I Went scuba diving in Thailand, and it was amazing

I Went scuba diving in Thailand, and it was amazing

Thailand has amazing diving off the coast and left me breathless!

Pear B
Pear B
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My scuba diving license is one of the best licenses that I have ever gotten. I became open water certified so that I can pursue underwater archaeology and with that experience, I fell in love with scuba diving. I spent the past two summers doing scientific diving so my experience recreational diving was limited to none. To expand my recreational diving I booked a trip in early December to Pattaya and one in April to Patong, Phuket to scuba dive.

The scuba diving off the coast of Pattaya took me to the Gulf of Thailand where I dove on lots of coral and a shipwreck as well. The coral was really spread out and pretty. There were lots of animals that call the coral home: such as clown fish, angel fish, barracuda, eels, and more fish than I can name. The number of fish I can name is a little limited. The wreck dive, which was called Hardeep, showed us some blue spotted stingrays, eels, and lots of sea urchins. This was my first time doing recreational diving and I loved it. I was able to see lots of cool fish and coral, experience amazing visibility, and have a great time diving. I learned how to correct my diving because my form was a little off and I wasn't staying super straight in the water.

Doing scientific diving before I thought I knew what to experience with the wreck but actually diving on a full wreck that had most of its pieces was so different and so much fun. This wreck wasn't the same as the wreck I have done with archaeology and I loved it. I was able to go inside the ship and see parts of where people lived, where some worked, where people ate, and where they went to relax. It was different than scientific diving because everything about the wreck was already known so I did not have to do research on the wreck; I just had to enjoy swimming through and around it to see everything it had to offer.

After Pattaya, I didn't have time to go diving again until May when I took a trip down to Patong, Phuket before school started. I went down to Phuket to go scuba diving off the Phi Phi Islands and let me tell you that this was some of the best diving I have done! Even though it was the off-season the diving was still breathtaking. The corals were full of bright colors and there were so many fish there that I swimming in a dream. I was swimming in schools of fish was absolutely worth every moment, clown fish, lobsters, sea turtles, and many more that I was living my "Finding Nemo" dreams.

I was able to see the famous Phi Phi islands and eat lunch at the same beach in the movie "The Beach with Leonardo DiCaprio." The boat took us to the beach, Maya Bay, where we were able to swim in the Bay and eat lunch at the same time without having to deal with all the people on the beach. Diving around the Phi Phi islands was full of brightly colored corals and animals. After diving around the Phi Phi Islands we went to dive at Shark Point and even though I didn't see any sharks I saw some super cool corals and animals.

The whole experience in Phuket was so much fun and colorful. There was wonderful diving from an amazing diving company and good company. I saw my first wild sea turtle, some breathtaking coral, and schools of fish. I can't wait to dive recreationally again both Pattaya and Phuket were everything I could have imagined and I cannot wait to see more of the ocean.

In Phuket, I dove with Aussie Divers and I would 10/10 recommend this company. They put the clients first, taught us more about the fish we saw, had amazing food (I mean amazing food), and made the whole trip so much fun! This company is a company I would go to again and again.

Diving in Phuket-Phi Phi IslandsKatheryn Byrnes

Diving in Phuket-Phi Phi IslandsKatheryn Byrnes


Diving in Pattaya-Samae San IslandsKatheryn Byrnes

Cover Image Credit:

dipndive.com By Dive Gear

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Here's Why You Shouldn't Donate to The Salvation Army This Holiday Season (Or Ever)

No, I’m not a grinch or a scrooge. I’m just a member of the LGBT+ community that is tired of seeing my community suffer at the hands of organizations that are supposed to help us.
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The holiday season is upon us, bringing mall Santas, twinkling lights, and the well-known bell ringers with their red buckets stationed outside busy department stores. The Salvation Army is a mainstay in the memories of our childhood holidays. I remember a number of years where my parents would give each of my sisters and I a handful of change to put in the shiny red bucket as we walked into Wal-Mart to shop for our family Christmas dinner. On the surface, the Salvation Army is an organization with good intentions of helping the less fortunate, especially during the holiday season. However, a quick Google search exposes the organization’s discriminatory practices.

The Salvation Army is a Protestant Christian denomination and an international charitable organization. Their mission statement, as stated on their website, reads: “The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.”

