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Students returned to Oahu because of job opportunities, time zones and new experiences

Editor's note: This story was written on individual people's stories, not to encourage students to return. BYU–Hawaii released guidelines on Aug. 4, saying, "Students should not move to Laie or the surrounding areas until they have been invited to do so." University information says it is following a reopening plan related to Hawaii's phased reopening plan, and will invite all students back to campus once the island is in Phase Green. Unless otherwise invited, the University has asked all students to stay home.

Graphic of women wearing a mask and pulling along a suitcase in her hand with the island of Oahu in the background and outlines of airplanes, masks, laptops and calenders.

Job opportunities, time zone differences and new experiences are reasons BYU–Hawaii students said they are returning to Oahu this fall despite the semester being remote. Students also shared concerns about traveling and remote classes.

“One of the things that I was most looking forward to was the cultural differences that I would have in Hawaii. I felt [moving to Hawaii] would benefit me the most instead of being holed up in Montana,” said McKenzie Connell, an incoming freshman from Montana majoring in biology.

On June 10, BYUH announced all classes would be conducted remotely for the Fall 2020 Semester. According to byuh.edu, new contracts for on-campus single student housing will not be issued, and current contacts will be canceled. The University will be providing temporary housing for those who can not return home due to current circumstances.

Kody Finley, a sophomore from California majoring in finance, said his job as a resident advisor made it possible for him to come back to Hawaii.

“One of the main reasons I decided to come back is I was able to secure a job for myself on the island. I love Hawaii and wanted to come back so badly, and getting a job [in Hawaii] made that happen. I knew that I wanted to come back to the island this year, even though classes would be remote.”

Taylor Nikolaus, a junior from Arizona majoring in political science, said she is employed as an online tutor at BYUH, and being in Hawaii Standard Time will make her job more manageable.

“For my job, doing it online at home was really hard because of time differences with everyone.”

Nikolaus added she believes doing classwork remotely away from home will be beneficial for her productivity.

“I thought school online, at home, was so hard with my family all there [and] so many distractions. I thought it was so much harder to get stuff done. When I was [in Hawaii] when the semester was online, it was so much easier to get stuff done.”

In contrast, Connell said she believes remote schooling will be more difficult away from home due to roommates and friends creating new distractions.

“I think there’s a lot more personal responsibility to do online schooling, and since I’m moving out and I’ll be living with other students, I think I could very easily not get a lot done... While living at home, I would have my parents nearby to motivate me a lot more. So I think that will be the hardest thing is just keeping myself on track and focusing.”

Finley shared one disadvantage of returning to campus with classes remote is being far from family, and now many of his friends.

“Since many students aren’t coming back to the island for some time, I imagine I’ll be a little lonely until school opens up for in-person classes.”

Nikolaus said she will miss going to campus and seeing friends and other students in her daily life.

“It’s going to stink not seeing everyone, and not seeing people. I’ll probably only see my roommates and close friends. Not being able to be on campus will be hard when I’m so close.”

Currently, the State of Hawaii requires a 14-day travel quarantine for anyone entering the state. More information on the quarantine can be found on hidot.hawaii.gov/coronavirus.