By The Secret Traveller
Ahh, the gap year. It’s a path more and more young adults are choosing to follow. Many now see it as a must-do rite of passage before getting a full-time job, or heading off to that big bad world of lectures, assignments, and two-minute noodle-filled poverty (otherwise known as university).
Gap years are all about exploring the world, growing up, and finding out how to stand on your own two feet. It’s also about gaining valuable life skills, and, most of all, having fun. And this is why learning to scuba dive is the perfect gap year activity. You may not realise it but there’s actually a ton of benefits to be gained from learning to scuba dive during your gap year, probably more than you realise.
Obviously when you "learn to dive", you’ll find out how to, well, dive. You know, proper use of scuba gear, correct breathing techniques, the correct hand signals to use, all that jazz. But you’ll also learn a few valuable life skills.
• Staying calm under pressure: When you’re diving, things can go wrong, whether you’re a novice or an expert. Diving teaches you to stay calm under pressure and to think on your feet if things don’t go to plan.
• Trust: When it comes to diving, you have no choice but to trust – you have to trust your buddy, your dive leader, your equipment. Second guessing anyone or anything when you’re beneath the surface can be very dangerous, both for you and the people around you.
• Communication: Non-verbal communication is key in diving, because, unless you’re Nemo, you can’t talk underwater. Diving teaches you to express exactly what you need to say clearly and concisely. No “ummms” and “ahhhhs” here.
Diving’s a skill that can take you anywhere and introduce you to an awesome community of like-minded adventurers. If you’re PADI-certified, you can pretty much dive anywhere in the world. Why not take a trip to Belize and dive into its famous Blue Hole? If you want to take it up a notch, become a certified PADI-certified instructor and lead dives in some of the world’s most beautiful locations, including Malaysia, New Zealand, Costa Rica, Argentina, Thailand, and Australia. You can find out more about PADI certification here.
The scuba diving community is a friendly and welcoming one, and diving courses are a great place to meet like-minded people from all over the world. Yes, there’s probably going to be one or two people in your diving course who thinks they know better than the instructor, or are more obsessed with getting selfies than they are with learning to use the breathing apparatus. Just avoid eye contact when it's time to buddy up with someone.
Learn to dive courses generally run over a few days, so you’ve got plenty of time to socialise and get to know people. Head out with your fellow diving course buddies after a day on the water and share in your experiences. Gap years are all about meeting new people and learning about different cultures and countries. This is a perfect way to do it.
When diving, focus is key. It's actually super vital to the safety of you and all those you're diving with. You need to be able to concentrate on the job at hand, be present in the moment and block out any distractions, all the while remaining aware of your surrounds and looking out for any potential dangers. You cannot be distracted by other thoughts, such as the hotel buffet or that missing pair of hiking boots. Focus not only helps to keep you and those around you safe, it also allows you to truly appreciate the diving experience.
"A Whole New World" is not simply a song from that movie Aladdin. It a short phrase that pretty much sums up why underwater exploration and diving is so fascinating. More than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered in water, and there really is a whole new world to discover under that splashing surface. From mysterious shipwrecks to aquatic cities populated by colourful fish, marine mammals, and more downright weird and pretty ugly creatures, the depths of the ocean is truly something to behold. And it's a privilege only divers can really properly experience. That’s one pretty sweet club to become a part of.
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