Week 1 on the Island: The Unexpected Waves of Reality

As soon as I was accepted into St. George’s University, I started a countdown on my phone so that I could see how many days until I got to start this exciting, new adventure. As the days decreased, my excitement increased. It wasn’t until three days before departure, that I realized what was happening. On my drive home from Tulsa to Adair, a wave of emotion washed over me and the tears began flowing down my face. In that moment, it was all too real that I was leaving behind what I knew. I cried the whole drive home, and then when I walked in my parents door, Harper grabbed my hands and took me to the fridge. She showed me my cake that said Dr. Hudson, and I sobbed even harder. I spent the majority of the day mourning what I was about to leave. If you would have asked me if I thought I was going to cry over this move, I would have told you no, and I would have been wrong. I was eager for the day I would leave, but reality hit me. Anyways, my parents threw me a going away party, and I felt significantly better after telling loved ones goodbye.

My first day I was here, I went into a 16 hour coma from exhaustion. My second day, I went to my campus tour. It was really helpful; I could probably go on it three more times. The campus seems really large and unfamiliar, but also beautiful!

I’d like to say I am fearless, however, it’s mildly intimidating to be in an environment where you know no one nor where anything is located; thank goodness they can all speak English here. I needed groceries, so I took the Grand Anse bus from True Blue campus to the mall, which has an IGA where students can buy groceries.

I asked so many questions, literally everywhere I went. Luckily, the locals and students are super nice and helpful. So, I asked the student next to me where he was going, and he helped me make it to IGA. I about had a heart attack as I approached the produce section. The first thing I saw was Mushrooms $25 (this was in Eastern Caribbean currency – the current exchange rate is $2.67 EC per American dollar). I just got into budgeting, and this made my heart race in a mildly unhealthy way. So, to play it safe, I went for what I thought would be cheap. For $67 EC I bought 1 loaf of bread, 6 slices of bologna, Mayo, Cheese, 2 cups of Ramen, and paper towels. That converted to $23 American dollars. The cashier told me the general direction where Grand Anse beach was. After stuffing my groceries in my backpack, I headed in that direction, while asking many locals if I was going the right way.

This is a picture of the Grand Anse beach, as the sun was setting.

It’s a little under a quarter of mile from the grocery store, and Grand Anse beach was beautiful. The sun was setting, and the sand was so soft. Everyone looked as if they didn’t have a care in the world. I took in the moment and then I headed back toward IGA. There were only two more buses that were headed back to campus and I didn’t want to wait til the last one just in case I missed it. The difficultly with public transportation at St. George’s University is that there are no signs posted where you should wait, so I asked everyone. It’s kind of horrifying never knowing if you are in the right spot and having to depend on someone else for your means to get from point A to point B. Please enjoy your cars for me in America. We have it so good. After finding the spot, the bus took me back to campus as the sun was setting.

img_7678

The next day I took a new bus (Point Saline/Frequente) to a dive shop called Devotion to Ocean that is hidden on Magazine Beach of the Rex Grenadian Resort. I had to ask for walking directions to the dive shop, which included turning right on the pavement and then following the sidewalk around the pond.

img_7675

Turn right here!

img_7682

This beach was beautiful. These incredible black rocks were covered in black crabs!!! I wish I was fast enough to snap a picture of them, but they were quick!!

The divers were out for the day, so I left my contact information. I cannot wait to dive in the Caribbean Sea. Even better, my dad and mom will be coming up soon, and I get to dive with my dad!! PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) offers online e-learning you can do on your own time, and then you can do the training with a PADI professional. While I was on the beach, a local tried to get me to buy these necklaces he made by hand. That’s a common occurrence on the beaches whether it be fruits or jewelry. On my walk back around the pond I was surrounded by wildlife! I saw so many unfamiliar birds and lizards or geckos.

The plants here are so colorful and the leaves are super vibrant! I stood where I was dropped off and waited for a school bus. While waiting for a ride, four different taxis stopped and tried to convince me to pay them to take their taxi. I’d rather wait for free, so I politely declined. When I got back to campus, I decided to walk around, snap some pictures, and take my computer to IT. I still haven’t quite figured out how to use my computer, but the IT department helped me get my computer connected to the wifi (it was my user error).

On Friday, I had registration. I was told that the books were heavy, but I thought I was tough. I thought wrong.

img_7727

I carried these bad boys across campus, but had to take two breaks, because my arms were exhausted. I wasn’t as tough as I thought, and it would have been wise to take a rolly suitcase. We received many books, a physical diagnosis kit, and print outs of the slides for our first course. They also told us we would get more when class started. Registration took nearly two hours of waiting in line. Our class has about 1000 students in it! That’s huge! I also got my new student ID!

img_7728

In that picture, I have eyebrows and a full face of make up, however, I doubt I will put eyebrows on the entire time I am here. The make up just melts right off with the humidity. I sweat every time I go outside. However, the beauty of this island definitely trumps my love of superficial beauty. I’ll take that any day. After that I wanted to relax at Grand Anse beach, so I hopped on the bus and got off at the last stop and met four lovely ladies who I tagged along with at the beach.

img_7734

After getting to know each other, I was surprised of our similarities. All but one of them were 25 or older, and tired of spending money on applications to American schools. Medical and Veterinary schools are extremely competitive in the US. Not only does it include four more additional years of schooling, plus residencies that can also require years of attendance, but many, many students do not get into medical school their first time applying. Even worst, the costs are outrageous to apply.

Some students spend well over $3,000 applying to school, and still are not guaranteed a spot in a program. To top it off, it’s a yearly application. The applications open in June, for the following year and you have interviews usually from October-March. So, for every time you don’t get in that’s another year you have to wait and another year your life is on hold, putting many of us in an awkward limbo (this is why I wiped buttholes for three years and worked at LUSH). The current system makes it difficult for lower income students to rise above the hand they were dealt. Most students do well above the minimums set forth by schools and applications, however, still don’t get in because of competitive scores.

