Hawaii vs. Ohio: My transition from island life to life in Cleveland

Hawaii vs. Ohio: My transition from island life to life in Cleveland

Mia Kala, Staff Writer

I can predict that lots of people reading this would would rather live in Hawaii than the place they currently live. It’s imagined as a beautiful paradise with sandy beaches, green mountains, waterfalls, and sunshine.  After nine years of living on the Big Island of Hawaii, I moved to Cleveland this summer.  In a few short months, I’ve noted many differences between “island living” and “city living.”

When most people think of Hawaii they think of sunshine and beaches, but it’s not just that. Yes, Hawaii is very beautiful and has amazing weather, but the on the island that I lived on, called the Big Island of Hawaii, it rained a lot, especially in the winter. In fact, people on other islands in Hawaii called it the island of rain. Rain can be bad but arguably not as bad as snow. Cleveland winters are something that people either love or hate. Cleveland gets about 26 inches of snow per year–something I am not sure I am ready for. 

In addition, the cold weather here can go below zero. On the Big Island the weather can drop to 50 to 65 degrees, and everyone thinks it’s really cold. Here, a 50-degree day has people going for walks and playing outside.  There, it sends everyone inside. 

The best way I can describe the Big Island is that it is super laid back, especially the middle and elementary school I went to. Some of the schools there are good, but others might be considered unprofessional by Ohio standards. The elementary school I went to for 1st to 6th grades (6th grade counts as elementary school there) was in the actual jungle with lots of trees as a playground.  Some might think that schools in Hawaii are behind and don’t teach much but my elementary school was very good and pushed students’ learning skills very high.

Something that is very different moving here is learning about people like Christopher Columbus and other “mainland” historical figures in class rather than learning about Queen Liliuokalani and King Kamehameha, who you most likely have never heard of. But in Hawaii, they are a part of any history curriculum.

In Hawaii anyone that is an adult or older than you,  including teachers, are called Aunty or Uncle rather than Mr. or Mrs. Calling them Aunty or Uncle shows more respect. At the school I went to, we even had to call the teacher Aunty/Uncle and their first name.

Electives in Hawaii emphasized Hawaiian activities and culture.  At my old school we had electives like hula dancing and surfing instead of things like health and choir. 

 Weekends in Hawaii consist of going to the beach, going to the tiny one-floor mall, or just exploring new things. You might think Hawaii can never get boring, but once you do all the touristy events like going to all of the beaches and waterfalls, there’s not to much to do or see anymore. So just like living anywhere else, you end up repeating events and trips over and over. In an area like Cleveland, there is a little more variety and more to do within a drive-able distance, so  people can continually try new things.  However, unlike here, the activities in Hawaii  are mostly free because they are a part of nature.

Also, when you live in Hawaii, you are always competing with tourists when visiting beaches or sites. The  Big Island didn’t have too many tourists compared to Honolulu, which is the capital of Hawaii. Honolulu is very much like a city and commercialized. That’s why so many tourist go there, plus the beaches there are the ones you see on TV with white sand and very blue water. All of the beaches on the Big Island are very beautiful, but not all of them were white sand. When the lava covered the beaches years ago, many of them  got covered by lava rock (dried lava), so now some of the sand is gone completely; but the water is still there making a beautiful and unique beach.

Even though there is plenty of beautiful nature to enjoy for free in Hawaii, everything else was very expensive, which is hard for people who live there. The main reason why prices are so high is because everything has to be shipped from the mainland. For example, gas prices in Hawaii are about $3.10-$4.17 compared to Cleveland’s prices of $2.56-$2.69. When I first moved here I was so surprised by how cheap all of the food is. In Hawaii food costs about  two to three times as much because it has to be shipped from the mainland. Fruit that doesn’t grow in Hawaii, for example strawberries, are expensive and are either unripe or almost rotten due to shipping.

Housing in Hawaii is very expensive, too. As a result, houses in Hawaii are often smaller and not as nice as ones in Ohio even though they cost more.  An average neighborhood in Cleveland would be considered very nice in Hawaii.  A lot of the large and modern houses in Hawaii are on cliffs overlooking over the ocean or near a beach, which makes them even more expensive. 

It’s very rare if the houses in Hawaii have basements, and you likely won’t see chimneys there either.  There is no need for fireplaces in the warm weather. In fact, many houses do not have heat. 

From the weather, to the people,  slang, and schools, the transition from an island of  Hawaii to Cleveland has been a difficult one filled with culture shock and change. I am slowly getting used to this school, which to me is huge, and I am bracing myself for my first Ohio winter.