Skip to content

Skip to content

The ALEX Blog

The ALEX Blog

ALEX Abroad: Musical Nights in the City of Lights

Saturday, March 25, 2017, 8:47am by

As I near my internship at NME magazine, I’ve begun to justify concert-related expenses as part of my job training. So, naturally, when I heard that Peter Doherty, one of my favorite musicians, was performing at a small venue in Paris, I immediately jumped at the opportunity.

I consider myself unusually lucky; though Paris is a two-hour flight away from Birmingham, I have the good fortune of always having a free place to stay. My boyfriend, a native Parisian, lives and studies there, which means that I get to enjoy the City of Lights without the confusion, pickpocketing, and judgemental French glances. Well…I still get the latter, but just not as often as I would if I were alone.

Musician Pete Doherty performing live.

Pete Doherty – solo artist and frontman of The Libertines and Babyshambles.

The concert took place in the underground nightclub beneath the Palais de Tokyo, a modern/minimalist museum that I hope to revisit. I insisted that we arrive an hour earlier – I don’t see the point of spending money on a concert if I don’t get to¬†see the concert. Three and a half hours later, after queuing, DJ sets, and supporting bands, we were finally front and center, ready to absorb the unique experience of seeing Pete Doherty perform. I’d elaborate on the details, but it was an action-packed night, so long story short: the almost four-hour wait was entirely worth it. He read fan letters that were tossed his way, walked right up to those of us lucky enough to be in the front row, crowd surfed, and – as a last chance bit of flair – tossed his guitar into the crowd (which my boyfriend actually caught, and I will forever be envious of. He had to give it back though).

The Eiffel Tower in Paris.

The Eiffel Tower, as viewed from a side street.

When the performance was finished, we walked outside for a bit of fresh air. Unbeknownst to me, we were directly across the Eiffel Tower. Now, you can pretty much¬†see the tower from any point in the city, so after a while you start forgetting it’s there. In fact, on the walk to the Palais de Tokyo I was completely unaware of its proximity. However, late at night when the tower lights up in gold it gets pretty remarkable and hard to ignore; I doubt I’ll ever get tired of seeing it. We walked to the base with the intention of taking the lift to the top (something that I sadly have yet to do) but we were just moments too late, as it had closed for the evening.

Like all cities, Paris has its ups and downs. In the midst of a refugee crisis, it isn’t all romance and glitter. The real Paris is, well,¬†real, and it’s important not to forget the true situation of the city when visiting – or any other city for that matter. Still, it is unique in its beauty and you’ll be hard pressed to find another city that can offer you all your dreams in one evening.

‚Äď Terri, Social Media & Web Associate

For more ALEX stories, event information, and career resources, visit the ALEX site.




ALEX Abroad: Big Band in Birmingham

Sunday, March 19, 2017, 12:36pm by

Of all the amazing things that England has to offer – and, believe me, there are plenty – the public accessibility to the arts is my favorite. About sixteen years ago, it was decided amongst a wide range of museums in the United Kingdom to offer free admission, not just to students but to all members of the public. The Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is one of those locations, and the University of Birmingham itself hosts several museums right on campus, including the Lapworth Museum of Geology and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts.

Not one to let a free experience pass me by, I made it a point to visit each of these institutions. Recently, however, the university has distracted me with their Arts and Sciences Festival. One of the events that caught my eye, a performance by the University Big Band, took place this evening and proved to be a wonderful experience.

Led by guest performer and renowned trumpet player Bobby Shew, the University Big Band played a variety of well-known jazz pieces, including Dizzy Gillespie’s¬†A Night In Tunisia.¬†It was like being taken back in time and place; a jazz quartet performed in the entrance to the venue as guests purchased refreshments and perused the Bramall Music gallery.

Cultural events like this are not unique to Birmingham. What I recommend the most to anyone traveling, regardless of location, is to take advantage of the smaller venues and the more unusual community events. Tourist attractions and monuments are great for crossing off your bucket list, but I always find that the cozier, more spontaneous events are the most memorable and are oftentimes inexpensive, if not free.

As I near the University of Birmingham’s equivalent to mid-terms, I have a feeling that my adventures will be less spontaneous but, as usual, I look forward to whatever is to come.

