Sometimes I have a life outside the books

What’s the first thing I did after I finished my physiology exam? I napped! Sounds cliched but I really needed some sleep before getting  a headstart for my weekend.

My first stop after napping was to grab lunch at container park.  So basically, container park  is true to its name, there are bunch of cafes and restaurants in huge containers. My favorite is Mocha Spoke for their delicious smoothies and iced coffees andContainer Park Friday Food Fest also Island Fever because they always have a trendy menu. There is Shawarma King too and their food is amazing! It’s such a good break from the food options available on campus.

I did not know what to do first so I just decided that it was time to HIT THE BEACH FINALLY. As I said, I had not been to the beach in over 2 months so I could not miss the opportunity. How I missed the water – so calm and so warm. Surprisingly, the weather was not too hot either which made it even great. All FTMers were just cooling off in the sea. I literally just relaxed for few hours on the beach until it got dark and well it gets dark at 630 pm here in Grenada. I just ended my Friday evening at Bananas with some good food and good music.

Saturday was the most relaxing day I have had in months. I woke up at 7 am (usual time for classes), realizing that I had no classes and I didn’t have to study for anything. It was the best feeling and hence I went back to sleep. I stayed in bed till almost 1pm, something I had not done in forever so it felt great to be lazy. I finally got the energy to get ready and head to the beach again. I went there around 4 pm when the sun was not too bright All my friends had gone for snorkeling but I chickened out because I remember how sea sick I was the last time I went. I just laid on the warm sand and enjoyed the mesmerizing sunset with some music. I never realized how amazing it can be to just sit and not do anything. Sometimes, you just need one of those days. The great thing about the caribbean sea is that it never gets a high tide(atleast in Grenada), it’s always calm and peaceful. I think that’s why they call it the “Island time” here. Just going off topic here but the days are long and slow and so is the service at any restaurant/supermarket etc and hence the term the “Island time” was coined to describe these situations. No matter how much you really complain, it’s not going to change anything but only increase your frustration so you might as well stay calm and enjoy your time here.

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Well after my introspective evening, it was time to get some dinner and my roommate and I headed to Yolo Sushi. Asian food in Grenada is very average and this place proved my point. I miss good Asian food and I guess I ll get my fix for it when I am back in New York in 2 months.

I wanted to spend my Sunday exploring the ‘Carenage’ but I did not realize that it’s closed on Sunday. I will have to go back after finals. Carenage is in the heart of St. George’s . It has beautiful houses, spice markets and restaurants. My roommate and I gathered a group of 7 to go hiking instead to the “Seven Sisters Fall”.

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Carenage looks like a painting

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Empty streets of St. George’s

A little background here, as the name suggests, you can hike up to 7 waterfalls and it takes at least a day but our plan was to cover only 1 waterfall. So we called Sheldon. Sheldon is a reliable taxi driver and he literally reminds of my driver Manoj back in India. He is extremely resourceful. Also he charged us 40 EC each(~15USD) for roundtrip to the falls and also for being our guide during the hike. Usually this trip would have been at least 50 USD.

Interestingly, one can go from one part of the island to the next in 1 hour. In other words, you just need to fill the gas tank once to complete exploring the island.

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Port Louis

As we progressed uphill, our view changed from the buzzing ports to empty roads with abandoned houses and cars. The views were breathtaking. There was just so much greenery around us which was remarkable. I have lived in big cities all my life and honestly seeing so many trees around me is kind of a big deal. img_0541

 

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Entering the dense rainforest

My previous blog had pictures from “Grand Etang” so this time I wanted to make sure I went to a different waterfall. Our hike was only an hour and the trail was not too bad. Honestly this was the second hike of my life. My first hike was literally 2 months ago to Neuschwenstein Castle near Munich. I never considered myself as an ‘outdoor’ person. I was concerned that I would be out of breath and I would slow others down during the hike but I was actually impressed with myself that I was able to complete it without any issues. I actually enjoyed myself. The path was really muddy though and my shoes were completely ruined and my feet were just filled with dirt but I guess that’s the trade off for hiking in a rainforest, right? I also learned that Grenada does not have any poisonous creatures which was a relief. Surprisingly, I did not encounter any bugs or even mosquitoes while hiking.

We could finally hear the falls as we got closer.  So we skipped the Annandale Falls and went to the 2nd falls out of the 7. We decided to go here instead of the touristy/crowded Grand Etang. This area was secluded and we were the only group there which was nice. We relaxed at the falls for maybe an hour.

