The Life of Being a Piña and DMT in Gili Trawangan

by Megan Pettigrew, June – December 2019 Piña

So. You’re thinking of applying to Paradise Interns. Maybe you already have. Either way, you must be curious about the program. A marketing internship sounds easy enough. But a marketing internship in Indonesia? Yeah, it’s a little scary. Thankfully for you, I’m here to tell you all about the internship from a graduated Piña perspective.

Why Did I Become a Piña?

Honestly, the main reason I applied to Paradise Interns is because I wanted to live in Indonesia. I LOVE ASIA. The people, the views, the culture, THE SUNSETS. I travelled around solo for four months in 2018, and I fell completely in love. I was looking for ways and reasons to allow myself to move there for an extended time.

A beautiful Gili T sunset. Indonesia has the best sunsets in the world. Hard to compete with.

I also knew that I wanted to become a divemaster. I got certified through to my rescue while travelling in Asia last year. And was thinking about good places to go do my divemaster training But as a girl who went to school for five years and travelled more than my bank account loved – I needed help. Becoming a divemaster trainee (DMT) is a pretty big financial commitment. I was looking for volunteer opportunities, or pretty much anything to offset the cost of my training.

One day when I was sitting in the hospital with my dying grandmother in the dead of Canadian winter (as bleak as it gets). A Paradise Interns ad came on my Facebook newsfeed. Literally a golden opportunity in the middle of all the bleakness. 

I researched the internship that afternoon while at my shitty waitressing job and applied that night! I’m not going to lie – I knew NOTHING about social media other than my personal accounts and had no marketing experience. But four months later I packed my bags and flew to the other side of the world to do a social media internship.

Piña Bootcamp

I was a June 2019 Piña. There were about 20 people in my group from all over Europe and North America, and even an Aussie. We all hit it off pretty much right away. Everyone was happy to be living in Bali and eager to find out where we’d be living for 5 months.

Bootcamp was at times a little overwhelming. I’m a finance major, so creativity is not my strong suit. I had some marketing experience from university, but nothing to do with social media. Thankfully I didn’t have too many artsy things to do as I was the second intern at my shop. (Shout out to former Rachel Piña who nailed all that branding and such.)

I did learn quite a lot of interesting things during bootcamp. Like, did you know there is more than Arial and Times New Roman fonts? There are HUNDREDS. Anna talked about fonts for a whole hour one day. It blew my mind how much a font meant when you’re thinking of branding and consistency! I did learn other things too, of course.

The month in Bali was a lot of fun. Bootcamp during the day, filled with tons of laughs. Volleyball, swims, and dinners in the evenings. And parties, beach days, and work on the weekends. But my favourite part of bootcamp was the friends I made, many of which I know will be my friends for a long, long time. 

A group of young Piñas getting ready to go to a festival in Bali.

New Piña on Gili T

I was lucky enough to get placed on the beautiful island of Gili Trawangan at Gili Divers. I’m not going to lie. It was super hard trying to fit in at the height of peak season with so much going on. My first two months were a major struggle.

Not feeling like I was excelling in my job was hard. I thought about quitting. There were a lot of tears and anxiety, but I pushed through.  I now have tears and anxiety about leaving. The people in my shop are awesome and I feel at home on the island now. 

Gili Divers really creates a family that you get stuck in.

I found a place to live on day two for 2.25 million IDR and didn’t move for five months. I found my favourite places to eat – shout out to Jali Kitchen! My favourite places to work, and my favourite nights to go out. Settling into island life was not too hard.

Once you get into a groove and figure everything out you start to feel at home. My favourite part about Gili T is there are no cars!! I do HATE the horse carts, but that’s a different story. Gili T has my heart. I get to ride my bike everywhere. I am never more than a seven-minute bike ride from the ocean. And the ocean around here is un-freakin-believably clear and blue. 

Part-Time Piña, Full-Time Divemaster Trainee

It didn’t take long to realize that being a divemaster trainee is VERY time-consuming. Up at 7am, in the shop by 7:45am. Set up the gear. Morning chat about the night before. Pool session. Dive. Dive again. Sometimes there was room to eat in there, but usually not. The day is done by 4:30pm, starving and exhausted. 

If I’m being honest, I accidentally slept through some engagement hours. Juggling my DMT duties with my Piña intern responsibilities took some getting used to. Sometimes I forgot that I was here because of this marketing internship I signed up for. 

A brand new divemaster with sick trim. She needs more pink equipment though.

I usually took one day off away from the shop, sat in a cafe, and got a ton of work done. The one thing that helped me out was that I didn’t overthink things (usually). I just laid it out, made a list – I LOVE LISTS – and tackled one thing at a time. I’d make memes whenever I felt inspired, so that at times when I had no creative spark I usually had one ready. 

I loved being a DMT. It was the most fun thing I’ve ever done. And I learned so much from all my mentors at Gili Divers. I am more in love with diving now than I was when I came, which is dangerous! My snorkel test was a super fun night and I felt like a deserved a good celebration (even though I was dressed up as Donkey from Shrek). I’m now a certified divemaster, and I think I’ll be a great DM if I ever get a job!

A messy group photo after the Shrek themed snorkel test.

Advice from a Ripe Piña to Piña Poppers

I’m not exactly the wisest or a perfect example. But I still feel like I’m entitled to give some sound advice. So here it is:

  • DO IT. When else will you ever get a chance to move away and live on an island? 
  • Dive. Dive, dive, dive. Dive your little heart out. Even if you don’t want to be a DMT, take the fun diving and ENJOY it. I am going to miss it so much.
  • Pay attention at bootcamp. I had trouble with this one,and it came back later when I needed to use that info.
  • Hashtags are SO IMPORTANT. I can’t understand why, but they are. Learn them, live them, love them.
  • Explore your island. This is something I lacked in. And as I’m writing this on my last night in Gili T, I am regretting it. 
  • Don’t procrastinate. I don’t think I should even be allowed to say this… but it’s helpful and will prevent a lot of stress tears!!

I hope I helped. It really is a unique opportunity to learn something new and get out of your comfort zone. And now I can say I have marketing experience which is nice. It’s a great opportunity to try something entirely new. As the sign over my toilet in my bougie hotel room says… “If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine – it’s lethal”.