Before coming to Gili Air, I had never traveled near as far away from home before. I’ve traveled outside of the United States before but always with a large group of people and never for more than a week or two. I guess you could say coming alone to a small tropical island in Indonesia for four months to do shark conservation, with no dive experience not to mention, was a big step for me.
Once I graduated from high school I knew that I wanted to go to college/university for marine biology, but the question was “how do I know that this is for me?” I didn’t have near enough experience with the ocean, coming from a landlocked state. I had been tot he ocean before but studying it is a whole different ballpark. Knowing that I needed to find something that would help me answer that question I decided to take a gap year between high school and college/university. One day I received an email with a link to the Gili Shark Conservation and everything about it called out to me. I knew I had to go. I immediately applied for a spot in their research team and couldn’t believe it when I received an email two days later saying that I was accepted.
The next thing I knew I was at Denver Airport and heading to Bali. Admittedly the first few days were a little tough. Slight social anxiety makes talking to new people really difficult and I missed home already. However, all of that quickly went away and I created friendships and connections I will never forget. From yoga and good food at Pachamama to survey dives and lectures I found home here.
Diving here with the research team of the Gili Shark Conservation Project answered my question of if marine biology was right for me or not, and trust me it is! The social anxiety I had faded and I became more open to new experiences. Two months here has already taught me so much and I can’t wait to see what the rest of my time here has to offer. After I leave here I hope to continue to dive in different places and I will hopefully return to do my Divemaster someday.
Written by: Evie Hope – Goldman