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Finally made it!
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The water was cold

The water level was fine near the rocks but apparently closer to the falls was really deep so we did not even bother going directly under the falls.Also, the water was really clean and refreshing. I would not dare do this anywhere else in the world(especially India) but in Grenada as I said there are no poisonous creatures and there are no reptiles(except for lizards). My friends found a  spot for cliff jumping. I just stayed on the side to get their pictures. I have decided that I will cliff jump after I complete my 2 years here in Grenada 🙂

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Post-Midterm relaxation 🙂

We had a nice day out at the falls and shout out to Sheldon(the guy in green t-shirt in the back) for guiding us throughout the hike. I can finally say that I do enjoy outdoors as long as it’s not too hot(hah). 14697322_10154603998969579_987161173_oWe did not go to the other falls but we did end our hike by stopping at the Grand Etang Lake. You know the cool thing about this lake? It’s a unique crater lake and no one knows the depth because of that.

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We were starving by the end of this day so Sheldon took us to a Grenadian buffet called Creole Shack in St. George’s. This was my first time trying Grenadian food and it was rather interesting. My plate had veggie rice and noodles, plantains spicy eggplant and a potato salad. Grenadians use a lot of spices and I realized these spices are similar to the Indian ones. Almost every dish has turmeric in it and so does every Indian dish. This restaurant did not have doubles but if you every come to the Caribbean, I would highly recommend it. It’s a local dish with spicy chickpeas wrapped in a roti. I would compare it to Chana Masala wrapped in a Roti(indian bread).

I had a pretty adventurous day in Grenada. I still have a lot to explore on the island but I just want to take it slow. After returning home from that long tiring day, I just spent rest of my evening catching up with all my friends in Boston and Delhi. I realized how much I miss them and I am looking forward to meet them again in December.

I really needed this weekend to recharge and be geared up for the last 2 months left in this semester. I have 2 more round of exams so I just need to come up with a new study schedule but continue using the same strategies that I have been using.

Unwinding

Wow, I don’t know how to begin describing my last 3 weeks.  I spent in a small cubicle in a study hall with my laptop and white board(my new friend). I had 5 midterms last week and now I am finally free. I just did not get time to update my blog. Honestly, I felt like eating and even taking a shower felt like a waste of time sometimes because there was so much work!

Since my first round of exams, I made sure I was on top of all my material in my classes and I was reviewing over the weekends. I did not want to cram anything last minute so I was whiteboarding a lot. I realized that since I did well in my first round, I wanted to make sure I continued my strategies for the midterms as well. I made sure I was reviewing the new material everyday and going back to the old material on the weekend. I am really not into group studying since I find it distracting but I did find a study buddy. Her name is Tamseela and she is the nicest person I know here. We made sure that we studied on our own during the week and did not lose track and then over the weekend we used to quiz each other. If one person was behind, then the other made sure that they were caught up. I think this strategy really helped me. I had 22 lectures to memorize in Anatomy(including both old and new material). I made sure I did not ignore anatomy at all and reviewed atleast 2 lectures per day. Closer to the midterms, Tamseela and I were able to summarize most of the lectures into 1 white board session (like our 3 embryology lectures below).

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Hard work will pay off?
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I literally drew out muscles on myself to memorize them x_x

I also made sure I did practice questions for physiology every day since I did not do as well I wanted to in my first round. Over the weekend, I just went over all lectures from biochemistry and molecular biology. There was no time to waste, not even time to cook or do groceries. I was told that Foundations to Medicine is probably the hardest course and they were right. I think more than testing our knowledge in our science courses, SGU is trying to test how we manage our time, stress and workload. It is really important to have a positive attitude to keep yourself motivated.

Anyways, in the last 3 weeks I made sure that I was never stressed out or demotivated.  I kept myself focimg_0469used by finding different ways to unwind. Well to begin with, I have always hated running. I don’t mind working out but I am not a fan of running . I did not have time to go for my boxing classes so I found a new way to get my workout in. Whenever I felt like I was loaded with work, I put on my running shoes and just went around the campus and then realized how hard it was to go uphill(picture below). Well, my aim is now to be able to run up these stairs without losing my breath by the end of this month.

I found a cliff on my campus and it has the most amazing view. The cliff is extremely peaceful. You can just hear the waves hitting the rocks and the gushing wind. Since I had not gone to the beach in over 2 months, I started coming to this cliff to ‘unwind’ every weekend morning.

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Away from the crazy life

As I said I always studied in a quiet study hall and it used to get depressing at times to be stuck in the same cubicle for 16-17 hours in a day :/ . If I was not working on my laptop, I used to take a break from the study hall and study by the docks if the weather was pleasant.

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Studying with a view 🙂

 

I have only spoken about studying in my whole post but that’s my life right now and there is nothing else exciting going on. The only thing different in the last 3 weeks has been my room! I moved out of the room at Grand Anse dorm to a dorm on campus. I could not have been happier. My roommate and I found 3 roaches in a span of 1 week in the old dorm room. I AM TERRIFIED OF BUGS. I know I know, India has a lot of bugs too but I am still really scared of them. We had to call different people each time to kill the roaches for us and it was really affecting our studying time. Whenever I was in that room, I could just sense a roach was nearby. You know what made it worse? These creatures can fly…Anyways we told the housing to fog our rooms or relocate us. Luckily they had a double room open, so we got it. The room is small and I don’t have the beach view anymore but I can’t complain because I have my own kitchen now and I literally wake up 40 minutes before class.

