5 Maui to Mainland Contrasts
Island Fever is a real thing, we do get tired of the sun and wish to get off the island sometimes. Yeah, it may sound strange, but Maui locals can sometimes get tired of being on the island. Of course the island will always be our home, and our love for it will never change. How can we lose appreciation for our island? Many of us have deep roots to the island. Many of our families are here thanks to the sugar cane plantation and are here thanks to the Native Hawaiians who discovered these beautiful islands.
About 3 years ago, I moved to Kirkland, Washington to attend college. I get this specific question quite often when I meet someone for the first time: “Why did you move here from Hawaii?!” My answer is always the same, I simply wanted to experience something different. I always follow up by telling them that I do miss home and the aloha spirit that is there; itʻs where my family, long-time friends, and heart is.
Here are some new (and different) things that I have experienced from being on the mainland:
1. Freeways, speed limit, traffic
I have never in my life driven on a freeway and never in my life have I driven in such bad traffic prior to moving to the Seattle area for college. I remember the first time driving on the freeway, a friend of mine was teaching me the culture of driving in a major city. It was a cold and rainy Friday afternoon and he made me drive on I-5. I was freaking out because I could only see about 20 feet in front of me, there was a huge semi-truck next to me, and people just drive more aggressively in a city! The first time that I drove downtown of a major city was just a few weeks ago when I was dropping a friend off in downtown Seattle, thankfully it was not the worst I've ever seen. The thing that caught my attention from driving in downtown Seattle were the multitudes of hills, and of course the tall buildings. That brings me to the next experience.
Since attending college in the Seattle area, it has given me countless adventures to the city. Some other cities that I have been to include Honolulu, Manila, Los Angeles, Portland, San Diego, and Phoenix. I remember my first time out of Hawaii; I was traveling to the Philippines to visit family as well as attend my grandpaʻs funeral. The crazy driving in the city of Manila, the fast paced way of living and the culture amazed me. A more vivid memory of an early experience in a major city was a trip that I took with some family in 2004, I was amazed just having the thought that I was near the Los Angeles Lakers arena, the skyscrapers made my young mind wonder how many people could fit in the city of Los Angeles. The highlight of that trip was, of course, Disneyland just like every kid. It is essentially a giant playground for kids and adults alike.
Seasons are one of the most significant differences between Maui and the U.S. mainland. I never truly experienced what seasons truly looked, felt, and smelled like until 2014 when I moved to the Seattle area to attend college. To be more specific, I transferred from a Maui university to a Kirkland, Washington university in the spring semester of 2014 which means I showed up in Seattle in the dead center of winter. Imagine being from a place where the average temperature all year round is in the 80 degree span and going straight into temperatures that were in the 30ʻs and 40ʻs. I sure had second thoughts on why I chose to go to college in Washington. One thing that I truly enjoy in the Seattle area is being able to see the colors change as the seasons change. Here's a fun little story I have from the first time I experienced snow. I was 18 years old and it was in the month of February. I was amazed by the falling snow, so amazed that I went outside shirtless, and rolled in the snow for about 5 minutes before going back inside to take a very warm shower.
About a year ago in November of 2015, Hawaiian Pidgin was made into an official language. The people of Hawaii have been speaking it for many years now, some people have stronger accents than others. I remember the first time I went to the mainland, trying to speak Pidgin and people not understanding me. To me it was normal because I have used pidgin words all my life, but to other people it was “different.” Since attending college, I have had to either teach my friends certain Hawaiian Pidgin words that I always use or just get into a habit of talking regular English. At times I find myself calling friends back home just to get my Pidgin fix.
5. The Food
This one is a no brainer. Throughout Hawaiian history there has been an influx of many different cultures that have been implemented into Hawaii's culture, including food! I am very blessed to have many different places in the Seattle areas where I can get my fix on local food. I have friends from back home who attend college in Texas and Oklahoma where it is not as easy to find local Hawaiian food. Getting local Hawaiian food in Seattle is amazing and the taste is just what you would find in Hawaii. There is one thing that I will never get in the mainland that I get back in Maui and that is home cooked meals from my mom, tutu (grandma), and aunties. They all have those special recipes that you canʻt find anywhere else; my mom makes this unique and amazing fried rice and shoyu chicken, my tutu makes the tastiest pancit you will ever taste, and my aunt makes the sweetest and softest bibingka (butter mochi) ever!