Coming Back from Hawaii
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Coming Back from Hawaii
  • Ewha Voice
  • 승인 2007.04.02 00:00
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-Shin Ji-yon(International Studies, 4) studied at the University if Hawaii as an exchange student from 2005 Fall to 2006 Spring.

             In the beautiful Hawaiian island, Oahu, University of Hawaii stands still, giving opportunities for students with the will to learn from all over the world.  As one of those students, I had a great opportunity to engage in a year long period of studying at this university, which I am grateful for.  A special Mahalo for those who gave me this wonderful experienceJ (meaning thank you in Hawaiian)

             Since I was interested in the curricula of this university where East Asian studies is well established, I made a decision to make the best out of my stay: took many East Asian related classes, became an intern at the East West Center’s Pacific Asian Affairs Council, and then became a junior fellow at Pacific Forum CSIS (Center for Strategic International Studies).  Those who would haughtily disregard any other places than the East Coast or other grey cities with tall buildings for serious academia may confront a pleasant surprise to actually find that there is a lot to do in Hawaii, besides surfing and getting tans.

              Considering Hawaii’s renowned existence as a tourist attraction, I definitely took advantage of weekends to hang out at the beach and simply enjoy nature.  Even during the week, while I went around the campus or downtown, I used a bike for transportation, adding more to the healthy lifestyle one could lead in Hawaii.  Also, if you are fully aware of the prices of inter-island flights, you can get a cheap deal for trip to other islands of Hawaii.  In fact, I was lucky to visit Maui because there was a conference invitation taking place in Maui that my office colleagues and I took a day off from work and explored around the island, visiting the Maui Winery, the Lavender field, and so on.      

             There were wonderful people, professors, and friends with open minds on accepting cultural differences.  The diverse mixture of racial and ethnic backgrounds of the students at the university enabled people to have tolerance for others’ cultures.  My roommate and other friends were Japanese, American, Korean, Chinese, Thai, basically scattered from all different regions around the world in origin. 

             However, there were some downsides to my stay, such as ‘the bus problem,’ and the massive inefficiency when it came to office matters.  The bus would enrage people with busy schedules whose fate relies on the city’s transportation (the bus), because it would only come every other half an hour, or an hour, rarely on time.  Also, because the office opens at 9 and closes at 4, while business transactions, files and forms would take slothful three to four days to be dealt with, an impatient urbanite would have a heart attack boiling over the sluggish attitude of Hawaiian bureaucratic handlings.  In other words, things were slow and inefficient unlike it would have been in other bigger cities.

However, all in all, the nature, and the meetings of enthusiastic and ambitious people with laid back “Hawaiian” attitudes cleansed me of the feeling of unbearable annoyance stemming from the bus system, and so on.  In the end it made me rethink of the often uptight and over-zealous life in Seoul. I wish to stay free but focused on what I do in life: that is one of the most valuable things I learned in my stay in the land of Aloha, Hawaii.

 

-Shin Ji-yon(International Studies, 4) studied at the University if Hawaii as an exchange student from 2005 Fall to 2006 Spring.


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