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  • Writer's pictureBranwen Defren


Updated: Aug 29, 2018

This weeks #friendfeaturefriday is from one of my oldest friends from elementary school, Briana Rowe. Bri lives and works as a yoga instructor in one of the most stunning places in the world, Hawaii USA.

Read more about what it's like to live on America's prettiest island...

This weeks #friendfeaturefriday is from one of my oldest friends from elementary school, Briana Rowe. Bri lives and works as a yoga instructor in one of the most stunning places in the world, Hawaii USA.

Read more about what it's like to live on America's prettiest island...

1. What made you move to Hawaii?

My mom lived in Hawaii in the 80's so I felt like I wanted to have that experience too. She always told me these exciting stories and I felt like I was meant to go the moment I toured the University of Hawaii. I wanted to be an "island girl" for a little while and not have any worries and school was a great reason to go because I could accomplish a goal while simultaneously living in paradise.

2. Why did you choose to go to college in Hawaii? What things were you hoping to accomplish in college that University of Hawaii gave you?

Why wouldn't you want to go to school in Hawaii? It was such an easy decision for me. I could go to class and then go straight to the beach afterwards. It also felt like such an adventure because I didn't know a single person when I moved there. I wanted to find myself and become independent. I gained an understanding of Hawaiian culture and I respected the diversity of Hawaii.

University of Hawaii was filled with people that had a similar sense of adventure and I appreciated that most people preferred to go on a hike or have an outdoor experience instead of the typical party scene of college. I could grow as a person and understand the world a bit better.

3. After graduation, what made you decide to stay in Hawaii?

I was really content with my living situation in Oahu but I decided to move islands when I graduated. I moved from Oahu to the Big Island to be with my boyfriend. I don't think I would ever feel ready but once I moved it felt refreshing to be somewhere new. I think it's good to make changes in our lives and not get too comfortable with our situation. I want to grow and evolve as a person and the best way to do that is to go through change.

4. You've traveled to most of the different Islands of Hawaii - do you have a particular favorite?

I lived on Oahu and visited Maui, Molokai, Kauai, and Big Island. Every island is so different and they all have their own charm. I also think it depends on who you go with. My boyfriend took me to all of these islands and we would drive all over and camp and have entire white sand beaches or waterfalls to ourselves. I think Kauai has my heart because our trip just felt like a dream. It was just unreal. I think it's worth it to experience every island.

5. What's your favorite thing about living in Hawaii - off the top of your head?

The first thing that comes to mind is the BEACHES. Oahu has amazing white sand beaches that were literally at my doorstep. It felt so nice to be in clear blue water. It's honestly like going to the spa. I would feel so refreshed and happy after a beach session. I love getting sandy and swimming for hours and getting sun on my skin. It really clears your mind and resets you. I don't think I've been anything less than happy after leaving the beach.

6. What is something you wish people on the "mainland" knew about living in Hawaii? Is it not all a "dream" place to live everyday?

I think the biggest thing that I've noticed is that mainlanders don't understand the dangers of the water. It's so important to be safe and prepared for anything because the climate can change in a matter of seconds.

Also, Hawaii is expensive and many people work long hours just to live in Hawaii. I've totally changed my perspective about what paradise is. I think we have the power to be happy anywhere in the world and life is what we make it. It was a dream place for me but I still had to work and study just like everyone else and I think working hard made me enjoy my beach days and appreciate where I was living even more.

7. What do you do for work in Hawaii?

I was studying, nannying, working at a nightclub, teaching yoga, and designing for a fashion show. I had a lot going on during my last semester of school and I decided to stop working when I left for Big Island. I wanted to just enjoy the summer and I had enough money saved from all of my jobs to be lucky enough to not worry about working.

I think it's so important to have balance in our lives. I was happy with my jobs because they had many benefits. Yoga was so fun because I felt like I was making a difference in people's lives and it gave me purpose. Nannying was nice because it was great money and the baby was a newborn and slept so much! I also discovered the reality of how much work, time, and energy that goes into caring for a baby. Working as a door girl at a club was also really fun for me because I got to dress up and got paid working short hours. I also never felt stressed or frustrated at any of these jobs.

8. How much does it approx. cost you to live in Hawaii? Everyone dreams of living there but is it affordable?

I was paying my own rent and food on Oahu and I made it work so I truly think anyone can do it. I was renting a room out of my boyfriends house and I would cook the majority of the time. I had a moped for the first two years but it's ideal to have a car.

It totally depends on individual lifestyles and how much you go out/shopping. I lived in 3 different houses and they ranged in price from $700-$1,000/month. It's affordable because many activities are 100% free. I mostly spent my time hiking or swimming and that's totally free. I would probably spend more on activities if I lived on the mainland. Another thing to consider is the price of food. It can get costly but farmers market and growing your own produce is the best way to avoid high costs. We had an avocado tree right in front of our house which probably saved me hundreds of dollars! Also the other islands are way less expensive - the Big Island is super affordable and you can find an abundance of fresh coconuts, mangoes, apples, and bananas everywhere.

8. Do you participate in regular "Hawaiian" activities? What would you say Hawaiian activities include?

Yes, occasionally. On big island my boyfriend's friends would hunt pigs and prepare an emu. This is where they cook the pig in a pit oven with banana leaves. It takes a lot of work but it's such an experience. I usually don't even eat the meat but I do enjoy the entire process. It's a lot more mindful to catch and prepare your own meat.

9. Stereotypical Hawaiian activities people picture involve surfing, hiking, skateboarding, etc. have you done any of these regularly?

Yes, it's worth it to try everything. Not so much skateboarding but I love hiking. I hiked almost every weekend. Surfing is probably one of my favorite activities. It is an amazing experience to catch a wave with friends. I did it often but not as much as I would like.

10. Do you miss anything about living on the "mainland"?

I missed seasons and the anticipation of Christmas. It never truly felt like it was Christmas time. Don't get me wrong, living in bikinis and shorts was so easy and fun. But I missed boots, fall, hot chocolate, and scarves.

11. What's the worst thing about living in Hawaii?

Cockroaches and centipedes ! I woke up to my roommate hysterically crying one night because a huge roach landed on her in the middle of the night. We both screamed so loud that the neighbor woke up at 3 am and tore her room apart just to find it! It was traumatic and I don't think I could ever get used to seeing them.

12. Do you think you will settle down in Hawaii or move back to the mainland USA?

eI'm currently debating this decision and not sure what next steps I want to take in my life. Hawaii is so beautiful but I do think it's important to take a step back and experience something different. Moving to the mainland for a couple of years seems like it would be a nice change. I feel like I can go to Hawaii anytime and it will always feel like home to me.


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