Nebraskan students learn how to surf in California

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By Tiago Zenero, NewsNetNebraska

The instructors shouted to every beginner in surfing class as they tried to balance on the surfboard without succeeding.

“Eyes on the nose, eyes on the nose!” they said, over and over.

The nose is how surfers refer to the front part of the board, and where the surfer should look so not to fall, explained one of the instructors.

During Spring Break, the Campus Recreation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln took eight students to learn how to surf in California. They camped at San Elijo State Beach and learned at the Eli Howard Surf School.

The origin of surfing goes back to the  Hawaiian Islands in 1769 as part of ancient Polynesian culture. Now it is also part of the culture on the West Coast, especially California.

The challenges are harder for beginners,  especially if they live more than 1,500 miles away from the coast, like the Nebraska students.

“It is hard to get the board out into the water and then it is hard when you are on the board to get up on the board without being properly trained to do so,” said Kira Luxon, Interior Design student at UNL.

The trip was for both those who love surfing and those who had no experience at all, like Thiago Alencar, an electrical engineering student at UNL.

“I’ve never surfed before, but California seemed to be a very nice place to visit,” he said.

Although he doesn’t have the same experience as Alex Ruybalid, Advertising and Public Relations major at UNL, the instructors were able to teach Alencar starting with the first steps.

“I usually surf on my breaks. I’m definitely not great at surfing but I love it,” Ruybalid said. “The instructors’ assistance is essential, though.”

The most difficult part was “not getting hit in the face with the water when you are trying to swim out of the waves because they can get pretty big and they slap on your face,” Luxon said.

Other adversities students had to face were the chilly weather and the rocky ground on the bottom of the Pacific.

“Just being in the ocean was pretty brutal, the bottom hurts your feet a lot and swimming against all the waves was pretty intense,” said Isaac Cortes, one of the instructors.

The trip was full of new experiences, including the ocean’s wildlife.

“One of the best moments was when a seal came onto my surfboard,” said Sara Mota, one of the students on the trip.

Sara Mota was astonished by the seal that interruped surfing classes in California over Spring Break. / Photo by Hugh McManus Photography

Sara Mota was astonished by the seal that interruped surfing classes in California over Spring Break.

The journey of more than 3,000 miles — all driven in a van — brought back to Nebraska new surf lovers.

“I will definitely surf again. I will probably try to do so before spring break next year,” Cortes said.

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