What to Expect When Moving to the Mainland for College

“I wanna get off this rock.”

How often do you think about this when imagining what future is going to be like for you?


Back in highschool, I obsessed over all the possible schools I can attend and apply for in order to get off the islands of Hawai’i. College applications were submitted, acceptance letters (some rejections) were received, and decisions were made: I was definitely leaving home for college. Not only did I have a better chance of pursuing my career in the dental field but to also challenge myself harder.

Now, as a freshman in college on the mainland, I can definitely say, “The challenge IS real.”

1.  My goodbyes at the Honolulu airport became even more heartbreaking as friends and family  gives their farewells.

The first time is always the hardest but as times pass by, it becomes easier  but never easy. You can always mentally prepare to be stronger and to not shed a tear but most of the time, the heart takes over.

2. I felt homesick real fast.

The surrounding, the people, the culture felt very strange to me and all I could think of is going back home to the warmth of the sun and the coolness of the beach. And of course, to the warmth of my beloved family and friends who are all cheering for me to do my best.

3. My room decor became heavily based on Hawai’i and its beauty.

Signs of Aloha were quite common, pictures of me and my friends at the beach is a must. I could never get enough of what reminded me of home.

4.  I wanted to join the Hawai’i Club.

I am lucky to have one on campus, so I immediately signed up for it  Transitioning became so much easier with the help of those who can relate to you the most. Although I found myself leaning towards spending most of my free times with them, I realized that I should not be afraid to open myself up to others outside of the “Hawaiians”. It definitely widened my perspective and appreciation of the many backgrounds and types of people.

5.  I found myself stocking up on too many local snacks and foods.

I was surprised on how much I missed snacking on that bag of li hing mui mangoes that used to be very accessible to get from the stores on the island. My visits almost always consisted of bringing back loads of goodies to the dorms.

6.  My appreciation for Hawai’i will never be the same.

As quoted by the author Terry Pratchett in one of his novels:

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you

came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently,

too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”

(A Hat Full of Sky)

Difficulties of balancing college classes, social life, extracurricular activities are a given. But my learnings about life, my home, and myself are what I am most proud of. I realized that it is when you are given the solitude from the rest of the world, that you will begin to appreciate and comprehend what it is that truly matters to you.

You might be wondering, “So what can I do to overcome these kinds of obstacles when I’m away for college?”. Three things.

  1. Join a club. Any club that you have an interest in, do not be afraid to be a part of it.

  2. Get out of the comfort of your room and hang out with the people on your floor. Leaving your door open for example, sends a message that they are welcome to come in to say hi.

  3. Explore the new city with some friends during the weekends. Despite the loads of work that you may have piled on your desk, it is necessary to take a break from it all and go have fun! Don’t forget to take pictures so you can send it to your family and friends back home.

Like any other, college is what you make it to be. Go ahead and create a memorable one!