Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Fall 2014 Recap 6: The Final One!

So by now, you're probably sick of reading about my fall semester, and we're starting the spring semester! Time flies, doesn't it? Here is my very LAST post about Fall 2014, I promise. Anyway, I ran out of themes for my posts, so here is an assortment of photos of the random things I did this semester.

I saw the cast of Hawaii Five-0!!!! They were filming right here on Fort Street Mall. I walked out of class and BAM - celebrities. Pretty cool! That was one of my goals for my time here.

 I ate my first fresh coconut! We have coconut trees in our yard, and you have to cut the coconuts down or they can actually be very dangerous! They're huge - that box is really big!
I survived a "hurricane." Everyone FREAKED OUT and bought all the food & water on the island. It all amounted to a rainy, windy day off. The boys decided that buying enough pizza to feed the entire army was the best (and most economically practical) way to prepare for a hurricane. We had pizza for days!

 I went to a luau and ate delicious food. So much food. We went to the luau at the Hale Koa Hotel in Waikiki. "Hale Koa" means "house of the warrior" in Hawaiian. It's the military hotel here.

My pictures are awful but the luau was SO. COOL.They performed dances from all over the Polynesian world. I was amazed, honestly. It was so much fun.

We went to the luau for my 24th birthday. Not a bad way to ring in a new year of life! Obviously, for a luau, we had to wear our best Aloha gear!

We had dinner at the Oceanarium, which is this restaurant/aquarium where you get to eat with the fish! While eating... fish... They also have a mermaid! Our waiter was from Mexico and we became best friends once I told him I spoke Spanish. 

I gave my first "AL Talk." Applied Linguistics (AL) Talks are professional development events from the department. They happen every other Friday. Sometimes professors give them, sometimes guests give them, and sometimes students give them. I got to give this one, along with 2 of my classmates, about the language teaching jobs we had this summer.

I rescued a cat! Jack here was a neighborhood stray who was always very friendly. One day I came home to find him limping. We took him to the vet and got him fixed up, and it turned out he had a microchip. His mama was tracked down and we discovered that Jack had been missing for almost TWO YEARS (pretty crazy for a 3 year old cat!). His mama had moved to Virginia in that time. She was so grateful he was found, and he flew home to her that weekend. After so long, they got their happy reunion just in time for a Christmas - how's that for a miracle?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Fall 2014 Recap Part 5: The Fisher House Hero & Remembrance Run, Walk, or Roll

The first weekend in September, we did the Fisher House Hero & Remembrance Run, Walk, or Roll on Ford Island. The event is all volunteer-run, and it's to remember the members of our Armed Forces who have been lost in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

It's an 8k route, and all along the route are boots - one boot for every person lost. There are so many boots. It was such a nice event, but also so emotional. It was so strange and sad to think that for every boot, a person had died. Each boot had a picture of the person with their name, branch of service, and the date they died. Walking with so many people in the military, it was especially sad to see the people I knew looking for friends they had lost. To me, the people on the boots were strangers, but to some people there, they were friends or brothers or sisters or fathers or mothers. It broke my heart. One boot (pictured to the left) honored one of the heroes depicted in the movie Lone Survivor. (If you saw that movie and didn't cry, how?!)  At the last straightaway, I started to look more closely at the boots, and suddenly I couldn't stop crying. Some boots were tied together - people who had died together. One pair was tied together but had different dates; then I realized they were brothers. The poor parents. Most of the photos were from military IDs, but some were personal photos. One of a soldier with his newborn baby. One of a soldier with his dog. Neither of them would ever understand why their soldier never came home. Some of the boots had been decorated with leis or other offerings. Someone set a beer next to one boot, sharing a drink with a lost friend. One widow had left a letter for her husband. I cried so hard I couldn't read it. A little boy walked with a shirt honoring his father. From the Ford Island bridge, you can see Pearl Harbor. It was almost overwhelming how much loss was represented there that day. It was a heavy reminder that the people who are fighting our wars are not statistics or faceless strangers. They are real people, and they leave real loved ones behind when they go off to fight.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Fall 2014 Recap Part 4: Some pretty Hawaii views :)

One of my favorite things about Hawaii is the VIEWS. So here are some of my favorite views from this fall. Please note that, once again, my little smartphone camera doesn't do anything justice.

