These Three Islands and What They Mean To Me
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These Three Islands and What They Mean To Me

How living in Guam, Japan, and Hawaii has shaped the person I am

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These Three Islands and What They Mean To Me
Kimmie Seif

From the time I was five, I have moved about every two years, whether it be to a different state or a different continent. Even though I have great memories of everywhere I have lived, I believe that these three islands will hold always hold a special place in my heart and add to the large collection of places I consider part of my home.

1. Guam

I first moved to Guam when I was five. I remember my parents showing me my new home on a map, a speck in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Guam, although the largest island in Micronesia, is only 30 miles long and 10 miles across. I tried to find it on my kindergarten class's globe, but it was not visible, prompting my friends to think I made it up. The flight to Guam was only my second plane ride ever ( the first being a trip to Disney World that I don't remember, but according to my parents I had a great time). Although I suppose it was three flights, spanning over 23 hours. Guam is only 200 miles north of the equator, and I moved there in the middle of June. To say it was hot would be an incredible understatement. I only stayed for one year so I don't think I had the chance to fully appreciate the tropical surroundings.

I moved back to Guam when I was eleven. I was older, more mature (debatable), and determined to take advantage of what Guam had to offer me. For the most part, it was an ordinary life, I lived on the naval base and attended the Department of Defense school, very typical circumstances for a military family. However, I also got the chance to go to the beach every day, go snorkeling, sailing and "boonie stomping", otherwise known as extreme hiking. I learned Chamorro, the native language of Guam, and went shopping in downtown Tumon. Once I began immersing myself in all the activities available, Guam seemed a lot bigger than I had originally thought.


Tarague Beach, Guam Kimmie Seif


One of the main attracting factors of Guam for the US Navy is its location, it is a good midway point between North America, Australia, and Asia. As a result, I had the amazing opportunity to visit Australia, Thailand, Singapore, and Japan while I lived there, which were truly life-changing experiences. Even though Guam was tiny, it made up a majority of my childhood, shaping me into the person I am today.

2. Japan


Taken in Asakusa, a district in Tokyo, well-known for the Sensō-ji, a Buddhist temple, as well as its shopping street. Kimmie Seif


I arrived in Yokosuka, Japan in August of 2013, just in time to start eighth grade. I was again attending a Department of Defense school on the Navy base, so I didn't necessarily have to worry about the language barrier right away. Even though I had grown used to, and even enjoyed, moving frequently, it never occurred to me that my family and I would ever be stationed outside of the United States. I was apprehensive to go off the base, as we were just outside a city and concerned that I was not as adventurous as I thought living in Guam had made me. However, I knew that if I didn't take advantage of this amazing opportunity, I would always regret it. So I just had to go for it.


Sumo Wrestling Tournament in 2013, Tokyo Kimmie Seif


Once I did, there was no stopping me. I started off small, going to the mall or to a rotary sushi restaurant, all close to home but far enough away that I was off the base. Once I had done that, I started going farther, going on the metro into Tokyo or to Yokohama, exploring the city with my friends or family. My family and I also did some sort of excursion every weekend that allowed us to see as much of Japan as we could in the short year we were there. We saw the annual Cherry Blossom Festival, ziplined at the base of Mount Fuji, we were almost trampled at Shibuya Crossing, and yes, even saw a sumo wrestling championship. Living in Japan, although intimidating at first, taught me to be more outgoing and not be afraid of new opportunities.




Taken at Diver City Plaza, a well-known shopping mall in TokyoKimmie Seif


3. Hawaii


Chinaman's Hat - rock formation located off the Kualoa Regional Beach Park.Kimmie Seif


Ahh yes, Hawaii, the number one tourist destination and the dream job of most active duty service members. It was a cold December night in Edgewater, Maryland when my father got the orders to Pearl Harbor, and my mother immediately started packing the house, more than ready to trade in winter boots for flip-flops. We arrived in Honolulu in January of 2017, right in the middle of my junior year of high school. As any SAT test prep book or academic advisor would tell you, your junior year of high school is the most important time to prepare for college, so my stress levels were at an all-time high. Luckily, I was able to start school right away, and I attended the 'Iolani School in Honolulu, not a Department of Defense school. Even though I was slightly hesitant, I didn't despair because as a majority of military kids do, I have a system when it comes to starting a new school; becoming as involved as I can as quickly as I can. This includes sports, clubs, and community service organizations.


Kayaking at the North Shore Kimmie Seif


The summer after the blur that was my junior year, I allowed myself to enjoy the fact that I was living in Hawaii. I had a part-time job, but other than that I planted myself at the beach. Once my senior year began, I still tried to make time to see Hawaii, like traveling to the other islands, climbing Diamondhead, going to see where all the movies were filmed in Kualoa Ranch, and snorkeling in Hanauma Bay. I think for the most though, I learned how to be more independent and responsible in Hawaii. I had to make sure I caught up and stayed there while transitioning schools and applying for college, that included becoming more comfortable asking for help when I needed it. Hawaii, besides being an amazing place to live, prepared me for my transition to college life, and living there is a major reason I have been successful thus far.


As a military dependent, I have had the opportunity to live all over the world, moving about every two years. Of all the places I have lived, these three islands were my favorite because they provided the opportunity for me to grow as an individual and mature into the person I am today. I hope one day I will be able to go back to each island and see how they have changed since I lived there.

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