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When I returned to my Hawaii home after my around-the-world trip, only to start getting my books and myself together to go to college for the first time, it all seemed pretty surreal. I mean think about it; here I was, a seventeen year old girl who had just seen most of the world’s beauty as well as ugliness flash before her eyes within the meager span of a month, now being thrown back into society to pursue the beginning of the rest of my life. It was definitely a disorienting experience, since my mind remained in the heat and blaze of Africa as I rode my bike beneath the all-encompassing canopy of UH Manoa’s  McCarthy Mall. Starting off in such a new environment was a little scary, but as I began to get accustomed to this new way of “college life,”  pieces of my heart still remained scattered at different parts of the globe, and this new experience did not appear quite as exciting as it seemed superficial to my newly globalized way of thinking.

As I completed the daunting and very unromantic task of registering for classes and freaking out in the attempt to locate my daily routes throughout the enormous campus, I had no idea of the ensuing inspiration that awaited me. This was just another school, after all.

Or so I thought. But I came to realize –and, mind you, this perspective may stem from my preexistent nerdiness– that my starting college back in my island home was not a trivial backstep in my overall idealistic footprint on the world, but instead has become a vehicle for further inspiration of catalyzing change. I came to realize that this whole college thing was not just school anymore; we were no longer learning the basics. No, now we were getting the chance to connect our prior knowledge and see how what we learn is relevant to the world we live in. It’s miraculous how much value knowledge can hold when you can connect it to the human experience. Especially now that I’ve been introduced to the studies of sociology and geography, I have come to integrate these concepts into my travel-based schema of the world, enabling me to make neural as well as intuitive connections and better understand what my human family is going through. Although I had walked into the classroom in doubt, feeling that it had no more to offer than that of which I was already aware, my awareness of the state of our world has expanded to much greater breadth than I would’ve ever imagined.

In this way I close my very first semester in higher education, and write as a tribute for my appreciation of this great, eye-opening experience.

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