Hawaii was an adventure, to say the least. Over winter break, 19 other Stevenson juniors and seniors and myself took an environmental field studies course on the islands in Hawaii.
This 14-day-long trip began on the island of Oahu. We stayed in the tourist area of Waikiki, where I watched several of my classmates crash their bikes, trip and fall during our hikes and learn how to snorkel.
Waikiki was my favorite of the three towns we visited throughout our trip. It reminded me a lot of California with its mountain views and nearby ocean.
On the seventh day of our trip, we traveled to the Big Island, also known as Hawaii. The town of Hilo was smaller and more of a locals’ area. We saw many waterfalls, stood on a mountain over 9,000 feet in elevation and made friends with our kind bus drivers while there.
On our way to the next town in Hawaii, we stopped at two different beaches. At a black sand beach, we saw many sea turtles swimming and lounging there.
To reach the green sand beach, our bus drivers, Al and Joey, tricked us into thinking it was only a five-mile walk. Turns out that a short hike was actually an eight- mile walk.
I returned from the walk with a sore back, swollen ankles and bruised legs, but looking back, this was one of the most memorable days. I was able to see some of the most incredible views that I had ever seen while on the trip.
In our next town, Kona, we were able to kayak, and though I had never been before, I am positive that nothing gets better than kayaking in Hawaii.
The view of the mountain on our right, the cool fish swimming around us and the pack of dolphins that swam right across from us were all bittersweet.
I can safely say I would not be the same person today if I had not chosen to study away. I learned how important it is to unplug from my phone, be patient with all those that I traveled with and to engage in the culture of Hawaii. Studying away taught me how independent I really am and that being away from home isn’t as scary as I had expected it to be.
My advice for all students is to take advantage of our International and Off-Campus Study Program. If you do choose to study away, stay humble and live in the moment because the world is a big beautiful place that is meant to be explored.