1. Preparation for the stay abroad
The application to the university went smoothly. In order to apply to the HPU, you must submit, among other things, the intermediate work of your home university that has been translated into English. The university also requires proof of adequate vaccination protection (measles, mumps, rubella) and good knowledge of English (e.g. in the form of a standardized English test: CAE, IELTS or ITB-TOEFL). Under the item “Proof of Financial Sponsorship” you must also prove that you, a member of your family or acquaintance have $ 12,930 (the expenses per semester estimated by the HPU, including living costs). For a year of study, this is equivalent to $ 25,860.
All in all, it is advisable to plan enough time for the preparation of the stay abroad and to take into account the necessary application for a student visa.
When I was looking for a cheap flight, American Airlines’ offer turned out to be by far the cheapest at around € 860 for a return flight from Amsterdam. (For comparison: a flight from Frankfurt cost about 1200 €.) So it is worthwhile to compare and possibly accept a longer journey, even if you (like me) do not live directly on the Dutch border. People who book their flight on the Internet instead of at a travel agency also usually save money.
The flight to Hawaii takes around 24 hours, with one to three stopovers depending on the flight.
Together with the application or at the latest on site, the HPU needs proof of sufficient international insurance cover during the semester. The requirements that the university makes in this regard are very strict and only a few insurance companies are eligible. Most students opt for international health insurance with “Mawista”, which costs at least € 33 per month, depending on the insurance coverage. If you are staying for less than a year, the cheaper international travel health insurance from Victoria Versicherung (tariff AR1), which is also accepted by the HPU, can be worthwhile. However, Victoria Versicherung does not seem to be very familiar with the issue of the English-language “Insurance Confirmation” required by the HPU, which made the whole process a bit difficult in my case. For this reason, I would rather recommend the insurance coverage of the ‘Mawista’, which you can take out on the Internet and which sends the necessary ‘Insurance Confirmation’ by post within a few days without being asked.
As is likely everywhere in the USA, the credit card is the main payment instrument in Hawai’i. Before my departure I opened an account at the DKB and got a credit card as well as a cash card with which I could withdraw money free of charge from many ATMs in Hawaii. The account itself is also free and offers a good daily interest rate. The only thing I have to complain about at the DKB is the poor customer service. After my wallet, including my credit and debit card, was stolen on the fourth day in Waikiki, I had to wait more than six weeks for the so-called “emergency card”, which is usually not sent abroad as long as you are not there at the DKB registers with permanent residence. Otherwise, the conditions of the DKB are impeccable and can be recommended.
Another option that many students have taken advantage of is to open an account with a Hawaiian bank on site. The two largest banks here are the “First Hawaiian Bank” and the “Bank of Hawaii”.
2.1 Transfer from the airport
The HPU offers a free shuttle service from Honolulu Airport to Waikiki, but only Monday to Friday and not after 4:00 p.m. I didn’t get to O’ahu until late in the evening, so I couldn’t use this service.
Since you are not allowed to get on the bus in Honolulu with large items of luggage, you can choose between a taxi ride (around $ 30 to the hotels in Waikiki) or an airport shuttle bus (flat rate $ 10). The shuttle buses are directly in front of the airport exit on the opposite side of the street. ) right in front of the hotels.JAs a rule, they drive very frequently and drop off holidaymakers (and future foreign students
2.2 Accommodation in the Ho (s) tel
Before my arrival I had booked a bed in the ‘Polynesian Beach Club Hostel’ (around $ 25 per night in a 4-6 bed room).
I chose this hostel because a friend recommended it to me. However, I cannot pass this recommendation on. The rooms were very spartan compared to other hostels in Waikiki, noisy and not very clean. But I’ve also heard other opinions and think maybe you just have to be a little lucky with the room.