I’m not a physician, but I truly believe that being a doctor is more than what you score on a test or what your GPA is, and with a shortage of physicians, you would think the system would adjust.  I’m going to be 26 this month and I’m starting school all over again. And not just any school, MED SCHOOL. I think we’re all a little scared to hop back into this vigorous, intense process, espescially when many American schools have not accepted us, possibly making us feel like maybe we aren’t good enough.

However, grit don’t quit. That’s what I tell myself. I was scared and horrified to go into this unknown, unexplored territory, but I didn’t realize it till I got here. That paired with exhaustion made for a couple of emotional nights. I don’t know how to explain it, other than its super intimidating. But enough of that serious talk… back to the beach experience. The water felt so incredible. It was crystal clear, and the sand felt sooo good as the sun kissed my pale skin. After a couple hours, it actually started sprinkling. After getting out and drying off, we rode the bus back to campus. One requirement of the buses is that you can never ride them wet, which makes sense, because who wants to sit in a wet seat on a bus.

When I arrived back to campus, my roommate would be landing from her flight soon. As she walked through the doors of our dorm room, a wave of relief washed over me. It felt so good to see a familiar face that I had visited with before coming here. I’m proud of myself for exploring solo, but I would also agree that I’ve been experiencing culture shock. We went to Glover’s Grill for a burger (and a taste of home) and explored the campus and local eating joints.

On Saturday, we had a local area tour, which was extremely helpful in understanding the school’s transportation system and gave me a better lay out of this part of the island. Along the tour, they also told us about a local grocery store that had less variety and brands, but was significantly cheaper (Fair Food). After going there later that day, I felt so relieved, because I was able to stock up for about two weeks of groceries for $61 American dollars. I also spent about $20 on a large amount of produce. So far on the island, I’ve found that eggs seem to be the cheapest form of protein, and I’m glad I love eggs!

img_7722-1

No egg cartons here. They sell eggs individually and you place them in a bag!

img_7777

Sunday, the school had the Grand Etang tour! This was my favorite activity I have done since I got here. The tour takes you about 45 min from campus to higher points on the island. The first place the tour stops is a lookout where you can see the island, including St. George’s University.

Next, the tour takes you to the Grand Etang Lake. It was peaceful here, and the water was filled with so many fish!

The trail was even muddier and more slippery than I anticipated; I definitely didn’t regret brining my waterproof hiking boots.

After driving through the Black Forest and Grand Etang, I laid eyes on my first rainbow tree!!

img_8012

I have never seen a Rainbow Eucalyptus tree, but it was beautiful. The island didn’t even know it was there till surrounding trees fell from storm damage. In fact, the local flora on this island is breathtakingly unique!

There are fruits growing everywhere, bananas, breadfruit, guava, and more! Next, the tour took us to Annadale Falls. Before seeing the falls, many vendors were set up outside of the trail. I finally checked drinking coconut water straight from a coconut off my bucket list.

It tasted so good and much different than Wal-Mart Coconut water. There was also a man with a Mona monkey!

The island is making efforts to save these monkeys, so feeding them fruit is encouraged. Annadale falls was beautiful.

We weren’t allowed to jump from the top, but you could tip the jumpers and record them jumping. There was a much lower place students could jump into this body of freshwater. The island is actually divided by the rivers that run through it.

I saw several geckos in this area of the rainforest and even more local flora. There was loads of bamboo!! Throughout the tour it sporadically rained on us, but nothing that required protection from the rain.

Monday and Tuesday are Grenada’s Carnival holiday. So they have various activities going on. AT 4 am on Monday, many cover themselves in motor oil/paint depicting devils (Jab-Jabs) and later that night they have Monday night Mas, where bands/DJs play in the street. The next day they also have a parade of the bands.

A group of students, including myself, walked around downtown (in the Carenage) on Monday. As we were heading downtown, most of the locals were leaving, but you could see still see the paint and oil they were covered in. Downtown was beautiful! I did not go to the parade, because the walking around downtown yesterday caused a sunburn and I wanted to start some readings before class on Monday.

This last week has been emotional, with many ups and downs. I am beyond grateful to be here chasing my dreams, but there have definitely been moments where I realized how far from home I truly am. Monday, I start classes (August 21st) and I am sure a whole new reality will hit me closer to that time.

Currently, I am working on obtaining my scuba diving license, so stay tuned for more adventures, and thank you all for your love and support.

 

Posted by

Caribbean Medical Student (MD) 🍍🌊🌴 Novice Blogger 👩‍💻 Adventurer🏔

7 thoughts on “Week 1 on the Island: The Unexpected Waves of Reality

  1. I love this. I love you. I love getting to follow along on your journey through your incredible literary expression. I hope you’ll still let me visit you at some point! (Whenever your academic schrfukecpermits, of course) it’s so exciting that you’re experiencing so many new/wonderful/scary/unique things!

    Like

  2. My favorite part “Wiped Buttholes for three years”. You are my favorite person to wipe butt holes with and I love you! I am all over your blog checking out your journey this far and I am overcome with emotion. This is incredible and I am so damn proud of you, Macy!

    Like

    1. Thank you so much! It was very challenging, initially. Some days are more challenging than others, but it’s such a beautiful and unique place to study medicine. I’m away from so many distractions socially, and after exams I unwind on the beach. It’s a time in ones life that requires them to be selfish, to be their best self, and the environment is wonderful for that. I feel blessed to be here, surrounded by so much diversity and culture. It’s the experience of a lifetime.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s