Despite their insistence of nondiscriminatory practices, however, there have been several instances of discrimination, specifically against members of the LGBT+ community. In July 2017, a Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center in Brooklyn, New York, was found by the New York City Commission on Human Rights (NYCCHR) to be discriminating. Three other centers in New York City were also cited as being discriminatory. Violations within the four centers included refusing to accept transgender people as patients or tenants, assigning trans people rooms based on their sex assigned at birth instead of their lived gender identity, unwarranted physical examinations to determine if trans people are on hormone therapy or have had surgery, and segregating transgender patients into separate rooms. The NYCCHR had been tipped off about the mistreatment, and testers from the commission went to the cited centers and found clear evidence of the mistreatment. One of the clinics told the testers outright, “No, we don’t [accept transgender patients].” Another clinic’s representative said, “People with moving male parts would be housed with men.”

This isn’t the first time the Salvation Army has discriminated specifically against transgender people. In 2014, a transgender woman from Paris, Texas fled her home due to death threats she received related to her gender identity. The police told her, “Being the way you are, you should expect that.” She went to Dallas and found emergency shelter at the Carr P. Collins Social Service Center, run by the Salvation Army. The emergency shelter allowed her to stay for 30 days. Towards the end of her 30-day stay, she began looking for other long-term shelter options. One option many of the other women staying in the shelter had recently entered was a two-year housing program also run by the Salvation Army. When the woman interviewed for the program, she was told she was disqualified for the program because she had not had gender reassignment surgery. The counselor for the program later claimed there was a waiting list, but it came out that two women who arrived at the emergency shelter after the transgender woman had already entered the program. The transgender woman filed a complaint with Dallas’s Fair Housing Office, which protects against discrimination on the basis of gender identity. She was able to find other housing through the Shared Housing Project, a project that aims to find transgender people with housing who are willing to support those without.

The Salvation Army’s Christian affiliation drives the organization’s statements and beliefs. The church has a page on its website dedicated to its decided stance on the LGBT+ community that seems to paint a nice picture. Their actions, however, tell a different story. There have been several accounts reporting the Salvation Army’s refusal of service to LGBT+ people unless they renounce their sexuality, end same-sex relationships, or, in some cases, attend services “open to all who confess Christ as Savior and who accept and abide by The Salvation Army’s doctrine and discipline.” The church claims it holds a “positive view of human sexuality,” but then clarifies that “sexual intimacy is understood as a gift of God to be enjoyed within the context of heterosexual marriage.” This belief extends to their staff, asking LGBT+ employees to renounce their beliefs and essentially their identity in order to align with the organization. The Salvation Army believes that “The theological belief regarding sexuality is that God has ordained marriage to be between one man and one woman and sexual activity is restricted to one’s spouse. Non-married individuals would therefore be celibate in the expression of their sexuality.” Essentially, gay people can’t get married. Unmarried people can’t have sex. Therefore, gay people are forbidden from being intimate with one another. This is unfair to ask of any employee, especially considering that one’s relationship status does not interfere with how well anyone can do their job.

If you are still looking to donate to a non-homophobic and transphobic organization this holiday season, here are some great pro-LGBT+ organizations with outreach similar to that of the Salvation Army:

  • Doctors Without Borders: medical and emergency relief
  • Habitat for Humanity: homelessness and housing
  • Local homeless shelters: search the National Coalition for the Homeless’ website for shelters near you!
  • Local food bank: find your local food bank through Feeding America here.
  • The Trevor Project: a leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBT+ young people ages 13-24.
Cover Image Credit: Ed Glen Today

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5 Struggles Of Being Single During The Holidays

For my all my single friends out there, this one's for you.

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Another holiday season, another myriad of feelings of loneliness. Sometimes, it's hard to be single during the holidays. Here are five reasons that explain what the heck is happening:

1. It’s cold as heck

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With coldness comes desires to have someone to cuddle and stay warm with. Seasonal affective disorder, anyone?

2. ALL. THE. COUPLES.

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It almost seems like everyone around you is dating, and you're just a little, sad potato. And mind you, a lonely one at that. Must be nice!!

3. Family reunions can be a real pain in the butt

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Do relatives have to ask if I have a boyfriend every single time we meet? Please stop asking! The answer is no!

4. Too many decorations

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All the Christmas decorations, trees, and tunes would be so much better with a significant other, but nope!

5. Christmas movies are all romantic!!!

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On Netflix, nearly all the movies are romantic, and it makes you feel that much more single!

All in all, just because you're single doesn't mean you don't have people you love in your life. Enjoy being single during holidays! #betterlucknextyear

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