Photo: Christopher Gurney
My name is Anna and I am twenty-nine years old. I moved to Perth, Australia from Russia in January 2017 to marry my husband and start our life together. I was born in a beautiful city called Saratov which is located on the largest and longest river in Russia, called Volga. I grew up in a big family with two older sisters and a twin brother. Even though I was the youngest child, I always was a leader who made decisions and took responsibility, either at school or later, at work. After school I studied accounting at college and after that, Finance and Audit at university and received my qualification as an economist.
A few months after my arrival in Australia, my husband Julian and I got married and then went for our first big adventure as a family. Even though I grew up near water and spent my summers at the beach, I had never swum in the ocean with waves. That was March 2017. We were on our honeymoon in Thailand. I still remember it like it was yesterday when my husband told me that are going to do scuba-diving. I replied straight away, “Absolutely not! What are you talking about? There is no way I’m going to do it”. The reason why I didn’t want to try was simple. I was as frightened as Piglet from Winnie the Pooh is frightened of thunder. I didn’t know anything about it and just one thought: that I’m going to be underwater, with limited access to oxygen, with thousands of pieces of equipment around me made me anxious. Anyway, the love to my husband was stronger than my own self-preservation reflex and as a result, I agreed.
The day before our first dive, all nightmares which are possible were mine. I had a dream that I was forgotten in the ocean or I ran out of oxygen, so you can imagine my feeling once we were on the boat. It didn’t take long before the first problem appeared. Water kept filling my mask which meant I couldn’t properly see or breathe. I was panicked.
We spent two hours in the ocean practising breathing, how to get rid of water in my mask and being a hero to each other in case of emergency. During all these exercises I think I drank at least half of the ocean and said goodbye to my life a thousand times. But, do you know what? I kept trying.
So, the next day, when I thought this is it and all the worst possible things had already happened, we started our second dive. I pulled myself together and resigned myself about all of the equipment and tried to focus on the underwater world. By the way, it was amazing. But unfortunately, not for so long. By the time I had gotten rid of all of my fears, we had been at a depth of 16 metres and I was bitten by trigger fish, which came from nowhere. This fish has a strong mouth with teeth adapted for crushing shells. So, you can imagine how, in one second, all my fears multiplied and came back to me. First of all, I couldn’t see the fish and I wasn’t trained for this scenario. I asked myself, what is the best thing to do when you start panicking? Take a breath and think. Well, that was exactly what I did. I took a breath and thought that I had no idea of how to defend myself against this fish. Then, I turned to our dive guide and showed her the hand signal for the fish. She showed us to swim away so she could have enough place to fight the trigger fish. The fish fought back and we slowly continued our dive. When we were back at the boat, people around us were jealous of me. Sounds funny! But they said that they have been diving there for more than four years and had never even seen the fish, and I was the lucky one who was bitten. The rest of the week in Thailand, I had a limp. This once again showed me that nothing gets too easy for me. That was one and a half years ago. Today, I have a diving licence and I have been underwater five times. I can’t say that I’m not scared anymore, but for myself I have decided that I’m not the one who runs away from difficulties. I strongly believe that everyone will have results as long as they follow their goals and work hard. That is what I’m going to do with my new life in Australia.