Moving forward

I finally found the opportunity to write this blog as I am sitting in my flight from New York-Paris. . To begin with this term has been hard..harder than Charters Program but interesting nonetheless. I learned a lot more about myself, my study habits and also people around me. Now is the time I can really reflect back on each module and gather my thoughts for this term.

Term 1 is divided into 3 modules and 5 exams – Foundations to Medicine(FTM-2 exams), Musculoskeletal System(MSK-1 exam), Cardiology Pulmonary Renal (CPR – 2 exams). We had 16 hours of lectures a week and interactive MCQ session on Friday but sometimes we would have 20 hours of lectures a week too. There was also 2-4 hours session of small group per week and sometimes more.  The semester started with around 520 people in class but sadly we saw a drastic fall in those numbers later on. I am just going to be giving a  breakdown for each module and how I survived each of them.

FTM module : Well having completed FTM/CFP program put me to an advantage compared to others who came straight into term 1. This module heavily focuses on biochemistry, genetics, human cell biology and Histology. I had developed a liking for biochemistry in CFP so I was kind of looking forward to it. Biochemistry department at SGU is really good. Even if you don’t like the professor, the slides are always detailed and have every information that you need to do well on the exam. For biochem I just white-boarded all the lectures as I memorized them. The other classes were pretty straightforward because it was a repeat of FTM program. I had never taken genetics before so I was focusing on that. Luckily, I got good professors for genetics which helped me understand the material well. First couple of weeks were overwhelming because there was so much material being thrown at us and so little time. I realized I could n longer memorize every slide but I had to focus on the bigger picture and if anything was clinical. Few days before exam 1 one of my friends Henrik asked me if I wanted to study with him. In CFP I had a routine of studying by myself and then my friend used to quiz me before the exam, hence I said yes to studying with Henrik. We reviewed all the lectures before the exam and we realized we had a similar studying pattern. Our exams went well but both of us did not get the same score. For exam 2 we decided we would meet every weekend to review the lectures for that week and then review again before the exam.  I was able to score 92.5 on both the exams. I still had a life during this module because I was able to cook food and I could also take a night or two off on the weekend and still be fine. I even had time to pre read my lectures every morning. FTM module is a nice introduction to medical school but it was nothing compared to the storm(MSK, CPR) that was about to come.

MSK: I had heard a lot of negative things about this module before it even started. Some people called it the worst/hardest module in term 1 and some actually enjoyed it. I had decided that I would not let anyone’s opinion influence mine so I could decide for myself. Henrik and I decided that we had to come up with a game plan so we could succeed in this module. Little did I know I had many sleep deprived days awaiting for me. Basically this module comprises of Anatomy and little bit of physiology and histology. Anatomy can be scary initially because it is A LOT OF memorization and learning every muscle, nerve, artery and vein for that muscle can get challenging. Also, the anatomy department sucks at SGU. I don’t blame them because you can’t really teach someone anatomy We had our first day of lecture and everyone was freaking out because they had already thrown all the muscles of the arm at us. Henrik and I met up at the end of the day and opened our bible for the module known as – Gray’s Anatomy. We did 10 questions that night and guess what? We got all of them wrong. We did not let that discourage us and we met up the next day to do more questions. We gained a momentum and met every night to do questions and by the weekend we had a better grasp on the material. You can only learn anatomy when you see it hence we went to open lab hours to learn from the cadavers. We were also using Complete Anatomy app on ipad which was the best investment ever, There was a lot going on and I was hating every day. I was not getting enough sleep because we used to have lab 8-12pm and then lecture from 1-5pm and then we had to study again. I had started eating out everyday and I used to sleep during lecture, I did not lose hope though and I continued working hard with Henrik every single day, By the time exam approached we were already doing our Grays book for the 3rd time. I felt confident when I went to take that exam because we had done more than 500 practice questions so I was ready to read long clinical vignettes too. I came out of that exam feeling a little hesitant because I thought I might have lost my A to physiology but I knew I had aced Anatomy. That exam was hard..it was the most challenging exam I had taken for sure. When the scores came out I was pleasantly surprised because I got a 91.7 and my friend did really well too. We finally realized that we were going to be study buddies for a long time now. Our hard work definitely paid off and now we were more motivated for the upcoming CPR module.

CPR : MSK gave me me hope and determination that I could survive medical school. Physiology was not my strong forte but before this module I had changed my mindset and I told myself I was going to stay positive and make Physiology my little bitch. Henrik and I knew how to study and we had  a nice momentum going. We met up every day after lectures and we just white boarded and talked out loud. We realized talking physio out loud was really helpful. Some days were frustrating because the material was hard and we would spend 7-8 hours and still not understand. I finally started getting the true feeling of being a medical student. I did my first ultrasound on the heart and lungs. I also learned how to listen to different heart, lung sounds and how to take someone’s blood pressure and pulse. I realized I could now study for 15-16 hours a day and still be fine. This was my life now. I was trying to get at least 6-7 hours of sleep but I had started eating junk food. I was eating out for every single meal and I used to only go back home to sleep. Those were some monotonous days but I was not complaining because I knew everything would fall into place before the exam. Again before exam 1 for this module we had already done over 500 practice questions and I thought I knew my material well. I finally understood physio which was exciting. I got a 91.7 on this exam which boosted my confidence furthermore!Henrik did really well too and we knew there was no looking back anymore. This module was different because we also had our first OSCE – basically they get a fake patient for us and we have 5 minutes per patient to do certain tests, ultrasound or whatever is required. Towards exam 2 I was a lot more relaxed because I knew it was the home stretch and also physiology was not scary anymore.

