I write this almost two weeks after successfully completing my PADI OWSI program…

About a year ago I was on the other side of the globe about to kick off my career with a new job in the bustling city of Hong Kong and not in a million guesses would I have thought I would end up in Costa Rica, with a complete change in gears and working off this blue world we all know as the ocean.

I’ve been a diver for roughly 7 years, but mostly for fun. When I first arrived at Oceans Unlimited Costa Rica, it’d been a long time since I’d been diving. Just the thought that I was going to enter the professional world of diving, felt like a mix between a dream and the unknown, so of course I was nervous. I knew I’ve wanted to do further education with my diving for a long time, but I never thought it actually would materialize so soon, much less what to expect.

My first impressions of the shop were quite intense at first. I started my Dive master training by being shown schedules, routines and a general run down by our Master Instructor, JT, all casually intermixed with days of complete relaxation, the pace was anything but predictable. We spent most days out on the boat, some days at the shop working on equipment. I gradually began to grasp the idea of guiding a dive and knot tying. I also had two others (Casey and Gina) that were doing courses with me at the same time, and both had variable sea and boat working knowledge, we spent a lot of time helping each other out. At the office, it was all jokes with Ileana, Bob, and whoever was at the desk, not to mention the good quality free coffee that kept a ‘coming. Two weeks into it all, I got used to most of it, the best part being when I got my sea legs right around the time when new people started coming in to dive for the season of 2014-2015.

The change over from DM training to IDC (Instructor Development Course) came like the blink of an eye, before I knew it, a month had gone by and we turned into six people. We spent most days in the classroom and pool. I ended up feeling grateful for the cut classroom hours that our online e-learning courses gave us because it gave me more time to read and digest the new information that was so dully given to us by our Course Director, Georgia.

I understood she knew the how, what and whys that the examiners wanted from us during the IE (Instructor Exam), but there were moments where I doubted I’d even pass because of the sheer amount of new information that was required for me to know. At Oceans, they arranged it all in sequence, we completed all our revisions and exams, finished our pool circuit skills and our workshops in two weeks’ time, going off a full time schedule including Sundays. It was intense from start to end, and then we travelled to Coco, on the northern part of Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast. We did our IE together with 6 other candidates from around Costa Rica.

The examiner flew in during a Friday evening, and since his flight got delayed we started our first day with Orientation only. Upon leaving the meeting room, I remember our excitement as we started to plan how to do all of our questions, and discuss do’s and don’ts with our teammates. That night was messy, but we knew we were supposed to be flexible due to the circumstances. The IDC helped a lot in preparing us for what to do, so time was mainly the issue. Because of our delay, we had to complete our exams, our pool skills and presentations as well as classrooms, all on Saturday. I knew the most nerve wrecking bit was over when I stood up to get the results from the examiner after my Standards and my Theory exams, that hand shake and smile was all I needed.  It wasn’t all a night for celebration as we still had our Open Water presentations to prepare for the next day. Luckily for me, that was my favorite part.

I was grateful that we got the early slots to present as it gave us time to prepare before each section. On the last day they let the ‘other’ team do their OW first, but that allowed us to focus on our Rescues at the surface first, which gave us ample time to relax before our turn. I was happy about my results, going from knowing nothing to suddenly being a professional was incomparable. I remember thinking I couldn’t wait what opportunities this would bring next. And now, 2 weeks later, I still do.

There past two months have gone by very fast, but I think that the most challenging part for me for the future will not be so much about advancement, however, it will mostly be about getting the right kind of experience to shape my attitude and motivation towards what I like about diving. Is it the teaching itself? Is it the diving? My own knowledge of our blue world or past experiences? Only time will tell.

My time with this shop has come to a full stop, but I hope that I can get as much out of the remaining time to enjoy the beauty of Costa Rica. I will miss all the good friends, and people I’ve met, but I look forward to meeting more people like them on my OWSI journey, which has just started.