I’m on Flight HA 12 from Honolulu to San Francisco, 40000 feet above the Pacific Ocean. It is Sunday, February 12th 2012, a strange feeling to leave Hawaii and all the friends. What remains are countless memories of an unbelievable time and an unbelievable semester in Honolulu at Hawaii Pacific University (HPU). My experience report should be an attempt to help you to get an idea of what half a year in Hawaii can mean. But if you’re just reading this report and considering a semester in Oahu, my advice; do it!!
I am studying business administration at the University of St. Gallen and have completed my fifth semester at the HPU in Honolulu. Since I did not achieve the required average of 4.5 in the assessment year, it was up to me to organize my semester abroad independently as a freemover. This whole process of planning a semester abroad and choosing a university takes a lot of energy and patience, but no question about it, it’s definitely worth it!
Selection of the university
As a freemover, you are spoiled for choice. You can choose from all universities that do not have an agreement as a partner university of the Uni SG. A list of the previously recognized freemover universities is available in the International Exchange Service and can be your first point of reference. It is a real challenge not to lose yourself in the countless possibilities. I would like to refer you to example.com. A German website that acts as an intermediary and has built a network of universities around the world. On this website you will find all the information you need and the example.com staff can give you competent advice on all matters (e.g. visa, vaccinations, etc.). The best thing about it; you get all of this service for free!
For a long time it was difficult for me personally to choose the university. In the end, I focused on a few central criteria and thus evaluated three possible options. My semester should be taught in English, be affordable and, if possible, be in a city by the sea / in the warmth. In addition to Honolulu, Melbourne and Copenhagen were also possible. In the end, the HPU appealed to me the most: a decision that I would never want to miss!
Alongside the University of Hawaii (UH), the HPU is the smaller of two universities in Honolulu. It is privately run and is roughly the size of the University of St. Gallen (approx. 8,000 students). The HPU is still cheaper for Study Abroad students with 8,105 USD per semester (includes five courses, which corresponds to 30 ECTS) than the state university. I see another advantage of the HPU in the composition of the students; a third are native students, a third are from mainland USA and the last third are international exchange students from all over the world (the Norwegians are definitely not to be overlooked;)
With the support of Aline, applying to the HPU wasn’t too much of an effort. In addition to a TOEFL score of 80 (would probably work with less, just try!) You need a confirmation of the coverage of the tuition fee and the cost of living on site. The costs of my entire semester are roughly the budgeted numbers of the school and it has to be around 16,000-18,000 CHF. be expected.
The level of the HPU is on a lower level than at the Uni SG, but that does not mean that the workload is lower. On the contrary, I worked a lot more during the semester at the HPU than in St. Gallen, where the greatest effort is concentrated on the month of study before the exams. The HPU system is more reminiscent of the time in high school: the classes are smaller, the professor knows you personally and all of the lessons are more interactive. Weekly presentations, papers, quizzes or exams and the presence in the class all make up part of the grading. This gives you better control over your performance in class. So if you attach great importance to the reputation of the university or who want to face an academic challenge, you should not opt for the HPU. Check educationvv to see more reviews from current students.
As a business administration student, it is no problem to find suitable courses at the HPU. A wide range of exciting courses is available to you. I have personally registered for five courses (3 units each) (the total of 15 units corresponds to a 30 ECTS semester in St. Gallen). Study Abroad students can submit their selection with the application, which means that you will usually be entered before the local students and should have no problems getting your courses. Look at the times of the courses and put together a sensible weekly schedule. With a bit of luck you can take Monday and / or Friday off (and you don’t want classes early in the morning;)
I was able to credit two of my courses (Intermediate Macroeceonomics and Human Resource Management) as compulsory subjects and distribute three more (Creativity Marketing / Product Management, Integrated Promotion Management and Graphic Design Studio) to compulsory electives, Reko and Hako. Only the major in finance was not recognized by the University of SG. All in all, I got top marks in all of my courses. However, this cannot be taken for granted with reasonable effort. Many of my friends have been content with Cs and Bs
– Intermediate Macroeconomics (N. Paelia): Exciting, interactive lessons, whereby your level of knowledge in Macro should be superior to that of the Americans. There are weekly quizzes, two papers and three larger exams. You should achieve the top grade A here with little effort.
– Human Resource Management (E. Palafox): In this course the exams were a bit tricky. The multiple choice questions each comprised about three chapters and required a lot of detailed knowledge. There is also a larger group work and presentation. The professor is very competent and experienced in his field what made the lessons entertaining.