This is actually the view from our back balcony one Monday morning around 6 AM. I hate Mondays as much as the next person, but this made getting up a little easier.

This is the view from Tantalus Lookout. You have to drive up a VERY winding road to get there (I thought we were going to die a few times), but the view from the top is amazing.
 Sea cliffs out by Koko Head, on the way to Hanauma Bay. Hanauma Bay is a GREAT view too, and SO MUCH FUN, but I didn't get any pictures of it. If you like to snorkel, GO TO HANAUMA BAY. If you've never snorkeled, GO TO HANAUMA BAY. I've never seen so many fish in my life. My favorite was this HUGE parrot fish. So beautiful.
The view from Nu'uanu Pali lookout. You can't tell from the photo, but it was just about the windiest place I've ever been! I thought I was going to blow off the cliff! Nu'uanu Pali is the site of a very bloody battle in which Kamehameha I conquered Oahu. The pass used to be the only connection between windward Oahu and Honolulu and it was really dangerous and tough! There are ghost stories about the old highway today, and according to Hawaiian folklore you can't carry pork over the Nu'uanu Pali, especially at night. Allegedly, if you have pork in your car when you drive over it, your car will stop. This is because the goddess Pele didn't want Kamapua'a, a half-human, half-hog god with whom she didn't get along, crossing into her territory. For better photos, Google Nu'uana Pali!

This is the view of downtown Honolulu from the Aloha Tower, which is actually right down the road from HPU! We visited on a day with strange weather, and were lucky enough to catch a double rainbow. The second one if faintly visible at the top, see?

Well, I hope you've enjoyed my snaps of just a very few of the great Hawaiian views I got to see during the Fall 2014 semester! What's your favorite view in Hawaii?

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Fall 2014 Recap Part 3: Camping & Hiking

If you like to hike or camp, Hawaii is a great place to do it! Also if you like to hike and camp, you should date my boyfriend. (Just kidding, he's mine!) 

This fall, Devin dragged brought me on the longest backpacking trip I've ever done - 20 miles round trip. To say that I was sore and blistered afterwards is an understatement. (Remember when I said I would never run a marathon? Yeah.) But it was worth it! We camped for a night in the middle of nowhere and had silence, incredible views of the ocean, the mountains and valleys of Oahu's North Shore, and the STARS. My photos don't do it justice, but wow.

Waialua and Haleiwa.

The view from our little campsite.


I never get tired of looking at the Pacific Ocean from the top of a mountain, honestly.

Our little campsite in the morning.

You can't tell in this photo, but I was sore, sweaty, and covered in blisters.
Like I said, if you like to hike, Hawaii is a great place to do it. There are SO many hikes, even just on Oahu!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Fall 2014 Recap Part 2: Pearl Harbor and the USS Missouri

When I told people I live in Hawaii and I hadn't been to Pearl Harbor, they were always flabbergasted. Finally, after over a year of living here, I got to see it. And just... Wow. Words can't really do the experience justice, honestly. 

We went to Pearl Harbor on my birthday, November 3. 

The first thing you do when you get to Pearl Harbor is watch a video about the attacks. The video is made up of real footage from the day of the attacks. And it's incredible. I couldn't wrap my mind around the idea that this beautiful place, with sun and sky and blue water, had been transformed into a kind of hell like that so easily, so quickly. I couldn't comprehend the number of lives lost, the magnitude of the event and what it meant for our country. I can't imagine life on Oahu that day. It must have been terrifying.

After the video, you take a boat out to the Arizona memorial. The Arizona sunk very quickly, and there are 1,102 sailors still down there today. It's eerie, honestly, to stand on the memorial and know that they are down there. You're standing on a tomb. The names of the fallen are carved into a wall, and there are so many it hurts to look at.

