Friday, April 25, 2014


Just a little background about myself. Back in the Philippines, I was very involved in the arts. I acted in professional theater productions--Mostly musicals, painted, and drew. The arts played a huge role in forming who I am today and allowed me to develop great work ethic and discipline.

The arts was actually why I went to HPU. I auditioned for the International Vocal Ensemble and got a scholarship from it.

Based on my experience from back home, here's my review on the art scene in HPU:

First, if you know what some professional productions are like, it's not the same daily, killer rehearsals. It is definitely something that you have to work hard for though. As a member of the International Vocal Ensemble, I personally have to study the songs and make sure I know everything in addition to the six hours we spend rehearsing as a group per week. Sometimes more than that. It doesn't sound that challenging but I wasn't trained in sight reading before I joined the IVE, so that was a bit of a struggle. Our director, Dr. Esther Yoo, is extremely skilled and I have definitely improved under her. She makes sure that everyone in the choir sings as a leader and contributes to the overall quality of the group. As a singer, it forced me to learn quickly in both sight reading and in singing classical music. I've definitely developed from the time I first joined. Aside from that, the IVE is really quite fun. If you like to sing and know how to stay professional while doing it, it's really pleasant. Practically all of the songs we sing are extremely beautiful, some eclectic and others ethereal but the variety in our repertoire keeps things very interesting, fresh, and fun.

We also have numerous concerts every semester. The Christmas concert is always one that should definitely not be missed, and we usually have one major concert in the spring. This summer, we're going on tour to China.

Oh, there's also the International Choir, which is not as intense as the IVE. It is basically a community choir where anyone who's interested can join. This is a good choir to try out before going into the IVE to get a taste of it.

The IVE is not all strictly work however; people are friendly with each other. I found my best friends within the choir, and during the spring, there's a concert called the Moonlit Serenade where students from the orchestra, band and the choir perform any song of their choosing. It's a real display of how much talent  there really is in this school. What's a bit discouraging about it though is that even though we do get scholarships (which I am extremely thankful for), there doesn't seem to be that much emphasis in art in general in HPU. This may be an issue of all arts programs in schools, I really wouldn't know, but from the talent that I've seen within the musical groups in HPU, it really is something that should be showcased.The Musical Directors are absolutely amazing, some of the best I've known, and they definitely know how to bring out the best in their students. People put a lot of effort in the art they do, and that effort really does show.

About the orchestra and band, I personally am not a part of it so I couldn't say much about it but from the numerous times we've performed with them, I can say that they are REALLY good. Every time we have a rehearsal with them, I'm always blown away!

The theater can be found in the Loa campus. It's not very big, and is made in a way that encourages intimate shows. The teachers are extremely nice and do their best to make newcomers feel what it's like to be in theater without all the pressure. It is, quite honestly, not all that I hoped it to be though. I took a basic theater class the first semester I was here, and joined one production. The atmosphere is extremely relaxed and so does not have the push and pressure that, I feel, usually brings out the skill and talent in performers like in professional productions. It also doesn't have that feeling of intensity that puts you in 'the zone' for a play. Then again, all of this may just be my personal opinion. I decided to look outside the school for productions, which I did and enjoyed. The HPU theater is a great place to experience theater if you want a relaxing time or if you want a theater experience that is very friendly and relaxed. The head of the department is really nice and she makes sure that all her comments on performances are very constructive. It is something that people definitely should experience. For large (cast-wise or production-wise) productions, there are numerous theater organizations in the island. People are extremely friendly and the pool isn't very big so it's easy to make connections and find new productions. It's amazing how much talent you'll find in Hawai'i.

For the Visual Arts, I honestly can't say anything about this as I have not joined or witnessed any events or galleries on it. I have heard galleries being held in the Loa campus but as I do not have any classes there, I've never seen any. I'm not the person to ask for this part.

I hope this was all informative!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

HPU Teachers

When looking for universities, the quality of the teachers, I believe, should be one of the top aspects that should be looked at. Teachers shouldn't just tell you whatever the textbook says, they should make you understand everything and apply in a way that it makes you think critically. 

Now, I'm a communication major so I can't really say anything about teachers of the upper division classes in other majors but I do think that I have some of the best teachers I've ever experienced right now. I'm taking classes in debate, persuasion, and communication theory, and I swear I'm having so much fun in those classes while actually learning something significant that I see myself applying those lessons daily.

