I’ve been accepted, great! I have taken some time to make some money and the time has arrived for me to start my next journey in life. Prior to arriving I had not done much research as to what life here was like. However, I was assigned a mentor by Saint James School of Medicine who sent me an email on how to prepare for life in St. Vincent. This helped me pack some stuff I wouldn’t otherwise pack such as my favorite snacks, an umbrella, and scrubs. However, there is so much more to St.Vincent than an email can prepare me for.
First Impression of St. Vincent
Upon arriving, I found St.Vincent to be very quiet. I was expecting more noise and some culture shock but it was oddly quiet. Mind you, I have been to Ghana before so I guess I was expecting something similar to what I experienced there. The airport, Argyle International Airport, is small and gets the job done. In regards to the workers there, I did not receive great service for my 4 bags that did not arrive. Nobody seemed to care. I noticed the roads were very twisty and narrow with urns that I was certain was going to make me sick by the time I reached my destination. One thing I most definitely was not prepared for is how everything is uphill. Walking to a destination is definitely a workout. If you don’t have a good heart, you will pass out. I kid you not!
First Impression of Saint James School of Medicine
On the second day, I went down to the school located in Arnos Vale to inform them I had arrived and what the next steps were to find an apartment. Saint James School of Medicine is not a fancy school which was what I expected. However, it is a decent building just like any regular small private school. So I was alright with it and a lot of student are as well. The school is located in a busy area next to a food shack, KFC, grocery store called Massey and a couple local restaurants and bars. The bus stop is a minute’s walk away to get into town. There’s enough space to grab lunch outside or stand and have a smoke. All in all, the school is situated in a good spot compared to other schools I have seen in passing on the island.
Finding Somewhere to Live
The night before flying out to Saint Vincent, I went online and called a local guest house that I found and reserved the place. I ended up at Sunburst Apartments which was great with a good price for the 3 nights we stayed. The owner was a very nice man who was willing to help us when I needed the help. I appreciated everything he did for us and would recommend this place to anyone who does not want to break their pockets staying at a tourist hotel such as Beachcomber and the many others.
I arrived on the island on Thursday afternoon and found a place by Sunday evening. I did not take the first offer that was given to me nor the 3rd. I wanted to shop a little and get a good place at a price in my range. So I spent those days going around and literally asking people and students what a good local price was. Finally we found a very good place not too far from school. The school bus offered us service to and from the school. If anything, it was about a 30 mins walk to the school and a 5 mins drive with a dollar van.
This approach is not the easiest as it drains a lot out of you especially when you do not know the place. However, you meet good people along the way who are willing to help and guide you through it all at no cost.
First Couple Days of School
The first day was orientation. We were introduced to the teachers, they gave us some general guidelines on how school and classes worked. We had a little gathering with some food. Followed by this, the school gave us a bus tour of the Island where the bus drove us to Belmont Look Out, behind the airport by the water side, and a quick stop to buy some snacks and groceries along the way.
On the second day of school we dove right into the content. School starts at 8am and ends at 5pm with an hour lunch break. The first day of anatomy lab, a portion of the class went right into cutting up a cadaver. As I was not prepared for that, I had the option to do a dry lab with an anatomage table. This is a pretty cool virtual dissection table. These long days at first were hard to do, but you end up getting into the routine. The classes being offered in MD1 are Anatomy and Embryology, Histology, Ethics, and Clinical Correlations. Tow small little tips I have as beginner. Firstly, you want to start studying right away as it gets difficult when you fall behind. Secondly, come knowing what study method works best for you. You don't really have time to be figuring out what type of student you are.
You need to remember it is a different place with a different culture and system. Depending on where you are from it will not be the same as home. However, is the place livable? Yes you can definitely live here and be comfortable. Is the school environment good? It really is. It is not 100% perfect but you can find comfort. Each level has a classroom of their own. The school is secure and the people are all helpful. The rest is in your hands to make the best of it! Everyone is here with a purpose and our goal is to get that, have a little fun and leave.