A Vacation Like No Other, With Some Study On the Side

by Joel Tan

Hawaii is often overlooked when students choose a study abroad destination. This group of islands in the Pacific hasn't always been a U.S. state, though it is now recognized as one of the 50 American States. It was an American territory before it was accepted into the Union, and an independent sovereignty before it became a territory, with its own distinct customs and traditions unspoiled for countless generations still withstanding today. It offers students a unique American study abroad experience, in the nations most tropical paradise, and provides many benefits for international students.


You're into volcanoes or you're a geology major

Hawaii is a group of volcanic islands and is one of the few places in the world where you can get up close and personal with an active volcano. In fact, Hawaii has a park on two active volcanoes, Kilauea and Mauna Loa. Kilauea is known as one of the world's most active volcanoes while Mauna Loa is considered the world's most massive volcano. The park itself is named Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, for obvious reasons. The park is home to a visitor center and several museums, including the Volcano Art Center, which houses the famed D. Howard Hitchcock oil painting of Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire. Also housed within the park is the Thomas A. Jaggar Museum, named after Thomas Jaggar a scientist and first director of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

You're into marine biology and ecology

Hawaii is an archipelago surrounded by waters of the Pacific, so naturally it is considered a haven for hundreds of species of marine life. This fact makes Hawaii a great destination for students wanting to immerse themselves in everything aquatic, from the study of sea life to the forces that drive the circle of life under water.

The Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, for example, provides students with an incredible learning environment. The institute sits on a 64-acre coral reef at Coconut Island in Kaneohe Bay. While studying marine biology in Hawaii, students can explore the species of the bay and reef.

Hawaii Waikiki

You're into studying Polynesian culture in an American setting

A Polynesian Cultural Center is found in Laie, a community on the northern area of Oahu, Hawaii. The center, which sits on land owned by Brigham Young University, offers cultural programs and hosts activities which showcase the culture of the Polynesian islands. These activities include a show titled Ha-Breath of Life, where songs and dances like the Hula, Taualuga, and Meke are featured, a parade of canoes on a lagoon called Rainbows of Paradise, and re-enactments of villages that depict life in major Polynesian cultures, including Hawaii, Samoa, Fiji, Tahiti, Tonga, and the Marquesas Islands.

You're into snake-free treks through the jungle

Although it's not true that Hawaii is snake free (the state has an indigenous snake species, the Hawaiian blind snake, Ramphotyphlops braminus), it is true you will enjoy snake-free hikes through almost any part of the islands. If you're unfortunate (or fortunate!) enough to run into a blind snake, never fear, they are harmless and only grow as long as earthworms, about two and a half to six inches in length. Hawaii offers a wide variety of hiking trails through shrubland, rainforests, and coastal dunes. Although, be sure to stay on the trails as some areas are designated sacred sites or areas of ecological restoration.

Sunset in Hawaii

You're into taking vacations while studying

The proverb that “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” is true for students on a study program in Hawaii, or any place for that matter. The archipelago has an array of tourist spots and activities that make any trip a working vacation. What makes studying abroad in Hawaii even better is the fact that you are still in the United States, where you can enjoy all the luxuries the mainland has to offer.