Compared to other hostels in Waikiki, such as the ‘Waikiki Beachside Hostel’ right next door, or the ‘Seaside Hawaiian Hostel’, the ‘Polynesian Beach Club Hostel’ is still the worst choice in my opinion. Only the range of excursion packages (available on the website) is a plus. I couldn’t use it myself, however, because I was busy looking for an apartment from morning to evening. Even this turned out to be rather difficult in the ‘Polynesian Beach Club Hostel’ because there was no in-house WiFi and you had to jostle for the few PCs with paid internet access at the reception.
So on the second day I sat down with my laptop in the internet lounge of the ‘Waikiki Beachside Hostel’ next door. In this much more comfortable and generally better equipped hostel, I not only got to know the first future fellow students, but I was also able to easily use the Internet to look for a suitable apartment.
2.3 Finding accommodation
Looking back, looking for an apartment was the most difficult part of my stay abroad. Since I only flew to Hawai’i on August 19th (my studies should start at the beginning of September), many apartments were already occupied and the offer on craigslist.com (the only Internet portal that can really be recommended for those looking for shared accommodation) was sparse. Under $ 500 a month there is usually no need to search.
Even the ‘Student Suites’ arranged by the university cost $ 600- $ 800 / month per person for a place in a double or triple room. Those who want their own room pay over $ 1200. The ‘Student Suites’ are generally not recommended. The rooms are tiny, the walls are thin, and there are various restrictions, for example on how many people can enter the rooms. All in all, there is a real “youth hostel feeling”. The only advantage of moving into one of the three ‘Student Suites’ may be that you avoid the annoying search for an apartment.
In a field report I had read the tip to inquire about vacant rooms when looking for an apartment directly in the lobbies or in the foyer of the hotels and apartment complexes in Waikiki. In fact, you can find almost as many accommodations this way as there are on craigslist.com. And in the entrances of many high-rise buildings, notices provide information about vacant rooms and apartments.
There is not a large selection from the providers of mobile phone contracts. T-Mobile offers contracts with an almost unlimited number of free minutes from around $ 40 / month. Recently, the provider “Mobi” has been trying to dispute the monopoly of the group giant. In contrast to T-Mobile, Mobi does not offer a prepaid option, which I decided on when I arrived. In retrospect, however, I cannot recommend this option at all, as I ended up paying far more than I would have done with the contract option.
In Hawai’i it costs both to write and to receive SMS. The same applies to outgoing and incoming calls. In total, I paid around five times what I pay for my mobile phone contract in Germany every month in Hawai’i.
In addition, there are small phone booths all over the island where you can make unlimited calls for 25-75 cents per call. This is particularly useful in the first few days of looking for an apartment.
3. Hawai’i Pacific University
3.1 The campus
The HPU is a private university on O’ahu, the three locations of which are connected by a shuttle bus. The ‘Windward Hawai’i Loa Campus’ is by far the most beautiful. There is also the ‘Oceanic Institute’ in ‘Waimanalo’ and the Downtown Campus in Honolulu, the headquarters of the HPU, where I also studied.
In Downtown Honolulu, the HPU is not actually housed in a university building. The seminar and lecture rooms, offices and libraries are rather spread over many different buildings around a pedestrian zone, where you usually spend your lunch break in one of the small cafés.
The Downtown Campus in Honolulu can be reached by bus 2 or 13, depending on traffic, usually after a 30-50 minute bus ride. With the line B or C (express routes) it is usually a little faster.
3.2 The courses
The choice of course must be submitted to the HPU together with the application, but it can still be changed in the first two weeks of the lecture. I liked the fact that the choice of course was free and independent of the subject area. Overall, my schedule in my semester abroad consisted of the following subjects:
- Script writing
- Communicating Professionally
- World Film Studies
- Exploring film
As it turned out later, I had chosen some of the most labor-intensive courses from the entire range of subjects. Nevertheless, I can only recommend the courses to everyone who is enthusiastic about film!
On the other hand, courses from the areas of business administration, marketing and torusism management were allegedly not recommended. The courses are larger and the level cannot be compared with that of business administration courses in Germany.