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New view from my new room 

I finally signed the lease for a condo for next year so that is exciting and I can’t wait to move in!! I will have my own room and my own bathroom finally!

I am just glad my midterms are over. I am literally impressed that my brain could hold so much information, now I just need an external hard drive to store that extra information I will learn in the next few weeks 😛 . I had the best post midterm weekend too and I can’t wait to upload all my pictures and update everyone about it in my next post 🙂

Whole new world

I have always been curious to try snorkeling, diving or any water-related activities but I never got the chance. I know I would get busy once classes start and would not have any free time, so there was no better day to try out snorkeling than a day before classes start.

We had a group of 9 and made a reservation for  a snorkeling tour at the Allamanda Resort, Grand Anse. The tour is 4 hours long and costs $125 EC ( ~ 45USD) which includes lunch. Since we had a big group they gave us our own boat which was exciting. I woke up at 6 am on 14th August when we were scheduled for our 9 am tour and the weather was terrible. Grenada has a bipolar tropical weather. I thought New England weather was unpredictable but in Grenada, it is hot and humid one moment and the next moment there’s almost a hurricane-like storm. Anyways, I was kind of hoping at 6 am that our tour would get cancelled because I was getting worried about being in the sea(hah!). The weather cleared up quickly and we headed to the resort which was just 2 blocks away from my dorm.

The resort had arranged a mini bus for us and the driver drove unto Port Louis where our boat was. The boat was huge and everyone was getting excited. I have motion sickness and I usually take my medicine for it which puts me to sleep so I did not take any medicine before getting on the boat. I was a little worried but as the boat started sailing, I felt comfortable and I was so pumped for a new experience! The view from the boat was spectacular. We saw the Carenage finally from the boat (picture below) which is also SGU’s main logo! As you can see it was still cloudy.

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Abandoned ship

As we went farther and farther, the winds were intense and it was drizzling. We couldn’t see the shore anymore.

We finally reached our first stop which was the Molinere Underwater Sculpture park. We saw couple of other boats with people who were there for diving and snorkeling (yay we are not alone!). Oh! So here is a little background of what we were about to witness  – This is the world’s first underwater sculpture park and I think it was build in 2006. You can get more information here http://grenadaunderwatersculpture.com. Anyways, I was worried now because I was in the middle of a sea with no escape! I was glad I was not the only one on the boat who had never snorkeled before. It was so hard for me to breathe from through the tube and the mask was irritating me. The diving instructors were extremely patient with us though and made sure everyone was safe. Half of us went into the water with a life jacket but the other half were good swimmers. I was pleasantly surprised when I got into the sea. The caribbean sea is warm so even though the weather sucked we were fine. I had an irrational fear of drowning which was stupid because I had  a life jacket and fins on.

Anyways my friend had already started swimming towards the sculpture but I waited for the diving instructor to direct me. As I looked down, I was amazed by the sight. I had never witnessed anything like this before! They literally had a sculpture park underwater, HOW COOL IS THAT? I don’t have a lot of pictures but I am using my friend’s GoPro pictures in this blog.

13913996_10154348666841635_1907702667314076951_oAs we swam ahead we also saw individual sculptures which apparently signify the slaves that came from West Africa to America.

It was getting harder for me to breathe and I had to remove my mask which was a terrible mistake! Obviously sea water was extremely salty and my eyes could not stop burning and I could not open them anymore. I had to swim back to the boat to wash them with fresh water and then joined my friends again.

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As you can see my friend’s went deeper to get a good glimpse of the sculptures

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Now it was time to go back on the boat and go to our second location which as the Flamingo Bay Reef. The waves were crazy now and as I got on the boat I got sick. One of my other friends Lauren also got sick when she saw me which was gross haha. As we reached the spot for the Reef, my head was spinning.

I am glad I still went for it though. Some of the reef that we spotted included were – sea urchins, Manta Ray and tons of fishes that I can’t even name them. The instructors used to throw food in the sea and these beautiful fishes used to rush towards us

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HOW GORGEOUS IS THIS?

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It had started raining now and the waves were bad. I could not go any longer and I had to return to the boat and as I got on the boat I saw another friend swim behind me because he was also getting sick. There was something about the Flamingo Bay area that was making everyone sick.

It was time to head back home. I was so glad I went snorkeling and did not chicken out. Everything was worth it and I would have never experienced this otherwise. I think everyone should atleast once snorkel or dive in their life. I cannot put the experience in words – to realize there is another world out there and how we need conserve it. Anyways I need to get back to studying now(week 1 just started!). As I sign out, here is a picture of me all happy and snorkeling for the first time 😀 13963037_10154348668206635_780111196907366807_o

Photo credits : All photos were taken from my friend Hassaan Yousefi’s GoPro. He let me use these photos for this blog. I cannot upload videos on this blog but I would upload it to another site soon 🙂