Spending my study abroad semester in the US at Hawaii Pacific University (HPU) was definitely one of the most enriching experiences I have ever had. Living for four months on one of the most remote islands in the world was definitely an eye-opening experience.
HPU offers an extremely broad choice of courses ranging from environmental development and social problems & policy to sociology of terrorism. Lectures and extra-curricular debates on this campus located in the heart of Honolulu enabled me to expand my knowledge of the Asian-Pacific perspective on world politics in a highly multicultural, mostly American-Asian-Pacific environment. These new perspectives were very surprising, yet complementary to the Western perspective I have acquired during my studies at Vesalius.
Due to the rich history and culture present on the island, I also discovered the meaning of the “Aloha spirit” along with various traditions, languages and history of Pacific islands such as Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and other islands of the Polynesian Triangle. Visiting Pearl Harbor and a Buddhist temple complex, Valley of the Temples Memorial Park, as well as the surrounding islands enhanced my understanding of the islands’ rich past.
The third largest Hawaiian island offers an extremely rich night life as well as various exotic attractions such as swimming with sharks in the Pacific Ocean and enjoying the pipelines of Waimea Bay in the world’s surfing mecca, the North Shore. For more adventurous spirits, Oahu offers the thrilling experience of skydiving from one the highest altitudes in the world or hiking and exploring nature and panoramic views from the ‘forbidden’ Stairways to Heaven trail, which is definitely something that Brussels cannot offer.
I am very thankful for all the friendships I made during my study abroad experience and I wish to thank to those who made this experience possible – a big “MAHALO” particularly to Vesalius College and our Study Abroad Director, Virginie. If you have the opportunity to spend a semester abroad and you are looking for an unforgettable experience, do not hesitate spend it in Hawaii.
Barbara Benuskova is a third year student in International Affairs.