Another thing is that because of the small class sizes, the teachers actually get to know you. Some of them even start shifting the way they teach and grade you so that it would uniquely fit the way you work. It's great because you notice yourself getting better and understanding lessons better when they do that. With that being said, those are for the upper division classes. In the elective classes, the teachers are good too but I think it's more of what the class is about rather than the skill of the teacher. I had one class where the lessons included how to save documents in Microsoft Word. I could easily tell that the teacher was good and he knew what he was doing but the simplicity of the subject just made it boring.

HPU's small class sizes really make a huge difference. In my previous university, I would have classes that would contain about 120 students in total. I did learn things but nowhere as in depth as we get now in my upper division classes. All the teachers are great. Just make that you're a good student too! Teachers can only do so much to help you.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

HPU Dorms

Hi. I'm an international student from the Philippines and I major in Communication. I moved to Hawaii in the Spring of 2013 and, not knowing anyone or anything about Hawaii, I decided it would be a good choice to live in the student dorms. So that's what I'm going to talk about today.

In all honesty, I haven't seen any dorms from any other American universities, so I don't really have anything to compare them to. HPU's dorms are not extravagant but keep the simple, relaxed charm that comes with being in Hawaii. The rooms are quite bare to begin with, so if you really want to make it your own, you can decorate it. Some of my friends decorated their rooms with all sorts of stuff that made it look really fun. The bathrooms are nice and simple to, and I luckily never had the problem of trying to use the bathroom when someone else was. Different schedules I guess. In short, the dorms itself are simple and if you want to have a nice room, like any other dorm, you have to make an effort to make it look nice and keep it clean.

The part of living in the dorms that I liked the most was the people. I lived in Kukui with Gabby as my RA. She was by far the friendliest person that I know, and not just as an RA. She was always extremely approachable and if she didn't hear anything from me in some time, she would take the time to ask me how I was doing or about anything really. Everyone in Kukui was nice to each other and always invited each other to go out to events or hikes. I did however, hear that the other dorms surrounding us were filled with drama, the kind that happens in high school, but Kukui was a nice little sanctuary from that where everyone was decent and friendly to each other. The only downside to living in the dorms is if you don't have your own mode of transportation. I didn't have a car, a moped or even a bicycle, so I had to use the buses or the shuttles. The shuttles were great. I could go downtown any time I wanted to but the problem is during late at night or during the weekends. During the weekends, there are significantly less shuttles, and so you have to take the bus that comes only every hour. And at night, the shuttles stop at about 10:30 and the buses stop shortly after that, so unless you know someone who as a ride, you're practically stuck in the campus. The campus dorms isn't the only housing available though. There are countless student housing areas in Waikiki, which is the place you'd want to live in if you're into nightlife and the city, and it's conveniently a block away from the beach. The best student housing I've seen is called Beachwalk. Nice quiet place but near everything. It's small so everyone gets to know each other and there's a pool.

Now, back to the topic of campus dorms. The food. he food situation was always quite iffy for me. The food was alright. Some days it would be amazing, some days it wouldn't be so good. I LOVED breakfast though. I would never miss breakfast. Once in a while there'd be pizza day, where it would be lots of fun to pig out, and there always was a grill open where you could order burgers, or other stuff I can't remember too much. I used to eat about 2 burgers a meal! haha! The dining commons specially helped when I ran out of money. Because it was already payed for, I was sure to have at least 2 free meals there a day where I could literally eat as much as I wanted. There was a major downside to it though, and that was the schedule. The dining commons would only be open for breakfast, lunch or dinner for about an hour and a half to two hours, so if you had a class at those times, you'd miss the full meals. That sucked a lot. There's an option where you can fill these forms out so they can save some food for you, but frankly, the dorms would have been PERFECT if they dining commons could have been open for at least a large portion of the day. It's a dorm filled with college students. College students eat. A lot.

So, I hope this painted as clear a picture of the dorms as you'd like. I definitely made lots of friends living in the dorms and I think it was a good choice staying there for at least one semester so I could get my barrings. The dorms are in a beautiful location and every morning, you'll wake up to probably one of the most picturesque scenes you can imagine. If you're a student moving into Hawaii for the first time, staying in the dorms for a semester is a definite must. It's not perfect but hey, that's what makes it fun.