Posted by Adam Mendonça
One of the snippets of advice my dad (and many others) told me before I went to college was to take advantage of the fun and sometimes strange classes offered during college. So this summer I enrolled in a scuba certification class through UTD. The certification, by PADI (probably the best organization to be certified by – and no, they did not pay me to say that), will mean that anywhere I go for the rest of my life, I will be able to dive.
This has been a long time goal of mine; my siblings both received their scuba certification when we lived in Shanghai, China, and I was too young to do it with them. They got to dive at the Great Barrier Reef and with sharks in the Shanghai Aquarium. How do I top that? I’m not sure what exactly my study abroad plans are these next two years, but you can be sure it’ll include scuba diving somewhere cool. Preferably not too cool though, as I learned that I get cold even in 80 degree pool water.
In preparation of this class, I was sure to not repeat the mistakes of last year. While I was in China with the Critical Language Scholarship program, a few scholars tried to take the course. Unfortunately, the class didn’t have enough people enrolled to continue, so it was cancelled. Therefore, I was determined to wrangle as many people as possible to join me in my quest for scuba certification. And I felt no shame in hounding people to sign up for the class the second I learned they were in Dallas for the summer.
As expected, a majority of the people I so politely asked to sign up couldn’t; other, more important classes (preposterous!) were during the same time. However, I knew I could count on my fellow ’13 McDermotts to show up in force. Five of us are in the class, including all three Andrew’s, which causes a bit of confusion for the instructor (to our enjoyment). With a total of nine people in the class, we had enough to continue on!
In total we had seven classes: three lectures and four in-pool dives. As you can expect, the pool dives were much more fun than the lectures, though for the certification a written test is needed and our instructor tried to make it as enjoyable as possible (to some success). The pool dives were tons of (shivering) fun! From practicing how to take off our gear underwater, to fountaining air out of our regulator (it’s like a reverse water fountain!), most of the skills our instructor taught us were both practical and fun. As a bonus, at the end of every class we had a little time to dive freely. This included me attempting to do underwater handstands (because above ground I would never be successful) and diving through hula-hoops on the bottom of the pool.
Last but not least, we need four open water dives to get our certification so this Saturday and Sunday the entire class will have to go out to Terrell, Texas to perform most of the skills we learned in the pool, except now we will be in the chilly, murky, post-flash flooded lake. Allegedly there is a shark named Cisco, and allegedly we might get to meet him! And after those two days, I’ll be done. Scuba Certified. Look out aquatic animals of the world, Adam is coming to visit y’all.