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Tessa Pesicka / Her Campus

So You Want to Attend the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa

So you want to attend the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa. That’s not surprising! O'ahu is beautiful, and nothing is better than studying in paradise. As a junior who's lived on O'ahu for seventeen years now, I’ve seen both the good and the bad of this island. The good news is that you’re surrounded by beauty and diversity, plus it's a great school; just this month UH Mānoa was recognized in the top 1 percent of more than 26,000 worldwide universities. But, what about the unknown negatives? Let’s figure that out! I made a list of the three most common negatives of studying at this university:

1. Homesickness

We all know the transition from high school to college can be challenging. Some ease into college life well, some don’t. Both are totally okay! But, I think a lot of incoming students ignore the fact that they are entering a new chapter and think that living in Hawai'i will make them forget about home. Surprisingly, it doesn’t always help. My freshman year roommate struggled with the transition- and she was from Maui. She wasn’t prepared for how chaotic O'ahu truly is. UH Mānoa is located in the heart of Honolulu, where there’s a lot of crowds, traffic, homeless people, and just… loudness.  By the end of my freshman year, three of my best friends moved back home.

If you’re coming from a small town, this will definitely be a change in scenery.

It’s also important to realize that you are coming into a state full of history and culture. The culture and race dynamic will be extremely different then let’s say, Maine. Be respectful of the people and the land, and understand that living in Hawai'i is a privilege. 

2. Cha-ching!

I’m sure you’ve heard about the price tag of living in Hawai'i. If you come here with money saved and live in the dorms with a meal plan, then this might not affect you so much. Now that you’re on an island, things (especially food) are probably going to cost a bit more than what you’re used to. Plus, rent is crazy here- you’ll need multiple roommates to afford a decent apartment. You’ll also want to have money saved on adventures.. parasailing, shark diving, and island hopping (my favorite island is Kaua'i)! Honestly, experiences like these have been some of my favorite moments yet. This is something you don’t want to miss out on! Whether you are dorming or not, definitely come with a financial plan and have a backup. 

3. False Advertisement

Alright, this is something important to know. UH Mānoa is somewhat falsely advertised. I know, I know- of course, the main selling point will be the beaches! But the closest beach is in Waikiki (about 15-20 minutes by bus).. and it isn't the best beach in the area. However, the surrounding beaches are gorgeous- but it's a bit of a distance. One of my favorite beaches is a two-hour bus ride from campus! That being said, having a car or moped makes a huge difference. Another issue is with our dormitories. There are eight dormitories (one is an apartment-style), but only two come with AC. 

One word… Fans. Just trust me on this. 

If you decide to dorm here, my advice is to do your research. Each dormitory is known for something different (I lived in Johnson Hall for two years, it was quiet and close to the main campus). A great resource is to ask on our school’s Reddit and Facebook group to figure out which dorm is suited best for you. 


Now, don’t get me wrong- I’m extremely lucky to be a student here. You’ll find me at the many sports games and campus events. I’ve met amazing people and been given great opportunities. Yet, I know many students who say UH Mānoa isn’t what they thought it was. I don’t want you to have that experience! All in all, the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa is a great school and I’m certain I made the right choice to continue my education here. 

I hope to see you here as a rainbow warrior next semester!

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