Hawaii Part 1: The conference in Honolulu

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May 25th 2014
Published: May 27th 2014
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Singapore - Tokyo - Honolulu

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View towards the north. Our hotel was located right next to the beach.
On the 14th of May I left for a conference in Honolulu, the annual conference of the Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP). I sort of travelled back in time because my flight departed at 8:10 am from Singapore, went via Tokyo, and arrived in Honolulu at 7:55 am on same day. I had crossed the date line!

The conference hotel was located right on famous Waikiki Beach. However, after showering and unpacking my suitcase I first had to take a little nap because I was totally exhausted. I normally do not do that, but rather try to get into the local time right away by staying up until bedtime. However, this time I had been working during almost the entire flight and therefore only caught about an hour of sleep. I ended up having the worst jetlag ever (usually I am hardly ever jetlagged), most likely due to the fact of being totally overworked (see my second last post for details on my job in Singapore and the stressful time before going to Singapore) and was struggling with it during my entire ten day stay in Hawaii. Friends, my life is awesome, but it all comes at a
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View towards the south with Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon in the foreground.
cost. But let’s return to the day of my arrival.

At lunchtime I was feeling okay and met up with Ilke. She is a lecturer at the University of Surrey and she had organised the symposium that we were going to be part of for this conference. She had done a great job coaching me through writing up the proposal and pretty much due to her help we had made it in – not an easy thing at SIOP. After lunch I went for a little stroll up and down Waikiki Beach which is in fact a super beautiful beach. Back at the hotel I bumped into my colleagues Mats from Sweden and Rudi and Lasse from Norway. It was great to see them, as always, and we went to the nearby shopping mall together. The guys got Hawaii shirts and lots of other stuff and I, the only girl in the group, was the one who had spent the least money of all of them. In the evening we had dinner in a Japanese restaurant where they cooked the food on the table in front of us. The cook was making a real show of it, juggling with
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View towards Honolulu / Waikiki Beach.
his knives, chopping up the food like an artist, and making lots of jokes. We had several courses of very good food and a nice evening anyway. Thank you Rudi for this great dinner!

Achim had been supposed to arrive around 7 pm, however, he was going through a really hard time and did not arrive until midnight. He had had a layover in Los Angeles, with two hours in between his two flights. He stood in line for customs forever. Eventually he asked one of the TSA guys if there was any opportunity for him to go through customs a bit more quickly because otherwise he would miss his connecting flight. Reply: “Your problem is getting into the US, not your connecting flight.” No more questions at this point and of course Achim missed his connecting flight. The ground crew then wanted to put him on a flight that would not depart until the next morning, but he managed to be re-booked onto one that was supposed to depart two hours later.

Once out on the runway there was an announcement that they were too heavy to take off and that 24 passengers needed to get off
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Our helicopter - and I sat in the very front :-)
the aircraft or they could fly a detour via San Francisco which would take ages. No reward or compensation was offered for passengers getting off the plane. However, eventually some decided to disembark and of course their luggage needed to be unloaded as well. Then another announcement was made that now the plane was good to go. Apparently there had been some military action taking place somewhere above the Pacific Ocean, which would have required the plane to fly a detour. For this the planned amount of fuel would not have been enough. However, with extra fuel and the full load of passengers and their luggage the plane would have been too heavy. But now the military action was over, no detour was required, and finally all passengers were back on board and they could take off. What a hassle!

The conference started on Thursday. The days started early, with the first oral presentations starting at 7.30 am. However, the conference finished in the early afternoon, which left us some time for sightseeing. What I liked about the conference is that all oral presentations were symposia, meaning that there is one overarching topic around which four to five talks
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Diamond Head on the right, view of the southeast coast.
are organised and in the end there is a summary and critical discussion by one person. Other than that, there were also panel discussions (which I usually do not attend because I do not have the feeling that I really learn something from them), elevator-pitch type talks, and of course posters. I attended a few interesting sessions, however, it was hard for me to stay awake. Our symposium took place early on Saturday morning and went well. It was on performance measurement and thus on the question how employees’ performance within an organisation can be measured in a reliable and valid manner. It went well and again I would like to thank Ilke for organising this!

As mentioned, we had some time off in the afternoons. This was good as I needed to do some work, but also it gave us the chance to do some sightseeing. On Thursday afternoon we tried to hike up Diamond Head, an extinct volcano crater from which one has a great view of Honolulu and the area around the city. However, we arrived there too late and were not allowed to go up – it is only open until 4:30 pm, and even
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The valley in which parts of "Jurassic Park" where filmed. Weather conditions totally different from the other parts of the island that we had flown across earlier.
my lying to the lady at the counter that we would not have the chance to come back did not help. However, the compensation for this was a super flash dinner for which our Norwegian colleague Espen had invited the German and Nordic team and one of their clients. We sat in a room that we had all to ourselves with a beautiful view of the beach and sea. We had six courses altogether, including seafood and meat for the guys and variations of salad, veggies, and tofu for me. There was a different type of wine served with every course, the food was fantastic, and the company was even better 😊. Thank you Espen!

The next afternoon we tried Diamond Head again and simply went there a bit earlier. This time we were allowed to do the easy 20 minute walk up the hill and enjoyed a wonderful view of the island of Oahu. Of course we needed to cool off after the walk in the head and thus went for a swim in the sea. The water was great, just the right temperature for being refreshing, but not too cold. In the evening, we watched a firework
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Our cook juggling with his equipment.
and then Achim invited the entire German, Nordic, and South African team for a nice dinner, this time in one of the restaurants in the hotel with live music. Thank you Achim!

My personal highlight was definitely a helicopter flight around the island. It departed from Honolulu Airport and took us along Waikiki Beach, over Diamond Head, and then along the east coast of Oahu. The pilot showed us the valleys in which films like e.g. Jurassic Park had been shot and I was amazed by the fact how much weather and vegetation change within very short distances. On the east side of the island there is rain forest and it was also raining while we were in the air. Our pilot had been a pilot at the US army and one could see that he was extremely experienced. He took us close to waterfalls and mountains and it was obvious that he had good control of the helicopter. We crossed a huge pineapple plantation and then headed towards Pearl Harbor exactly the way the Japanese had come in during the Second World War. We could see the site pretty well from the helicopter. From there we headed back to Honolulu Airport and landed after a fantastic 45 minute flight. Awesome!!!

We briefly attended the closing ceremony (that included some traditional music and dance), but then got bored. I had some more work to do and then in the evening we went out for dinner again, this time to an Italian restaurant. Here another curiosity of American culture happened. We had ordered a bottle of wine which the waiter had poured into a carafe. When we had finished our main course we decided that we did not want dessert because we were really full. However, there was still wine left in the carafe. In most other countries we would simply have sat there for another maybe half an hour and finished the wine. Not so in the US. The waiter seriously poured the wine back into the bottle, put the cork back in, put the bottle into a plastic bag, and gave this bag to us. Can you imagine?!

All of my colleagues left Hawaii very early the next morning. It was only me who had decided to extent her stay. I caught a plane to Hawaii (the island after which the whole chain of islands is named, for clarification sometimes also called “Big Island”) and spent five days on this pretty amazing island. But that’s the next story!


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