As many of our interviewees will attest, Bwog loves to invade personal space. Professors’ offices are no exception to our clear ignorance of social cues. This week, Senior Surfing Specialist Briana Last stalked checked out Anthropology Professor Paige West’s sweetest of digs. If you know of any other hop-worthy offices, send ’em our way at  

When entering environmental anthropologist Paige West’s office, three things stand out: a bookshelf that spans an entire wall, a surfboard, and an Indo board lying on the floor, all of which are staples in this busy professor’s lifestyle.

An Indo board is a flat lever upon which users stand to practice balance, exercise various key muscle groups, and improve motor skills. Although the surfboard is contained to its bag, the Indo board is out and ready for West’s use throughout the day. West demonstrated balancing on the board as she explained its function: “You put your feet the way you put it when you’re surfing and then go back and forth like that, to mimic the action of wave, and to be able to let it get a little bit out of control and then pull it back under control, as you would if you were a wave.”

For those exceedingly out-of-shape East coast urban dwellers who might assume that that’s some sort of reference to sine and cosine, it’s useful to know that most people begin Indo boarding to train for surfing, which is exactly how West got her start.

In around 2003, she visited UC San Diego to conduct research, where exists one of the most extensive archives on Melanesia, and she fell in love with surfing. “I was out there for about a month, and I would go to the archive all day from about 9 am to about 3 o’ clock in the afternoon, when it closed, and then I would go surfing in the afternoons.” She claims she is “really, really bad, actually, really bad,” but it’s hard to believe this professor could fail at anything to which she’s dedicated herself. After developing her interest in surfing, she began traveling to Costa Rica, where she picked up Indo boarding.

How often does she Indo board? “Pretty often, actually,” she said. “You know when you’re reading something for about an hour and you just need a break, but you know that if you actually leave your office or your desk, you’re never going to come back to it, you’re going to get distracted. So, I just get up and Indo board for fifteen minutes and then sit right back down.”

So to recap, West manages to study Papua New Guinea, teach classes, and keep in shape, running three times a week as well as attending an intensive gym class for former athletes. And as if she couldn’t inspire any more jealousy, she has another talent: “I can, in fact play ping-pong while on an Indo board.”