Spotlight: The World Is Waiting

Liv has been exploring the world independently since she was 17. She became a diving instructor whilst still a teenager. Liv has lived and worked on islands, yachts and mountains, in villages and cities and worked her way around the world, earning her living mostly as a diving instructor and shark photographer. Liv’s always busy exploring and trying to understand new places. She is something a little bit different and her friends have nicknamed her ‘Sharkgirl’. Liv documents her travel experiences and many misadventures on her site, The World is Waiting

Liv in Turkey

1. What persuaded you to become a SCUBA instructor?

I fell for scuba diving during my first dive when I was 16. The instructor ate a banana underwater and lots of small brown fish charged at him to nip little bits off the banana for themselves. The Turkish coast has a lot going for it, but miserably little by way of reefs and fishlife, hence the underwater entertainment. Knowing what I do now, my first dive was in one of the less exciting places to dive but at the time it didn’t matter. Breathing underwater and the weightless easy movement of diving instantly had me hooked. A year later I completed a few courses at a friendly, bustling dive centre in Turkey and another year later I was working there as an instructor; it seemed a natural progression for me.

Awesome job or what?

2. What has been the biggest travel challenge for you?

Other than trying to squeeze my dive gear into my luggage allowance each time I move, which is a nightmare, my biggest travel challenge has been missing friends and family. When you decide to live and work far from where your family base is there will always be events like birthdays and weddings that you will miss out on. Skype helps enormously when you miss friendly faces, especially during your first few weeks in a new place, but missing out on occasions is, for me, the significant downside of being far away.

3. Where was your most memorable living abroad experience and why?

I am lucky. I have oodles of memorable experiences under my belt and I am having trouble choosing just one, so here are some of my favorites:

  • My daily morning walk to a dive center in Kenya involved walking through a small village before I got to the hotels on the beach. Each morning I was ambushed by a frenetic bunch of children who were grinning from ear to ear and would hang off me as I tried to wade through them and get to the beach. It struck me that they had so little but always seemed so happy.
  • Living in Egypt I enjoyed a swim before work and there was a local dolphin that often turned up and would playfully charge me and swim around me playing. I lost count of the number of times I was late for work as a result.
  • A luxury yacht I worked on spent a summer sailing the Bahamas. When we were at Thunderball Island, the crew managed to find an afternoon to explore. We snorkelled into the Thunderball cave, (so named because the Bond film of the same name was filmed there). You had to skin dive under a rocky ledge to get inside the cave which was amazing. It was light inside because of an opening at the top and the water was crystal clear but dotted with fish.
  • I also remember my first shark dive in the Bahamas. I had just taken a job as an underwater photo/video pro and there I was taking video of about forty reef sharks on the daily shark dive. I was ecstatic and every shark dive I went on I thought to myself, “I can’t believe I’m doing this. I love it!”
Filming sharks for a living

4. What do you find the hardest part of moving to a new country?

Foreigners living overseas are often stuck between being a foreigner and feeling like part of the local community. It is a strange feeling when you feel like you want to live somewhere (and perhaps you are living there) but don’t quite feel like you belong there. I spent years in Turkey and although I always felt at home there, it took time to feel like a local. I think there are two important factors to consider when trying to get around this and they are: 1) Understand the place. You need to immerse yourself in the culture of the place (including language, history, and societal norms) in order to understand why local thoughts and feelings may be different to your own and embrace those differences 2) You should never say “No” to an invitation. You never know which places you will discover or which friends you will make at that party, barbecue or dinner. They say ‘Home is where the heart is’ and I really believe it is the people that make the place. Ultimately you can feel ‘at home’ anywhere that you have friends. 

5. If all your luggage was stolen but you could ask the thief to return just one item, what would it be and why? 

If my luggage was stolen I would be upset about losing, simply because they are irreplaceable, my photos. I tend to upload my photos to an external hard-drive rather than clog my macbook with them. I am currently investigating online storage options in fact, to see if I can protect my photos even further.

6. What is your advice to someone interested in travel and pursuing an extraordinary career?

Be brave. People often say they wish they had done the things I have done. The only difference between us is that I made the choice to do the things I have done. They decided not to. It takes courage to abandon what the majority take for granted and forge a different path. There are plenty of naysayers who will ask “What will you do for work?” and “What will you do for money?” These are valid questions and definitely worth consideration, but they are not reasons to be too scared to try something new. Perhaps your employer provides accommodation or perhaps you will be paid less but your living costs will be drastically reduced. Ultimately, you need to balance what you think you will gain from and enjoy about living overseas against what you feel you will miss out on by not staying home.

Liv doing what she does best

Liv, thank you so much for sharing your travel adventures with Connvoyage!  I am just so in awe of you that you get to swim with sharks for a living! I hope I get to dive with you one day!  

© Connie Hum 2011

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