I completed my PADI Open Water Diver certification in Singapore at the S.E.A. Aquarium in early January 2016. You can get details of the course on the S.E.A. Aquarium blog: Become a certified Open Water Diver at S.E.A. Aquarium.
Here’s the experience:
A chance to learn diving at S.E.A. Aquarium
In early November 2015, I volunteered to take the Open Water Diver certification at the S.E.A Aquarium. It didn’t really mattered to me that I had never stepped into large bodies of water since my near-drowning incident in November 2013 in Boracay. This was a chance I wouldn’t miss.
But I realized that no matter how much I thought it didn’t matter, the near-drowning experience was etched in my head and didn’t help with my diving at all.
My brain wasn’t cooperative during the dives. Strange thoughts from my subscious float right in front of my brain which messed things up quite a bit.
I was fearful of going into the water but I persisted during the sessions.
Having the flu on the last day
However, near the final dive day, I started having the flu. The flu was so bad that I had to take a day off from work.
This also meant that I couldn’t dive since it would be terrible for equalization (aka my eardrums could rupture).
I was secretly happy about this because I was still traumatized by the dives. When my batchmates posted their happy photos with their certificates on social media, I cheered them on from my side of the phone.
Still, there’s not escaping my certification. The PADI instructurs at the S.E.A. Aquarium were not going to let me off the hook.
December was a busy period so I had the excuse not to continue the program that soon. But January came and I had no more excuses.
Here goes nothing.
Going back into the water
My schedule for the dive was on a Wednesday. That’s pretty much the best day of the week because you’re done with the post-weekend duties and there’s no closing-week rush. Or maybe I’m doing this prioritizing thing wrong.
So off I went to the Aquarium to finish my two dives.
The instructor very patiently gave me a refresher of the skills I need for the test. I tried my best to repeat what he demonstrated.
When it was time to go underwater, I felt a lot more confident than I did in November. Maybe because there was no one else around. I find myself panicking when others panic in the water.
When we dove into the water, I was expecting my brain to take over and chatter. Surprisingly, it didn’t. I calmly went into the water and continued with the tests.
Enjoying the moment vs panicking
With my noisy brain out of the way, I could admire the beauty of Open Ocean Habitat. There were so many things to see!
Schools of brightly colored fishes swim by. Rays gliding over or under me. And if I look hard enough, I can see the people at the other side of the glass in the S.E.A. Aquarium.
It was magical. I remember the feeling of a ray brushing just the top of my head as it swam by. Some of the sharks were lazy and didn’t move from the sea bed.
Reflecting on the last dive
Before the dive, I was expecting tears, blood and sweat from this exam, especially with what happened during my last dive.
But none of that happened. Maybe it’s because I’ve been meditating for two full months daily and that helps keep the brain quiet. Or could it be that I’ve expelled all my worries by talking it out all these time.
I’d never really know what made the last dive so peaceful but I’m glad I got through instead of just giving up. (Which I would have if it weren’t for the instructors’ insistence.)
I guess it’s kind of like arguing for my limitations. You never really know if it’s a real limitation or just perceived limitation.
Until our next adventure!