A short introduction: My name is Armande, or Mandy. I am of Dutch origin and have lived in the tropics most of my life. I have been playing Underwater hockey at a high level for over a decade and I am an AIDA 2 freediver.
Previously I had an office job for about 10 years and I decided it was time for a lifestyle change. I decided to truly follow my dreams of turning my hobby of being under water, into a (future) profession as a Divemaster and hopefully Dive Instructor. And by breathing under water this time around.
The DM Internship so far has been a wonderful learning experience and I am still learning so much every day. To give you an idea, in a few weeks time, I have learned how a dive center operates, how to operate the compressor, how to guide dives, do boat and site briefings and attend to customers. I learned how to handle emergency situations and nervous divers and especially how to practice safe and responsible diving. Dan and Carly who run the dive center, are wonderful teachers who value quality and precision. For me this, in addition to experience which I am still gaining, is what makes a good diver and especially a great Divemaster and Instructor. In addition to being wonderful teachers, they are also wonderful people (with good humor) that made me feel welcome and part of the team as soon as I started.
The Internship overall is hard work. It sometimes feels like going back to school, but in a more rewarding way. What I like about the Internship is that the theory is immediately put into practice, and I myself learn best by doing something to remember it. We have multiple opportunities to practice and show our learned skills, which makes them become part of your routine. This goes for dive skills and procedures as well as learning nautical knots and boat handling.
I am now in week three going into week four of the Internship. Since I have been out here on the Atlantic, I was and still am amazed by the marine life. On my second day we spotted pilot whales for example. In a ¨general¨ week we see bottlenose dolphins, different types of rays and green sea turtles. On my first dive with Paradise Divers we saw Atlantic Stingrays, that were approximately 1½ meters wide, I think all the divers present heard my enthusiasm through the regulator during those 35 minutes. Sorry for the disturbance guys.
So to conclude this blogpost, I am a few weeks in and getting into the routine of the diving life and loving it. Unlike an office job the scenery is never the same and neither are the circumstances, even when you repeat a dive site. You meet interesting new people and work with colleagues from many different cultures. And the difference with an office job is that if you are having an ¨off day¨ that feeling is gone by the time the resident turtle greets you on your morning dive.