College Expectations vs. Reality: Hawai’i Student Edition

Moving so far from home can be very tricky, especially if where you were born and raised is paradise. Nonetheless, college is a transition that would make any teenager excited to leave home. Now, to my Hawai’i locals who are soon leaving the island to attend school on the East Coast, this article is for you. Make sure you grab a zip-pac and read this one right after your beach session in the west side.

Expectation: You’re going to make CHOKE (Hawaiian slang for: ‘many’) friends IMMEDIATELY because you are from Hawai’i. Who wouldn’t want to be friends with you?

The reality is that you are still going to have a hard time making friends because it is, after all, college and a new school. Although they will be impressed that you are from Hawai’i, it does not mean you will vibe with them on a deep friendship level that you have with your best friend from high school. The first few weeks you will be hanging out with many different people and going from group to group because you are in the weird phase of figuring out who your people are—the one’s that you will eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner with, the one’s that you will have movie nights with on a rainy day, and the one’s that you’ll tell your friends back home about. It is completely normal! But once you find your friends, the rest of your Freshman year will feel more in place.

Expectation: You will not get along with your roommate!

This is a general expectation for many Freshman students coming into college. We hear so many horror stories about roommates that we just assume that we are going to hate ours since so many people did. The reality is that NOT EVERYONE HAS ROOMMATE PROBLEMS!!


MY STORY: I was put with someone who I did not even speak to prior coming to Marist. We only followed each other on social media and shared majors and that was our only interaction before meeting in person on move-in day. We were extremely different, and I know you all expect this too because our culture is very unique back home. However, these differences did not build a wall between us, it actually brought us closer. We were both insanely lucky to be such easy-going people, so we never really clashed. We both had our own worlds outside of our room which I think helped our relationship grow. We still keep in touch today and still get excited when we see each other randomly.

My advice is to be good friends with your roommate, but make sure you both have your own groups of friends because space is definitely important with someone you live with. Also communicate and allow yourself to open up for those deep late night “I-can’t-sleep” convos!


Many of us grow up on the island and seldom leave. Therefore, we never ever experienced the full four seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. But now you will, and I bet you are expecting the best movie experience. The reality is…four seasons is a lot of work and sometimes…not the “movie” experience.

  1. First…you expect to be prepared. I bet your Mom and Dad bought you the best coat that you could use for Fall and for the Winter. Maybe even one extra just for the spring. The reality is that, you are going to need MULTIPLE COATS. And more sweaters and extra layering. The reality is that the fall is cold, but not cold enough for a big coat or else you will sweat. The reality is that the winter is cold, but your fall coat will not have you warm enough and only freeze to death. And finally, the reality is that it is still cold in the spring, but not winter cold, and oh, there is rain too so make sure your coat is waterproof.
  2. Sweater Weather is not at all what the song entails it to be. When they say sweater weather, the reality is that they mean shirt, hoodie, scarf, gloves, and ear muffs sweater weather. And even if the weather app says that it is 60 degrees and that may seem like a warm fall day, then make sure you check if there are winds and if the sun is out. Because if it is not, that 60-degree day will still feel like a 40-degree day.
  3. When they say it rains, it rains. I know you expect it be like back home when the weather man, Guy Hagi, would say that it would rain, and the rain would only last for five minutes. When it says that it is going to rain all day here, it rains all day—and it only makes it colder. On top of that, you will actually need rain boots because if not, the rain will get the best of your “Jesus” slippers and vans/converse.
  4. SNOW!!! Snow is just like how you see it in the movies. However, the reality is that there are a few untold things about snow. For example, snow is not always ‘fluffy’ and soft. Since temperatures get so low, eventually the snow freezes over night. So, when you wake up early in hopes of building a snow man, you should be prepared for working up a sweat. On top of that, with snow comes ice. Ice is dangerous because you can slip and lose your balance which can be quite embarrassing and sore. Hence, wear the right snow gear!! It may be expensive, but you will need it.

Expectation: You will not get homesick because you are in a different environment, exploring new things, and going on new adventures!

There are many weekends that are dedicated for families and many people have the opportunity to go back home for random weekends and Thanksgiving. Since we are so far from home, we do not get the luxury of seeing our family whenever we please. The closest we get to seeing them is Facetime. I know what you’re thinking—not a problem, because you “won’t miss them.” And you’re thinking that you will be so distracted with your new life that you won’t have time to think about paradise.


The reality is that you will. Even if you don’t for the first week, the first month, you will eventually feel the pains of homesickness. When you see your friends with their family during family weekends and you are most likely just in your dorm. When you say something in pidgin and no one laughs or understands because they are not from home. When you crave Hawaiian food but can’t get any because there are no Hawaiian restaurants within reasonable distance. See? It is almost inevitable to be homesick. Our home is unique, and most things back home cannot be found anywhere else.

MY EXPERIENCE: The first time I felt homesickness I did not know what to do. I just cried. But as the Marist community grows, so does ours. More and more students have been coming to Marist from Hawai’i and since the growth of our population at Marist, a club has just been formed for us to share our culture and be together. Now, whenever I start to feel homesick, I’m able to meet with other Hawai’i students and  we play our reggae music while cooking spam.

MY ADVICE: So, you see that missing home will come in waves, but you just have to prepare yourself for it and know that it is normal. Find people from home, so when home feels far away you do not have to feel the void alone.

Expectation: You will not miss school because you are back in paradise!

You expect not to miss the East Coast or school when you are home because you are doing all the things and being with all the people that you missed when you were away. But the reality is that you will because you found people that you love in the East Coast and things you can only get there. The people and friends you made at school are different than the ones you left back home because of the experiences you’ve shared with them. A bond with common experiences truly leaves an impact on your heart. Not to mention, going through finals together is a different kind of bond.

MY EXPERIENCE: I did not expect to miss Marist at all when I first got home for the long summer that awaited me. But when I was home and a few weeks passed, I started to miss my friends and the funny jokes we had about school. I found myself facetiming them almost every single week when I was home for breaks.


“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.”

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