be able to discover more of the island. On my list are some waterfalls, hikes and beaches. Stay tuned & Mahalo!


The Mermaid caves



Dreams taste like candy cotton


lessons learned


Aloha! It’s not like great and interesting things happened since my last blog post about Hawai’i, but I had a lot of personal thoughts about life and taking chances lately, and I feel like I want to tell you about it. That’s why I wrote this reflective, kind of poetic post. However, I added some photos to make it easier to read. If you expect to hear stories about adventures on the island, stop reading here.

I realized a lot of things. But let’s start somewhere. I realized, that one of the best things that happened to me, is that I took the classes I’m in right now. That I am actually going to University and doing something. As you can imagine, Hawai’i can be pretty distracting. Most of the time, almost every day, I’m upset about my homework because it’s simply too much work. But to be honest, I never expected to learn so much – especially, learn about things I did not look forward to learn and never event thought of. Coming to Hawai’i as an international student in summer is uncommon, most of the students go back to the mainland and take a break between spring and fall classes. The consequence I didn’t know about were reduced classes and I could barely choose graphic design related classes (that’s my major in Germany). In the first weeks I wasn’t sure if this semester abroad makes sense in the context of studying. If I’m not able to improve my skills in illustration, design, or whatever, then why would I do that? I organized this whole semester abroad on my own. All the other international students, I’m the only German by the way, are here with organizations, and their study program is completely coordinated with their studies back home… whereas I’m not even sure if I can use any credit for my studies in Germany.



After 5 weeks of studying in Honolulu, I found that I have a widespread field of other interests, for example philosophy, different cultures and their behavior, and writing. I discovered that I actually really like to write – no matter if I’m good or bad at it. I also noticed, not being under permanent pressure of being creative, I finally would consider myself creative again. During my semester in Germany, I wasn’t able to produce any kind of satisfying artwork as I was way too busy catching up with all the university assignments. In about a week I already have final exams in all of my three current classes. I’m really looking forward to that. I have so many things on my mind that I absolutely want to do right now; Illustrate more, make prints and shirts out of the illustrations, try new things, use different material, take more photos, more portraits, and eventually start a photography project that floats around in my head for a while now. It feels as if spending a lot of time on my own made me even more creative, focusing on my strengths, but also my weaknesses, my inner voice telling me where to go. I’m so curious to explore all the endless possibilities that art and photography bring with them. Being surrounded by a different culture brings even more opportunities with it. So many things are still, and will remain, new to me. What am I to do than discover them?




Another thing I realized, is how important it is to spend time with yourself. At home, I was constantly somewhere with friends. Out for dinner, at a friends house, somewhere in a bar or club, maybe in a park or on a rooftop. Some weeks the only reason I got home for a longer time was sleeping. Another point is consuming. In Germany I permanently got new clothes when I could afford it, I went out every weekend, had drinks during the week nearly every day, bought small imperceptible things, but still spent money on them…because I thought I needed them. Intoxicating. If I look at the past months from my perspective now, I’ve literally been rushing through my life. Always somewhere, trying to be everywhere, actually present – nowhere. I forgot about my laundry, about homework, about cooking and eating healthy, working out, and about finding some relaxing time on my own. Some time to breathe. Some time to think. When I was home in the evening, I always had a plan for the night, for the weekend anyway. I met so many different people every day, and I loved it, I still love it, but it’s just so contrary to my life in Hawai’i. I discovered how much I love it to be in the library on my own, in a cafe, sitting there for hours listening to music and sketching, at the beach or at home. Some of you might think I’m strange, but if you would have asked me a few months ago, I probably would have thought the same. I just learned how nice it is to be in the presence of only myself, and how you don’t always need someone to share your experiences with. On the other side, of course there are some days I miss my friends and think about how cool it would be to share an ice-cream with someone else or random things like that. But I stopped pressuring and forcing myself to find friends, like that it won’t work anyway. I just love what my life is like right now. Plus, not that you get that wrong, I indeed made some friends and I’m definitely not a total loner 🙂



You’ve probably heard of this a hundred times, or you’ve experienced it yourself. But let me tell you this: Go on a journey. Travel. If there is one thing that can broaden your horizon, it is traveling – It allows you to understand different cultures, and, through this, understand your own culture, understand where you’re coming from and where you’re going, understand others and yourself, find yourself, question yourself, doubt yourself. You’ll struggle, you’ll fall, you’ll learn, and you’ll grow. All the bad things like feeling completely lost, out of place, without anyone to talk to, not understanding why people act the way they act, people being mean and unfair to you, people letting you down, all this.. happens for one reason: you’ll be much smarter after experiencing it. And being smarter not only means gaining more knowledge or intelligence, for me it especially means to know who you are, and who you are not. You’ll see the world from another perspective. You’ll know how to deal with all kinds of situations, and you’ll learn to say no to things that aren’t worth your time.

I know all of this may sound random and pseudo-poetic. But I left my home almost two months ago and this whole experience really blew my mind at this point. I’ve been to Australia for half a year but under different circumstances and I was way younger. In my opinion, a lot of people let their lives be defined by fear. Sometimes we are to cautious, to scared, to take a risk. We fear things that are new, unexperienced, and seem to be tremendous. But overcoming fears gives us so many opportunities. Just use them! Don’t be afraid of stepping into a whole different world, just jump in at the deep end. Reading a quote of a children’s book writer made me think about that topic a lot. She says, without overcoming fears we will never change anything. It makes you happy and it is incredibly liberating to take a chance. It doesn’t really matter how it ends up… you’re always glad you took it.