The names of those who died on the USS Arizona.
There is still oil leaking up from the ship. They call it the "tears of the Arizona." It's surreal. The whole thing is surreal.

Tears of the Arizona.
Many of the survivors of the Arizona chose to be interred with their shipmates when they died, and there is a memorial for them as well. I can't imagine how it feels to survive an event like that. It's nice to think of the men who survived being reunited with their brothers, I think.

Survivors who have been interred on the USS Arizona.
The Arizona sits facing the USS Missouri, where Japan signed their unconditional surrender and ended World War II. They say that it's the start and the end of the war for the United States in one place.

The USS Missouri from the Arizona Memorial.
Visiting the Arizona is emotional and difficult, but definitely a must-see while you're in Hawaii. Some tourist spots are overrated, but this isn't one of them.

Flag flying over the Arizona memorial.
After the Arizona, we went to the USS Missouri, the battleship where the Japanese surrendered and ended WWII on September 2, 1945 in Tokyo Bay. The "Mighty MO" was the last battleship of her kind. And she is HUGE.

HUGE, I'm telling you.
The very spot history was made!

Mighty MO has a very interesting and rich history, which we heard all about thanks to our fantastic tour guide, my good friend Chloe. I won't make this a lengthy historical post, but I will say that you should check out the USS Missouri as part of your Hawaii bucket list. Doing it on the same day as the Arizona memorial was especially meaningful, I think.

The USS Arizona Memorial from the Mighty MO.
So it only took me a year and 3 months, but I made it to one of Hawaii's biggest tourist attractions. What's on your Hawaiian bucket list?

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Fall 2014 Recap Part 1: ITO Fun!

So rather than overwhelm you all with an incredibly long post about all the fabulous things I did this fall, I thought I'd space them out a little. You're welcome.

So what better way to start off than with ITO? If you don't know, ITO stands for the Intercultural Teachers Organization, and it's our student club in the HPU MATESOL program. I'm the co-vice president and the treasurer, and it's a lot of fun! ITO is a mix of work and play - we do lots of professional development but we also have fun! I joined ITO during my first semester because I wanted to make friends, and I have loved every ITO event I've gone to! And I even made some friends ;) 

What an attractive group of people, am I right?
Our first even this semester was a social and it was a great success! Normally, TESOL events happen at school, but we had this one in the party room of a nearby apartment building and it was great! Grad and undergrad students and professors all came. Everyone brought food (we are all about the potlucks in the TESOL program) and we played games and chatted and it was great! A huge success, if I do say so!

We also had a booth at Halloween Funfest, which is a big event HPU has the week before Halloween. Clubs and groups have booths, and there are games and candy and costumes and food and it's so fun! The local community gets involved too, and lots of kids come by to play the games and get candy. There's a costume contest and a booth contest, and afterward they show Rocky Horror Picture Show. This year, ITO teamed up with the Future Teachers Club to put together a Toy Story-themed booth.

Toy Story!

And guess what? We won best booth! The prize was a bag of goodies and free tickets to see the new Hunger Games movie a few weeks later! (HPU rented out a theater for it - it was great!) 

TESOL students love a good photo booth.
ITO also hosted an Open Mic event this fall, where we shared teaching activities and got to hang out with a group of visiting teachers-in-training from Brunei, who are about to set off on 2 years of teaching in Cambodia and Laos. Pretty cool, huh?

We also scored 10 lucky people memberships to HALT, the Hawaii Association of Language Teachers (for all languages, not just English!) and attended their fall symposium. The theme was computer-assisted language learning, which was actually one of the classes I took this fall, so it was pretty cool to learn even more about it. (I even downloaded a cool app called Memrise to learn Basque for free! BASQUE! So cool.)

This spring, we have some cool upcoming events as well, including the Hawaii TESOL conference and a hike with the professors. I'm pretty excited!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Kicking off winter break!

Well! Finals are over and I can finally relax, sleep in, and do absolutely nothing, right?

