Amanda Djerf is not your average law student. She breaks up her studies by traveling to some of the world’s best surfing destinations – where she spends months teaching, surfing, or both. Staycations in Costa Rica, California, Panama, Spain, Portugal and Australia have been just a few of her latest sojourns.
Though it all started in California when she was just 13. “It was my Dad who first introduced me to surfing. When we lived in Monterey in California we would spend almost every weekend together on the beach,” she says.
“At that point it [surfing] changed my entire perspective on how I wanted to live my life.”
After spending much of her adolescence in California, Amanda finished her last two years of high school in Sweden – all the while feeling the pull of the waves elsewhere. “As soon as I graduated I left Sweden and since then I’ve constantly been back and forth between there and different surf destinations.”
That has included spending the last two winters teaching 5 - 65-year-olds how to surf in Costa Rica with Surfakademin surf school. “I love teaching people how to surf,” she says. “I get to work in the ocean, my favourite place, and I also get to spread my love for surfing and the ocean to others.”
When she’s not working with Surfakadenim or studying, Amanda tries to get back to California with her family at least once a year. “Mom will go for a run and the rest of us will surf. Sitting out there with my dad is so special to me, especially now that I’m older and we live in different cities. I love that we will always share this lifestyle.”
While it’s all a world away from her regular university lifestyle, Amanda says bracketing her studies with travel allows her to regain perspective on her goals. “I think the key is to set your own goals, take your own time and not compare yourself to others. I know the hours I need to do to get the grades I want, so I study hard those hours and leave time to do the things in my everyday that make me happy.”
It doesn’t hurt that she enjoys her study, and is admittedly “a bit of a dork”. “I love reading and learning and although I’m restless as a person I can focus for hours on end. So studying comes relatively effortlessly for me.”
Except for California, Amanda’s favourite place to surf is a secluded beach that her friend showed her in Costa Rica. “We drove through the jungle [to get there] and it was only us as far as you could see. The nature felt so alive. That place will always be one of my favourites. Though maybe it had more to do with everything around it than the actual waves there – the experience of finding such remote places with your favourite people.”
Words by Holly Bodeker-Smith