Suggestions for those new to Hawai‘i:
Expect to meet people from all over. You’re not the
only one from somewhere else.
Expect Honolulu to be a city. For a more rural atmosphere,
check out the North Shore or outer islands. Waikiki is not
what Hawai‘i is about. Take time to enjoy being here.
The atmosphere here is more casual and many things run on “Hawaiian
time.” Be patient and slow down.
People are friendly and will want to talk to you—for
example, on The Bus. Because Hawai'i is a small community,
everyone knows everyone. So be careful who you are talking
about, and don’t pick fights.
· Respect Polynesian culture.
· Get Safeway and Foodland discount cards. You may not be able
to get sale items without them. Some places will also give
you a discount with your student ID.
· Wear sunscreen.
· Food portions are big here.
Don’t disrespect local-style food or local-style dress.
Don’t judge people by the way they dress.
· Learn to use chopsticks.
Take off your shoes before entering someone’s house.
You can wear rubber slippers everywhere. You don’t
have to dress up for class or clubs.
Don’t be surprised if, eventually, you experience “island
fever” (a feeling of being confined on a rock in the
middle of an ocean).
· Although the overall crime rate is low, some areas are not
safe, especially at night. Check with local people or the
University's security gaurds.
Hawai‘i is a community-oriented culture where people
try to fit into the group rather than standing out. Ohana
( extended family) is important.
If you make “local” friends and learn about the
islands’ history and culture. You’ll probably
enjoy Hawai'i more.
Pidgin (local dialect) is a language. Respect it and learn
a few key words, like “mahalo” (it means “thank
you,” not “trash can”).
It’s safe to drink the tap water. In fact, Hawai‘i's
natural water wins international prizes.
· Respect the land and the ocean.
· Geckos are good luck, and they eat cockroaches. So do toads.
Suggestion for those new to American universities:
Don’t be frightened when professors tell you how hard
a course is going to be. They sometimes exaggerate.
· Be prepared to take the initiative and act independently in
order to get answers to your questions.
· Each professor has a different standard and different style.
· Be prepared to speak up and share your opinions in class. This
· Read everything at least once, meet deadlines, and participate
in class, and you will get good grades.
· American universities are designed to expose you to many fields
of study. You can design your schedule to meet your interests.
Take many introductory courses to discover your interests.
You don't have to declare a major until your third year.
Be prepared to study hard. Just because you’re in a resort
area doesn’t mean you can play all the time. (But you
can study at the beach.)
· Be prepared to experience culture shock. Be open to others
not like yourself.
Apply what you have learned from you’re homeland as much
as possible. Recognize what works and what doesn’t.
· “Hawaiian time” doesn’t apply to the University.
Classes and meetings start on time.
· Check out the University's different clubs and organizations
Suggestions for “locals” who want to get along
· Be open to other cultures and opinions.
Don’t sterotype those from other places. Don’t
assume that they are “the enemy,” or not interested
in Hawaiian culture.
Communication starts in your mind, but is processed in someone
else’s mind. Be aware when talking that others may not
fully understand you, and don’t assume that you understand
them. Misunderstandings don’t mean that people don’t
Put yourself in other people’s shoes. It isn’t
easy to be far from home.