I have lived in Hawaii for almost 10 years!!! Wow, I can’t believe that sometimes. There are days when it feels like I have been here my whole life and days that I look around and still giggle like a schoolgirl about the fact that I live here. Some days I feel like I am fresh off the plane seeing Waikiki for the first time.
I think I have said this before, but I read up on Hawaii before I came here. I wanted to know about the culture a little bit before I landed. I studied maps, so I wouldn’t look lost all the time, I learned a few places to go eat and I learned a little bit about the local lingo, “pidgin”, so I could kind of understand what people were saying. Other than that, I was just open for whatever came my way. Here are a few things I have learned by my time spent on the island.
- 1. If you give Aloha, you will get Aloha…I had read that Hawaii was a very friendly place, but I also read to watch your back, because locals do not like the haoles. I didn’t know what to think, but I respected Hawaii for the beautiful land and the culture, and I showed it. I have never been treated with anything other than kindness. I can’t say the same for some of my friends. I don’t know why they always seem to have problems here…actually, I know exactly why, they don’t give Aloha.
- 2. Rice goes with EVERYTHING…I grew up with rice being a side dish you had every so often with butter on it. Maybe it became a larger portion of dinner when you put chili on top, but that was about it. Here in Hawaii, rice is a staple at every meal. I didn’t know what to think the first time I ordered eggs for breakfast, and it came with a side of rice. But trust me, put over easy eggs on top and break the yoke…delicious. You will see it at every picnic or BBQ you go to. You will see rice as a side to a cheeseburger, before you see a side of potato chips.
- 3. Hawaii did Not invent pineapple on pizza…the “Hawaiian” pizza is one of those things you either love or hate. I actually like it on occasion. (Don’t tell anyone, or they may take my Italian card away) Of course they call it Hawaiian pizza because of the pineapple, but…it was actually created in Canada by a Greek immigrant in 1962.
- 4. If a sign says stay out of water and you don’t even see any locals in the ocean, DO NOT GO IN THE WATER…I have heard about this and seen it time and time again. Do not think you are a better swimmer than you really are. If the lifeguard tells you, it’s too rough to go in, don’t go in. I am a pretty good swimmer; I spent my summers in the Atlantic Ocean and I have held my own around some of the beaches here, but I will never forget my first time at Waimea Bay. It was a normal day, not rough at all, but Neil told me to watch out because the undertow might catch me off guard. Well, you know me…I told him I would be fine, I’m from the East Coast, I could handle. Well, damn, I got in up to my ankles and it kicked my butt. I was laying there trying to get up, looking like a beached whale, but the little, tiny “waves” wouldn’t let me. It was totally embarrassing, but also really funny too.
- 5. Do not go overboard trying to speak “Pidgin”…Hawaiian Pidgin was first spoken on the sugarcane plantations days back in 1835. People from all over the world came to Hawaii to work, so this was how they communicated with each other, and it stuck as a language that people still use today. My first week at The Cheesecake Factory in Waikiki, I met a young waiter from Indiana. Every other word out of his mouth was pidgin. I could tell that it was forced, and it sounded so unnatural. It was really painful to hear. At that moment, I decided I would not speak pidgin at all. I did not want to sound like that. But I fell in with a local crowd right away and over time picked up on some words and the manner of speaking. I had been living here about a year when a couple of bussers asked me if I hung out with locals. I told them that my whole crew was local. They said they could tell, because I used pidgin in the right way. That’s cool.
These are just a few things I have learned while living in Hawaii. The best decision I ever made was to move here. Actually, the best decision I ever made was to read about the place before I moved here. I do that wherever I go. I never want to be the person that looks totally out of place. If you ever make it to Hawaii, remember what I said. Aloha!!!
***Question for the comments…Do you read up on a place before you visit? Did you try to blend in with the locals of the area you visited? What is the best piece of advice you ever got about travelling?
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