Mia Lawson, St. Joe’s Class of 2022

Imagine traveling 13.5 hours just to go home. Crazy, right? Traveling that far is not all that fun, especially because it makes it difficult to go home as much as you might want to. Saint Joseph’s University sophomore, Mia Lawson, travels from Philadelphia, PA to Oahu Hawaii for Christmas break and summer break when she wants to go home. Mia Lawson is an elementary education major with a minor in sociology from Oahu, Hawaii. 

Oahu, Hawaii

Oahu is a relatively small island that holds the capital of Hawaii, Honolulu. Oahu is a small island, but is very beautiful and filled with green and blue colors everywhere you go. It hardly ever rains in Oahu, and if it does it will thunderstorm for a few minutes but pass quickly. There are beaches in Oahu that Mia would often visit with her friends to relax and have fun.

“I heard that you have to pay for the beaches here… like in New Jersey… which is just so weird” 

The beaches look different depending on what side of the island you are on. Oahu is a really big city with a small town feel. Mia says that if she is running errands, she will most likely run into 2-3 people she knows. This provides the citizens with a big sense of community that you may not find anywhere else.

Leaving The Islands

Mia specified that most people from her high school do not stay in Hawaii and that it is normal to travel to the mainland for college. Most students attend college on the west coast because the flights home are much cheaper than flights from the east coast. Mia values the time she spends at home because she does not go home often. For fall break, Thanksgiving break, and spring break Mia travels with a friend or stays on campus. Christmas is a long enough break to travel home and spend valuable time with her family and loved ones. 

“I felt that I wanted to go to college somewhere really different than home,” Mia said. “Because I love home, but I was ready to love a new place and make new memories.” 

Mia sounded like Hawaii has such a special place in her heart, but she seems completely independent in Philadelphia. Mia is heavily involved on campus, which keeps her from being homesick. Mia is an Ignite Leader, as well as a sister of Alpha Omicron Pi. When she is not busy with school work or extracurriculars, Mia enjoys reading, cooking, and spending time with friends. 

Mia walking her dog along the beaches in Oahu.

Why SJU?

“I chose Saint Joe’s because I knew I wanted to go to school on the East Coast because I wanted to be somewhere where the seasons change, and Philadelphia was the best place,” Mia said.  “Washington D.C was too political, New York was too crowded, and Boston was too cold.”

Her first semester at SJU went very smoothly because she let her excitement control her decisions, and she had no time to be homesick. But upon going home for Christmas break her freshman year, Mia realized how much she missed home. Second semester faced many more difficulties for Mia. She was considering transferring because of how far away Philadelphia felt from Hawaii. But Mia decided to stay at SJU because of the people and the strong sense of community these people gave her. Mia feels if she left SJU she would not be as strong in her faith, independence, and would not have made her best friends.

Map showing the distance between Philadelphia and Oahu, Hawaii.

There are many differences between Hawaii and Philadelphia. Mia says one of the main things that sticks out to her is ethnicity. In Oahu, many people are asian or white, and there are not many black or latino people. Mia notices this as most people from SJU are white and a small portion of the population are various ethnicities. This drastic change made it obvious to Mia how different the two places are. One thing that is similar between Oahu and Philadelphia is the way culture affects people, but the culture is different. For example, Mia says you may find a lot of Italians in Philadelphia, but you will never find as many Italians in Oahu. Noticing these changes made Mia recognize the differences between cultures. Mia realizes that attending Saint Joseph’s University was the best decision for her, and she encourages other students to travel the world at a young age.

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