Arriving in Maine from sunny California, I am learning to adjust to the New England winter, so I was excited for semester 60’s first Polar Plunge. Usually the Polar Plunge takes place first thing in the morning, which is the perfect way to wake completely up. The day was particularly cold however, so it was moved to the afternoon. We had free time until around 4:30 pm when it was time for the Polar Plunge.
With the air temperature at little less than 15 degrees Fahrenheit, I changed out of my winter coat, then my Patagonia jacket, then my long sleeve shirt, then long underwear, jeans, the two pairs of socks on each foot, my Sorels – I think you get my point – and slipped into my bikini! It had been a solid three weeks since my skin had seen the sun, so happily I ran through the snow to the waterfront in my robe, bathing suit and running shoes.
It was my turn to dunk into the ocean and I nervously inched my way to the edge of the water. My cabin mate, Sophie, suggested we dunk together which made the experience even more exciting. Not knowing what to expect we slowly slid on the ice into the water. I thought about how warm the water felt as I grabbed Sophie’s hands.
“One! Two! Three!”
My body began to numb as I jumped out of the water as quickly as possible. I was breathless. Not the kind where you see something so amazing that you are unable to speak, but the kind where you physically cannot force the air out of your lunges. Reading this, you may think I’m crazy, but it was one of the most incredible experiences. Sliding on the ice as I tried to escape the cold, my toes began to numb along with the rest of my face. Frozen in awe, I tried to run up to the bathroom where I planned to enjoy a well deserved hot shower.
Today marks the first official week that I have known every person here, but it truly feels like I have known them for years. Watching the majority of semester 60 students go through the same experience was great and each student’s reaction as they dunked into the water was priceless. Submerging into the ocean when it was less than 15 degrees outside opened my eyes and showed me not to fear the unknown. Chewonki gives me the opportunity to reach outside of my comfort zone and I have learned to always go for new experiences even if they seem nerve racking in the beginning. My cabin mates, faculty and the rest of the semester students are a fantastic support group who have pushed me to reach for new experiences. I would not have traded that afternoon for anything.
Leigh, Crossroads School for Arts & Sciences, Santa Monica, CA