Throughout college I’ve thought it would be neat to try scuba diving. But it never quite fit with my schedule, I was too nervous to take it by myself and it seemed like one of those activities pretentious rich people do in order to show off how much gear they can afford.
Throughout college I’ve thought it would be neat to try scuba diving.
But it never quite fit with my schedule, I was too nervous to take it by myself and it seemed like one of those activities pretentious rich people do in order to show off how much gear they can afford.
However, before this term started, several of my closest friends realized they needed a non-specific two-credit course, and I found myself bamboozled into taking a scuba class I knew very little about—for the final term of my college career.
After nine weeks of awkward moments, hilarious lectures and a couple of extremely challenging labs, I’d recommend that anyone who has moderate swimming abilities and likes new adventures take scuba diving. Scuba, by the way, is an acronym for self-contained underwater breathing apparatus.
I had no idea what to expect on my first day of class, but my Portland State schedule indicated that I would have a lab in the Stott Center swimming pool, so I brought a bathing suit.
The first thing you learn very quickly in scuba diving is that you’re going to meet a strange variety of people, and you better like them. With only 15 spaces available in each lab and only a couple of instructors, you’re going to be seeing the same group of people every week, and in a pool there’s only so much room for you to hide.
Closely related to meeting new people is learning that you’re going to be getting close to them. Literally close. As soon as the instructors decide to start putting you in masks and dumping you in the pool, you’ll need to be comfortable with full body contact and swapping some bodily fluids.
Whether that sounds terrifying, disgusting or arousing, it’s an aspect of scuba diving everyone somehow gets over pretty much instantly. The chlorine in the pool sanitizes anything you share with your mouth, and when you’re underwater you kind of get a free pass to hold on to the cute girl in the pink bikini.
Once you get comfortable getting up close and personal with your diving buddy, you’ll need to get prepared to be comfortable with the unending puns and hilarious banter between the instructors. Whether they’re giving you what they call their “three dolphins” example or hamming up a lesson, one of the best aspects of scuba diving at PSU is the entertainment provided by what seems to be comedy night at every scuba lab.
Scuba diving also gives students a chance to conquer any discomfort they might have at being underwater. If you’re like me and have always loved swimming but are positive something horrible will happen if you leave your face underwater for too long, scuba diving presents an interesting challenge.
The fear of drowning really isn’t a silly or illogical phobia—it’s a very real and human concern to want to protect your fragile lungs from the vast, angry waters that make up about 70 percent of the Earth’s surface.
There’ll definitely be a couple of scuba labs where you’ll be positive that you can’t do one of the crazy things the instructors throw at you—from holding your breath for an ungodly amount of time to taking off bulky gear underwater and watching your air tank float away from you.
Luckily, the most difficult tasks in the scuba lab almost always serve to make students more comfortable with the easier tasks they’ll have to do to get certified, and the pool is only 10 feet deep. A lifeguard and the instructors stick around so that if you somehow manage to hurt yourself, several trained professionals can kiss it all better.
Ultimately, scuba diving is a great choice for anyone looking for a fun adventure during a particularly boring term. If you take the class, you’re going to look forward to it even if you half-believe you are going to drown. You get to breathe underwater like a superhero, and everything besides your banana hammock or tankini is provided.
Plus, you can get certified at the end of the term, so you’re able to travel to awesome places and do even more badass things, like spearfishing.
The instructors are hilarious, the gear is provided and the course can fill a missing two-credit spot in your schedule. Take a scuba class, punch Poseidon in the teeth and become a diver.