Why did you choose this program?
I decided to choose this program because I thought it fit with my interests, which is being by the sea and helping save the planet.
Madagascar is such a diverse place, so it sounded like the perfect place to do marine Conservation. I had never scuba dived before, so did my open water and advanced PADI out there and then went on to do marine conservation.
What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
I went with The Leap and therefore most things were organized for me. They gave us a list of things to buy, flights and an itinerary. However, when I got out there, I decided to change the timings and dates of what I was doing; for example, do marine conservation and teaching for a lot longer.
I was poorly out there and the Leap and staff of camp helped greatly with organizing when to go to the hospital and someone came with me to translate Malagasy.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
If you enjoy being outdoors and experiencing new things, you’ll love it. At the start, it takes a few days to get into your programs and the routine of camp life, but once you’ve got the hang of different timings, etc., it is a blast. Luckily, Nosy Komba is a very safe island, but still, have your wits about you as it is a different environment.
Bring snacks and sauces if you get bored with food easily! The cooks are amazing; however, food is the same every week, so I did struggle with that.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
Marine conservation was a very chilled program. Every day you would go on one dive (different timings depending on people and tides), you would also have study sessions so that you could prepare to be survey ready, turtle watch which was half an hour of spotting turtles and recording data. Some dives were at 6 am and the last activities ended at different times. I also did teaching.
At the start, it was 8 am lesson planning, 10 am teaching local staff, you would then have until 3 pm/4 pm to go to Ampang and teach other locals for an hour or so and get the boat back at 5 pm. However, as the weeks past, I was asked to go to Nosy be every Tuesday and Thursday to teach other classes over there.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
I’d never been away from home for long (10 days was the longest!) so I was very worried that I’d be homesick. However, the weeks went super quickly and everyone in camp was so friendly that it started to feel like home. Obviously, being ill meant that I did miss home, but overall it was easy to overcome by chatting to people and staff and just enjoying the time there.
What extra items shall I bring?
Please bring more reading books (beginner to advanced), as there were limited resources for teachers to read with students.