Intensive English Program

We got to interview one of our graduates about her study-abroad experience in Hilo.

What is your major?

Liberal Arts. 

Why did you choose the major?

I was originally planning to transfer to the University of Hawaiʻi Manoa. I’ve changed my plan.

Why Hawaiʻi?

I heard that mainland student usually needs to drive to get around. If not, you are pretty much stuck on campus but I didnʻt want to live on campus and I didnʻt have a driverʻs license. Also, I used to come to Hawaiʻi when I was young with my family so I was familiar with Hawaiʻi.

Why did you choose Hawaiʻi Community College?

I chose Hawaiʻi Community College because of several reasons. I liked that the Japanese student numbers were smaller than Oahu schools. Also, the international student’s overall size itself is very small. I liked the Big Islandʻs lower cost of living as well. 

I started my study in the Intensive English Program. I liked that the program didnʻt require an English proficiency score. 

How did you make friends?

  • Social events: tried to get out
  • Friendsʻ friends
  • Classmates 
  • Peer mentor (IEP) 

Some tips to make friends are..

  • Exchange Instagram accounts: great to be able to communicate with classmates as you may have questions about assignments, etc
  • Smile and be nice to everyone
  • Find good points about the person you meet and share it with them
  • Learn their languages if they speak different languages
  • Don’t wait for someone to talk to you. You start the conversation!

What was a difference that you noticed between IEP and the credit program?

The schedules of assignments were different.

IEP is more constant. You see teachers pretty much every day so they can remind you, too.

You have 4-5 different classes to manage and all of the classes move in a different way and speed.

The amount of homework was a lot more, especially reading.

What are your studying tips? How did you manage?

I invented my schedule on a notepad. Before the semester starts, I list down all my classes with dates. I read the syllabus and put down the main assignments in the schedule. That helped me to visualize when I will be busy. Then, I can plan when to start each assignment. When I know I will be busy with all the classes at one time,  I would start some assignments early.

I usually introduce myself to classmates and teachers that I’m from Japan and an international student. I may ask many questions. 

I do ask many questions and I ask them right away. I use office hours and tutor for math and writing. 

What do used to do on weekends?

It very depends on each weekend. The number of assignments changed my weekend plans as well. If I don’t have that much homework to do, I hang out with friends by going to beaches or on road trips to the other side of the island. If I’m not that busy, I even started assignments early. What I would like to do as treats are work out at home or sleep. 

What was your favorite memory of the IEP and HawCC?

My favorite memory from the IEP was making friends. I am still keeping in touch with them. I am going to visit my Korean friend this summer. 

For the credit program, I was pretty happy throughout. I enjoyed attending different types of campus events. Recently, I joined the Earth Week events.

How was your life in Hilo?

It was pretty good. When I compare it with what my Tokyo friends were doing, Hilo could be seen as a less exciting place but I was busy. I didn’t have time to feel bored much. I was cooking, doing assignments, doing laundry, and cleaning.  I hung out with friends and attended events. If I have time to watch Youtube or movies, I put English subtitles.

Any message for someone who is considering studying abroad in Hilo?

It may be a good idea to know how to cook your favorite food if you don’t cook. Don’t hesitate to ask questions. Be friendly and communicate with people. Be curious about people and things around you and talk!