My semester is Hawaii was both everything I’d hoped for and nothing like what I expected.
We did everything I’d expected we’d do— we participated in community service, worked with local contacts, and learned about Hawaiian history and culture. I learned so much about those beautiful islands and the people who live there.
What I didn’t expect was the personal transformation I experienced. I came into this program knowing myself in one way, and left knowing myself in a completely new light. I realized what my values truly were and the kind of person I did and didn’t want to be. I pushed myself past what I thought my limits were, whether that was related to physical exhaustion or my emotional endurance.
I feel the greatest lesson I learned from my semester in Hawaii is that, by clearing my mind from the chatter of social media and the ‘outside’ world on my phone, I can step back and recognize that I am not my emotions or my thoughts. In any given situation, the way I feel is not necessarily the way things are. This clarity brought me a perspective (in tough situations especially) that helped shed light on the most productive solutions, instead of stewing in anger or guilt or sadness.
I would highly recommend this program to anyone who wants to get to know the real Hawaii (not the touristy Hawaii!) better, while also getting to know themselves in a new way.