‚Äď Terri, Social Media & Web Associate

For more ALEX stories, event information, and career resources, visit the ALEX site.

ALEX Abroad: The Secret Garden

Monday, March 13, 2017, 12:35pm by

Whenever you travel, no matter how much you love the location, homesickness is inevitable. It’s not the same for¬†everyone, either; some people get sad, others angry, and anxiety is often increased. While the feelings are negative, they’re worth analyzing, and there’s no use in ignoring the way you feel. It doesn’t mean you want to go home right away, and it shouldn’t stop you from enjoying your travels. My time here in Birmingham is not the first away from home – I’ve traveled to South Korea, Ireland, and I usually spend the summer in Paris – no matter where I¬†am, or how long I am there, I always get homesick at some point. For those traveling for the first time, my biggest piece of advice is this: find a place that feels like home.

Granted, Hawai’i is a unique place, and you’ll be hard pressed to find palm trees in England, but even if you’re in Iceland you can always find something to comfort you. For me, it’s the aptly named Secret Garden, located atop the Library of Birmingham.

I first discovered the Secret Garden during my brief visit to the library in the hopes of finding a few resources for an upcoming essay. The library itself is perfect for exploring; it has a café, a gift shop, several floors of reference books decorated with fairy lights, escalators, elevators, a Shakespeare Memorial Room, and, on its rooftop, the Secret Garden. While spring is just beginning and not everything is in bloom, the garden was lovely. It contains several varieties of daffodils, hellebores, and heathers, with a gorgeous view of the city center. If you like, you can rest on a bench, or take lunch on one of several tables.

While it is a city, Birmingham maintains its natural roots, something it definitely shares¬†with Hawai’i. Finding the garden was the perfect accident, and it came at a time when I was feeling particularly homesick. Knowing that it’s there when I need it is comforting, and I highly recommend finding a place that does the same for you, wherever you go.

‚Äď Terri, Social Media & Web Associate

For more ALEX stories, event information, and career resources, visit the ALEX site.



ALEX Opportunities: HIPlan Business Competition Update

Sunday, March 12, 2017, 4:30pm by

The HIPlan Business competition¬†has recently announced the addition of a student division open to both high school and university students. This addition will allow students¬†across the Big Island to present their business plans for a chance at an award in the form of a Chancellor’s scholarship.

Those interested in the competition may visit the Hawai’i Island Business Plan Competition website¬†for more information. Stay tuned on the ALEX blog for updates!

For more ALEX stories, event information, and career resources, visit the ALEX site.

ALEX Opportunities: Generation Teach

Saturday, March 11, 2017, 12:29pm by

Generation Teach has recently announced a call for applications! The program partners with local schools to provide undergraduates interested in education with summer teaching experiences in the hopes of inspiring them to become urban teachers.
The program also offers a Summer Teaching Fellowship that includes two weeks of intensive training and four to five weeks of teaching small groups of middle-school students in Boston, Western MA, or Denver. Undergraduate Teaching Fellows receive daily coaching and support, as well as a taxable scholarship.
Upcoming application deadlines are April 6 and May 6.
More detailed information is provided below:
We are Generation Teach. We partner with local schools to provide talented and diverse young people with transformative summer teaching experiences to inspire and prepare them to pursue careers in urban teaching. We recruit college and college-bound students to a Summer Teaching Fellowship to introduce them to the complex and intellectually demanding work of teaching and to challenge them as learners and leaders. We invite fellows to teach with us over multiple summers and offer differentiated pathways into teaching through partnerships with schools and teacher education programs. Our hope is that these early experiences in urban education shape talented young people’s career choices while better preparing them for the rigors of their future professions.
You are hungry for an inspiring intellectual challenge and ready to immerse yourself in an intensive summer experience that will push you to grow personally and professionally. You believe in the power of the collective and aspire to be part of something bigger than yourself. You are respectful of and engaged in the lives and the learning of others. You are eager to join a diverse and dynamic community of learners who support one another to grow and who strive to be better every day. You celebrate successes and learn from failures. You believe in a better world for our children and are ready to invest your best effort into creating better learning opportunities for children in urban communities.
  • Complete 2 weeks of intensive teacher training in classroom management, lesson planning, and content pedagogy.
  • Teach math, engineering, reading, speech & debate, social studies, or fun fitness to small groups of middle school students each day during our 4- or 5-week Summer Academy (program duration varies by region).
  • Practice your teaching and reflect on your students’ learning in daily team meetings.
  • Work with your Teacher Coach to refine your practice, develop¬†your skills, and pursue excellence for your students.
  • Lead academic challenges, enrichment programming, field trips, and community meetings.
  • Reflect on your work with your colleagues, coach, and directors.
  • Become an active part of the school and community¬†in which your students live and learn.
  • Receive a taxable scholarship to offset living costs.
The Summer Teaching Fellowship is offered to individuals who will, as of this summer, be rising college freshmen through rising college seniors. Students of all majors are encouraged to apply; prior teaching experience or education coursework is not required. Priority will be given to students who are local to the Denver, CO, Western MA, or Greater Boston areas. Limited housing is available for students who are not local. Apply now at
Taxable scholarship: $1,650 – $2,000 for 6- or 7-week fellowship OR GT housing and $750 scholarship
For more ALEX stories, event information, and career resources, visit the ALEX site.

