September 28, 2015

STUDY BREAK | What I Love About Hawaii

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Eat, sleep, class, marching band practice, repeat. The first month of college seemed to fly by. To my delight, the general sense of anxiety over finding friends and engaging in compulsory small talk has begun to dwindle to a minimum. During my first couple of weeks here, I constantly found myself running into the same conversations:

“What’s your name?”


“What’s your major?”


“Where are you from?”


“Do you surf?”

Unfortunately, I don’t surf, my skin refuses to tan and I’m actually not a big fan of the beach. For a lot of reasons, I am happy with my choice to move to Ithaca. However, being so far away from home, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on how magnificent and blissfully relaxing home really was. As the notorious Ithaca winter rolls around, I’ve decided to compile a list of what I miss most about Hawaii primarily to remind myself of what to look forward to when I return home for winter break (hooray!). For anybody curious about traveling to Hawaii, here’s my take on some of the greatest things it has to offer. Caution: Most of the following are related to food.

Ramen: Hawaii has such an immense variety of authentic Asian food. Personally, I’m a big fan of ramen. If I could eat it a few times a week, I would. But I also wouldn’t because that’s excessive and unhealthy, obviously…? Whether it was going out for a bowl or whipping up a package of the instant kind, ramen was always my perennial go-to dish. My family and I would often frequent Ezogiku, located in Waimalu Shopping Center. This Hawaiian outpost of a Japanese ramen chain is a testament to how Japanese culture has been integrated into Hawaii culture over the years. A no-frills ramen joint, the service is quick, the prices are affordable, and the food is ah-ma-zing. Make sure to try their miso ramen!

Warm weather: Growing up in Hawaii, I’ve known any other season besides summer. Not to generalize, but everybody wears shorts and tank tops all year round. I occasionally threw on a sweater for those “chilly” winter days, otherwise known as 60 degrees. While I still yearn for the beauty of four seasons and the ability to wear fall clothes, I dearly miss not having to check my weather app every morning.


Photo Courtesy of CW Abas Photography

Acai bowls: Laced with honey and the right ratio of acai berry smoothie blend to crunchy granola, chopped banana, strawberry, blueberry and coconut shaving, the acai bowls in Hawaii are a must-try. My personal favorites are from Lanikai Juice and Island Vintage Coffee Company. But for those days when I missed lunch and craved an acai bowl, Jamba Juice was always there for me.


Photo Courtesy of Jamba Juice

Boba: Also known as bubble tea, the boba in Hawaii is near-perfection. A delicious concoction of tea, milk and oddly delicious, chewy tapioca pearls, boba is one of those treats you either love or hate. Nevertheless, it is incredibly popular in Hawaii, which is evident in the multitude of boba shops located on every corner of every street (not exaggerating). Among Oahu’s favorites are Taste Tea, Coffee or Tea, Mr. Tea and Shaka Shaka. However, my personal favorite has always been Bee’s, as it is less than five minutes away from my house and has never failed to quench my boba cravings. Their Mango Peach Tea with boba and lychee jelly is absolutely delightful.


Photo Courtesy of Honolulu Magazine

The aloha: There commonly exists a strong sense of aloha and ohana which extends beyond traditional bloodlines. Aloha is a word that many have heard but often misunderstand as hello and goodbye. It is true that in Hawaiian, “Aloha” is used when greeting someone. However, the real meaning of aloha is that of love, peace and compassion. It is the guideline of how to live; a life of aloha is one in which the heart is so full that it is overflowing with the ability to influence others around you with your spirit. In relation, the concept of ohana emphasizes that families are bound together, and members must cooperate and remember one another. To put it briefly, everyone is so friendly. Lilo, from Disney’s Lilo and Stitch, said it best: “Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind — or forgotten.”


Courtesy of Walt Disney Feature Animation

Hawaii has consistently been ranked the “Happiest State in America” according to the annual poll from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. While I don’t miss having “island fever,” there is an undeniable beauty in Hawaii’s incredible surroundings, salty ocean breezes and calm of everyday life. Take it all in when you return, future Joyce. Cornell may be great, but Hawaii will always be home.

Joyce Lee is a freshman in the ILR School. Born and raised in Hawaii, she is a member of the Big Red Marching Band, a dog enthusiast and a firm believer in Chandler and Monica. Study Break appears on alternate Mondays this semester. She can be reached at [email protected].