This August marks a milestone of my time being here on the island. Not only am I no longer part of the non-freshmen “fresh meat” at UH, but I finally get dibs on a higher reputation from being a senior this year. Recollecting on my time so far, I consider having many moments of my life here as a sort of sitcom that entailed lots of growth and laughter, as well as tons of conflicts that naturally arise too. These moments do happen regardless of transferring because that’s just how college life is. Yet, the pandemic definitely added a little spice to it.
Long story short, I wasn’t happy with the previous university I attended. I couldn’t make any genuine friendships there and I was living in a really small town with not a lot to do. I even knew from the first week of my freshman year that it wasn’t the place I wanted to be stuck in for the next supposed four years of my life. So, after trying my best to enjoy that place, I finally made the decision to transfer at the beginning of sophomore year – only to have those fantasies of going out everyday and becoming heavily involved in academic clubs be squashed so quickly with the looming pandemic later that year.
As classes became widely converted into the online format, the many opportunities to meet others in-person were gone. The pool of others who transferred are already few, and I felt that I missed out on the pinnacle time to make connections in my freshmen and sophomore year by not attending UH yet. Academically, I couldn’t simply visit my professors for office hours. It actually inhibited me from learning the Hawaiian language, which consists of learning about the culture and meanings of places all over the island. From staying at home for months on end, it was difficult for me to recognize the names of these places and it wouldn’t fare well when I had to discuss my lack of understanding of certain Hawaiian practices geographically.
When it came to personal relationships, I resorted to utilizing the Internet, most notably Bumble BFF, to garner some friends who I still end up hanging with today! A major challenge my friends and I encountered during the pandemic was being limited in places to hang out in. Long-term consequences of Hawai’i going under lockdown hurt many businesses, particularly, small businesses, where staffing for places declined and stayed that way even now when tourism reopened.
Sometimes, it was also difficult to make friends here as tensions were high in regards to people moving here in the pandemic and social distancing. What’s notable about Hawai’i was how the community took COVID into consideration, since restrictions and the desire to protect each other’s health with social distancing was highly a thing here everyday. Simultaneously, in the midst of all this, it barred people from enjoying their time here and at least dampered on mental health issues from the lack of socializing. So, I felt like I was here at the wrong time.
Moving online did have its pros too, as the most convenient way to take classes was through this lifestyle. It’s not everyday that I was able to roll out of bed, fix my hair in the similar time of a car race pit stop, and jump onto a zoom class in under a few minutes. Not having to commute back and forth from campus everyday also let me have freedom to take classes anywhere like on the beach, the back of my friends’ cars, or even from my lanai (balcony). It also taught me the importance of self-discipline and time management, which are always great skills to have in life too!
All in all, despite the limited amount of time I’ve had outdoors, I thoroughly enjoyed my first year since I made the best of the circumstances here whilst making a change in my life. Whenever I was able to hang outside safely, I dabbled into new experiences such as trying out surfing or zip lining in areas away from the city or became more spontaneous with meeting people. Times were tough with COVID-19, but this is the event that marks our history and how we live our lives in this generation. There were times that I felt like I shouldn’t have transferred, mostly for the reason that I was unable to garner up resources academically. But, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been, and I still have this year to get all the connections I need before graduation.