The Study Abroad Newsletter

Mahalo Okinawa

Tiana Honda
University of the Ryukyus, Okinawa Japan

My name is Tiana Honda and although I’m an art major, I’m also a Japanese studies minor. After my freshman year at UH Hilo was over, I decided I wanted to take a chance to be a little more adventurous. So for the past year I studied abroad at the University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa, Japan. In the beginning I was very nervous and scared about the classes I would take and the people I would meet. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t homesick and that I didn’t shed a few tears here and there. But as the days went by and I slowly gained more friends, I found that I slowly lost any regrets that I initially had when I first arrived in Okinawa. After having such a great opportunity to learn and improve upon my Japanese skills and experience all sorts of new adventures, I can now say with the utmost confidence that I’m glad I decided to enroll in the URSEP program at the University of the Ryukyus and I’m glad that I pushed myself outside of my own comfort zone.

Tiana at an art gallery with friends I think one of my most memorable and favorite memories abroad actually occurred a few days before I left to come back home. Believe it or not, the stress that comes along with repacking is very overwhelming. The entire day I felt very depressed and in my head I kept questioning myself as to whether or not I improved during my stay. Although I was with my friends for a good majority of the day, an hour after I returned to my dorm room I was called out again to eat a very late dinner.

Tiana Honda makes silly faces with friends After meeting up with everyone we all walked to a familiar pub near campus and that was when I realized that everyone came together to celebrate my time in Okinawa. Essentially they held a small sobetsukai, or a small farewell party, for me. I was so gloomy earlier that when everyone sat down and they all started to act like their goofy selves I couldn’t help but smile, laugh, and feel so touched that they decided to do something so unexpected for me. It was at that moment that I realized that these people were the ones who made my stay so fun and memorable.

Although I didn’t make a lot of friends during my stay, I’m definitely grateful for the ones that I do have. And even though the distance between Okinawa and Hawaiʻi is far, I know that the connections and memories that I’ve made with these people will never fade so long as I keep them near and dear to my heart.