Unexpected of Ireland

I came into this trip without very many expectations, open to all experiences I might encounter. That being said, there have been several things unexpected. Some of those unexpected things are minor, like having my own room or needing to press a button to walk out a door. I expected to meet people and make friends, but I did not expect to form such strong and close bonds as quickly as I did. I expected to learn new things, but I did not expect to find a new passion. I did not expect to learn how to surf in Ireland, let alone be good at it.

On our first day in Dublin, one of the CEA program directors mentioned surfing in Donegal when making recommendations of things to do and places to go. Soon after fourteen of us signed up for surfing lessons during one of our free weekends three weeks away—plenty of time to become excited and nervous.  That weekend, we hopped on a bus for a three-hour ride to Bundoran, on the west coast of Ireland.  We all nervously joked about watching each other wipe out. However, by the next morning, I was determined that I would stand up on the board and surf.

My first attempt was a wipeout. My second attempt, I was able to get my knees on the board. I was standing by my fourth try. I had successfully stood up on the surfboard six or seven times by the end of the first day. I was so happy and proud of myself.  Nothing could have wiped the smile off of my face. That night, despite being sore in every part of my body, I was jumping with anticipation to try again tomorrow.

Day two of surfing started out like the first: we ate breakfast, changed into wet suits and headed to the beach. This time, I was given a skinnier board—which is more difficult to handle. The waves, too, were different, the sky was gray and the tide was sharper. It was harder to pick the good waves; the waves curved like skateboard ramps would send you straight into a nosedive and the smoother waves often did not provide enough boost. One of the instructors gave me tips on how to read the tide and knowing which waves to choose. Over the next couple of hours, he offered me more instructions to improve my technique, moving me from beginner to half a step above beginner.

I didn’t stand as often on the second day, but I practiced the harder techniques with harder waves. At the five-minute warning, the instructor waited in the surf with me until I caught one final wave. I wiped out and started walking my board to shore, he yelled, “what do you think you’re doing? We don’t walk out of a surfing lesson, we surf out.” I was the last “surfer” of our group out of the water. I can’t wait to surf again, perhaps I’ll try San Diego!