You must be wondering that I don’t have a life outside study hall and my whiteboard and you are right. Buy post exam I got to relax and enjoy the weekend. I became good friends with another person from my small group. Henrik had  a jeep so we formed a tradition to go on a long drive on the island to unwind. It was the best feeling ever and this was the time I actually loved the island and did not hate it. Also, I love my apartment. i am glad I don’t live in a dorm because at the end of the day its nice to go back to my room and also after the exam I can relax in my lovely pool.

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My beautiful pool
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Taking a quick break before the last exam!

As I am sitting on my flight, I just reflected back on this term and I realized this term was challenging but fun. I don’t know if fun is an appropriate term to describe it or not. If you ask me now which module was my favorite I would say it has to be MSK. I know i know I said I hated every moment of it when it lasted but post-MSK I realized that if I can survive this module I can survive anything and I also learned about my new studying habit. I never used to study with another person before but it’s important to have a study buddy in medical school. Henrik and I were able to motivate each other every day and if I didn’t understand something he filled in the gap and I did the same which benefited both of us. I am so happy that I found a great friend and hoping that we will be able to crush all the way till Step 1 and beyond 🙂 What would I do differently?I definitely need to eat better food or find some time to cook. I also need to make sure that I don’t exhaust myself.

I am so glad that this term is over and I know I made friends who will support each other all the way till we take our Step 1 exam and beyond. I have an exciting summer ahead of me and hence I will be writing more often now. I was in NYC for 4 days and it was so nice to have good food and be back in civilization again. I will be in Paris for 10 days and then I will see my mother in New Delhi. I am doing the Thailand selective in June through SGU and I cannot contain my excitement. We will learn about Ancient Chinese Medicine like Tai Chi which should be interesting. I will be back in Paris in July but I plan to study. My friend and I will be tutoring the upcoming Term 1 in fall so we have to prepare our slides and material for the sessions. I am really looking forward to that because I enjoy teaching and also it will help me with my cumulative exam.

Anyways if you made it this far on this blog, I am thankful for your time because this one was long. I am going to try my best next term to write more often. Till then I will have some exciting travel stories this summer and I cannot wait to write about them 🙂

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We survived term 1 🙂

Med school journey begins…

I have been meaning to write this blog for almost 2 months now. Gosh! I can’t believe it’s been 2 months already since med school started. I literally have no time to do anything besides studying and probably getting few hours of sleep.

To begin with, I had my white coat ceremony back in January which was exciting. I love the idea of having this ceremony before starting the medicine journey. It was very motivating and it finally got real when we read the oath. My brother was able to make it to the ceremony which was even better.

It’s a SGU ritual where students have to get their white coat pictures taken at the docks so obviously I had a little photo shoot there with my friends. After the ceremony we celebrated with a nice Italian dinner at Laluna which is actually my favorite restaurant in Grenada.

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It’s official 🙂
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My roommies came out to cheer for me!!!

I am going to to get into the seriousness about Term 1 later but before let me talk about all the fun I had before the term started and when I had a life. My semester had started in full swing when my brother arrived here but I was still able to spend some time with him and show him around.img_1402The first thing I did was obviously take him to the beautiful Grand Anse beach.  We relaxed on the beach for few hours and then went to Umbrellas which is by the beach as well and probably my second favorite place here. They serve American food and it’s pretty good for Grenadian standards. Actually the location of the restaurant is the best and it’s good spot for both tourists and students. We rented a car so my brother was able to drive to Carenage and explore St. Georges by himself while I was suffering 4 hours of lectures. We did wake up early one of the days to go to the beach which is  a 10 minute walk from my house. This beach is extremely quiet and relaxing and unlike the Grand Anse beach, it has black sand.

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L’Ance Aux Epines beach

So Grenada has the infamous seven sisters waterfall which is a common tourist spot. I wanted to do show something different to my brother so we decided to drive to Concorde Falls instead. These falls are in the North of the island and approximately an hour drive from True Blue. I drove to the falls and Garun drove back. I must say that I finally feel confident with my driving skills after driving on the hills and one lane roads. The drive was really pretty and we encountered different landscapes on our way from the beautiful Carenage to the mountains in the North shore. 76125563-4382-4C2A-A116-92909755497D.jpegWe arrived fairly early at the falls so there was no one there and the weather was perfect too. The water was slightly chilly but refreshing at the same time. In India, you can’t really jump into the falls or swim because there are poisonous creatures and threat of other reptiles. The good thing in Grenada though is that apart from mosquitoes and weird creatures, there are no poisonous creatures so it is safe to swim at the falls.