ALEX Abroad: Stormy Weather

Friday, March 3, 2017, 7:16am by

Among the many notable traits of England, its weather is the most cited. Perpetually overcast, citizens of the UK often wake up to gray and rainy days, muddy puddles, and a sea of umbrellas. In fact, in the two months that I’ve been here, I recall seeing the sun only once – a big change for someone raised in Hawai’i. However, it’s not as bad as it might sound. The drizzly chill calls for a cozy sweater and warm boots – welcome attire,¬†especially when paired

The view from my room in Pritchatt's Park.

The view from my room in Pritchatt’s Park.

with a cup of hot cocoa – and it makes studying inside all day seem like the best possible idea. Still, as someone used to warm Hilo showers (and a rare umbrella user), there are a few things to prepare for when choosing to live in Great Britain.


First, waterproofing is essential, especially for shoes. Even in Hawai’i I make sure to spray all of my shoes with Scotchgard¬†just to keep them lasting longer, but in England it’s a necessity unless, of course, you prefer soaked and frozen toes. The sturdiest of boots will leak, so keep this in mind when you think walking through the muddy grass is a good idea (note: it’s not).

Second, an umbrella is, without a doubt, the most common of British accessories. It’s best to keep on with you at all times, regardless of what the weather looks like in the morning. Conditions change – in one day I saw sun, sleet, snow, and rain all within the span of an hour. The same goes for a jacket or coat; no matter when you choose to visit the UK, it¬†will be chilly at some point.

Crocuses in bud.

Crocuses in bud.

Finally, and this is a bizarre one, carry around gum or other small snacks. Cold weather equals jaw clenching which results in the constant desire to be chewing on something. Instead of spending¬†¬£4 on a massive slice of carrot cakeand regretting everything (not saying I did that…but I did), chew a stick of gum – you’ll get the same effect for a significantly cheaper price.


All in all, England is a beautiful country – rain or (occasionally) shine. Right now, spring has sprung and nature is definitely going all out. It’s always best to be prepared if only to enjoy the little surprises that the Second City can bring.

‚Äď Terri, Social Media & Web Associate

For more ALEX stories, event information, and career resources, visit the ALEX site.

ALEX Spotlight: Firm of the Future

Tuesday, February 28, 2017, 1:28pm by

As part of advancing her newly-opened accounting firm through the use of technology and innovation, local UH Hilo alumna¬†Claire-Ann Niibu-Akau has hired nine student interns. Thanks to the UH Hilo College of Business and Economics Internship and Job Fair, Niibu-Akau was able to connect with students majoring in business fields – seven in accounting and two in marketing – and has provided them this opportunity a way to expand the growth of both her business and the students’ career experience.

To learn more about this story, visit Laura Hughes’ story on the “Firm of the Future”.

For more ALEX stories, event information, and career resources, visit the ALEX site.

