Hey mates! Sorry I’ve been MIA. I caught tonsillitis RIGHT before final exams, and now I’m on the road traveling eastern Australia! Hostel internet is always a bit shaky, but I’ll do my best to keep on the ‘net.
I was really gung-ho when I got to Australia. I wanted to try everything. New city? Sure. New people? Come at me. New food? I’ll eat it all up.
This was back in August; however, we weren’t able to actually book the course until the end of October. The course takes an entire weekend, after all, and it was hard to find a date that fit everyone. So, three months later…
While diving had sounded like a great idea when I bought the Groupon, I began to have some reservations as the date came near. I mean, before I could even enter the water, I had to go through a 7-hour online class and pass an exam at the end.
This course educated me on all sorts of fun and exciting aspects of scuba diving.
So while I felt confident back in August, I was more than a little nervous once the day finally came.
But I wasn’t going to back out now. My friends and I headed over to Manly Beach at the fine, fine hour of 6AM in order to make it to the class on time.
The course itself started at 8AM. Our instructors started us off by making sure everyone could actually swim.
Then, they showed us how to set up and put on our gear.
And then, all 12 or so students crowded into a tiny pool, where we proceeded to practice various diving skills.
Now, I was probably supposed to feel more confident after learning and performing all these skills. Instead, I was pretty stressed. The instructors would demonstrate each skill once or twice, and then expect you to do it. Perfectly. Hey, don’t I get a few practice runs at least?
As expected, then, a lot of people ended up messing up once or twice the first time around. I sure did, particularly during the “take out your regulator and put it back in your mouth” exercise.
Luckily, the instructor grabbed my regulator and shoved it back into my mouth so I could breathe again. Even when I could breathe underwater, though, I was a bit freaked out. I’m used to being able to breathe unconsciously. I don’t think about it. While scuba diving, however, breathing took effort. It was always on my mind. Especially since I often felt like I wasn’t getting enough air.
Best of all? We were in that pool doing diving skills for hours. I tend to get hungry within 2 hours of a meal, and we went for 8 without food. I didn’t even realize how hungry I was…
…until I ate lunch.
Thus, I felt a little better before our next session.
…until our instructors informed us:
Ready or not, I was going to have to do it. In order to get my scuba certification, I would have to perform all those diving skills again– but in the big blue sea, not the tiny swimming pool. We’d begin doing these skills on the second day of our course.
I had underestimated how challenging diving would be, I guess. My nerves were really getting to me. Therefore, on our first dive of the second day, I had a rough start.
WHY WAS I NOT DESCENDING?! After deflating my big ol’ inflation device, I was supposed to naturally sink. Yet, somehow, my friend and I were not sinking. We soon found ourselves alone on the surface. WHAT WAS HAPPENING?!
My mask somehow slipped off my head. I began to splash about, getting water into my eyes. And then, the grand finale:
So there I was, flailing and hyperventilating and basically having a panic attack. Thankfully, the instructor noticed that my friend and I were missing. He came to the surface to help us out.
I stopped kicking and immediately sank to the bottom.
Our group proceeded to repeat everything we had done in the pool, but in the ocean. While I was still frazzled, this time, I was able to perform the skills successfully.
By the last dive of the weekend, we had finished learning all our skills. Our final dive was just for fun: instead of sitting on the bottom of the ocean messing with our weight belts and BCDs and regulators, we actually got to swim around and look at fish.
While Sydney isn’t that well-known for its diving, there’s some cool stuff in the water.
My friend brought her underwater camera along.
By the end, I was able to actually calm down a bit, and… enjoy myself?
And that’s how I became a certified open-water diver.
It was a stressful, physically demanding, panicky weekend. At moments, I didn’t think I’d ever be able to dive. To be honest, I’m still not sure how I managed to overcome my fear. But I somehow managed to stick it out, survive the weekend, and get my scuba license.
Which is good. Because, a month after my scuba course, I had a trip booked at the Great Barrier Reef. Coming soon!