Ursinus Student Lives It Up, Down Under

Chase Portaro: chportaro@ursinus.edu

Jagger Clapsadle ‘24, Ursinus wrestler and Environmental Science major, returns this semester after studying abroad in Sydney last fall. In addition to that studying, he’s also been adding to his resume of extreme sports accomplishments. While he was abroad, Jagger took a 450 foot plunge down a ravine on a bungee cord. After speaking with him, I learned that bungee jumping was just one small taste of the Australian flavor he was palating last fall (or for Jagger, last spring in Aussieland).

I caught up with Jagger – check out my interview below!

C: So Jagger, walk me through how you decided to bungee jump halfway around the world on your study abroad trip?

J: Me and about five of my friends went to New Zealand on spring break. We flew into Queenstown, which is the adventure capital of the world. So, there’s tons of stuff to do there… So, we looked up bungee jumping and I looked up what’s the best bungee jumping in Queenstown. So we did the tallest one, like 450 feet.

C: Were you nervous? Walk me through the moments before the jump.

J: To me it was so cool. They strap you in, then you kinda edge yourself to the platform, then the girl said “Smile at the camera,” I smiled and gave a little thumbs up, and your feet are at the edge of this tiny platform, so that was probably the scariest part when you’re just looking down. But then when you jump, all those nerves kinda go away and it’s just insane.

C: How long are you falling?

J: So it’s like a six second free fall the first time down, then you bounce . . . and when you’re at the top of that first bounce, there’s a moment where you’re just weightless. . . I just live for that shit, so I would’ve done it ten more times that day if I could.

C: So let’s backtrack a little. How did you decide to study abroad in Sydney, Jagger? 

J: I grew up at the beach in Ocean City, Maryland, so I wanted to go somewhere that had the same kinda deal. . . It was also appealing to me that I was going by myself to the other side of the world. That was a super cool leap of faith to me.

C: So have you surfed any while you’ve been there?

J: I surfed Maroubra and Cronulla. Cronulla reef break was where I went recently and it was beautiful the day I went. I mean I caught some of the waves of my life that day.

C: Wave of your life you said?

J: Yea, the wave of my life. It was a super long ride, the water felt great, super clean break. We had offshore winds, and the waves were damn near over-head, like five or six feet. They were definitely some of the bigger waves I’ve ever caught. I mean five feet doesn’t sound that big.

C: I mean when you’re surfing over top of a sharp reef in a country that’s on the other side of the world, I bet the waves felt pretty big.

J: Yea, I guess if you put it like that.

C: So, Jagger, you’ve been talking about the waves, but where were you when you posted that picture of the glacier with all the snowy mountains?

J: That was a picture of me in New Zealand. So, [me and my friends] took a helicopter up to the top of a glacier. The helicopter landed and we got to walk around and take pictures on top and stuff, then we took a snow plane, like a plane with skis on the bottom, and the snow plane picked us up and took us back down to the mountain.

C: Wow, so that was the same trip as the bungee jumping excursion? It sounds like you guys did quite a bit.

J: Yea, I mean we spent a lot of time researching this trip to New Zealand. We were only there for 8 days, but we covered a good bit of the South Island. And the South Island is where it’s at– it’s more scenic. You know, we hiked every day, we did the bungee jump, then on the last day, that’s when we did the helicopter and the ski plane. So that was insane, some of the most beautiful views in my life.

C: What else have you been up to, have you gotten to do any cultural stuff?

J: I went to the nation’s capital, Canberra. I went to the National Art Galleries, the National Portrait Galleries. I went to the State Art Galleries here in Sydney. So yea, I’ve really enjoyed learning about Australian art and stuff like that. We also did a cruise at Milford sound. It was like $15, but Milford Sound is known as one of the eighth [sic] natural wonders of the world. It’s probably one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.

C: Wow, I’m looking at pictures right now, and it doesn’t even look real.

J: Yea, it was definitely one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. I was just in awe the entire trip, trying to be in the moment. . . That’s something I’ve been work- ing on a lot because you know, the mind always wants something to work out, and it’s constantly trying to figure out problems that are never even a thing– never even exist. So, I would be there, take a deep breath, and be like “Okay, I need to be fully here right now because I know I’ll regret it later if I’m worrying about some stupid bullshit I don’t need to worry about.”