The Longest Summer Vacation
Being an exchange student to University of Hawaii at Hilo (UHH) in fall 2006 is still fresh in living memory. It is like what had happened yesterday. Before flying to UHH, I was worried about the problems of registering courses. "Come on, it is Hawaii. There is nothing to worry about. Shagga, shagga ['Relax' in Hawaiian]," says the former exchange student to UHH. Together with Rebecca (my FJU classmate), arriving there, I perceive the easy and relaxing atmosphere as the gentle wind blowing over my face. Hilo, within Big Island in Hawaii, becomes the tourist spot where I spend my summer break from August to December. The summer vacation is so long that it is like an endless summer dream.
The orientation for freshmen and international students gives us a warm welcome in the first week. The activities include welcome parties, whale watching, visits to volcano or the astronomy center, and so forth. Besides, every other week The International Student Association arranges some outdoor activates for us to sign up. Most of the activities are free. The inviting and family-like "aloha" ambience on campus makes people have easy chat even in the restaurant. At night, Baptist Collegiate Ministries often invite the performers whose music style resembles Jack Johnson (a famous Hawaiian-born guitarist and singer) to sing in the candle-lit hall. I love to stop by, enjoying the upbeat music and the fragrance of a cup of coffee. Except the frequent films plying on campus, there are various performances exhibited in the campus theater. During the five months, I have seen the puppet show, the drama of Jane Austen’s Emma, Christmas chorus, and the dance extravaganza combined with ballet, ballroom dance, jazz, modern dance, and hip-hop dance. The admission fee is only around USD five to ten. Speaking of the courses offered by UHH, I cannot but give compliments to their foreign language classes. Students have to attend classes two hours a day from Monday to Friday for each language class. I took elementary Spanish and intermediate Japanese. Although it is called "elementary" Spanish class, I have to work hard to keep abreast with my American classmates because most of them have learned Spanish in high school. By contrast, learning Japanese is a breeze to me owing to the similar writing system. In addition to the intensive language courses, I also took "Intro to Business" and "International Communication." Despite abstract theories, my partner and I introduce everything about Chinese New Year in the class of International Communication. An American, my partner used to stay in different Asian countries because of her father's job. In our presentation, we talk about how to bring good luck and drive away bad luck while playing Chinese New Year music and offering our classmates some tea. It is especially fun by telling them their zodiac signs and their fortunes this year. Different from the hustle and bustle at day, the campus becomes quiet and peaceful at night. I like to take a stroll and sing songs on campus in the starry night.
It is a pity that it is too late to apply for the dormitory at UHH, so Rebecca and I live off campus. Our neighbors are mostly Asians. In fact, Japanese are the main immigrants in Hawaii. Unsurprisingly, Japanese and Koreans exclusively compose the most part of international students in UHH. We hang out with our neighbors. In Hawaii, getting along with Nature is the primary principle. Discovering beauty in Nature, we went to Mauna Kea, where the world’s largest astronomy observatory is located, and watch the countless shooting stars here and there. It is a definite wonder. Although it is freezing in such high altitudes, sipping hot chocolate offered by the observatory and watching the endless dark sky sparkled by numerous shooting stars, I am intoxicated. We savor seafood in Kona while the sun sets into the sea. We hike to see Akaka Falls. We drive to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where people can see lava at night. We sunbathe by Hapuna Beach. We talk with local people finishing on South Point. It is strange that in Hawaii, the sun is strong; the full moon is blue; the stars are shining; even the rainbow is full-featuredly visible. Also, we do grocery shopping together and cook together. I knew nothing about cooking before, but now I have some of my best dishes. Hallelujah, what a progress to me! Sometimes my friends and I eat out. The dishes served in Thai, Vietnamese, and Japanese restaurants are especially tasty at Hilo. Ken's Pancakes and Malasada (the classic Hawaiian doughnut) turn me into a sweet tooth. Hardly can I forget my birthday at Hilo. My friends and I have a "cake fight" outside our apartment. It is too ghastly to look at the creams and cakes are everywhere on our clothes and the floor. Later, the manager gives us scrubbers to clean up the parking lot. It is a unique experience for me.
This is my first time to go to USA. In November, I took a trip to Honolulu. In December, I went to Boston and New York City with the company of Rebecca. In all, I did have fun as an exchange student. My view is broadened in the longest summer vacation from August to December in 2006.
The link below includes the pictures of my life
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