3.3 The lesson
Unlike what you might expect from Hawaii, you had to do a lot for the university. The lessons at the HPU have more of a school than university character and attendance is compulsory! In each course homework, projects, lectures or papers had to be worked out weekly. In addition, there were the ‘midterm’ exams after the first half of the semester and the equivalent ‘final exams’ at the end. Unlike in Germany, the work does not only focus on the last few weeks before the final exams, but takes place continuously.
With a course size of around ten students per course, the lessons were very intensive and the relationship between the student and the course leader was extremely personal. With a few exceptions, all professors and instructors seemed qualified to me. Her teaching and expectations were consistently demanding.
It was a shame that the vast majority of the foreign students came from Germany, which is why mostly only German was spoken. This made contact with local, English-speaking students quite difficult.
3.4 Organization of leisure activities by the HPU
The HPU organizes many leisure activities, about which the students are mostly informed by email. Several times a week, for example, cinema events were offered at which low-budget films from all over the world were shown.
There were also readings, theater performances, balls, international afternoons, as well as themed parties and leisure activities where you could get to know the island.
But actually only guest students (i.e. mainly Germans, partly Swedes, Norwegians) also took part in these events. Check toppharmacyschools to see more reviews from current students.
4. Living in Hawai’i
In one word, life in Hawai’i is expensive. In addition to the high rental costs, you can expect three to four times higher prices in the supermarkets. Above all, those who want to eat healthily have to dig deep into their pockets, because the fruit and vegetable prices are insanely high. In the ABC stores (small shops that can be found on almost every corner in Waikiki) you can spend $ 2.50 on an apple.
Accordingly, fast food chains such as McDonalds, Burgerking, JackInTheBox, TacoBell, Subways and Co are a cheap alternative for so many people in Hawai’i. For the price of $ 1 a French fry at McDonalds, you couldn’t even get a potato in the store.
The few options for money-saving shopping:
In the most common large supermarkets such as ‘Safeways’ or ‘Foodland’ you can ask for a free customer card at the checkout, with which you get generous discounts on almost all products. There are also wholesale markets such as ‘Samsclub’ or ‘Cosco’, where you can get volume discounts on groceries as a paying member. This is particularly worthwhile for large shared apartments and weekly shopping.
Fruit and vegetables can also be bought in Chinatown, the poorest part of Honolulu. Chinatown is only a few steps away from the university. Expect to be the only tourist in the middle of a neighborhood full of local Asians, most of whom do not speak English. You can get the fish here as fresh as nowhere else: only when you buy it is it taken out of the aquarium and killed in front of the buyer. (For this reason I stayed with the frozen fish from the supermarket :-)) In addition to fruit and vegetables, pigs’ heads, freshly slaughtered chickens and live frogs are offered in the market halls.
What you spend dearly on grocery shopping in Hawai’i can be saved on clothing, jewelry and electrical goods on the other hand. Surfer fashion like ‘Billabong’, ‘Quicksilver’ etc. is of course bought in one of the many small surfer shops in Waikiki, while branded clothing is best bought in the outlet center in Waikele (a good two hour bus ride from Waikiki). The huge ‘Ala Moana Center’ in Waikiki is also very popular.
If you are looking for jewelry, you will most likely find it at the International Market Place, right in the heart of Waikiki – but here you can assume that the “real Hawaiian” souvenirs are almost all ‘made in China’.
4.2 Restaurants and Bars
At over 40%, Asians make up the largest population group currently living in Hawai’i. The Polynesians who used to inhabit the islands now make up less than ten percent of the population. This is also reflected in the food. In addition to fast food, sushi is offered everywhere in Waikiki and especially in Honolulu – in the many Asian restaurants as well as ‘ToGo’ in the supermarkets and small shops. Typically Hawaiian food, on the other hand, is hard to find.
On Tuesday evenings, all international students meet in the bar “Moose” in Waikiki to celebrate.
