Aloha! My name is miriam I come from near Munich and study business administration at the LMU in Munich. However, I completed the winter semester 17/18 at Hawai’i Pacific University (HPU) . I had previously spoken to a nice lady from your website at an information event about foreign countries at LMU and was immediately enthusiastic about the idea of studying as a “free mover” in Hawai’i .
Preparation & organization
After the decision was made to go to Hawai’i for my semester abroad , your website submitted my application to the HPU. Your website was also available for other questions regarding preparation, etc. I received my acceptance about one month after applying. To get the student visa for the USA , you have to be a “full-time student” or at least four subjects in the USA. You have to clarify with your home university whether the courses are also credited in Germany and which ones you should take. Before I left, I had therefore already concluded a learning agreement with the LMU in advance. I was lucky that my university gave me credit for all courses.The HPU offers the great advantage, in contrast to other universities, that you can choose the courses here in advance from Germany. This makes it easier for you to agree with your home university and thus increases the likelihood that your grades will be credited.
Tip: You can read reviews of professors and courses at the HPU (and many other universities) via the website www.ratemyprofessor.com, which can be very helpful when choosing a course.
The HPU also offers its own health insurance for its students . However, if you prefer to insure yourself from Germany, certain HPU insurance criteria must be met. Attention, if you do not report that you want to insure yourself, you will automatically be insured by the HPU! If you are thinking of staying longer in Hawai’i outside of the regular semester, for example to visit the other islands, it is often advisable not to take out insurance through the HPU, as this insurance only covers the period of the official study period one semester takes effect. If you study at the HPU for more than six months, a tuberculosis test is also required.
Costs & Financing
The not-so-nice part about Hawai’i is the cost involved. The tuition fees at the HPU are (like almost everywhere in the USA) very high. In addition, the textbooks in the USA are a lot more expensive than you are used to in Germany. It therefore makes sense to first ask the professors whether you really need all of the books. If this is actually the case, you can also buy or rent used books in the HPU bookstore or on Amazon. Unfortunately, in addition to studying, life in Hawai’i in general is not cheap either.
The apartment prices are very high (700-1000 $ / month, own room not guaranteed) but the prices for groceries are also a little higher than on the mainland. At regional farmers’ markets, however, you can buy good and fresh for a little less money. How much money you spend on leisure activities, etc., depends on each person (e.g. shopping, dining, partying, renting a surfboard, renting a car, …).
However, the cost should not deter anyone from going to Hawai’i because it is a once in a lifetime experience! You should definitely apply for BAföG abroad (it is easier to get it than the normal BAföG in Germany). You can also apply for various scholarships (e.g. DAAD) and find out about financial support options at your home university.
Finding an apartment in Hawai’i is not always easy. Together with a friend, I had booked a hostel in advance for the first few days so that I could look for apartments on site. Housing offers can be found on the Internet, for example on Craigslist or in various Facebook groups. I found my apartment through contact with a German student who was in Hawai’i the previous semester. There is of course also the possibility to live on campus (Downtown & Loa), but Downtown Honolulu is not the safest area of the city (a lot of drug-addicted homeless people) and the rooms are just as expensive. If you want to live off-campus like me, the Waikiki and Ala Moana neighborhoods are recommended. From there you need about 30 minutes by bus to the university, but there is always something going on here, it’s clean and you never get bored (but very touristy). I lived right in Waikiki and the location was perfect with walking distance to the beach, shopping and shopping, and most of my friends. I lived in a shared flat with two other German girls and there were also many international students living in our neighborhood in Waikiki.
One week before the university officially started, the HPU organized an “Orientation Week”. This event is aimed at students in their first semester and international guest students to get to know the university and new people.
The HPU is a private university and therefore a lot smaller than the public university in Hawai’i (University of Hawai’i). Despite its manageable size, the HPU is very international. So you get to know people from all over the world (especially Germany, Scandinavia, Australia, Austria). The HPU consists of the Downtown Campus and the Loa Campus. The latter is a little further inside the island. My courses all took place downtown. That was my choice of course:
- Human resource management
- Travel Industry Marketing
- Contemporary Entrepreneurship
- Money and Banking
In contrast to Germany, the courses were quite small (approx. 15-30 people), making the lessons very personal. All of my professors were always nice and tried very hard. The level of difficulty was lower than at my German university, but you could still learn a lot thanks to the good supervision. Studying at the HPU is relatively time-consuming during the semester (quizzes, tests, assignments), but since the level is lower than usual, the university is really feasible. Since you perform continuously throughout the semester, you don’t really have a lot of stress in the final exams. However, the amount of work depends very much on the different courses and professors. The downtown campus also includes the beautiful Aloha Tower Market Place, which is located on the harbor. Here you will find restaurants, study rooms, an e-sports café, bookstore and student apartments. From the top of the Aloha Tower you have a fantastic view of downtown and the harbor. Sports courses for students such as Zumba or Sunset Yoga are also offered here.
Leisure & Life in Hawai’i
You rarely get bored in Hawai’i, as there is always something to do. If you are in Hawai’i, you should definitely try surfing as it is a lot of fun. Waikiki is ideal for beginners, but it is quite crowded here. At the surf shop “Moku” in Waikiki you can rent a surfboard for about $ 5. If you surf a lot, it is worthwhile to take out a “Student Membership” here. Hawai’i offers a lot of hikes in all levels of difficulty, which are rewarded with an incredible view. It is always worth exploring new corners of the island, as the nature in Hawai’i is simply indescribably beautiful. Those who are also interested in the colorful underwater world have many opportunities to go snorkeling or diving (e.g. Hanauma Bay).Hawai’i is also known for its dream beaches and doesn’t promise too much. There are a lot of great beaches on O’ahu, all of which are special (and nowhere near as crowded as Waikiki Beach). Some of my favorites are: Lanikai Beach, Sunset Beach, Banzai Pipeline. To explore the island, it often makes sense to rent a car for the day, as you are very flexible. Almost everything can be reached very easily by bus, but you have to plan a lot more time.
Another very cool neighborhood in Honolulu is the street art district of Kakaako. In addition to fine art, this neighborhood also has a cool little brewery. The “Honolulu Beerworks” is a cozy bar with a wide variety of beers and lots of games that you can borrow. As you can probably already see, Hawai’i is incredibly versatile and has something for everyone. Another big plus is the good weather. The climate on the islands is pleasantly warm all year round, even if it gets a few degrees cooler in “winter” and it rains a little more often than in summer.
The Hawai’i archipelago includes eight islands. The main island, on which Honolulu is also located, is called O’ahu. I would recommend to anyone doing a semester abroad there to visit a few of the other islands as they are all different and unique. My favorite island was next to O’ahu (has become like a home) the oldest of the Hawaiian islands – Kaua’i. This island is not called “Garden Island” for nothing, because it has an incredibly beautiful nature and is very green. All islands can be easily reached by plane in 20-40 minutes. Smaller, local airlines such as Hawaiian Airlines offer inter-island flights at relatively affordable prices. After the end of the semester, I took another month to travel to the islands of Kaua’i, Maui and the Big Island (Hawai’i).
I had an indescribably wonderful time in Hawai’i and would warmly recommend everyone to spend the semester abroad in beautiful Aloha State. I got to know a lot of great people from different countries, as well as gained experiences and memories for life. The semester abroad in Hawai’i has helped me both academically and, above all, personally.