I'm not a quitter, I'm just slow. That's one of the many phrases that I use to describe myself. In some aspects of life, I want to move fast and get things done right away. In others, it takes me a little while to wrap my head around a concept and apply it. And I'm okay with that--I know myself enough to know what works for me.
Attempting 60. Get SCUBA certified clearly articulated this. When I got my certification, it was part of my trip to visit my friends, Bret and Chad, in Tonga. I was told that there are three ways to learn how to scuba dive:
- Take all of the classes and learn the skills at home. Do your open water dives somewhere close by (which in February in Oregon meant a cold, cold, cold water dive. Other places have their open water dives in quarries and similar locations.)
- Take all of my classes and learn the skills at home. Do my open water dives at my destination.
- Take the classes, learn the skills and do the open water dives at my destination.
There are pros and cons to both. Knowing my learning style and comfort level, I opted for number 2. I found a local dive shop that taught me everything I'd need to know--and they had an onsite pool that I could come in and practice at during store hours. The second part was key for me as it helped me become comfortable and familiar with all of the gear that you'd be using. Classes were on Saturdays over the course of a month and the week after classes ended, I'd be on my way to the South Pacific!
Once I got to the South Pacific, my friends had found a local dive shop that would certify us. Unfortunately, the dive shop did PADI scuba certifications and the classes I had taken were SSI, so it wouldn't accept the classwork that I had already taken, so I had to go through the full course (option 3) with my friends. My friends are waterbugs, after all, they did live on a boat for 3 years. For example, when we had to do our swim test (swim 200m without any gear), they finished their laps before I finished my first lap. (They did, however, take turns swimming back and forth with me to keep me company and cheer me on during the rest of my laps.) Yet when it came to demonstrating skills, the instructor said I "kicked their butt". Woohoo! Sure I had already taken a class, learned the skills and practiced, but this was still a huge compliment since they guys are good at everything they do, especially sports, so I'll take it! To be fair, the guys learned skills in minutes while I had learned the same skills a few weeks ago and had the opportunity to practice several times before getting tested on them--it just supports my claim that I do better when I can take my time. At the end of the day, we all passed with flying--or should I say swimming?--colors, but had I picked option 3 from the beginning and gone through a 3 day certification course, I most likely would not have passed.
By taking the classes at home and having time to practice, I was able to move at my own pace, ask questions and go back and repeat skills that I was having trouble with. Had I been forced into just taking a quick class at my destination, I probably would have quit or failed because it would move too quickly for me to learn and understand the concepts. Being able to take my time also gave me a chance to become more comfortable in the water. The first day I made it to the boat, we went snorkeling. We literally put on our fins and mask and jumped into the water. If I hadn't just gone through getting my scuba certification, I would have had a million and 1 questions before our snorkeling trip. "Where are we going? What's in the water? How deep is it? Is it safe? How do I get in? What do I do? Where do I go? Will you be by my side? Are you sure this is safe?" But after learning so much about diving, I felt confident enough to just jump in and start looking for the pretty fishies. (And I had two very capable personal lifeguards nearby who always kept an eye on me.)
Why am I telling you about something that happened 2 years ago, today? For one thing, I talked to my friends today, and it reminded me of this adventure and how I had never blogged about getting certified yet. Also, it was awesome and I highly recommend everyone get their scuba certification because it can change the way you look at travel. I have a bunch of friends who are going on big trips soon and I've recommended that they all get their certification as it presents new options for travel. Think of this post as my encouragement for everyone to get certified!
As friends and I started thinking about our upcoming trip to Israel, I got REALLY excited when I realized I could go scuba diving! From what I've seen online, the water is around 20-24 degree Celsius, clear conditions, little to no current and beautiful reef to explore! It's been just over a year since I last went diving in St. Lucia--which means I haven't fulfilled my hope to go on a diving trip once a year. Pout. If you're certified--what have been your favorite places to go? If you're not--what's stopping you from getting your certification?