– Creativity Marketing / Product Management (K. Pastangilian): Kristian has a practical background and is currently working in Product Development for the Bayer chemicals group. He used to be a professional surfer and designed and marketed products for various brands. Definitely a very exciting, experienced and competent professor. Most of the lessons, however, consist of independent teamwork. Over the entire semester, teams work on product development / marketing, which is presented and evaluated at the end.
– Integrated Promotion Management (Barnes): Here you will learn the basics of an advertising campaign. The professor, who comes across as monotonous and unorganized, also attaches importance to current trends. There are many case studies to work on and ultimately to develop your own campaign in teamwork. You compete against your fellow students and the winner gets the top grade. 🙂
– Graphic Design Studio (M. Ang): This course was something completely new to me. I had some basic knowledge of Adobe Photoshop but never worked with InDesign and Illustrator. Ang gives a competent introduction to these programs and assignments have to be worked on every week. The course was a good change and challenges / encourages your creativity.
Once you have decided on your courses, you can find out on site via the HPU Bookstore which books are required for the courses. However, I advise you to buy the books only after consulting the lecturer, as they are completely overpriced. Compare the prices on Amazon and Chegg.com or sometimes it even makes sense to rent the books via Book-renter.com.
My advice: travel to Honolulu early (you can enter the USA 30 days before your semester at HPU starts) and look for an apartment on site. It is relatively difficult or impossible to find something of your own from Switzerland. Book a hostel (e.g. Beachside Hostel) and look for other students on site. You can usually find something in the range of $ 600 to $ 800. Most of the students live in Waikiki (definitely the busiest and inundated with tourists) or Ala Moana. There are also downtown apartments located in the immediate vicinity of the campus.
If necessary, the student houses Ohana West and Ohia (Waikiki) are an option, but I advise against them! You pay $ 750 for a shared room and $ 1250 for a single room, both of which are way too expensive for what you get. In addition, the on campus housings offered by the HPU are not really relevant, as they are used outside of the city and mostly only by freshmen (students in the first semester).
Personally, I was super happy that I found a house in Manoa in advance via Vitamin B. Manoa was by far the best thing that could have happened to me. This magical district is located in the Manoa Valley above Honolulu. With the moped I was able to drive to the downtown campus, Waikiki or the beach in 15 minutes. In my opinion, a moped is by far the best way to get around the city. As easily as you can purchase it via Craigslist.com, you can take it away after the semester (so you end up paying (almost) nothing!) As an alternative, there is the option of purchasing a discounted bus pass via HPU.
Life on the island of Oahu, the most populated island in Hawaii, is shaped by the Aloha lifestyle that you will feel from the moment you arrive. You will have sunshine and a temperature of around 30 degrees throughout the semester. In addition to university, there are countless adventures waiting for you. We took the island by storm and it is difficult to put into words what I have experienced during this time, but I am trying to list a few highlights for you.
– Bathing / snorkeling / surfing: spend as much time in the water as possible! Discover the Pacific Ocean (always around 24 degrees) and see what works best for you. If you are interested in surfing, buy a used board via Craigslist right away. (Longboard for beginners, shortboard for advanced) You can also choose from options such as deep sea fishing, sharkcage diving, and booze cruises.
– Hiking / climbing / waterfalls: explore the island! Countless hikes lead you to waterfalls in whose pools you can jump in or to scenic points that give you incredible views. Highlights are Stairways to Heaven, three Peaks Hike, Maunawilli -, Manoa – or Waimano Falls. Find out about the conditions online.
– Travel: Hawaii consists of seven islands and next to Oahu the Big Island (or Hawaii), Maui and Kauai are the most popular / famous. They are also the ones I recommend you to visit! Every single island is unique and therefore worth a trip. Discover lava in the Big Island, watch the Humpback Wales in Maui or go on a multi-day hike to the hidden Kalalau Valley in Kauai!
– Nightlife: Honolulu has something for everyone. If you are looking for a boisterous party with your fellow students, then Mooses on Tuesday, Senor Frogs on Wednesday and Varsity on Thursday are not to be missed. If you like more sophisticated clubs and music then head to Chinatown where you should get your money’s worth, especially on the first Friday of the month (First Fridays). Pearls and Crazy Box are the slightly more upscale options at clubs. Attention: Club and Drinking Age is 21!
– further highlights: skydiving and slip and slide in Waimanolo …
I hope I was able to help you with this information in relation to your university choice! If you’ve gotten really curious and interested in an exchange semester in Hawaii, don’t be afraid to ask about former students. They can certainly give you information in all matters.