Monday 27 March 2017

Ireland Spring 2017
       During the semester I was lucky enough to take part in Intervarsities for The University of Limerick. These are competitions against other Irish universities for all of the clubs and societies to take part in. It is very friendly but bragging rights are at stake so people like to take it seriously. I was lucky enough to find my place upon the "A" for the surf club. Not wanting to let the team down I figured I had to try as hard as I could to not let the team down.
       Although in surfing competitions each person surfs for themselves the points of how far you make it in the competition are calculated and applied to the universities overall score. This is why the pressure was on! My Irish friends were confident in my abilities to do great but I wasn't so sure. They were so great by inviting me into the club wit open arms and supplying me with whatever I needed I felt the pressure. In reality this pressure was just from myself but I still didn't want to lose in my first heat.
       The competition day came and all of Lahinch, where the competition took place, was packed with fellow university surfers waiting and watching. I had my first heat at around 11am which I took first place in thankfully. As happy as I was to do good in my first heat I knew that it would be about an hour and a half till my next heat because of how many people were competing. Staying in my cold wetsuit all day was so incredibly draining because of constantly being wet and having the wind chill throughout the day.
       My next heat came and went. I took first place again! I have competed many times but never do I feel confident so this was awesome but also made me nervous because I had to keep competing. At that point I was informed that I had about two hours till my next heat. I went back to the hostel and changed and finally had time to warm up. I went and watched my fellow teammates compete and then figured I should go back and suit up for my own upcoming heat.
       The whole day the event organizers were a little off on declaring times for heats but I figured since I had gotten a two hour break that I had the times figured out. I was wrong. I received a frantic call from one of my teammates saying my heat was about to start. Being in dry clothes in a warm hostel looking down at my wet wetsuit I was frozen in shock. After about five seconds I realized I had to move fast! I changed into my frozen wetsuit and sprinted to the beach and after putting on my jersey went out into the water. I was only about five minutes late to the heat but had gotten second place in that heat. Luckily they take the top two and just like that I had made it into the finals.
      At this point I was just so happy to be in the finals I didn't even care if I got fourth. I had competed with so many talented surfers and my team was so happy to have me get into the finals. I was ready to get the heat over with and get into dry clothes by this point in the day. The heat ended and I didn't know how I really did but was happy to make it that far. We weren't told the scores until later that night at the awards ceremony.
       After surfing all day and being so physically exhausted I was still gleaming. We, as a team, went to the awards ceremony and it was great! I had gotten third in the heat which meant that I had gotten third overall out of the 40-ish Irish surfers who competed. The University of Limerick had gotten second place overall which was big for them because of how many great surf clubs there are across Ireland. Not to mention the University of Limerick is an hour away from the ocean, which means that anytime we want to go surf we had to do mini rode trips. Overall I was so happy that I got to help them do well and I had a medal to bring home as an amazing souvenir.
This is right after the final had ended with an amazing coastline, sunset, and group of lads.

The is later at the award ceremony! If you look hard enough you can see that I am about to fall asleep.

This wasn't from the contest day but this was after surfing last night in County Clare. The temperature was around 16 Celsius and we had to pull over just to appreciate Irelands best weather.

