By: Adelina Badea, Career Advancement Program Ambassador Scholar & J-1 Trainee

Traveling is my passion, and I’ve always wanted to visit an exotic island. But, when you say exotic, it usually means very expensive. Hawaii is very far away from Romania, and a flight to Hawaii is very expensive, so I gave up on the idea that I would ever visit this wonderful state in my whole life. But “never say never” because you never know what your destiny holds for you.

While working as an intern at Canyon Ranch I’m given 40 hours of paid time off (or PTO). I really wanted to do something nice on my holiday, so my roommate Ana and I decided to go to Hawaii. The biggest problem for us was to decide on which island to spend our holiday, because each island has something special. After days of research we decided that we should choose the Island of Oahu (we made this decision based on Google research, financial reasons, and a flight to Oahu Island is relatively cheap). When we booked the flight we couldn’t believe that one of our dreams was becoming a reality.

After a 6 hour flight, we arrived on this wonderful island called Oahu, also known as “The Gathering Place”. We were so excited; we were in the middle of Pacific Ocean, a 12 hour time difference behind our home country, Romania. Coming from a desert land with cacti and dry heat (Arizona), we landed on this island that has a rain forest, humid heat, and is surrounded by water. The change in landscape was amazing; we were now in paradise.

I can say that 7 days in Hawaii is not enough time. So, it was very hard to choose what we wanted to visit. We finally decided to discover the island with an island tour, to have some fun on a Kayak Adventure, and to visit some wonderful beaches, such as Kailua, Makapu’u, and Hanauma Bay.

My favorite experience in Hawaii was swimming with the dolphins in the Pacific Ocean. I love dolphins; I could say dolphins are my favorite animal in the world.

So I chose this excursion where I had the possibility to watch whales, to go snorkeling, and swim with wonderful, colorful fish and turtles. The cherry on the top was the moment that I swam very close to the spinner dolphins. Spinner dolphins are the second smallest species of dolphins. Compared to the dolphins I’ve seen at Sea World, these dolphins looked like babies. They were so cute and adorable! Because they are wild animals and we were in their habitat, we weren’t allowed to swim too close to them. Seeing them swimming in front of me made that excursion the best time of my life.

In Hawaii, I saw the most beautiful rainbow on the beach and I enjoyed wonderful sunsets. I tried traditional food, such as Poi (a thick paste made from taro root), chicken Laulau (chicken wrapped in taro leaves and cooked in an oven for hours) and Poke (raw tuna). I ate pineapple at Dole, the most famous pineapple plantation in the world, and ate Macadamia nuts at the Macadamia Farm.

Hawaii is the only American state that has two official languages; Hawaiian and English. As I usually do when I visit a country with a different language, I try to learn at least two new words. “Aloha” is used to say “hello” or “good bye.” But, the real meaning is love and affection. I also learned the word “Mahalo”, which means “thank you.”

I fell in love with Oahu Island, and it is definitely a place where I would love to live for the rest of my life. Now let’s be serious. Who wouldn’t want to live in Paradise? Aloha!

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