Our Hawaiian resident of the week (and Moveto-Hawaii reader) is Jade Buffell of Oahu. Jade has lived on Oahu her entire life, except of brief stints on the mainland. What better way to get the inside scoop on what living in Hawaii is like than from a real “islander”, right?
Move to Hawaii (MtH): You lived in Oahu your whole life? Can you give us some details? For example, neighborhoods, etc.
Buffell: “Yes. I was born and raised here. I’m a true kama ‘aina, haha. I grew up in Kailua which will always be “home” to me. Kailua was the quintessential beach town. (Editor’s Note: Kailua is on the windward side of Oahu.) You knew your neighbors and as a kid you never bothered to call before showing up on your friend’s front door wanting to play. I loved living in Kailua. Everything a kid could want was in biking distance… public swimming pool, beach, Longs Drug Store, multiple movie theatres, and Island Snow (shave ice place). The only downside to living in Kailua was the… hmm I actually better not say. My momma taught me if you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all.”
MtH: Why do you love living in Hawaii?
Buffell: “I love living in Hawaii because it’s home to me. I’ve spent nearly all my life here. I love the people (well most of them), the weather (minus the humidity), and the food.”
MtH: How do you feel about outsiders, or “Haoles”, moving to and living in Hawaii? (Editor’s Note: “haole” is a term reserved for non-Islanders: military, tourists, transients, etc. The word can have negative connotation.)
Buffell: “Well seeing as I am hapa (a quarter haole) and married to a haole in the military I’d be pretty hypocritical if I had anything negative to say about it. I think Hawaii’s diversity is a good thing. I personally enjoy the melding of everyone’s different cultures and personalities. However, I will add that because Hawaii is such a small community it only takes a few bad apples to ruin the bunch if you know what I mean.
People who grow up in Hawaii have their own culture just as those who grew up on the West Coast or the East Coast do. It’s these cultural differences that often cause a lot of misunderstandings. Shaking hands, for instance. Did you know that a simple hand shake can go from “nice to meet you” to the start of a months long argument? I didn’t until a few years ago. When someone gripped incredibly hard and the other person barely used any pressure. Both parties were angry and felt like the other was being rude and disrespectful. The person with the strong grip insisted that the other guy was “giving him a dead fish hand shake” while the other person claimed that the other shaker was “trying to crush his hand in an attempt to intimidate him.” I don’t believe either person meant to offend the other, but like I said that simple misunderstanding led to a fight that went on for months and is often the root behind some local people thinking that all haoles are rude and wishing them ill.”
MtH: You noted your occupation as “student”. What’s it like being a student in Hawaii?
Buffell: “Being a student in Hawaii isn’t too different than being a student anywhere else (or IUSB at least); you’re forced to take classes you aren’t interested in, you find a few professors you adore, and no matter how late your first class of the day is, it’ll always be too early. The 2 big differences I’ve encountered are the types of classes/ prerequisites you need to take (like UH requires at least one Hawaiian studies class while IUSB required all majors to take at least one art class). The second difference is how you justify skipping class. In Indiana I’d tell myself that the snow was coming down too hard and it was just too cold to go to class while in Hawaii I often hear my brain saying that the weather is too nice to waste the day in class room.”
MtH: Favorite Hawaiian or local food? Why:
Buffell: My favorite Hawaiian food is lomi salmon and poi (mashed tarot root), together. Separately they’re both delish, but together they make a party in your mouth…or shoyu poke. My favorite local food would have to be either chicken katsu or meat jun. Chicken katsu is a piece of chicken breaded in panko flakes and fried served with a katsu sauce that I am at a loss of words on how to describe other than yummy. Meat jun is a local Korean dish. Think slices of cow and cooked in an egg wash and then served with a vinegar shoyu based sauce. In both cases it’s the sauce that makes or breaks the dish.
MtH: Least favorite food? Why?
Buffell: “Tripe stew. By far my least favorite “Hawaiian” food mainly because I think tripe is terribly disgusting. My least favorite local food is cold Chinese ginger chicken. I’m not a huge fan of anything really ginger-y and serving it cold just makes it seem greasy to me.”
Editors Note: Moveto-Hawaii is a big fan of tripe soup.
Thanks, Jade! We appreciate your help and input to future residents of Hawaii.
Do you have a story or want to give an interview as a resident of Hawaii? Use the contact page to drop us a line!