ALEX Abroad: London Calling

Friday, February 24, 2017, 6:45am by

Last year I was fortunate enough to have received an offer for an internship at London’s NME magazine. As an English major with a passion for music and media, this was a dream come true. Naturally, I was nervous, so this past week I decided to take a short trip to London in order to familiarize myself with the area beforehand, to avoid the extra stress of acclimation.

Big Ben, Londons iconic clocktower

Big Ben, as seen from the entrance of Westminster station.

The first thing I learned about England’s “Big Smoke” is that safety is key. London, like most cities, can be dangerous if you’re not cautious and fully aware of your surroundings. To avoid unpleasant¬†situations, it’s best to thoroughly research the area that you’re staying in – what are the crime rates? what is the area known for? are there shops nearby that can provide what you need? Unfortunately for me, this was one mistake I made, and I ended up staying in an awful hostel where, during check-out, several uniformed police officers showed up in search of a convict who was rumoured to have been staying there (for future reference, avoid Willesden). However, I was fortunate enough to have been there with my boyfriend and to have seen just how awful the place was before committing to a stay there during my internship.

A few areas to note are Trafalgar Square (notorious for pickpockets and thieves), Brixton, and any other major tourist locations, as those with ill-intentions tend to lurk around for unsuspecting foreigners.

Another thing to keep in mind is that many places will only accept cash. It’s always best to keep your cash dispersed among your person – a few bills in your bag, as well as in your wallet (which should always be kept hidden and¬†never in your back pocket) will help to prevent you from going broke in case you misplace one or the other.

Still, despite its crowds and smog, London is definitely a cultural hotspot and a must-see for anyone seeking the true British experience. I had a great time overall and I’m looking forward to returning as an intern in the spring.

Terri, Social Media & Web Associate

For more ALEX stories, event information, and career resources, visit the ALEX site.

Scholarship Shout-Out: Fujimoto Family Scholarship

Wednesday, February 22, 2017, 6:44am by

Available to student interns majoring in Business and Economics at the UH Hilo, the newly endowed Fujimoto Family Scholarship provides a $500 fund to students in need. This year’s recipients William Lewis, Rissa Domingo, and Julia Jaitt, were honored at UH Hilo’s scholarship inauguration ceremony, held to honor both recipients and donors of local scholarships.

Robert Fujimoto, president of the family-run HPM Building Supply company, has provided $40,000 to the UH Hilo College of Business and Economics, and makes a point to reach out one-to-one with students within the program.

Click here to learn more about the Fujimoto Family Scholarship.

For more ALEX stories, event information, and career resources, visit the ALEX site.


ALEX Abroad: First Impressions of England

Wednesday, February 8, 2017, 2:50pm by

When I first arrived at the University of Birmingham, still dizzy from a 48-hour journey across the Atlantic, I was initially struck by the picturesque nature of the campus. With its ivy-covered buildings and monolithic clock tower (affectionately referred to as ‘Old Joe’), UoB gives off a distinct scholarly vibe, one that often invites comparisons to Harry Potter‘s Hogwarts. Needless to say, despite the beauty of the campus, I was a bit overwhelmed with how serious and sophisticated it all seemed. Here I was, 7,191 miles from home, and the friendly familiarity of UH Hilo was far behind me. While my first week was a bit rocky (I spent half an hour looking for a Shakespeare course located in the Physics department…) I managed to organize myself quite well eventually.

The University of Birmingham

          The University of Birmingham, England

The study abroad experience is all-encompassing; if you haven’t already mastered the finer points of adulthood, a semester abroad will force these changes onto you with what I can only describe as ‘tough love’.¬†While on one hand, you have the newfound freedom to order a pizza at 3 in the morning, you also have to suffer the consequences of living life alone – doing your laundry on time, eating something other than Oreos, and keeping up with your studies, all while making the most of the country you’re in. It can be daunting, but, at the end of the day, it’s worth it.

My semester is just beginning, and wintery England is proving to be an exciting challenge in many ways. Throughout the semester I will be writing a weekly post about my (mis)adventures and what I’ve learned along the way, for the benefit of any future study abroad participants.

—¬†Terri Pinyerd,¬†Social Media & Web Associate

For more ALEX stories, event information, and career resources, visit the ALEX site.