When you’re a graduate student in the middle of finals, sometimes it is important to take a break and remind yourself why you have been in the library for twelve hours. For a graduate student, finals are when it all comes together. Students pull together all the bits and pieces of knowledge that they have accumulated over the semester, they take a stab at answering their own research questions, and they put in the extra hours to get it right. However, feeling resentful about this process is the last thing a student wants to happen when they are on page 29 of 30 in their research proposal. For this reason, decompression time becomes just as important as crunch time.
This importance became especially clear to me on a recent afternoon when I received an email from the RSMAS Surf Club that high winds in the area were creating surf-able conditions on South Beach. The enthusiasm from my fellow club members was all I needed to dig through my car to find my wet suit top and hit “reply all” to the surf invitation. After loading a record breaking five surfboards onto the car, the club members and I piled in and made our way to the break. A catchy song started playing on the radio and my friends instantly started singing and dancing to the music making me already glad that I decided to join this adventure.
The excitement from the car continued as we emerged from behind the large dunes that border the beach and made our way to the water. I did not hesitate as I stretched my arms and started paddling through the shore break. Paper outlines and topic ideas were instantly replaced with more pressing decisions of where to paddle and how to position my body on my board. Sargassum ceased to just be an example of brown algae in a PowerPoint when I touched it with my hands while paddling and picked it out of my hair in the lineup. I flooded my senses with elements of the ocean that a reader could never gather from my term paper: the smell of the water as I wait for the next wave, the feeling of a wave pushing my board to shore, the taste of the salt in my mouth when I fall off after a long ride, the sound of excited friends cheering the arrival of the next set of waves, and the sight of the sun setting behind a sea of ocean lovers in their element.
Our session was cut short when a member of our group unfortunately had a collision with a fellow surfer and injured his hand. Even this moment was refreshing in a way because it was contact with the subject of our hours of labor and hard work. I feel that making time to connect with the ocean on a personal level is crucial to giving our all to our academic products. Someone once told me that the act of giving is an especially special moment because it means that we are full enough of something that we are able to share it with others. This is how I view spending time in the ocean. It fills us up and makes us able to continue giving our all to our academic products. I urge all students to make time to fill up with passion and excitement about the ocean during this especially demanding time. I think they will find the same sense of renewed motivation that I found that afternoon with the RSMAS Surf Club.
This blog post is part of a series of stories written by RSMAS graduate students enrolled in the Spring 2012 Scientific Communications (RSM 545) course.
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