A new year, a new life
Every year is a new year.
Every year is a new life, and a new opportunity.
But how will I spend it? What will I do this year?
These are the thoughts of many people contemplating on their life every year.
I joined AUCC at the start of my second year at uni.
I remember walking up to a stall titled "Auckland University Canoe Club" and being greeted by the friendly smiles of the AUCC recruiters.
I remember shrugging to myself "eh why not?" before signing up for AUCC, slightly confused and not expecting too much from any of the clubs there. Afterall, how good could a 'University Club' possibly be, right?
Little did I know that signing up to AUCC would be the best decision ever.
Naturally introverted as I am, I normally find meeting new people to be a challenging and draining experience, so when it came to basic kayak training at Lake Pupuke with many people around, it was natural for me to feel uncomfortable, but the discomfort soon disappeared completely when everyone got sorted into groups with an instructor in each. Introducing and stumbling around watching others struggling just as much in their kayaks created a humorous and friendly atmosphere that seemed to appear out of nowhere. There seemed to come an automatic blossom of friendship when you T-Rescue another person, and that person T-Rescues you. The feeling of trust in another beginner who has your back is a very satisfying feeling. By the end of the day I came out of the lake happy, having made new friends, learnt a new skill, and with a silly smile on my face.
Fulljames was the first big event in particular that will always stay with me.
The group arrived at the campsite blind as a bat as tents were set up in the unlit outback of the NZ landscape. That night we slept too tired to ponder the wonders around us, encased in darkness.
When morning came and the sun rays lay on the ground melting away the frost on the meadow, a few early heads popped out of their tents in awe of their surroundings as if they'd seen light for the first time. We were ants compared to the vast land, hills capped with trees surrounded us, green and gold shades of glittering meadow stretched as far as the mysteriously thick fog allowed us to see. All the while half blinded by the low-hanging sun, fuzzy as its exact shape was obscured by the thickness of the fog. As I stumbled out of the tent and towards a fence to admire the morning view of paradise, a lone black stallion decided to show itself from behind a distant rock. It approached slowly and cautiously from the distance, its eyes set on the muesli bar I was holding at the time unwilling to give up, occasionally stopping in its track but eventually, he was close enough to receive a good pat from me, and we had a nice time chilling together while watching the sunrise.
Kayaking down the blue Waikato river was extremely rewarding. The beginning was mostly flat with little hazard for a potential capsize. Travelling in small groups down the river was peaceful and pleasant, and most of us were in awe of the rockfaces, mini waterfall streams and all sorts of odd greenery growing around us as we gently paddled through the blue water. About halfway, we reached what looked like a small abandoned wharf dock where we saw others jumping off and into the water below. I am proud have been the only one to perform a front flip.
It was unfortunate that I was also the only one to faceplant the water on the same jump.
The biggest rapid at the end provided a good dose of recommended daily adrenalin intake for me as it was my first time kayaking through a rapid and boooy, did it look MENACING.
Water rushed to form all sorts of shapes as it gobbled up stealthy submerged rocks on the riverbed, mini whirlpools formed and broke and formed everywhere around the side, seemingly multiplying then suddenly merging to form one big whirlpool, powerful eddy lines formed by the heavy shear of water against the bank. The only 'safe' line was straight down the middle where it looked like a triangular clearing of churning water with three consecutive waves that seemed to constantly stay in one position. "Alright, lets go, straight down" says the instructor. I almost got a mini heart attack as I big-eyed the brave-heart who made that remark.
At the point of no return, I paddled hard, half blind by the water spitting up at me, and I cleared the first two waves with succession. Wiping the water away from my eyes with a mini celebratory "woohoo" in my head, I realized I had forgotten about the third and biggest wave as I approached it with one hand on the paddle and one hand rubbing my face as it knocked me off balance. It came as a surprise to me but I realized that I was underwater.
Here's a tip: don't wear sandals and expect to swim well.
Don't bring sandals in a kayak if you're going to capsize.
Also, don't bring sandals.
So far I've been part of many events and kayak trips by AUCC. It would simply take too long to explain fully the details of how much I've enjoyed the Aniwhenua trip, lake trainings, pool trainings, and pub-crawls filled with laughter. Even though some of the events like Mohaka came with much longer and scarier adrenalin-packed rapids, or how Aniwhenua's campsite lake and dam had such an amazing view, the Fulljames trip will stay with me forever, etched in my brain because it was the first and most impacting event of AUCC.
Every year is a new life, and a new opportunity.
How did I spend it? What did I do so far this year?
Meeting new people has never been my strong side, but AUCC is the reason why I have met so many amazing people from all over the world. From hearing stories and life experiences from people from New Zealand, Germany, America, Norway and China, I have learnt a lot about the bigger picture of life.
These people have sparked my desire to travel the world, and has changed me to grow as a person as well (not something you'd expect someone to say from a canoe club, but it's true).
This year, I've joined the Auckland University Canoe Club, and it has been the BEST decision I have made, so THANKS GUYS