Due to the many endless extreme “cultural” differences I could not appreciate Hawaii as much as I maybe should have, not during my stay there.
The Coqui Frogs was by far the greatest annoyance object. On my very first night in Hilo, (Big Island) I was awoken several times by the loud bird-like high pitch the Coquis give off from dusk to dawn every. single. night. To say the least, I woke up quite shocked, wondering what the heck the noise was. The next day, when I had learned that the invasive species’ noise was constant since their invasion in the early 90s, I instantly went online to research one-way flights back to Scotland. There was no way I would be able to stand this noise for another 130 days. I found that the next flights to depart towards Europe were around $2000, twice as much as I had paid for my return flights.
I decided to stay and stick the noise out.
The only time they’d possibly stop in the rainy town of Hilo was when it hadn’t rained in the past two days. This hardly ever happens. It rains almost constantly in Hilo, as the town is located in the rainforest area of the Big Island of Hawaii. We had one Coqui-free night during my four months long stay.
I was, however, also lucky to be freed from their noise during my four nights’ stay in Maui.
All the constant rain, mixed with the heat, was another aspect I had a hard time adapting to: either you were soaked by rain, or you were soaked in your own sweat. It didn’t matter what you wore, or if you were half naked, you were sweating constantly, even when being still inside. Maybe this is just a struggle for us Vikings who are used to months of -20 Celsius. Back here in Stockholm, we complain about that it is too warm when the temperature reaches around 25, which is happening right now. It is getting too warm!
When arriving in Hawaii end of last August, it was even hotter than it normally is, with 85 per cent humidity on top of that. In other words, it felt as if it was twice as the 30 something degrees as it was.
I took cold showers between five and seven times a day. It felt as if my head was on fire and I had to stick it under cold water frequently.
It was HOT.
The bugs is another story. They were many, big, red, flying and all over the place. Worstly, they were sneaky and you never knew when they’d be creeping up on you.
The worst scenario was when I woke up one Monday morning and had an essay to finish for school. I was going to take my regular morning shower. When entering the bathroom, I was met by a 5-7 cm long bloody red cockroach. It was dead still so I wasn’t sure f it was alive or not. From nowhere it started hopping around and before I had had the chance to react, it was on my foot! I have never been more disgusted in my entire life. The next second I was running around the whole apartment, in nothing but a towel around me, and a broom in my hand, chasing a giant cockroach. I was shocked and could not finish my English paper afterwards.
These were only a few of the daily matters of my experience in Hawaii. They were indeed sometimes shocking: from the first day I kept asking my friend if this was really happening. It was stressful from time to time and it took a long time to adapt to the differences, and some I could never get used to, such as the bugs and all the rain and the long, dark nights – the sun set around 6 pm all year around.
But the more I get a chance to distance myself from the actual experience I tend to remember only the good and ignore the annoying bits. The more life proceeds afterwards, the more I come to appreciate my exchange semester. I wouldn’t necessary go back but I had the chance to go on plenty of adventures I otherwise wouldn’t have, and I got to learn some of the most amazing people I have ever come across, whom I now miss dearly.
Sometimes it is easier to focus on the better parts of an experience afterwards, it is as if the brain consciously deletes the negative aspects. This is an interesting psychological phenomenon which seems to tend to happen when having ended a complicated and/or abusive relationship as well. I’ll write more about the processes in the brain in such circumstances when I have studied it more.