From a young age, it was always instilled in me that after high school, comes college.
I knew I always wanted to go to school in the mainland; it would be my opportunity to get off the island and go on an adventure. Since (if you read in my “rebirth” post) I was all about trying new things.
Before my senior year of High School, I attended a Multicultural summer program called SOAR at BYU-Provo. I really only went because I wanted to go on a “trip” and my sister said that I should go.
(This would have been my first time on my own in the mainland, BUT my parents decided to send my brother with me to Utah so that he could go to a football camp *eyeroll . )
Anyways, SOAR was so much fun! Meeting new people from all over the world, just like me, was so cool. It was the perfect environment for me because I felt safe, accepted, and it was like a home away from home…
Which unexpectedly, sparked my desire to go to BYU.
Senior year I worked hard applying. I only applied to two colleges, BYU-Hawaii and BYU-Provo. (Mostly because they were the only two private schools I could afford.) I really wanted to pay for college on my own without help from my parents. I also didn’t want to graduate in debt so I applied for as many scholarships as possible.
When I got accepted into BYU-Provo I was so excited! It was a surreal experience. I couldn’t believe that I was actually going to be a college student.
My sister helped me find a shared room for $250/month a block away from campus. When I landed in Provo, my parents helped me move in. They wanted to see me get settled into what was going to be the next “greatest” years of my life.
After my parents dropped me off and said “goodbye”, I went into my room and just started crying. Everything hit me like a ton of bricks! I realized I have just moved into a new state, going to a school I barely knew, living with random strangers and I had no friends.
I remember thinking “What the heck did I get myself into”. I wanted to go back home so bad! It didn’t help that PCC was having its 50th anniversary and everyone looked like they were having so much fun. As much as I loved SOAR, it was a fake reality. I hated it! I had nothing, and no one.
(Luckily one of my roommates had a car to help take me to Walmart.)
I remember being really mad at my sister, because the year I decided to come to BYU, was the year she decided to go on her mission. Some of her friends occasionally would check up on me but… it wasn’t the same.
In the first month, I remember attending the most RANDOM THINGS like: comedy club, ping pong club, quilting club, inner tube water polo and pickup volleyball. I started hanging out with some friends from SOAR, and they introduced me to their friends.
I felt like I was starting to get the hang of it a little more, but I didn’t have much money to do a lot of things so I had to get creative.
I worked on campus at Taco Bell in the food court and things started to get better for me as I adjusted to being on my own, finding my way around town, understanding “mainland” public transportation, and you know…College!
One day I got an email saying that there was a BYU-Luau and that practices were going to start up. In my mind I thought “this was perfect! I knew how to dance, and I knew that if anywhere on campus, this was going to be a place for me to meet other Polynesians”.
At my first practice, I met my first Utah best friend. She was from Chicago and went to BYU-Hawaii, BYU-Idaho and now BYU-Provo. I gravitated to her quickly because she was fun, knew the same people I did from home, and she had a car! plus, we both didn’t have “friends”.
We decided to go on our first G.N.O to Texas Roadhouse. We also randomly ended up at a square dancing hall that night, so I knew this girl was down for random adventures.
We started to pick up new friends as we went to more practices, dances and the Poly YSA ward on Geneva. I remember seeing so many people from home, meeting new friends and just loving all the activities, dances and people there.
After my first semester I decided taco bell wasn’t me.
One day we were joking around at the gym and said ” why can’t we find a job that pays good, lets us do our homework, feeds us and we can work whenever we want”.
Literally, a girl that was there said “come apply and you can start in a couple of weeks”. NO JOKE!. We both applied and started working at the UCCU center at UVU.
I loved it! BEST JOB EVER! They did all of that, and more. I met some of the coolest coworkers, had the best boss, and got to go to some cool events for free.
I worked there the rest of my freshman and sophomore year, and reapplied after I came home from my mission.
This was the turning point for me. The YSA saved me from completely hating Utah. After moving my records into the ward, I got called to the activities committee and had so much fun. My testimony of the church increased so much that I decided to go on a mission. I completed my Freshman/Sophomore year of school but I was so excited to go back.
When I came home from my mission, I bought my first car off of KSL and I loved it. Her name was mitsi-loo. Finally after all those years, I felt independent.
Junior year, I got a second part time job. Long story short, I was nominated by a professor to be a student advocate for the multicultural council of the McKay school of Education. Eventually it led me to being the student representative. I was on council and a member of the board. I ran events, recruitment, and research of multicultural students in the McKay school. I loved this job too. I felt so “important”.
Senior year, I decided to get involved and be a section leader for the Samoa chapter. It was hard managing that and school. But, I was prepared for it and it turned out great! I know I couldn’t have done it without the support of my friends and family. I participated every year I was on campus. I couldn’t believe I went from not knowing about Luau to being in charge of a section!
Overall college was a blast! I would not have changed it for the world! I learned so much about myself, pushing past my limits, dating, balancing school, social and spiritual. I met so many of my closest friends that are like family to me now.
Graduation was a surreal moment, I decided to walk early since I was going to do my final internship in China. It was fun to see my family and friends from over the years come and support me.
I believe that if I had not experienced what it was like to struggle at first I don’t think I would have appreciated it as much.
There were definitely some hard times; late nights, hours at the library, days where I didn’t want to go outside in the snow, weight gain, homesickness, being poor. But, somehow I managed through all of it and survived college debt free!
Realizing how far I’ve come from that first day of SOAR, I couldn’t believe I went from hating Utah- to knowing my way around, people in different cities, and just becoming my own person.
BYU was one of my greatest adventures up to this point but I’m glad it is over!
I wouldn’t have changed a thing but it was time for me to say BYEEEE!