Hello, my name is Rolando Perez and I was born and raised in SoCal. But believe it or not, I had never touched a surfboard until two weeks ago. See Pitzer College makes a commendable effort to make first year students bond with each other by sending all first years to an “Orientation Adventure” of their choice. These Orientation Adventures, or OA’s for short, included activities like biking for about 20 miles, kayaking for about 20 miles, and hiking for about 20 miles. Now I am no glutton for punishment so my eyes immediately glanced over anything that required strenuous exercise for several days and what caught my eye was the Surfing OA Trip.

This included sleeping a couple nights on a campsite while learning to surf in the beautiful San Onofre shore by day. It was a perfect match for me, I had been meaning to learn to surf and this was the perfect opportunity to both surf and meet some awesome people at my school!

Well, I completely underestimated how strenuous surfing actually is. Every morning I would wake up sore from both paddling out to the waves under the blazing California sun for several hours and sleeping on the tough California dirt with only a thin sleeping bag to cushion my aching body.

With every morning I awoke, my motivation to paddle out to the point in which the waves broke dwindled. My arms begged me to stop, as I paddled and paddled. But I was determined, “THERE IS NO WAY I AM LEAVING THIS TRIP WITHOUT RIDING A WAVE!!!” I told myself.

I can’t help but see my experience learning to surf as a metaphor for the year that is ahead. I will do my best to continue moving forward and build momentum to keep my metaphorical surfboard cutting through the waves threatening to send me back to shore. My body and soul will ache as I wake every weekday to cross two campuses to reach my morning class at Pomona College, and there will be constant waves threatening to send me back to shore throughout the year. But, as my surf instructor told me, “You just gotta keep paddling dude!”

So, I will strive each and every day to become the paddler of life I can be and I invite you to keep up with my journey through college here on the I’m First! Blog. Also shout out to my surf instructor Kevin for helping me catch my first wave!