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?

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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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Rainforest

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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

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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

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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!

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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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Samantha

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Samantha

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?

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Welcome, Lilo!

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Photo by Ben Decastro (Instagram: @bendcstr)

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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!

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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

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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.

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Kualoa Ranch and the island “Chinaman’s Hat”

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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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Madison

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!

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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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Downtown

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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.

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The Lanikai Pillbox Hike

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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!

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The North Shore

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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

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Sketching

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

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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!

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The Mermaid caves

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Dreams taste like candy cotton

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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.

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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?

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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 🙂

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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.

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Some stray cats we met on our hike.

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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.

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Allegra and me at the pool

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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.

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The eastern side of the island

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

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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.

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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!

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The North Shore

 

 

Hawai’i I

One week ago I got on a plane that brought me 11837 kilometers away from home.

A few days passed since then, but a lot of things happened. It feels like I’ve been away for weeks, for one thing because the days were really long, several things had to be organized… on the other side because there is a twelve hour difference between Germany and Hawaii. When a day in Germany ended, stories could be told – and I was sleeping. I’ve heard of them when I woke up. While I am awake – all my friends are sleeping. Constantly being in contact with them, it felt as fourteen days had passed, not seven. Imagine the same day happens twice.. time shift is a weird thing. The first four days were really hard as I had to adapt to the time zone and had a badass jet lag. Even after one week I still get tired very early and to date I couldn’t manage to sleep longer than six a.m.

The first day I woke up around five a.m., got off the bed and went to the beach directly. As I arrived in Honolulu at nighttime, I couldn’t really see any of my surrounding. Being at the beach for the first time was magical. The sunrise, palm trees, birdcalls, my feet in the sand, the ocean breeze through my hair – I had been waiting for this since last October. I was standing at a pier in Waikiki and despite I was incredibly tired I couldn’t stop smiling. After having a pretty stressed last week in Cologne (my to do list was never ending) I was intensely happy and overwhelmed to be in Hawaii and experience the beauty of nature.

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Waikiki Beach

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Paradise?

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Ocean breeze

I booked four nights in a Hostel located only a block away from the beach and was hoping to find an apartment or any permanent place to stay as soon as possible. Looking for a room to rent proved to be quite hard as it is about three times more expensive than in Germany and also a lot of people on web portals don’t seem to be trustful at all. Some landlords require cleaning and/or cooking in exchange for rent, others became apparent as nudists or scammers. On my second day in Hawaii I started to visit some rooms as University would start the upcoming week and I was hoping to be settled until then. I visited a guy who owned a beautiful treehouse located in Manoa, an area close to the rainforest and waterfalls. I fell in love with that place, until all of a sudden he wanted me to give him over 1300$ cash without even signing a contract. At this point I recognized I got scammed and canceled the whole thing (I packed all my stuff and was about to move in that night).

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Enjoying the sun

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Beautiful trees in Waikiki

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Aloha!

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The hostel

I went back to the hostel, crestfallen, and checked in again. By chance two guys from the hostel wanted to look for an apartment too, we talked about it, found a nice flat and rented it for the next week. Everything was fine, until they got into a fight, and moved out the next day, leaving me in the apartment. I couldn’t believe this was actually happening to me, but the big problem was that I payed everything and I’m pretty sure I won’t see the money they owe me ever again. So this was the second failure. A lot of things like these occur in Hawaii, I talked to some nice local people I met and there is one thing all of them said: First, if a thing seems too good to be true – it most of the time is. Second, Hawaii seems to be paradise for a lot of people, especially tourists or visitors from a foreign country, but a lot of bad things as scams tend to happen here every day. Probably this happened to me as I was a bit naive, as well I am a very indulgent person, I always see the good in someone and can still not believe why people act like this. Luckily I experienced this at the beginning of my stay, I don’t trust anyone know without signing some papers and everything that has happened won’t keep me from staying positive.

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On my way to Diamond Head

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Hibiscus

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How beautiful is this?

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Downtown Honolulu

Now for the good things: I am absolutely in love with Hawaiis nature (of course I haven’t seen a lot so far) and I am in love with the Aloha vibe – everyone seems relaxed and not stressed at all, busses are always late.. but no one cares. I am in love with the food as several tropical fruits have their home on the islands, and I am in love with the light rain that all of a sudden moistens your face. Hawaii has different climate zones, at the beach it’s always sunny, in the mountains it’s raining most of the time. It’s a great spectacle watching massive dark cumulus clouds racking down the hills and dissolving into dainty ones at the beach.

I spent my other days taking some walks around Diamond Head (one of the emblems of Honolulu) and at the beach, enjoying the sun after having a never ending winter in Germany. Hawaii is great for exploring waterfalls and hikes but I’m planning on doing this on the next weekends. At nighttime some people of the hostel got together, we had some drinks and strolled around. One night a group of almost ten people sneaked into expensive hotels and went into their pools. We had wine while sitting in a jacuzzi. No one noticed and we had a lot of fun.

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The apartment

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Honolulu Harbour

At the end of this week I will finally move in into a flat share with Stefon, a guy from Washington who also studies in Honolulu. It will be a big relief for me to eventual unpack my stuff and stay there for the next four months.

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Honolulu at 6 a.m.