I’ve been lucky enough to get the chance to move to the most isolated island on the planet to study for my dream career. And I’ve been even luckier for having chosen a location that happens to be one of the best places to be right now with the ongoing pandemic.
Hawaii Pacific University is one of the few universities in the world that offers in-person studies with the current COVID-19 situation. This is crucial for my studies in marine biology as the most important part of education is to get laboratory and research experience.
Hawaii Pacific University is located smack in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. This allows the school to offer some unique experiences for marine biology students in hands-on learning. In addition to general chemistry, physics, and biology, the major includes marine life focused biology and oceanography, the geology of oceans. One of the special aspects Hawaii Pacific University offers is boat labs, where the students get to do research at sea.
"Living on an island allows students to learn outside the classes too. At sunrise, I get to go for quick snorkeling with turtles and dolphins. At sunset, I might catch whales on the horizon."
Hawaii was able to close its borders at the beginning of the pandemic, which kept the confirmed cases low enough for the state to open up much more than other parts of the world. Hawaii is also dependent on tourism and international students, which must have had an effect.
Hawaii Pacific University does have many safety precautions and regulations. Every day we fill out a health form and take a temperature scan. The class sizes are being kept small by the hybrid model. This means half of the class is online and half in-person.
The pandemic has still had a big effect on my experience. I received the information that moving might be possible three weeks before the semester was supposed to start. Five days before my flight I got the visa.
I had nothing planned and then nothing went as planned. No one really knew what was required for traveling to the United States, the living situation for the first months was a mess, and my course plan for university made no sense.
I haven’t had the typical college experience, as all student events have been canceled or moved online. Instead, I’ve gotten to see Hawaii in a way many have not: without tourists. This is something more special than I probably even realize right now.
The past half a year has been better and worse than I could have ever imagined. With all its beauty, Hawaii has been worth all the trouble and stress, and I’m so happy and lucky to be here right now.