As scuba divers working in the industry, we all like to think we’re living life to the max. There is a fair amount of excitement in our daily lives – a new dive site to discover, new marine life to marvel at, new conditions to master and obviously new students to teach. Each day brings challenges, fun and stories to tell at the end of it.
And then we met Matt and we realized that our lives were comparatively boring. He arrived at Trawangan Dive nine months ago and it was instantly obvious that he wasn’t your average guy. For a start, he jumps out of planes and off high buildings for fun. As a sky dive instructor and base jumper he really lives life on the edge. Give him a sport and he’ll master it. Motorcross, speed bike racing, Judo, Jiu-jitsu. He pushes himself to the limit in everything he does.
But in his previous line of work, there were many dangers. And after a few too many close calls and reminders that he was still very young, he left Canada to begin a different life. The plan was to travel the world but he got as far as his first destination, Indonesia, and was amazed by life here. And decided to stay…
Were you already a diver?
No. I arrived in Bali and headed to Sanur and completed my PADI Open Water course and PADI Advanced Open Water course. I knew from the first dive that I would take it further. How much further wasn’t clear at that time. But as always, whenever I start a new sport, I want to become the best at it. Diving was the perfect sport for me at this stage in my life. Done properly it has a calming effect. It’s like meditation. And the feeling of weightlessness is like flying but unlike skydiving, everything is a lot slower!
And then you came to the Gili islands…
Yes, I heard about the Gili islands from some people I had met in Bali. I planned to stay for three nights but when I arrived I instantly wanted to stay longer. I’ve realized since that this happens to lots of people! It ticks all the boxes of what people expect of a paradise island – no motor traffic, picture perfect beaches, clear warm seas, amazing marine life and happy people. Also, there’s enough happening on the island to not get bored and enough tranquility to relax. It’s the perfect combination.
What made you choose Trawangan Dive?
I visited many of the dive centres on the island but it was at Trawangan Dive where I felt the most at home. I spoke to all the Divemaster Trainees and asked them about how their course was going. It was obvious they were loving every minute of it. As a French Canadian, I was worried that I would have problems with doing the course in English. But at Trawangan Dive they have an English instructor who speaks fluent French after having lived in France for years and he reassured him he could translate where necessary. That closed the deal.
And so you carried on your education and completed the Emergency First Response (EFR), PADI Rescue Diver and PADI Divemaster courses. Which was your favourite?
I think the PADI Rescue Diver course was my favourite course. The course made me consider not only my own safety but also others. It expanded my awareness and taught me a whole new set of skills. It’s obvious why it’s a compulsory step to becoming a PADI Divemaster because it teaches you the appropriate response to such a wide range of situations, some of which you encounter when you start working with student divers. I can’t thank my instructor enough for his sharing his experience with me – his amusing stories, his insights into the psychology behind rescue situations and his commitment to proper technique.
What did you think about your PADI Divemaster course?
The PADI Divemaster course was a lot of fun! I learnt a lot about the dive industry and how it works. I took every opportunity to dive and logged well over 80 dives during the course. I improved my dive skills and learnt how to deal with customers whether they are students or certified divers. I realized that what makes me tick is helping people overcome fears. I love seeing their faces when they master a skill they were afraid of, such as mask clearing skills. It makes my day when I show new divers their first turtle or bumphead parrotfish. New experiences is what it’s all about.
And you worked as a Divemaster for a while. How was that?
Once I completed my PADI Divemaster course, I knew that I had to become a PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor. If I could have done it sooner I would have done. But I needed to be a diver for at least six months before I completed my PADI Instructor Development Course (IDC). So I worked as a Divemaster in various places to get the experience. In retrospect, it was definitely needed as I learnt so much during that time. No matter how much studying you do or how much time you spend under the watchful eye of an instructor, you don’t really learn until you’re doing if for yourself, every day, with real customers.
How did you find the PADI IDC?
The PADI IDC was tough! Mentally it was exhausting because there was so much information to process. Ayala was firm but fair. She was very helpful, she really pushed us and she really prepared us well. Not only for the PADI Instructor Examination but also for the real world. It was obvious why she has a 100% first time pass rate.
How did you feel when you passed the PADI Instructor Examination?
I was so relieved and happy. I felt like I had achieved something amazing. I’d made my way up the PADI ladder and was able to teach another of my passions.
What’s the plan now?
I’m spending the next couple of weeks team teaching with the amazing instructors at Trawangan Dive to learn how they schedule courses. The quality of the instruction is so high that I can learn a lot from these guys. I already have a good idea about scheduling because I assisted on many courses during my Divemaster course. But now I’m obviously looking at things from a different perspective.
I am in the fortunate position of being able to speak three sought-after languages – English, French and Spanish, so I don’t think I’m going to have too many problems finding work. Especially when I’ve got some experience under my belt. And I’m working with Ayala to get my five specialties so I can become a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer once I’ve got my first 25 student certifications.
And then we’ll see. There are so many amazing places to work as a dive instructor. I can’t wait to begin exploring the possibilities!