Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Diamond Head at all angles and a great weekend overall

Well, it just keeps getting better here in Hawai'i. I had a truly wonderful weekend, and I got to see a little more of the Island.

This past week, I made a friend from the area (coincidentally also named Maya), and she has been graciously taking the Haverford gang around a little bit. On Saturday, we went to Diamond Head beach, which was absolutely beautiful. It was nice to get to a beach spot other than Waikiki. Here's the view:

The sanded beach area was pretty narrow, so as we were lying there, we periodically got a nice rinse from the ocean (especially the later we stayed as the tides got higher).

Sunday, Anna Womack, the director of the Almost Abroad program, organized a hike up Diamond Head peak, one of the most popular hiking spots in the area. It was a little crowded, given the Sunday morning and large number of tourists and families, but the views were gorgeous the whole way up.

This is the group about half-way up the hike:

This is a view of the beach I was lounging on the previous day:

Overall, it was a good, tame hike. And taking the bus there definitely helped me get better acquainted with the system.

After the weekend ended, I was still feeling excited about school. At the end of this past week, I made a last-minute change to my schedule. I dropped my Women's Studies course, (which was a good class, but I feel that I could take a course like it when I get back to Haverford and the Bi-co), and instead signed up for a Hawaiian religion course. So far, it's a very good class, with great readings-- written mostly by the professor himself! So now I'm looking forward to taking two classes on Hawaiian culture. I really want to take advantage of learning as much about the culture as possible while I'm here.

In other news, I'm only a week and a half away from taking my trip to the Big Island and going to the KECK observatory on the peak of Mauna Kea! This past week, I've been stressing out a little bit, because my Geology field trip to the Big Island was scheduled to be the SAME WEEKEND, and I was planning to try to do both. This morning, though, I received an email from my professor saying that volcanic activity was low, and the field trip would be rescheduled. This means I'll get TWO trips to the Big Island! Also, I got a wonderful email from the Haverford INSC yesterday saying they would fund my travels when I go to KECK. So all is working out!

My final piece of news is that I made an excellent purchase last week on Amazon, and it arrived in the mail this weekend. Here's a picture:
Ahhh, perfect. (Plus Isaac in the tree above!)

Thanks for all the love and support about this blog! I'm looking forward to giving you more wonderful and exciting updates!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Greetings from Hawai'i!

I'm feeling hesitant blogging, yet again, mostly because I often feel that blogs are often a way for people to talk about themselves excessively and about things that others don't really care about. That being said, I'm only in Hawai'i for one semester, and suppose I should keep track of all the amazing things I'm doing while keeping friends and family updated. (It's really all for you, Mom.)

So, it's WEDNESDAY morning. I arrived this past Friday, but it already feels like I've been here and settled for ages. I was able to take this awesome picture on the airplane flying over one of the Hawaiian islands:

It was a relief to finally land in Honolulu after 8+ hours of flight, and get to my new home in Frear Hall, which is essentially a hotel-esque dorm. I'm in my own room in a suite with three other women and a shared bathroom. Beats Gummere for sure! This is the view from my 11th floor window:

It has been absolutely wonderful to see the mountains when I wake up every morning. It looks a little gray and cloudy in the picture, but that's only because it was during one of the days periodic "mists." That's right-- it doesn't rain. It just mists.

Sunday was the ASAA (A Semester ALMOST Abroad) orientation. We took a mini-tour of the island and were able to see what Oahu looks like off campus and away from Honolulu. I'm excited to venture out and go back to these beautiful spots during the semester. Some more pictures:

This is the view from the Nuuanu Pali lookout. It was so extremely windy that is was hard to even walk to the lookout to take this picture. Here's an embarassing picture with proof of how windy it was:
I would have worn pants had I known we were going to the windiest tourist attraction on the island!

From there we went to the ocean. These are the places I'd really like to visit again. Luckily, Oahu has an excellent bus system, and my University ID allows me to ride anywhere on the Island for free!
This is the whole ASAA group! Besides getting to see more of the island, the tour was wonderful because it gave me a chance to meet the other people on my program and make some new friends!

In other news, I managed to buy a bike off Craig's List almost immediately, which has been a total life-saver. The IFA (Institute for Astronomy), where two of my classes are, is quite an uphill trek away. Biking there 4 times a week will definitely whip my butt into shape! Speaking of classes, I finally figured out my scheudle for my semester while I'm here. I'm taking:

1. Astrophysical Techniques - A grad-level class at the IFA which teaches the techniques and mechanics of being an astronomer
2. Stellar Interiors - Another grad class at the IFA
3. Volcanology - The class I'm probably most excited for. Not only do we learn the geophysics of Volcanoes, but we also take field trips to actual volcanic sites on Oahu and the Big Island!
4. Women and Revolution - Orignally a backup, but the class now seems extremely interesting. Takes a global view of how Women have participated in Revolution throughout history
5. Hawaiians - A cultural view of the Hawaiian people

Overall, I'm extremely happy with my schedule. Only being two days into school, however, it's hard to tell what my workload will actually be like.

So, that's all for now! I'm having an incredible time, and it's only the beginning! I'm excited to see what adventures this semester will bring!