To the ones I hold dear…

This is not a travel story like what people send out while traveling. It’s closer to a tirade or a soapbox, but i wanted to touch base, and give you an idea of what has been happening and why I have not written before now. So here goes…

Where to begin? I have a movie-caliber view out my back balcony. Sailboats in crystal blue water with mountains and sunsets in the background. White sand beaches with palm trees. A permanent soothing soundtrack in the background of the waves. Cool breezes at exactly the time when the heat is just a little too much. The locals barely even know what snow is, and I have more space in my room than I know what to do with. Then just when I think that this is something out of a travel magazine and it is too good to be true I look back over the last week…

We started by starving ourselves for the first day. There are no grocery stores within walking distance and the nearest semi-cheap place is a half-hour drive. I’m not exactly sure what the school expects of students that do not have a car, but thats not their problem I guess. We randomly met someone with a car and thank the greek gods they were going to the store. We spent a fortune because who knows when we will be able to get back to the store. Supplies and random fees from the school all need to be paid in cash, and its a good thing I had some because the ATMs only dispense cash when they are in a good mood. The rest of the time they just deduct the money from your account, and leave you with your card, a receipt, and no money. Hopefully the equipment list the school gave me was better than the book list, since the book list was completely wrong and now I have a whole bunch of the incorrect books. landlines are so ridiculously expensive that you think the people are joking when they quote prices. So instead I broke down and bought the stupidest cell phone they had (it just so happened to be the cheapest too), which has only semi-ludicrous rates. Of course they only accept cash as well, it’s unfortunate we are starting to run low on that resource. The phone works on prepaid phone cards that you program into it, of course when the network isn’t busy and they aren’t working on the towers. The clocks are all programed to 60 cycle electricity, so with the 50 cycle that exists around here none of them keep the right time. My mp3 player decided to stop working and I could really use it right now. The “cable” internet runs at the speed of dialup, when it feels like running at all. And so, I’m still trying to find the right books, figure out a mailbox, pay the school with money I don’t have, get some paperwork for insurance, get transportation, cheap internet, my mp3 player to work again, and a reliable cash flow…

Classes started and the material isn’t incredibly tough yet, but the speed is. I’m studying 3-4 hours everyday and am still starting to fall behind. Anatomy lab got canceled this week since the cadavers didn’t show up on time. So next week we will have back-to-back labs and will be dissecting all afternoon from 1 to probably 5 or 6. Other than that the students are really nice and most of the professors are good at what they do…

On top of all the moving in fiascos, I have a few larger problems. First, the sketchiness of the school. It’s an ever-present vibe that the reputation once we get back to the states is a hard thing to get over. Few people talk about it, and when it is brought up nobody has anything encouraging to add. All the upper class students with good grades are trying to transfer into a school in the states, and some of them have even admitted that being a foreign grad is a mark against you starting out in residency. The other problem is the fact that the school painted a wonderful picture of going to school in a first world caribbean island. Credit cards accepted everywhere, easy access to stores and towns, the list goes on and on. Its definitely not the third world, but its more of a limbo between second and third with some first world areas in larger cities. Perhaps the school got my expectations too high, but living in Guatemala was easier than living here because I knew it was going to be the third world and I was prepared for it. Here, I guess I was just expecting something else…

Most of this will pass. Moving in is always crazy, and once I get into a groove, things will smooth out. The frustrations will find answers and soon I wont even remember what was so frustrating in the first place. I’m still not sure how I feel about the school in general. I will probably look into the transfer programs of med schools in the states. But at least I am headed in the right direction and moving forward with things. The last couple years I have just been stagnant with my dreams, and at least AUC is getting me closer to where I want to be in the end zone.