4.3 Leisure time
Surfing is, of course, number one among the top leisure activities in Hawai’i. In Waikiki, the crowd in the ocean is therefore even bigger than on the beach, especially at peak times in summer. In winter, however, there are no waves on O’ahu’s south coast, which makes surfing almost impossible. On the north coast, on the other hand, the waves are so high at this time of the year that surfing is impossible, at least for beginners. Unfortunately, many of the foreign students, not a few of whom opted for the HPU especially because of surfing, did not make this clear before the semester abroad and were therefore disappointed.
But besides surfing, there are also a lot of other beautiful things that you can do in Hawaii. For example travel!
O’ahu and Waikiki in particular are the epitome of tourism. Anyone looking for pristine beaches and happy Hawaiians with floral wreaths on O’ahu will be disappointed. But the surrounding islands already offer a lot that may at least come close to our picture-perfect image of Hawaii. To get there, you can either take the ferry or book flights with a Hawaiian airline. I discovered the islands of Maui, Kauai and the Big Island during the semester and can only warmly recommend each of the islands.
Maui is also known as the ‘Honeymoon Island’ and is quite touristy compared to the other two islands. But apart from the most common sights, which you get touted in every travel guide, you can discover paradisiacal jungle landscapes and hundreds of waterfalls. The ‘Banana Bungalow Hostel’, which offers unusual tours every day, is highly recommended for your stay here. The excursions are free, only a small tip for the tour guide is expected. I took every tour during my stay and I enjoyed them all without exception.
Kaua’i is one of the smaller islands in Hawaii and is less developed for tourism. Anyone who enjoys hiking like me will love this island! The ‘Kalalau Trail’ on the ‘Napali Coast’ in the north is the most beautiful hiking trail I’ve seen in my life so far. You hike it in two days and not only pass beautiful beaches on the way over steep cliffs, but you can also make a detour to two huge waterfalls, in whose pools you can swim.
Driving in Kaua’i was two or three days to see everything. But the island can be explored on foot for weeks: jungles, swamps, beaches, cliffs, dusty red canyons – the small island is beautiful!
At the end of my semester, I spent another five days on the Big Island before heading home for Christmas. Big Island is, as the name suggests, the largest island in Hawai’i. In contrast to the other islands, you have to rent a car in different places to be able to discover everything. The ‘Hilo Bay Hostel’ in the east of the island is highly recommended for a start!
One of the things I have done and definitely want to recommend is a tour of the ‘Mauna Kea Volcano’ at sunset. At an altitude of over 13,700 feet you stand here on the highest peak of Hawai’i and it is not uncommon for there to be so much snow that you can even snowboard on the slopes.
Another special highlight was a kayak trip to ‘Captain Cook Bay’, where you can snorkel and swim with giant turtles. On the way back in the early evening my boat was suddenly surrounded by dozens of spinner dolphins, which jumped out of the water right in front of me and rolled over. Brilliant!
I was also lucky with the activity of the volcanoes on the Big Island. On the day of my departure I found out at the airport that just a few hours ago one of the volcanoes in the ‘Hawai’i Volcanoes National Parc’ had erupted. So the night after my arrival I could see the splashing lava that flowed into the sea on the south coast of the island.
The HPU is definitely recommended if you are taking the relevant courses. I would be careful with business administration and management courses. A lot of students complained about the low level in these courses during my semester.
You also have to be aware that both the HPU and Hawai’i are very overcrowded by Germans. A woman from California, whom I met on the return flight from Hawai’i, remarked very aptly, “It’s funny. The Germans are everywhere I go. Are there any left in Germany? ”For that matter, Hawai’i is indeed a second Mallorca.
The Hawaiian culture lives here in many places only in the form of tourist attractions. If you dream of studying in pristine paradise, you shouldn’t choose a popular holiday destination like Hawai’i. I am saying this at this point because a lot of people have asked me whether I was greeted by Hawaiians with flower necklaces at the airport in Hawai’i.
You also have to consider the high costs associated with staying in Hawai’i. It is not enough to raise the high tuition fees.
Nevertheless, the semester abroad at HPU was the right decision for me. I learned a lot, had a lot of fun and can therefore recommend the HPU overall.