I am blessed to have the best friends in the world. I find consolation, boosting support and cheer when I am with them. Proof: they helped me the countless times I fell, cheered for me when they saw me about to quit and pushed me to the limit so I would learn how to skate on ice.
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This past weekend, I had a conversation with a friend about going to the ice skating center again. She wants to learn how to skate, so I told her the story of the day I finally set foot on an ice-skating rink. Coming from a tropical country where ice is more associated with shakes, ice cream and ice candy (ice water in plastic pouches) rather than snow, ice-skating is the least likely topic of conversation among friends. Thus, my knowledge of the sport is way below amateur level.

On my first try, it was crowded at the Larson Ice Center. The first thing I noticed was that I was not the only soul whose ice skating skills sucked. Thank God for the little kids and a couple of adults who saved me from becoming a laughingstock.

The inexperienced skaters shared the sidebars with me. While almost everyone was gliding and sliding and turning and spinning and even moon-walking, I was at the sides, praying not to fall, taking a few steps at a time and wondering how to continue inching forward. My friends threw in some tips such as falling forward and not backward and how to execute the proper footwork on the ice.

It was not fun at the beginning, believe me. The moment you put your feet on the ice, you feel like you’re going to slide down to the other end, and you could only wish the ice were rough enough or your pair of skates had spikes to keep you still.

I waited for the guts to rise above my head in order to brave the center of the rink, which was dominated by professional skaters. In one instance, I said bye-bye to the railings, and as expected, I fell on my back at the first attempt. Falling was part of the education process!
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When I thought it was time to finally defy friction, I moved at a snail’s pace towards the center while everyone just whooshed past me. There were mixed emotions, mostly scary what-ifs. What if I fall in the middle of these high-speed skaters? What if they could not stop and accidentally hit my head with their razor-sharp skates? What if someone would playfully touch and tease me and distract my concentration? What if I reached the middle of the rink and could not go back to the sides?

The fear escalated even more when a guy fell on his back, bumped his head on the hard ice and was helped by medics who carried him out of the arena in a stretcher with a neck support for possible head and neck injuries. Now, imagine how frightening that scene was for a first-time skater like me!

My friends were very comfortable and confident on the slippery ice. Their confidence intensified my determination to learn the tricks. I freed myself from the hold and reached the middle of the rink. It wasn’t effortless. No, it was not as easy as writing a story or column for The Collegian.

Since the first day I tried ice skating, I have been to the Larson arena four more times. It is fulfilling to know that I am improving on the ice. At least now, I am able to balance without someone helping me – and I also know how to glide without looking down.

For international students who want to try something new, try ice skating. Larson Ice Center will probably open in a month or two.

[visit my Collegian column]

Where to stay in Brookings, South Dakota.

Super 8 Brookings Sd (around $85 a night)
Situated in Brookings, Super 8 Brookings Sd is close to McCrory Gardens, South Dakota State University, and Edgebrook Golf Course. Also nearby is Children’s Museum of South Dakota. Super 8 Brookings Sd has an indoor pool and a spa tub. Complimentary wireless Internet access is available in public areas. There is a business center on site. Guests are served a complimentary breakfast each morning. Additional amenities include laundry facilities and complimentary newspapers in the lobby. Complimentary self parking is available onsite for guests. The 5 guestrooms at Super 8 Brookings Sd include air conditioning. Complimentary wireless high-speed Internet access is provided. Rooms are equipped with flat-screen TVs with cable channels. In-room microwaves and refrigerators are provided.

Quality Inn (around $94 a night)
Situated in the heart of Brookings, Quality Inn is close to McCrory Gardens, South Dakota State University, and Edgebrook Golf Course. Also nearby is Children’s Museum of South Dakota. Guests are served a complimentary breakfast. In addition to a fitness center, Quality Inn features complimentary newspapers in the lobby. Wireless Internet access is complimentary in public areas. Self parking is complimentary. The 50 air-conditioned guestrooms at Quality Inn include coffee/tea makers and hair dryers. Guests can use the in-room complimentary wireless high-speed Internet access. Televisions are equipped with cable channels. All accommodations provide phones along with free local calls (restrictions may apply). All units feature microwaves and refrigerators.

Holiday Inn Express & Suites Brookings (around $120 a night)
Situated in Brookings, Holiday Inn Express & Suites Brookings is close to McCrory Gardens, South Dakota State University, and Edgebrook Golf Course. Also nearby is Children’s Museum of South Dakota. Holiday Inn Express & Suites Brookings has an indoor pool, a spa tub, and a fitness center. Additional amenities include multilingual staff, laundry facilities, and coffee/tea in the lobby. Self parking is complimentary. Guestrooms at Holiday Inn Express & Suites Brookings offer complimentary newspapers and coffee/tea makers. Televisions are equipped with premium cable channels. All accommodations provide desks along with free local calls (restrictions may apply). In-room microwaves and refrigerators are provided. Additional amenities include hair dryers and irons/ironing boards.

Search for another hotel that is within your travel budget.

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