Don’t think that just because I posted about ways to upset people from Hawai’i, that I didn’t love growing up there. I absolutely loved growing up in Hawai’i, and among the many things I loved about my little island in the Pacific, here are a few things I learned to appreciate.
Growing up in Hawai’i is unlike any other experience. Spending time at Grandma and Grandpa’s house every weekend, having lots of real and hanai cousins, playing outside, having the same friends from elementary school until high school, etc. It is quite special and something I’ll always appreciate.
It was only until recently, I learned to fully appreciate my Hawaiian culture, and it took me moving away to realize what exactly the rest of the world is missing.
Everyone is treated with so much aloha. Instead of calling our elders Mr. and Mrs. so-and-so, they go by Aunty and Uncle from the start. We hug and kiss upon greeting, instead of shake hands. Your family is forever. We don’t kick our keiki out when they turn 18, they have a home as long as they need it and are free to return whenever they please (sometimes both a good and a bad thing). If you meet someone and they know someone from said town, they will go down a list of all the other people you could possibly know. It’s not that Hawai’i is that small, it’s the fact that people create so many relationships with others by sharing their aloha, leading to friendships, and then to extended families.
The culture in Hawai’i is beautiful. We know people from Korean, Japanese, Samoan, Hawaiian, Filipino, haole, descent and people who descend from all said cultures. We even celebrate holidays from most of these cultures: pounding mochi at new years; celebrating Chinese new year; May Day with lots of leis; boys’ and girls’ day with koi fish and more mochi; etc. You may have heard this before, Hawai’i is a melting pot, and that is certainly true.
Pidgin also goes along with the Hawaiian culture, and it is another thing I learned to appreciate after moving away. I used to hate speaking pidgin while growing up because I was kind of a snob and tried to sound educated, but now I love it and find it hilarious! I speak it nonstop whenever I’m home and always have a hard time adjusting when I’m back in the “mainland.” Pidgin is broken language that emulates English, but the words are pronounced differently and includes words from other Asian cultures.
Here is an example of what pidgin sounds like:
With culture, comes Food! And oh my God, the food in Hawai’i is the best. People who aren’t from Hawai’i always ask me “How do you guys stay so skinny living in Hawai’i?”
1) I have no idea and 2) We’re not all that skinny.
Some of my favorite foods include kalbi (Korean short ribs), hamburger steak, loco moco (hamburger steak topped with an over-easy egg and covered in gravy), shoyu chicken, adobo fried rice, etc. etc. And we can’t forget the sweets: malasada, shave ice, guri guri, poi mochi, etc. (I promise more posts about Hawai’i’s delicious foods later). My absolute favorites will always be cooked by Mom, and I swear it’s not just because she’s my mom.
Another great thing about Hawai’i’s food is eating out. Sure, the cost of living in Hawai’i is through the roof, but you always get more than your buck when it comes to food. Plate lunches are usually around $8.00 and most times, you will have leftovers, and you’ll always leave satisfied. Ok, I need to stop talking about food now because I’m stuck in Indy and beginning to crave it even more than I usually do.
We learn to appreciate beauty from the mountains to the sea. Hawai’i offers beauty from all angles. I can’t believe I had to move away to see this. Living in the midwest, I sometimes freak out when I notice there are no mountains are huge bodies of water around me.
Lastly, we stand in the sun – literally and metaphorically. Hawai’i is known for its perfect weather, even when it’s raining, it’s still warm out, and most often showers are just passing. Growing up in Hawai’i has also given me a more positive outlook on life and I doubt this is an individual thing. The people there just emit more sunshine. Whether it’s your waiter at a restaurant, TSA at the airport, people you see in passing, or fellow drivers. Most often, people are less grouchy, more friendly, and are always willing to smile at you and start a conversation.
Lucky we live Hawai’i!