A fun-filled spring break

Justin Martinez

Skydiving had always been on Emily Young's bucket list, and she checked that off during spring break in Hawaii.

After my first trip to Hawaii for the 2011 NCAA regionals, I knew I had to find a way to get back to Oahu. Luckily, at USC I live with two roommates who are Oahu kama'ainas (locals) who showed me and my other roomies what island life is really about -- adrenaline-pumping adventures and paradise. Shaka!

The 50th state is like no other. Its beauty surrounds you. Driving through the mountains feels as if you're in a distant, undiscovered, exotic land. Adventure lurks all around when hidden waterfalls appear magically through the trees off the highway and places to hike and climb lie in clear sight. Hawaii's adventurous landscape is juxtaposed by its calm and tranquil shoreline. Oahu's gorgeous beaches are the perfect place to relax and the water is paradise.

Courtesy Emily Young

Waiting for her group to be called, Emily Young wasn't sure how her body would react to jumping out of a plane.

Hands down, the best adventure of the trip was skydiving. For as long as I can remember, skydiving has been on my bucket list. I'm a self-classified adrenaline junkie and get a thrill in pushing life's limits. I'm not afraid of heights and I have an immense love for roller coasters, but I wasn't quite sure how my body would react to jumping out of an airplane. Would it feel as if my stomach was dropping the entire time? How would the air pressure feel? What if I screamed when I jumped out of the plane? Was I actually nervous?

I anxiously waited until our group name was called and I met my tandem master, Lyle. He joked about me handing my life over to him, which I was more than OK with, and he basically said there was nothing I could do wrong that could kill us. Solid, right?

Our group strapped up and hopped in the plane. The plane climbed up over the shoreline, where we reached about 14,000 feet and could see almost all the points of the island. Honestly, I would have paid just for that view, and it is something that I'll have with me forever.

The jumping door opened and I was the first to leave. It all happened so fast I really didn't have any time to get scared or nervous. Lyle pushed us out of the plane and did a couple of flips and all I could do was smile, laugh and holler "woo-hooo" with my shakas in air.

There was never an overwhelming dropping feeling, and while you're free-falling, all you can hear is the air whipping past you. Our parachute opened and Lyle even let me steer for a while. My favorite part was pulling both of the parachute handles down to gain altitude, because I was gliding and going against gravity.

I took in all of the beautiful sights as Lyle took control of our touchdown. The rush was over when I landed, and I met all of my friends, who each told about their own experiences. By the time we reached the car, we were talking about our next adventure -- jumping off of waterfalls.

Courtesy Emily Young

Emily Young went to Hawaii for the 2011 volleyball regionals and returned this year with her roommates for spring break.

The other essential part of island life is paradise. I can think of a lot of moments when I was completely at peace this last week: riding the waves into shore while kayaking in Kailua, standing at the top of Koko Head, watching the sun set over the water. However, the ultimate paradise was being with 'Ohana, which means family.

Family is the greatest pleasure in life. When I landed at the airport, my roommate's entire family, the Howicks, picked me up, and from that moment on I was an adopted member. I had numerous aunties, uncles and new cousins, who let me color on their children's menus at dinners and play Legos with them. We had family dinners almost every night of the trip, and it was so nice to have a home-cooked meal!

The dearest moment of family fun was when we were all playing cards. After I caught on to the strategy of the card game, I bombarded Uncle Bill with cards. He lightheartedly blamed me for his bad luck. For the last game of the evening, I suggested we go counterclockwise to give him the opportunity for revenge. In a battle of the losers, Uncle Bill had everyone on the floor laughing for five minutes straight because he somehow managed to end up with the entire deck in his hand.

I'm sad to be leaving my Hawaiian 'Ohana, but I have plenty of things to look forward to in L.A. Over spring break, my first paper for my master's class, was published on Not Another Flyer, a website that highlights the changing branding, marketing and advertisement work we see in our everyday lives.

I was waiting to make the announcement that I am enrolled in a progressive master's degree program until I at least passed a class, but now that I'm published, I guess the cat is out of the bag. Also, I am really excited to get back in the gym and hear about everyone else's adventures over spring break and, of course, get back to work. USC women's volleyball has three more spring tournaments: March 28, March 30 and April 12. These will be my last indoor spring volleyball tournaments, and I want them to be the best.

Mahalo Howick 'Ohana! A hui hou!