Studying in Hawaii – What is it like?

Have you ever wondered what it is like to study in the tropical island state of Hawaii?

Pc: Phil Schlieder


Back in 2014, I decided to do a study abroad in Hawai’i as part of my undergrad in Denmark. It was a big change coming from cold Denmark and then suddenly standing with my feet in the warm turquoise ocean. It was somewhat of a culture shock, but it didn’t take me long to fall in love with the aloha spirit.

In 2018, I decided to move back to Hawai’i and pursue a full Master’s of Arts in Communication at Hawaii Pacific University. It wasn’t an easy decision for me to move so far away. There were a lot of factors that had to be taken into account. I would move far away from my loved ones, but I would also be spending a lot of money. In Denmark, public schools and universities are tuition-free. Therefore, moving to Hawaii meant that I would have to pay for attending school, which I might say IS NOT CHEAP! But I missed Hawaii so much that I decided to do it anyway. Now almost three years later I regret nothing! Living in Hawaii changed my life in so many ways. My heart will forever belong to the beautiful islands of Hawai’i.

Pc: Phil Schlieder


There is a lot to love about Hawaii, including languages, ethnicities, culture, music, and food. Oh, and not to mention the beaches, palm trees, and lush landscapes! Studying in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is without a doubt something very special. The warm, tropical climate lets you enjoy the outdoors at any time of the year. You can snorkel through vivid blue water, hike in a lush rainforest, explore active volcanoes, and try surfing Hawaii’s legendary waves.

Hawaii’s unique heritage has led to a fascinating melting pot of people with Asian, European, American, and Native Hawaiian backgrounds. Thanks to this, you will enjoy delicious cuisine, a variety of historical buildings, and the chance to immerse yourself in a one-of-a-kind community.

After attending your classes you will be able to go on various adventures! Maybe you would like to swim with dolphins and turtles? or what about going on an epic sunset hike? Hawaii has everything your heart desires, especially if you are into outdoor adventures. Studying in Hawaii is so much fun!


I studied at Hawai’i Pacific University (HPU), which is a private non-profit university (the largest of its kind in the United States) and was founded in 1965. Hawai’i Pacific University has a total of 5,000 students and comes from all 50 US states and over 65 different countries, making HPU one of the most international universities in the United States.

Studying at Hawaii Pacific University was a great experience. The classes are small and there is for that reason plenty of room for interaction with your professors. HPU also has a wide range of study options – over more than 50 bachelor degrees and 14 master’s degrees to choose from. HPU’s student life is also very active, with approximately 50 different student organizations that you can join, whether it be the United Nations club, the International club, or the Leaders for a Sustainable Future club.


Let me ask you something: What would you prefer: Homework or the beach? I thought so. It can be hard to stay focused on school projects when you live in paradise where the weather is always great.

A lot of students get surprised by the workload. Hawaii Pacific University loves giving a crap-load of homework and papers to write. It is, therefore, important that you find a balance between school and adventures. It is important to keep your goal in mind and remember that you are there to study and get a degree. Don’t stress out too much. There is plenty of time to enjoy the beaches in your free time when you study in Hawaii.


There are a few options when it comes to living in Hawai’i. You can choose to either live in university housing or find your own accommodation.

Hawaii Pacific University gives you the option to live in the new Waterfront Lofts at Aloha Tower Market in Downtown Honolulu. It is a super cute location, but I would only recommend staying there if you are an undergraduate. People living there tend to be very young.

Most students (including myself) prefer to find their own accommodation. This is perfect if you feel comfortable living on your own. It is advisable to wait with finding long-term housing until after you have arrived in Hawaii. A lot of students choose to live at a hostel for a while. It might sound awful, but it is actually a fun way to start your island adventure and meet other people (especially if you are a study abroad student). The majority of students live in the Waikiki area. Waikiki is always full of life and you are close to the beach, restaurants, and bars. Waikiki can be a bit too touristy sometimes and it can for that reason feel really great to go on an island adventure away from the crowds here and there.


Hawai’i belongs to The United States of America and is a melting pot of different cultures. It is, therefore, easy to forget who the islands really belong to – The Hawaiian. If you move to Hawai’i you should be aware of Hawaiian history and have respect for the Hawaiian culture.

As a student, the best way to immerse yourself in local Hawaiian culture is first to approach it with an attitude of something called ‘pono’ (Hawaiian word for ‘goodness’). This just means that you should be open to learn, appreciate, and enjoy.

The culture of Hawaii is based around family, taking care of the land, and giving back to the community. Here are 3 things you as a student should do if you study in Hawaii:

Respect the land (Aina). This is a core part of Hawaiian culture. Therefore, don’t leave trash at the beach and make sure to be respectful while enjoying the outdoors.

Give back to the community. This can be done in many ways. One way could be through volunteering. You could, for example, join beach cleanups or do something else where you can show aloha.

Learn about Hawaiian culture and history. Try joining a hula dance class or learn how to speak Hawaiian. Hawaiian culture is a wonderful culture and you might learn a lot from it.

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