On Hawai’i Time


More stories from Maggie Cipriano

On Hawai’i Time
December 3, 2018

Coming to school in Hawai’i I thought studying would be easy. Study at the beach, or at a park, or any trendy coffee shop in Waikiki. Classes would be easy and slow paced – island time, right?


The differences between here and Eau Claire are infinite. The hardest challenge I have come across, though, is finding any sort of pono (which means balance – your Hawaiian word of the day) between sun and study.

In Eau Claire, my go-to study spot was Racy D’Lenes Coffee Lounge. The cozy spot was conveniently located across the street from my apartment. My order was a frothy mug of London fog tea and a tart lemon poppyseed muffin. All for under $5. Here, sadly, one cannot even find a cold brew for that amount.

Studying in Hawai’i is a constant struggle. Of course I want to make good grades, but it is hard not to get FOMO while my head is stuck in my laptop (who uses books anymore)? I see pictures and videos of friends’ explorations all over the island, and it makes me long to do the same, all of the time.

If the classes I am taking were less exciting than they are, this problem would be multiplied. I am lucky that I am in incredible and interesting classes where we learn casual Hawaiian (pigin), travel to neighboring islands and learn to harvest Hawaii’s famous honey.

As one may like to assume, Hawai’i time does not exist in classes. The curriculum is rigorous and requires more reading than any other university I have attended (I’ve attended three universities, FYI). On average, I have about three hours of reading a night. But the readings are on topics that I genuinely want to read about, which makes all the difference: farming, Hawaiian culture, sustainability and what makes journalism, journalism.

After classes were out in Eau Claire on a snowy day, I would defrost my toes in the shower and hunker down with a good Netflix series and a cup of tea. When I am done with classes here, I catch the first bus to the beach with friends. We will make a pitstop for an iced coffee or a neon smoothie bowl before we nap in the hot sand. Sounds of kids splashing and catamarans warning surfers with their conch horns wake us up in a sunny daze with nap lines and sand glued to our skin.

Eau Claire winters demand study time. Snowing? Stay inside and write that paper. Windy and -10 degrees? Bundle up and finish that assigned reading. UW-Eau Claire in the summer is more comparable to being in Hawai’i with the amount of activities available. There is the option to float the river, or hike Big Falls or darty with friends. But there are still days with a chill in the air, or the sun does not shine – we all know about the crazy storms that rip through the valley.

Every day here is sunny. The sky is blue. The water is warm. Every day has potential for an adventure of a lifetime. There are countless hikes, snorkel spots, waterfalls, beaches, caves and cliffs to explore. It is most definitely overwhelming, especially since I know my time is quickly running out.


I understand that I am here for school. To learn about growing food sustainably and Hawaii’s 400,000 gods and goddesses. I am not only taking advantage of the places I am going, or the sites I am seeing. I am here to learn about a completely different culture than my own, in a way that I never could have in Wisconsin. And for that, and that UW-Eau Claire gave me this opportunity, I am forever grateful.

Cipriano can be reached at [email protected].