A Day of Surfing and Fireworks – Academic Insights Sydney

On Saturday 7th of January, after an exhausting yet rewarding few days of academic experience, the Immerse Students went to Bondi beach to have lessons in surfing and exploring the local area. When students had breakfast and necessary and adequate rest, we packed onto buses.

The air was filled with excitement as students chatted about their nights and planned for the coming day. The bus doors exploded when it finally skidded to a stop in front of the beach and students filed out of it. I was among them, trying to see the remarkable Sydney landmark standing before my eyes. Those waves, the shore, and the bright blue sky, so interconnected. It was from the bright smiles of the students that their energy could be deduced. Impatient, we rushed to a small elevation on the ground to settle our bags and eagerly threw on our wetsuits. It was within no time that our group each held a surfboard and lay on them while brightly staring at the instructor.

The instructors were two men who grew up around the area and had surfed the waves at Bondi for countless years. They were persistent in technique and claimed that one can only have the most enjoyment catching waves when this was achieved. These maneuvers were colloquially named ‘the Chicken Wings’, ‘the Seal’, the ‘Sydney Harbor Bridge’, right foot, and left foot. The moves seemed rather effortless seeing the instructors explain them and practicing on the beach. However, it was as surprising as the coldness of the water that these moves required a substantial amount of practice. 

Wave after wave, it could be deduced that the students were understanding the “Way of the Sea” and mostly were able to catch onto a few waves.

There was still the conspicuous sight of students standing up and face planting directly into the ocean, yet a few of us had safely made it to the shore while standing up.

After the eye-opening surf session, we were given free time to wander and explore the area. It was by then we were able to embrace the diversity of the culture of students here. When a group of my close friends and I walked into a small seaside cafeteria, I was shocked by what my friends knew about the menu. My friend from Brazil pointed to a drink they have in their country and insisted on me trying it. Another friend from the Gold Coast had shown us the correct way to “chill” beside the beach and enjoy the sun.

Yet, the day was far from finishing, as we took the bus to Darling Harbour and watched fireworks under the stars. Again, we were mesmerised by the night life at Darling Harbour. It was the bars, the people, and the energy that shaped Darling Harbour to what it is today. Promptly at 9 o’clock, the sight of burning purple magnesium and an arrangement of other chemicals lit up the sky and reflected its image perfectly within the water. The flame of dragons danced into the sky, as if they feared nothing. The whole harbour was quiet apart from the crackles of the fireworks, even given the thousands of visitors attending that day. Every individual was enamoured.

After the fireworks we climbed back into the bus, clearly lost of the energy we had in the morning and was hoping for the warm grasp of sleep. It was safe to say that this was an embracing conclusion to an adventurous day.

Blog post written by Mark Xu, Academic Insights Sydney participant, 2023.


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