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Favorite things about studying away.

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This week we're going to tell you our favorite things about studying away.

This week, of course, I could not talk about this without really hitting on Mardi Gras. So I am in New Orleans and is the home of Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday, the day before the beginning of Lent in the Catholic religion. It's very, very popular here. People come from all over just to see the parades and to celebrate. It essentially is something that lasts probably five days. But I really just wanted to kind of show that and explain the day. I had talk about that are Mardi Gras.

I also really love hanging out with the exchange students and doing things together. Just this past week we went bowling. There was a bowling tournament. We didn't win, but that's okay. And, this weekend we're planning on doing a snowmobile excursion. I've also met a lot of really awesome students who are native to Colorado. So I've learned a lot of things about the state that I probably would not have known if I didn't meet these new people.

I lived in Alaska my whole life and I was in my fourth year at the University of Alaska Anchorage. But then I went on this exchange and pretty much my whole routine got, um, flipped upside down and changed and everything's so different. And because of this, I'm just gaining so many more experiences. I've left my comfort zone so long ago and there's this quote that I liked that says, um, like essentially saying like you're not growing if you're always in your comfort zone. And that's so true. Here, I've pushed myself to be outgoing, to try new things, to be more independent and just grow more as a person and learn more about me. And it's all because of this exchange that, um, I'm just experiencing so much more than I could have if I had stayed and finished my last year in Alaska.

The people and the friendships I've made, they have honestly been the best part and they have made my experience here what it has been. It's kind of weird to think about that two months ago I never even like knew these people or I didn't know they existed and now they have been such like a staple in my day and the people I talk to and I can honestly say that they're going to be friendships that I have for lifetime.

Going on a road trip with Mandy for hours was really new to me. Being in a car for four hours. I had never been in a car for four hours. The most I've done is two hours just because Puerto Rico is very small. So ltraveling a lot easier. So I found that that's really nice. I don't know, the new experiences, experiences I'm having and the people I'm meeting. My new roommate, she's from a small island next to India, so she's an international student and stuff like that. And she tells me, we talked a lot about like our differences and stuff like that. I think that's one of the best things about doing an exchange, meeting new people, doing new things. And I just find that it's so amazing like having my very first, every-anything example. The very first time I used the bus, the bus system is really nice here.

Of course one last thing. It really tops it all off, which besides besides the concept that this is a really large city and it's beautiful and it's busy and it's just so cool and it's exactly where I wanted it to be while studying Hotel, Restaurant Management. I wanted to live that kind of tourism aspect of it because I've never been to such a place that's so popular for tourism. But the weather, especially right now, it gets really humid and really hot when it's summer. And, but just the winter has been so mild; it doesn't get cooler than like 49 degrees. If it's going to be cold on a day and it doesn't snow, it does rain a lot, which I'm okay with cause I'm from somewhere that is actually really sunny so I, it's nice, it's a nice little change. But the weather's beautiful. Today was like one of the most beautiful days that I've ever lived through and it was just so nice and I wish everyday could feel like today.

So everything here in Hawaii is just so much different from our home campus that it's hard to pick just one favorite thing. I mean the culture, the food, the landscapes, all the things to do, the weather. It's all just so great. But I think if we had to pick one, at least for me, I would say the weather because back home in Wyoming, it's winter and it's negative temperatures right now and there's 40 mile an hour wind and just freezing cold. But here, it's 75 degrees and sunny and everyday is summer basically speaking. No matter what day we can go, go do something fun, go on a hike, go to the beach, do whatever; we don't have to worry about the weather. So I think that is my favorite part of studying in Hawaii.

One of the things I'm really grateful for is the opportunity to broaden my education. I'm taking classes here that never in a million years would be offered at the University of South Carolina. And that's not because the University of South Carolina doesn't have um, a really big selection of classes. It's because why would a school in South Carolina be offering a bunch of courses about Hawaiian history? Maybe they should, but it makes more sense for courses about to be offered in Hawaii. So I'm really grateful to be taking a lot of classes that have a focus on indigenous culture and history. That's been really amazing. And also things like my geology class, which I'm taking a geology class on an island with active volcanoes. I'm taking a geology class where during lab we go on field trips to see lava flows and go to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Another thing that I get to do down here in Miami that I would not get to do typically most of the year up in South Dakota at school is sit outside and do homework. They have a lot of like outdoor furniture, like chairs, picnic tables, tables, swinging benches that like students sit outside all day and do homework instead of sitting in the library or the cafeteria or in the dorm rooms. So my favorite thing to do down here because of the weather is going to the beach. I live about less than an hour. I would stay away from the beach and it's just like my favorite thing to go to when I do get to go to it because it's so beautiful every time. I find something different to look at and just stare at it in awe. Especially looking out at the ocean and just seeing how the distance and the boats and how it's like a beautiful skyline. It's just amazing to me. And I get floored every time, especially like thinking about, 'Wow, like I'm living in Miami. This is really cool.'

I go to a bunch of stuff and every time I go to like different places, I see different people and I get along with them, make new friends. Recently I went to hiking that at hot spring and I met new people. But I talk on the way to the hot spring and we became friends. Also, on my campus there's a lot of cool places to study so I don't usually study in my dorm room. I go to the library or there's a place called Lassonde where the first floor is a get together, socialize kind of community and so you can grab free coffee. There's a bunch of study group desks. I see people, I say hi and we study together and yeah, that's the cool part of like studying away, like meet people. You get more proactive and you study, a lot I guess.

So I have a class called ethnobotany where we learn all about the native Hawaiian plants and how they were used. And today we took coconuts, I went through the whole process of breaking them open and getting all the fibers off, taking the water out, scraping the flesh, grating it a little bit and then turning it into coconut milk. And it was so much work, but it was really delicious. So it was worth it.

My favorite part would be, the different landscapes because we're from Wyoming and we only have like grassy yellow grassy hills and prairies and whatnot. And so I really like the mountains that Hawaii has stuff and living near a beach. I've never lived near a beach before, so that has been really cool. 

For me, this question has multiple answers. For one, I really like all the new people that I've got to meet. Obviously Hawaii is beautiful and being here is awesome, but it wouldn't matter at all if I wasn't here with really awesome people. Um, second of all, I also have enjoyed getting to take advantage of classes and resources that they don't have at my home campus. Um, for instance, I'm taking a photography class and that has been a really great learning experience. I've learned how to take pictures with a film camera and develop film in the dark room and that has been really cool. I also like being able to do things I would never otherwise get to do. If you come to Hawaii on vacation, you can get through quite a bit, but you will never get the experience that I've had being able to live here. Just last weekend I went, I hiked down a cliff side to the Makapu'u tide pools. That was super awesome. I've done a lot of really cool hikes, gone to a lot of really cool places, um, all with really cool people. These are probably my favorite things about studying away. But who knows, maybe I'll find a new favorite thing before I leave.

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