Thursday 23 February 2017

Ireland Spring 2017
  First let me introduce myself:
        My name is Mason Kuri and I am from Island Heights, New Jersey. This is a small town engulfed by other bigger towns. It takes me roughly 8 minutes to get to the beach which has been the defining aspect of my life for a very long time. I come from a family of lifeguards, surfers, and watermen. I have grown up around the water and have enjoyed it in all aspects. I have been a lifeguard for 5 years now and have been surfing for a while before that. When I think of how to describe myself these are the ways that seem to make sense to me. 
       Although these are the ways that I think of myself it doesn't really hold merit with most people who have not grown up the same way as I did. Other than enjoying the outdoors with my full heart I have been a student my whole life as most other people my age have. This means I have lived through high school and have decided to take the next step to a higher learning. I attended 2 years at Ocean County College which now that I look back was a great experience. I had wonderful professors who helped me decide what I wanted to pursue and study while also saving money.
       This decision to attend OCC wasn't actually my first plan as many might have thought. When I was in high school my best friend and I had made a decision to go to Stockton together but as luck would have it only one of us was accepted. Although I had higher SAT scores than my friend I had absolutely no after school activities to put on my college application beside being a full time surfer which I felt held no academic relevance to mention. My best friend on the other hand was the captain of the cross country team. Finding out of the rejection in the Spring of senior year of high school was a bit of a shock. To be fair to Stockton I would have taken my friend over me too. Not only did my best friend get accepted but my girlfriend, who is a year younger, had also been accepted the following year.
      Like I have said attending OCC was a really great decision that I am very glad I chose. Although Stockton was my dream school I figured I would put in my two years in a community college and then reapply. This is exactly what I did. After two years of community college, while my friend was commuting to Stockton, I was finally accepted to Stockton University! When I got the acceptance my friend and I began planning everything out just as we had been doing in our math class in high school. Full of excitement we moved in to "C-Court!", and had by chance been roomed in a triple with an unknown roommate who turned out to be awesome. The three of us had so much fun and everything had come together better than I had ever planned.
       So... you may be thinking what does any of this have to do with studying abroad. Why would a person who has worked for so long and has finally gotten to the place he has been working to get to just decide to study abroad? Well, that is a damn fine question. I worked for over two years with the same goal in mind of moving in with my friends, enjoying college life, and being close to home while also being independent. I was at Stockton and everything was going smooth. Sometimes even the best opportunities come at the "worst" times. I had everything I wanted and suddenly made a decision to study abroad.
       I have always loved travelling whether it is going an hour south to Cape May to go surf a swell or to Puerto Rico to get some bigger waves. I have grown up, with the crazy amount of support from my loving parents, with the ability to just get up and go. Where it has taken me is what makes me who I am for better or worse. This trip is very similar. My girlfriend was thinking of studying abroad but wasn't sure where to go. After looking at all the options I had the thought, "This looks cool. I should do this." With everything going so good I had the same thoughts as a 3 year old in a park. My girlfriend and I decided on Ireland for a couple reasons. Hers being that it is beautiful and she already had a desire to study here and mine being surfing. Just like that. The process was just starting.
       Many people think that studying abroad is easy. It's not. I feel it is important to emphasize that because everything from deciding where to go, to getting there is a challenge. In roughly two months I had filled out more paperwork and had "office hopped" more than ever in my life. Between getting my school work done and getting all the needed papers in seemed like a constant juggling act that I always seemed one step behind. I'll be honest I am awful with this type of responsibility. If it wasn't for my girlfriend helping me and the help of the office of global engagement there is no way I would be writing this blog in a library in Ireland. This shouldn't scare anyone away from the idea of studying abroad because I promise if I was able to handle the process than everyone else can too. Although it is a long tedious process getting to the destination is worth every second.
       Going away from home will make you "grow up". Going away from your home country will make you "really F****** grow up"! It is amazing how independent a person can be when there is no other option. Although I decided to study abroad with my girlfriend we went to different universities an hour and a half apart and travelled to Ireland separately. Between flights, taxis, and buses getting to your dorm/apartment will make you will feel awful. I mean once you have slept and adjusted to the time zone difference you will feel incredibly empowered but travelling is hard. It makes you learn how to rely on yourself and how to enjoy the little things.
       A quote from Lao Tzu.  "A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving."
       This quote is probably the best advice I can give to a person who wants to study abroad/travel. Especially coming from the United States you will realize the world, as far as time goes, is slower. It is always a good habit to be on time but try not to get upset when the people you are supposed to be meeting are up to a half hour late on the regular. "A good traveller has no fixed plans...", for me this is easy but I can understand how most people like plans in black and white. Having no set plans is a great thing though! You would be surprised how many times I have gotten a last minute call to do something that I would never get to do. For example tomorrow I am going river surfing in the middle of the city. Like what... I would never say no to that. If a plan falls through half way through the trip then change the trip and make the most of it. Let yourself float through life with no expectation.
       I have been in Ireland for 5 weeks and have done more and learned more than I ever thought I would/could. I hate the city and have never explored the city life. Coming to Limerick has made me learn how to get around in a city and also across the country. I feel like I have a firm grasp on things like bus schedules, airports and flights, and conducting myself in a way where I don't look like an idiot. It hasn't been easy at times though. I have had moments where I miss the littlest things about home and although it is hard, calming myself down and taking a step back and enjoying being where I am and the life I am living has made me very mentally strong. I have a newfound confidence that makes me even more excited to go back home and explore everything I can.
       I am enjoying Ireland and my time in Europe studying abroad. I have made friends and get to see my girlfriend usually every week. Things are going great! I still miss home and am excited to go back and enjoy the summer but I am trying my best to live in the moment. Thank you to anyone who has read this entire jumble of thoughts that is considered my "blog"! I am sorry for the word jumbles and spelling mistakes but it's my blog and I don't have to revise it if I don't want to haha.
Also if anyone has questions or comments feel free to email me at I will try to get back to you asap. Also anyone who has any desire to travel/live abroad I fully encourage it. You will come back a different person and most likely have a great story to tell.
Mason Kuri      

 Flying from Shannon to Stansted.
 Sunrise over Lahinch.
 Edinburgh Castle overlooking the city.
 Crab island in the distance.
 Beautiful Doolin Reef. Epic surf too!
 Close to Doolin Reef with Cliffs of Moher in background.
 Oxford England with A. Diveny.
My friend Sammi excited to go surf in the rain.