Not quite! Like I said before, I'm working Tuesdays this break and I'll be working on my Capstone Portfolio as well because I'm graduating in May - eek! How did that happen?

Friday afternoon, I went to the Capstone presentation for the 4 students who are graduating from the MATESOL program. I love the Capstone event, because it's so, so interesting to hear about everyone who is graduating! I always learn new things about my friends when they give their presentations. I have to say, the people in the MATESOL program are some of the most interesting, coolest people I've met. They come from all over the world and have so many different experiences to share - that's a big part of why I chose HPU! I love that in any given class, I've got friends from Japan, China, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, and more! I've learned so much from listening to my classmates in the past year and a half. Hopefully someday I can visit all my TESOL friends in their home countries!

After the Capstone event, a few of us went out to celebrate. It was so much fun - I didn't want to hop on the bus back home! The official graduation is on Wednesday and I'm so excited for my friends who are graduating, but I'll miss them a lot too.

Yuhei is one of the graduates. He's going back to Japan and I will miss him!

So that was Friday night. How about the rest of the weekend? This weekend I woke up earlier than I do on school days! Why, you ask? It's all my boyfriend's fault, honestly.

Saturday morning, we had to wake up at the crack of dawn (it was still dark, which to me means it was the middle of the night) and go on a super secret Christmas mission. It involved a long drive (it's amazing how long it can take to drive somewhere on this tiny island, but it really does!), a pretty place, and (unfortunately) a lot of wind. I can't say any more about it now though ;)  

The pretty place: Waimanalo! This picture is from a camping trip there last year.
We were back home by breakfast time, and then it was time for the Army-Navy game. I still can't get used to the fact that football games start as early as 7 AM here - as an East Coaster I think that's just plain wrong! The Army-Navy game started at 10, at least, so we made a brunch out of it and invited a bunch of friends over to watch. My boyfriend, Devin, is in the Army, and our roommate and the majority of our friends here all went to West Point, so obviously there was a lot of excitement about the game. Unfortunately, the Army lost but... there's always next year, right?

Go Army! And yes, we do have a giant American flag in our living room. Don't you?
Saturday night, Devin and I had a date night at Vino, this awesome Italian place downtown. Their homemade pasta is to-die-for, and of course the wine is great too! 

Sunday was another early day: the day of the Honolulu Marathon! Now, anyone who knows me can tell you - I am NOT a runner. I hate running. I think I might be allergic to it. (Oh wait, no... I just have asthma.) But all of my friends are much more athletic than I am, so I knew a bunch of people running in the marathon, including both of the boys I live with. My roommate, Russell, decided on Saturday that he would run the marathon - his first! - on Sunday. Crazy, right? It was his 26th birthday, so he wanted to run 26 miles on his 26th birthday. Personally, running 26 miles is at the very bottom of the list of things I might want to do to celebrate turning 26, but to each his own, right?

Anyway, the runners left VERY early - before 3 AM - to get to the race, which started at 5. I "slept in" until 5, and then took the bus down to the end of the race, next to the Honolulu Zoo. Then I got a spot near the finish line and waited. Fortunately, you can track the runners on the marathon's app, so I knew when to expect them. 

A bunch of strangers who are way tougher than I'll ever be.
This year, over 22,000 people ran the Honolulu Marathon in the wind and the rain (and the dark, for a while!). About half the runners came from Japan, but there were people from ALL over. It was really cool to hear them announcing the hometowns of the finishers. By the time I got there, just before the 3 hour mark, the winners had already finished. But I got to cheer for my friends as they finished! One of the TESOL professors ran (and beat all my friends! #linguistsforthewin), and lots of people the guys work with ran as well, so there were lots of familiar faces at the finish line. I'm so proud of them all!

Look at my sporty friends!
Sunday afternoon was pretty relaxed since the runners were all exhausted; we just ordered pizza and tacos and relaxed and watched football. 

So that's the story of how I kicked off winter break with a very busy Hawaii weekend!