Catching Waves

I’ve never been surfing. Growing up, that wasn’t an activity my Mom even considered signing me up for. I was the girl in dance school, girl scouts, and guitar lessons. None of my friends were surfers either. When a spokesperson from Surf Camp Australia pitched the opportunity at UNSW’s international student orientation, I was quite curious to see what it was about.

Fast forward, and here we are two months later. Tucked away in the Discovery Campervan Park, is Surf Camp Australia. I’m two hours outside of Sydney in the small town of Gerroa. According to my instructors, only an average of 500 people actually live here. Gerroa is home to Seven Mile Beach, one of the best learn-to-surf beaches in Australia!

Over the course of a weekend, I’ve learned how to hop onto my surfboard—“rails, chest, feet” style—gauge the waves using the four “S’s” – single, strong, straight, and sexy—chicken wing my back leg on the board in order to rise into the safety position, before proceeding to do what I came to camp for in the first place—standing up and catching a wave! Only after losing my balance too many times to count, and nose-diving head-first into the water, did I actually catch my first wave. The sensation of catching a wave is truly breathtaking. Life feels as if it’s speeding up and slowing down at the same time. My body felt like it was doing the impossible.

Lesson Learned #7 — Know Your Limits

Surfing is both an extreme sport and a lifestyle. It engages the body, mind, and spirit. The “Two-Day Weekender” package is intensive. Included in the package are three 2-hour surf lessons—two on Saturday, and one Sunday before heading back to Sydney. While I learned much about the art and lifestyle of surfing, the greatest lesson I learned during this weekend was not actually in the water. I learned this lesson on Sunday morning, while sitting in my cabin…alone, while everyone else was out catching their last wave.

After my second 2-hour surfing lesson on Saturday, I began experiencing sharp shooting pains in both my feet. Surfing works nerves in the feet that may not be frequently used during normal walking. The pain progressively worsened throughout the evening, and I found it difficult to walk. When Sunday morning came, I made the decision to sacrifice my final lesson, and instead, rest and rehabilitate my feet. For someone who fears missing out, this was a very difficult decision to make. The people in my group could not understand why I wouldn’t just push through the pain and finish up camp strong. The thing is though, I medically could not. I’ve had many medical conditions I’ve had to be aware of and make others aware of during my time abroad, such as a nut allergy, asthma, and now plantar fasciitis.

Being the “odd one out” is very uncomfortable. However, it’s better I acknowledged my own limits, than to end up in a hospital in a foreign country. This week’s lesson is in overcoming that fear of missing out, and showing myself a bit of compassion, especially with the new activities I’ve decided to try.

QUICK TRIVIA

There is one phrase that I find myself hearing every single day in Australia. “How are you going”. Can you guess what response would BEST answer this question?

  1. Taking the 370
  2. Probably the M5
  3. Good, how are you going?
  4. None of these

You may remember from my previous posts that personal development is a major goal for me. Not only am I grateful for the challenge that this experience has provided, but my feet are grateful for the wisdom I’ve exercised. Surfing was absolutely amazing. I would certainly have another go at it, but next time, I’ll be sure to wear water shoes and pace myself a bit better.

Quick Trivia Answers: How are you going is the equivalent to our American, how are you doing. It took me a while to realize Aussies weren’t asking how am I going to get to my destination, but really how I’m doing. The best response would be C-good, how are you going?

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