Semester abroad in Hawaii: living & studying in paradise
White beaches, turquoise water - the island paradise is for many the epitome of a holiday under palm trees. But Danny Heirens is not at the other end of the world just for sunbathing - he has spent his semester abroad in the Pacific to get to know the American tourism industry.
Tourists from all over the world cavort in Waikiki. One reason why Danny Heirens chose Hawaii Pacific University: "I wanted to gain an insight into the tourism business and at the same time get to know two new worlds: the American economy and the cultural mix between Asia and America," says the ISM student from Cologne. In general, it was his dream to live on an island for a longer period of time once in a lifetime.
And he enjoys that to the full. Swimming in the Pacific Ocean, excursions into the jungle, watching the sunset on the beach or BBQ with other international students - everyday life for Danny Heirens. In addition to social, cultural and scenic impressions, studying is of course also in the foreground. "A big difference to ISM is that we have to submit something here every week. We receive points for these achievements, which are included in the overall grade. So you already spend many hours a day on your laptop," explains the fourth semester. Born in Luxembourg, he is on the South Sea island from the beginning of January to mid-June. A highlight during this period is his participation in the LEI programme. In the events organized by the Hawaii Tourism Authority, students support high school students to give them an insight into the hotel and tourism industry. They will be accompanied by a director of the hotel. For Danny Heirens, the LEI event took them to the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel - one of the top addresses on the three-and-a-half kilometre long beach.
Despite all the luxury, the 25-year-old also knows the dark sides of Hawaii: "Every day I see many homeless people here who cannot really be helped except to buy something to eat. At the end of my semester I would like to give away my blankets, air mattresses and tents to these people so that they can at least protect themselves a little better from the sun." Until then, however, he still has some time to let himself be infected by the openness of the people, the "Aloha Sprit".
"I feel very comfortable here," he says. "More comfortable than sometimes in Europe, where people only have their work in mind." He has learned from the Hawaiians that personal satisfaction and positive thinking are sometimes more important than a good job. "I have become even more independent and the stay has definitely helped me in my studies. Although sometimes it is really exhausting, I can only advise everyone to do so. You learn for life".
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