On Hawai’i Time

From WI to HI

Photo by Savannah Reeves


Hawai’i, the picturesque vacation destination and my new home away from home. Where the classroom is an organic farm nestled between two lush, fog topped mountains, and the professors wear flip-flops and board shorts to class.

I am a UW-Eau Claire student living on O’ahu through National Student Exchange at University of Hawai’i at Mānoa.

If you can imagine, things are a bit different here than in Eau Claire. The weather, food, after school activities, community, lifestyle and the university itself, just to name a few. In this column, I will be sharing my time as a Rainbow Warrior and how it differs from my year as a Blugold.

The weather here in Mānoa Valley is surreal. It rains almost everyday, yet this mind boggling “rain” is a light mist that manifests even while the sun is shining bright, a perfect recipe for the trademark Hawaiian rainbows.

On the darker side of the weather patterns here – four weeks into classes and there have been three hurricane watches, which have produced only a light rain and a heavy supply of sweet and salty hurricane snacks. The Hawaiian tradewinds usually keep the islands safe from storms, but the rule of thumb here is this: if the locals are worrying, you should too.

In Eau Claire there is the infamous #BridgeFace – crying eyes, frozen snot and wind burnt skin. Here in Hawai’i there is no bridge face, thankfully. What we do have, though, is the awkward time when your body is acclimatizing to the heat and humidity.

Walking to class, you dramatically think that you will never stop sweating ever again, but the moment you step inside the air-conditioned classroom your body freezes up until it’s melted yet again in the heat of the Hawaiian sun. It is a battle of always being too hot, until you are much too cold. But, if we are being real here, I would take that over #BridgeFace anyday.

Already, though, I know I will miss the changing colors of fall and friendly bonfires where everyone leaves sticky from s’mores gone wrong and smelling like smoke for days on end. The walk through the glittering snow to Phoenix Park while sipping a peppermint hot cocoa from ECDC will not be the same as a Waikiki Christmas.

It is the coffee shops, the house shows and the fire places around campus that make the winter weather in Eau Claire all worth it. As I reminisce on my frozen toe times as a Blugold, I cannot help but to think of all the new experiences I will have throughout this semester – wearing sandals, of course.

Admittedly, it has been a challenge to follow the more calm Hawaiian lifestyle, when I am used to something so fast, so punctual. Who would have thought slowing down would be so hard?

I am already trying to come to terms with the fact that someday I will have to leave this breathtaking place full of life, color and culture. But for now, I am going to bask in the sunshine, sit still and relax. Aloha.

Cipriano can be reached at [email protected]