I’ve never liked the water. I’ve never really liked the beach, or the sun. It was messy, wet, and just too hot. Can you believe I am now a working Diving Instructor? Coming from Melbourne I wore black all day, every day, and rode my black vintage bike to and from my advertising job in the city. It was a good life; I had a good job, a nice apartment, and Melbourne is a place where there is something happening all the time.
After a while however, I felt like I wanted to experience more than just the standard grind of working weekdays (and weekends!) with only four weeks of annual leave a year to explore places outside of Melbourne! I never in a million years thought that I would ever be a working Diving Instructor though. That was when I decided to quit, sell everything (except for a small box I left with my parents), and move to London to further expand on my advertising career. I also had this small plan of traveling around South-East Asia for a few months before embarking on this new adventure in this new and exciting city.
Can you believe I am now a working Diving Instructor?
That small, tiny, minute idea of exploring SE Asia before moving to London became a whole lot more very quickly. Two weeks in each country became four weeks, and then two months, quickly making my initial three month South East Asian journey into a year saga. I also randomly stumbled upon a small island called Koh Tao, off the east coast of Thailand. My boyfriend convinced me to try scuba diving, despite my fear of water, and my hatred of sandy bottoms, and we walked around Koh Tao with the intention to find out more information about diving. We got some great information from a certain dive shop and tentatively said we might be back, and then we came across Sairee Cottage Diving. That unfortunately, and fortunately, changed everything. We were so taken in with the staff who greeted us, that we signed up there and then for our Open Water Course. It was an amazing experience, and my greatest personal achievement up to that point considering my fear of water, and the open ocean. I will confess that I panicked the first time I went underwater doing skills in the shallow end, but the Divemaster (thanks Shaun Cleary!) who was assisting the instructor stared into my eyes intensely and calmed me down completely just using his eyes. After that experience I was completely sold. From Open Water, I went straight into the Advanced Open Water Course (reasoning that I would be a better, more experienced diver), and then continued traveling for a few months. After our visas were expired, and we were done with living out of a 25L backpack, my boyfriend and I had to make a decision of whether we wanted to continue on with our plan of moving to this big, busy city, or *shock horror* maybe, just maybe, pursue this new thing we had both really enjoyed which involved strapping ourselves into this jacket contraption, breathing compressed air, and wearing flippers on our feet.
We chose the flippers.
We went back to Thailand, back to Koh Tao, and back to Sairee Cottage Diving, and proceeded to complete our Dive Master Training (DMT) over a few months. Never did I think I would become a working Diving Instructor in Thailand! In that time we met some people who have become very firm friends and mentors. After completing the DMT program (another record personal achievement!), I worked for a few months as a DiveMaster for Sairee Cottage Diving, before starting work as their Videographer. I loved this job, diving on the morning boat (the best time to dive in my opinion!), filming Open Water students, and editing in the afternoon. The evenings were fun too, where I would screen the film of the students, hope they would buy a copy or two, and have some drinks and dinner with the newly certified students!
Video work was very fun as I was able to witness and record the students as they came out of the water as a certified diver. As cheesy as it sounds, it would bring me back to the time when I came out of the water as a certified diver and how happy I felt at the time. After a year and a half however, I did start to feel envious of the instructors who would actually be able to teach, and see the progression of their students from being non-divers to certified Open Water divers. That was when I decided to do one more thing. My Instructor Development Course (IDC).
I signed up for my IDC with Sairee Cottage Diving, and it was a nice group of five people. It was two weeks of skills circuits, lectures, exams, and practical exercises (all of which are more exciting than it sounds!), but I wanted to do all of this and more as I wanted to become a great instructor, and not just someone who passed the Instructor Exam. The program was a great mix of exam related exercises, and real life examples that Course Director, Marcel van den Berg brought from his experience as a senior instructor. We also had great input from Flavius Sleutelaar, an instructor who paved the way for many Koh Taoians with over 20 years experience, and Shannon Durrant, a newly minted instructor with experience in technical diving.
Long story short, I’ve now passed my Instructor Exam (IE), am a specialty instructor, and about to start my internship with Sairee Cottage Diving. And I can’t wait!
Even if I never liked the water before, I am now a successful working Diving Instructor! I did my training at one of the best dive schools in Asia and got my PADI Instructor certification after completing the PADI IDC program. I also completed my MSDT Internship at Sairee Cottage Diving. This is an eco friendly IDC program including free environmental lectures on topics such as ProjectAWARE and CoralWatch. Watch more dive instructor videos on the YouTube channel.