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Hawai’i II

Almost four weeks ago I arrived in Hawai’i. I’m now at the point where I’d say I settled down on the island and I got used to how things work over here. I’m still learning every day. Deciding to spend one semester abroad obviously means diving into a different culture and brings some difficulties or barriers with it. However, going to America seemed not to be a huge cultural difference to me. It definitely is! I recognize this especially in tiny things, for example when talking to someone; the attitude towards people, coping with situations, getting together with friends, interests or goals in life… and so much more. It’s hard to explain what I mean by different when you’re not actually experiencing the situation. I guess to understand and appreciate your own culture, you first need to get to know another one, and although I travelled to several countries over the past years, it’s quite unlike actually living somewhere. In your eyes you behave “normally”, act how you always do, and suddenly you realize that things don’t work that way over here. You struggle. But you learn a lot from it. I’m not judging or valuing cultures or behaviors in any way, I’m just saying there is a difference, and it’s probably part of my whole experience to accept this difference as a good thing happening. It’s about accepting differences: Somehow I like how toast bread is never toasted, I like how the bus takes 2 1/2 hours for 50 kilometers, and I like how you have to wait for 5 minutes until the traffic light turns green (seriously!).

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I finally moved into my flat share with Stefon. He’s the best roommate I could wish for and he’s helping me to tick off some beaches from my “have-to-visit-beach-list“. In my first week in Makiki, that’s what the area where I live is called, Stefon and I went on a hike through the rainforest. It was my first hike and one of the best experiences in Hawai’i so far. We left the house around 6 p.m., it started to rain heavily but it was still warm outside. On our way back (it was dark already) the rain got even stronger and we were completely wet in a second. I couldn’t even see where I was going because so much water was running down my face, I could only hear and literally taste the rain. Such a beautiful experience in Hawai’is nature. Both our mobile phones died caused by the rain the same night. Stefon actually had to buy a new one, while mine dried out after three days and works again.


Some stray cats we met on our hike.


The rainforest

On the weekend we went on another hike. It’s called the “Lanikai Pillboxes” and is a very popular and easy hike. It took us about 40 minutes to go up and get a spectacular view.

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The Lanikai Pillbox Hike

By coincidence I got to know Allegra a few days later. She’s from California, lives in Paris and stayed in Hawai’i for a few months. I went to a pool party she threw with her friends and met her the next day again. The 29th of May is Memorial day, a public holiday in America for remembering soldiers who fell in war. We attended the official ceremony in Honolulu, where myriad of lanterns are put into the water. Thousands of people were standing next to each other at the beach, holding hands, watching the lights float into the sea. The moment was rare and very emotional. Definitely another day I won’t forget.


Allegra and me at the pool


Memorial Day

While collecting and enjoying all these rare and beautiful moments I almost forgot why I’m actually in Hawai’i: Studying! I really like going to University here, even though it’s pretty tough. My friends in Germany laugh at me, I was kind of expecting to have a relaxed life as a student in Honolulu, hanging out at the beach or something like that. Sometimes I feel like I’m a naive, unprepared, and uninformed little girl from Germany – who didn’t know that taking 3 different classes would be a bit too much. In my first week, talking to some classmates, I found out that no one would ever do that. All of them have one, maximum two classes. Guess who also missed the deadline to drop a class? Me! Well, having no other option than taking these 3 courses, my life during the week currently consist of going to school, spending the rest of my daytime in the library, studying and preparing for tests, exams, projects, essays and other things I have to cope with. Besides having a stressful time, my classes are actually way to interesting to skip them. I’m taking a Writing class, an Anthropology class (we talk about different cultures and behavior of humans), and a Marketing class, which probably fits the most to my major graphic design in Germany.


The eastern side of the island


Allegra (I’m trying to get more into photography)


On our way back to Honolulu

Another thing I want to tell you about: Partying in Hawai’i. As I mentioned, living in America (which obviously has a western society), has a different culture, and different habits in partying, too. Naturally I’m comparing my experiences to Germany and Europe, while I’m again not valuing or judging anything. Last Friday I went out for the first time; Stefon and a friend of him planned on going to Chinatown, an area of Honolulu. There is an event every first Friday in town and a lot of young people visit bars and clubs, which are all located in one street. The clubs close around 4 a.m., and it felt like everyone was ready to leave at 2 a.m. (Whereas my friends and I arrive at the club, almost always electronic music, around 1 to 2 a.m. in Germany). The music was mainly black, R&B, and Hip Hop. Alcohol is super expensive. To be honest I felt kinda out of place… until I met Brent and his friends. He grew up in Hawai’i and I had a nice conversation with him.


Sunsets in Hawai’i are magical

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The Pali Highway Lookout

The next day Brent invited me to visit him in North Shore, apparently located at the north side of the island. After spending almost all of my time in the busy, touristic, and loud area around Honolulu, I was overwhelmed by the nature on the opposite side. Endless abandoned beaches, huge palm trees, flowers and colorful plants everywhere, and gardens of Mango- and Litchi trees. It actually looked exactly how I expected Hawai’i to be, a tropical and quiet paradise. I’m not saying the scenery around the city isn’t beautiful, it’s just not comparable to the northern island.

Anyways, Hawai’i seems to have some magical effect on me: I quit smoking almost 3 weeks ago, started to work out again and live off fresh fruits and vegetables. Of course I have these moments feeling lonely without my friends and my family, and at the same time I have these moments where I’m just unbelievably happy and grateful to be here and I realize how much I love life (I know that sounds poetic). After a month on this small isolated spot somewhere in the pacific, It feels like spending a lot of time on my own, living a healthy life, and exploring so many new things, I’m right now finding myself more than at any time in my past life. And that’s what it’s supposed to be like, right? Mahalo!


The North Shore