Jeanine Brantschen – Switzerland

When I came back to Switzerland, all my friends and family were eager to hear about my time in Indonesia. “How was it? Tell me about it”, they would ask. “Well, it was…nice?”. They looked at me in disbelief. Yes, “nice” may not be a really expressive word. And it is definitely not the right word to describe my dive master training at the Indo Ocean Project. But how do you summarise 2 months of full-on field fun, fish friends and a found family in a few words word? 

 When I arrived in Nusa Penida as an advanced open water diver, I had many expectations. And I didn’t get disappointed. When I arrived, I was welcomed whole-heartedly and on my first day the interns took me to diner as I was already one of them. I instantly got used to the island vibe, the motorbike drives, the Indonesian food-only the stunning blue hues of the ocean just off the dive shop seemed unreal even after weeks. Every day brought new adventures, as the planning of the day depended on the condition of the sea, the number of customers and on the practical tasks we had to fulfil for the dive master certificate. Additionally, the workshops on manta rays, sharks, turtles, mangroves, nudis and corals were informative, they provided a solid overview of the topic, but never failed to spark my fascination with some interesting facts. The more I learned about the ocean, the more I appreciated to dive into the amazing underwater world so close to our new home. When applying for this program, I did so with the intention to become a better and more confident diver. But I got much more out of it, I gained insight into the dive industry and I learned a lot about scientific diving and marine conservation. When I took part in my first survey dive, I was very proud when I surfaced and actually had identified some fish species, but compared to the inventory of advanced survey divers, mine was very humble. As we were diving almost daily, I felt like I gained skills every day, and tasks I struggled with in the beginning -like shooting up a surface marker bouy without loosing the reel- felt natural very soon. And here, all the credits goes to the crew of the Indo Ocean Project and Nomads Diving, as they were amazing teachers and role models to me. And of course, also the learning environment plays a key role, so it gets even better. Some dives might be challenging with a bit of current, but the dive sites and the diversity of marine life are stunning. Of course, the mantas left me speechless. And the breaching thresher shark on the surface interval was probably a once in a lifetime experience. But then, there are also these incredibly curious and playful octopuses around. And bizarre, but somehow cute frogfish. And then all the nudibranchs that are just so tiny but equally pretty and colourful. I had countless special moments in these two months, moments that I can still not express in words and I can probably only really share with the people that lived through them with me. Of course, not everything is perfect in this tropical paradise and we still need to raise awareness on how to reduce the anthropogenic impact on marine life and habitats. Nevertheless, it was very inspiring to work with people that are so dedicated to save our oceans. Through this internship I gained more than just improved diving skills, I gained a new perspective on my own actions and I realised that it takes only a few like-minded people to start something great.