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Match Made in Mānoa: Game night

Aaliyah Fernando (’18) and Rydan Higashihara (’17)

It was Spring 2015, I was a freshman and I had just gotten out of a long-term relationship; I was in the “Imma do me” phase so what do I do? Sign up to study abroad for the next two semesters. I was in my JPN 102 class and our class sat in a circle so I was just having fun working in class with the two people to my left and to my right, little did I know my future husband was directly across the room from me.

One day the seat on the right of me was empty and like usual we went into working with partners, that’s when he sat right down next to me. I was a little surprised because this was three months into the semester and my first time talking to this guy, but whatever I needed a partner so we started talking. I forget what the exercise was about but I mentioned in Japanese that I really like to play Super Smash Bros, and he was really excited about that. I told him how my friends and I in the dorms have “game nights” and he’s welcome to come have his butt-kicked by me. From there he grabbed my phone, forced his number in it, and that’s when I finally learned his name (because in Japanese you refer to everyone by last name).

I didn’t use it for a few weeks but then one day before class started he sat next to me and took out my earbuds and forced his in so I could listen to music (what’s with this guy and touching my stuff) and when the music started playing I knew it was the band Yellowcard right away. We both were stoked that we liked the same music because at the time Yellowcard and Mayday Parade - our favorite bands - were going to have a concert so of course by default this meant we were going. By then, I thought “this guys pretty cool” so I finally used his number and invited him to game night.

We hung out, had fun with about 13 of us sweaty, in a Hale Aloha tower, playing on the WiiU super smash bros. He brought his friend Cat, she had to go home at 10 so Rydan went to go grab his car parked by Architecture while Cat and I went downstairs so she could have a smoke break. Rydan arrived and I just said bye to Cat but she’s like “come say bye to Rydan,” so I did; that’s when he was like “ do you wanna hang out?” And mind you, it’s a Tuesday night, I don’t know what else to do at 10 p.m. with a guy I just met, I have ECON at 8:30, so I said sure.

We dropped Cat off, and he asked “what do you wanna do?” Again, I didn’t know but I do know I love Tantalus, so I suggested we go there until we figure something out. We stopped by the 7-11 near UH, I grabbed a red bull because I knew I was tired, he grabbed a monster, and he paid of course. We got to Tantalus and just talked from 11 p.m. – 6 a.m. It was awesome. We talked about school, high school band, music, hobbies, previous relationships. We realized we had a lot in common and I was able to open up to him. As crazy as it was, we didn’t start dating after that. We both agreed that we’re not ready to jump into another relationship and I was on my way to live nine months in Japan so we just stayed good friends. We did long distance, ups-and-downs of drama, going through school, and a whole lotta mess before we finally started officially dating. We met March 2015, dating in October 2017, engaged October 2018.

Did you meet the love of your life at UH Mānoa? Share a photo with the hashtag #MatchMadeInManoa!

University of Hawai‘i Alumni