By Francine Naputi
Hafa Adai! You’re planning to move to Hawai‘i and want to make sure that you prepare as much as possible. I was in your shoes once when I decided to move here two years ago. I was unprepared and had to live with friends and family for over a month before I found my apartment. My hope is that is article will make your move to Hawai‘i much smoother, especially since the rules here are different from our home islands. Here are just a few tips that will hopefully soothe some of your anxiety.
When talking to someone about locations, “town” means the city area. The person is most likely referring to Honolulu. Anything outside of “town” is usually a 30-minute bus ride.
There are a few words you need to know when navigating through Hawai‘i:
Mauka: towards the mountains
Makai: towards the ocean
Windward: towards the east or north side of the island
Leeward: towards the west or south side of the island
Using the bus:
Always be sure to read the route on the bus, despite the bus number. Too many times have I ended up taking the wrong bus because I was on the wrong side of the road.
If you are a student, be sure to claim your bus pass. Students get a bus pass for the semester by paying the $30 UPASS fee, which is included in your student fees anyway (UH Manoa). The policy at Chaminade is a little different. Full-time students get a free UPASS, while part-time students must pay $150 a semester. For students going to Hawai‘I Pacific University, you can purchase a UPASS for $152 every semester. For those of you, that cannot utilize these options you can click on this link to get prices of the pass:
When using the bus, be sure to download “Da Bus” app on your phone. It will help you to find routes as well as track when the next bus will be arriving. The maps application on your phone will also save your life when navigating through Hawai‘i; be sure to utilize that too!
Using a Car:
Traffic Lights: Always YIELD when making a left turn even if the light is green! The green light does not mean that it is your turn to go. Oncoming traffic will not stop for you, so be sure to yield otherwise you will get into an accident.
Be aware that Hawai‘i has parking rules that are different from home. You must pay for most parking. The rules of street parking are as follows: Parking is free after 6 o’clock in the evening from Monday to Friday and all day Sunday. Be careful and make sure to read the signs because parking patrol is serious about giving out tickets and towing cars!
Looking for an apartment:
If you are trying to find a place, try looking on Craigslist Oahu. When looking for an apartment, the average you will find for a studio or one bedroom is about $1,000 to $1,600 a month, only including water/sewer. Anything that is out of that range is either a scam or a rip-off.
If you decide to live off-campus, try to look for places in Manoa Valley, Kaimuki, St. Louis Heights, Punahou, and Ala Moana. All these places are near UH Manoa and Chaminade University. However, if you are going to attend Hawai‘i Pacific University remember that there are two main locations, the downtown Honolulu campus and the campus near Ko’olau Range. The Honolulu campus is close to Chinatown so neighborhoods around that area would be near the school. For those attending, HPU near Ko’olau Range, you will want to look for apartments on the Windward side, particularly in Kaneohe. There are many more areas you could look at; these are just a few suggestions.
Be prepared when looking for a place, be sure to have your credit reports or tax returns ready. The sooner you can get your application in; the better your chances are of getting the apartment. Looking for an apartment can be extremely competitive, so you must be fast. Most owners will ask for a security deposit that is equal to the first month’s rent. So be sure that you have the funds to move in.
Finding your roots far from home:
If you are planning to go to school at University of Hawai‘i at Manoa, there you will find the Marianas Club filled with other Chamorros that attend the university. The school also offers a Chamorro language class taught by Professor Brant Songsong.
If you are planning to go to school at Chaminade University, you can join the Chaminade Marianas Club.
For those of you in the west side of the island (near Pearl City area), you can find the Hafa Adai Club. The club is a gathering place for Chamorros in Hawai‘i to come together to connect our community in the diaspora.
Kao malago’ hao tumungo’ I fino’-ta? Come down to Kaka’ako Kitchen every Saturday morning from 10am-11am for the Chamorro language pocket. Kenneth Gofigan Kuper and Brant Songsong offer FREE language classes to anyone that is willing to learn.
When looking for a cellular provider, choose AT&T. They are the only provider that considers Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands domestic so they do not charge international rates every time you call or text someone at home.
You can transfer your license to a Hawai‘i license, but be sure to do it before your license expires otherwise you will have to take the driving test. However, you will probably be asked to surrender your non-Hawai‘i license. Getting a license is a quick way to prove residency. By showing your Hawai‘i license at certain venues, you can get kama’iana (local) discount on your purchases. Click on this link to see where you can get your new license:
I know this move may seem overwhelming but the culture shock will eventually subside. I was fortunate enough to find an incredible community of Chamorros in Hawai‘i that made the transition much easier. I hope that this article will help you avoid many of the mistakes that I made and make your move to Hawai‘i as simple and stress-free as possible. Saina Ma’ase!
Featured Image: nhanusek, Luggage, 2006. From Flickr, some rights reserved under a Creative Commons license.
