By CARRIE FALCONE
EAST BRUNSWICK — A college student from the area recently completed a study abroad program where she joined other students who learned about the different customs and traditions that are separate from their own.
Lauren Cram, 21, a 2013 graduate of East Brunswick High School, is a biology major at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania. From May 10-27, Cram spent two weeks in Hawaii, where she learned a lot about Hawaiian culture.
“I originally had my heart set on going to the Galapagos Islands for the summer semester, but it was cancelled,” Cram said. “So, I chose Hawaii because the tropical environment and beaches are similar to the Galapagos. I’ve always loved nature, the beach and a go-with-the-flow environment.”
Susquehanna University runs a study abroad program called Global Opportunities, a cross-cultural requirement for all students at the school where a student can choose to spend a few days or a whole semester within the United States or outside of the country in order to gain knowledge about different cultures, according to a statement prepared by the university.
Cram and 21 students visited a number of historical landmarks and museums as well as three of the main islands: Oahu, Kaui’i and the Big Island. The students also learned about the history of the islands, tried many native dishes, learned dances and also participated in service projects with native Hawaiians.
“I learned so much about Hawaiian history and culture and how much it actually differs from the mainland culture,” Cram said. “Even though Hawaii is still a part of the United States, I don’t think that people realize that Hawaii has its completely own culture and is unlike the typical lifestyle one would be used to in New Jersey.”
Cram also enjoyed communicating with the Hawaiian natives who were very genuine, respectful and open.
“If we visited a place that wasn’t planned, a native Hawaiian would tell us something so inspiring about the Hawaiian lifestyle,” Cram said. “It really touched me and opened up my eyes to different parts of life.
“If I had the opportunity to do the trip again, I would. It was the most amazing experience I ever had. Not only was every place we visited beautiful, but almost each sight we stopped at and saw had a historical significance to the land and the native people.”
For more information, visit www.susqu.edu/academics/study-abroad.