Surf's Up for international students

With Victoria’s range of beautiful beaches, big waves and breathtaking coastlines, it’s no wonder that among the array of sporting clubs at La Trobe, a surf club would exist.

The La Trobe Surf Club, or S@LT (Surfing at La Trobe), has long been a staple of the sporting landscape at the university.

The clubs number of trips allows not only domestic students to learn a new skill but also gives La Trobe’s international students the opportunity to do the same while experiencing an unseen part of Australia.

The club runs three trips per semester giving students six opportunities throughout the year to experience what club President Gina O’Connor says are “non-stop fun weekends”.

Gina has been in her current position for over a year and says the trips are about more than learning to surf.

“We generally try and have some site seeing involved as well. Our intention is that people have an experience where they understand more about the culture of surfing and it’s structured to feel like a trip with your mates rather than a school camp,” Gina said.

Originally run as day-trips with a 6:00am departure time, student feedback allowed the club to extend the trips to a more social-friendly weekend.

“We like to leave on a Friday morning now just to allow for a few extra hours of surfing which everyone loves,” Gina said.

“We usually do activities like pizza-making nights or something at dinner time where everyone can get involved before we do some casual get to know you games.”

“Saturday and Sunday we’d just hit the water for the majority of the morning for a few hours before some sightseeing each afternoon.”

The change in routine saw the club run an extra trip this semester with visits to Sorrento, the Great Ocean Road, Wilsons Prom and Wye River all being hailed as a massive success.

Each trip costs $200 with the money covering accommodation, food and travel expenses along with the use of boards and wetsuits for the weekend.

La Trobe International student Karsten Neuper attended two trips in semester one and says he cannot wait for the first semester two trip to roll around.

“On both trips last semester we had such a good group. We had a ton of fun in the water, on the bus and also relaxing in the hostels,” Karsten said.

“It was great to see that at the end of the three days that everyone stood up on their boards and surfed waves. I’m already excited about semester two trips.”

With the trips a chance for La Trobe’s international students to engage with their peers, Gina says that their feedback is continually positive.

“We probably get better feedback about the social aspect of the weekend more than say the coastlines but you can tell they are just in awe from the looks on their faces when they travel past on the bus.”

“It gives them the opportunity to see more of Victoria that isn’t just inner Melbourne. While they get to learn an awesome new skill, the weekend also acts as a chance to allow them to meet their fellow international students that they will be closely linked with for the period of their studies,” Gina said.

To find out more about Surfing at La Trobe, check out their Facebook page or send them an email at surfingatlatrobe@gmail.com

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