Chamorros have been in the Hawaiian Islands as early as the 1800s. They arrived in the Islands aboard whaling ships, where they served as crew members. In Hawaiian records they were often listed as Spaniards, and many married local women.
In recent history, many Chamorros have been coming to these islands as part of their service in the US military. Some have chosen to remain here after their service. Around the same time, there were also a small number from the Marianas who came seeking post-secondary education, a trend which continues to the present day.
Aside from military service and education, many Chamorros are here because of work. Many of them here working for the medical referral divisions of their respective island governments. The CNMI government’s medical referral office, referred to as the Marianas Hawaii Liaison Office, provides for the needs of CNMI patients who are forced to come to Hawaii to receive required treatment that doesn’t exist in the CNMI or Guam. The same reason stands for those who work for the Guam Medical Referral.
Hafa adai todus hamyo! Saina ma’ase na en bisita i i iyon-måmi website! Chamorro 808 was created to help Chamorros and all others who have ties to the Marianas connect with each other here in the islands of Hawai’i. With so many Chamorros and people from the Marianas here in the islands of Hawai’i, we thought it would be nice to have a website where we can all let each other know how to reach one another. Many of us are here for college, born and raised here, are stationed here, etc., so many of us may live far away from each other. Since the islands are so large and spread apart, it can be difficult to know just exactly where other Chamorros are or what they are up to, so we hope this website becomes the place to do just that. Also, Chamorro 808 allows us here in the Hawaiian islands to share what we are doing with our people back in the Marianas, thus keeping us connected to the motherlands. From parties, fiestas, classes, and fundraisers, and let us know and we will post it on the website. If you are looking for a Chamorro language class, cooking tips, or a social space, may this website serve those needs.
Chamorro 808 was created by the Marianas Club at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. If you would like to post any information, events, or news, please contact us at Marianas@hawaii.edu. Also, every month or so, we will be posting a featured person and featured student, so if you know of any Chamorro or Marianas connected person doing great things in the community, email us so we can show their great work! Saina Ma’ase todus hamyo ya puedi ha en bisita ham ta’lo!
Marianas Club members holding up the Chamorro808 sign.
Craig Santos Perez is a native Chamorro originally from the Pacific Island of Guåhan (Guam). In 1995, his family migrated to California, where he lived for fifteen years before moving to Hawai’i.
Craig is the author of two books of poetry: from unincorporated territory [hacha] (Tinfish Press, 2008) and from unincorporated territory [saina] (Omnidawn Publishing, 2010), a finalist for the 2010 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Poetry and the winner of the PEN Center USA 2011 Literary Prize for Poetry. Both his books have been praised in reviews, studied in scholarly essays, and taught in high schools and universities across the Pacific, the U.S., and Europe.
In 2010, the Guam Legislature passed Resolution No. 315-30, recognizing and commending Craig “as an accomplished poet who has been a phenomenal ambassador for our island, eloquently conveying through his words, the beauty and love that is the Chamorro culture.”
His poetry, essays, fiction, reviews, and translations have been published in over a hundred national and international scholarly and literary journals and anthologies. In 2011, his first audio poetry album, Undercurrent, was recorded with Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) poet Brandy Nalani McDougall and produced by record label Hawai’i Dub Machine.
He has also received the Poets & Writers California Writers Exchange Award (2010), the Emily Chamberlain Cook Poetry Prize (2009), and the Jean Burden Poetry Award (2001).
Since 2005, Craig has worked in various editorial capacities. He co-founded a chapbook publisher, edited the blog for Omnidawn Publishing, guest edited several “special issues” on Chamoru literature, and co-edied the anthology Chamoru Childhood (2009). In 2011, he also co-founded (with Brandy Nalani McDougall) Ala Press, an independent press dedicated to Pacific literature.
He earned a B.A. in Art History & Literature from the Johnston Center of Integrative Studies at the University of Redlands (2002) and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of San Francisco (2006). He is finishing his Ph.D. in Comparative Ethnic Studies at University of California, Berkeley. He received support from a Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship and a Eugene Cota-Robles Fellowship.
Craig has performed his poetry on various stages across the Pacific, the U.S, and even St. Petersburg, Russia. He has also given guest lectures at various institutions, presented at academic and literary conferences, and visited high school and university classes to speak about his poetry, activism, research, and scholarship, or on issues such as poetics, publishing, Pacific studies, indigenous literatures, militarization, tourism, colonialism, decolonization, migration, and diaspora.
Additionally, Craig has curated many literary readings over the years. Currently, he co-curates Native Voices: A Reading and Lecture Series at the University of Hawai’i, Manoa.
In the Fall of 2011, Craig was hired as an Assistant Professor in the English Department of the University of Hawai’i, Manoa, where he teaches Pacific Literature and Creative Writing. You can link to his faculty page here. Or you can connect with him on Facebook.