Study Abroad: Hawaii

BY MADISON BOVAIS
For the UAS Whalesong
Sunshine, surf time, and island exploration is why I chose Hawaii but what I returned home with was so much more. And actually my decision to study away in Hawaii was because I wanted to experience a bigger school in a different climate. With my geography and environmental studies major, I knew that Hawaii would offer classes in new landscapes.
After going through the National Student Exchange (NSE) application process, I was please to be island bound! University of Hawaii-Manoa offers so many classes that aren’t offered here at UAS. Taking different classes with professors who study the island allowed me to gain new learning perspectives! Studying in Hawaii also gave me a whole new way of life in comparison to Juneau. Both locations are so beautiful in their own way yet both so very different. I was able to really dive into a new culture. I quickly learned about the islands food, music, artwork and general lifestyle.
In Hawaii everyone is really active and that’s something I enjoyed a lot! I was surfing every morning and exploring the mountains every weekend. The food trucks provided amazing cheap and healthy food for replenishing myself after a long day in the water!
Hawaii also taught me a lot about myself. After experiencing a bigger university I found a whole new appreciation for small schools like UAS. It taught me how to balance daily activities (like surfing) with schoolwork. Being able to find balance is essential! I learned I could get my class work done and have fun!
Arriving to a place that is unfamiliar is truly an amazing experience. The NSE program has the motto “life begins at the end of your comfort zone” and after experiencing this for myself I stand by the quote 100 percent. When you break out of your shell and try new things you begin to see life differently. You’re forced to deal in new ways that has made for some of the best memories I have. I say, “Find your comfort zone and then push through it!”
So although I got the sunshine, surf time and island exploring that I set out for I came home with lifelong friends, a new outlook on life, and memories I will cherish forever. My advice to you: be brave and take risks because nothing can substitute experience! I’m so thankful for my exchange experience!

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