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Concorde Falls

Well this was the last time I had fun. I just got done with my second hardest exam for this term(first is next month). I finally have a weekend to relax and catch up on life. Last 2 months have been crazy and I will be updating on my study habits etc tomorrow 🙂

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 🙂

Round 1…Check

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Most peaceful spot on campus

 

Phew! That was quite a week I had. I just survived round 1 of exams in Medical School and I am proud of myself. This past week has tested my patience, sanity and everything in between. I adopted new study methods and also realized a lot of things about myself as a student. Molecular Biology and Biochemistry were on the same day and then a day later I had Abnormal Psychology. I started my weekend with positive vibes and making sure that I would not lose focus or give up. For molecular biology and biochemistry, I kept reading the lecture slides till I had all the material memorized. I was psychology minor so I naturally put a lot of pressure on myself to do well in Abnormal Psychology. I really enjoy this course and I used to same technique for studying as I did in undergrad. I used to focus on the bigger picture of the disorders, compare it with other disorders and find distinguishing features. The night before the 2 exams, I went to bed around 9 pm so I would be well rested and I also felt confident about my knowledge. I did really well in all of my exams in this week and I was actually in top of my class. I was so happy and it was a huge confidence booster for the upcoming hell-ish exams!

The next big guns were Physiology(Monday) and Anatomy(Tuesday). I had to memorize almost 150 bones and almost all the muscles in the body(overwhelming!) . I was trying not to freak out during the weekend. I had to give up on sleep so I could study for these exams.

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Some productive time before the exam

Though it is really important to get sufficient amount of sleep to retain the information, I had no other option here because there was so much material. I downloaded some anatomy apps which were extremely helpful too. I was feeling good about my preparation but I was a little nervous on how they would test me on the material. Unfortunately I did not do as well as I expected to on physiology but aced my Anatomy exam. Physiology exam was hard!! The class average was a C but I am not going to complain because now I have a better idea on how to study for it.

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Taking a study break 🙂

I am happy I found a study buddy too. After I used to finish self-studying, I used to go over all the lectures and important concepts with my friend. We literally white boarded every concept out there possible and since I love talking, I explained her the material and she loves listening so she just filled in the gaps. I never realized the power of white boarding until now. It is the best learning strategy out there and I wish I knew about it in my undergrad too.

Now I know that I need to continue doing what I am doing because it seems to be working but I need to change the way I study for physiology. I need to ace that midterm in 2.5 weeks!

You know what kept my sanity? Studying with this view! It’s so quiet and peaceful though it gets really hot in the afternoon, it’s pleasant during sunset. I made sure I was taking breaks when I studied and I used to just come here and listen to music eat some ice-cream.image-1-2

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They say FTM course is hardcore and they were right. 5 exams in 1 week + ongoing lectures everyday = lethal combo Anyways, I am just happy that I am done and now I need to focus on my midterms. I tried to relax yesterday and caught up with Narcos on Netflix. I will finally treat myself by going to the beach this weekend.

 

Round 1 made me realize that I CAN DO IT 😀

The journey begins

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Enjoying Paradise from a distance

I literally just took a break from memorizing the different muscles in the body. I can’t believe I am about to complete 3 weeks of school and the days have been nothing but intense. The first week of school I was literally on the beach the whole time and now I just get to see the beach from my room. I used to love watching shows on Netflix, chilling with my friends but all that has been replaced with group studies, Nettflix and flashcards(that’s a thing) and more studying. I finally have a routine but I try to change it around.

Not to brag but in high school and undergrad I could study for few hours and relax and could still manage a good score. Medical school is completely different. You know how in high school and undergrad classes, professors said “you don’t need to know this, this is  advanced level”. Well guess what, I had that realization that I am in that advanced level now. For the last 2 weeks I have been memorizing the different muscles and bones in the body. Next week I will get to work on a cadaver for the first time. I am excited and nervous at the same time. I have a 4-way system for studying here –

  1. Preview- 15 minutes for next days lectures
  2. Review – 90 minutes review after each lecture on the same day
  3. Long term review – spend atleast 2 hours per course for review on the weekend
  4. Self-testing – Practice MCQ for each course and review the incorrect answers

Phew! So basically I attend lectures from 8:30 am-5pm and some days till 7pm with some free time in between and try to manage to fit in the above routine. So for now Work-1, social life=0. I make sure that I take a break on Friday night and also try to go to the gym. I am glad they have kickboxing here so I go twice a week. As for sleep, I try to be in bed by 11:30pm everyday but I have to stay up longer on the weekend. I am afraid I will start needing caffeine soon.

Anyways, I have 4 exams coming up next week and after that I will be free for few days so i am excited. I am already looking forward to spending my time on the beach, exploring St. George’s downtown and possibly go hiking.

I will sign off with this brownie that I was really craving so I went to Umbrellas restaurant which is right  on the beach. They have amazing food and dessert menu and since it’s right next door, I don’t mind taking a study break 😀

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My Campus :)

My week 2 of Medical School has started and as expected, I am swamped with work. My first week was literally spent in lecture halls and back in my dorm room. I didn’t even get time to workout but second week is a lot more organized so I finally have a proper schedule to manage my time well.

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I live in Grand Anse campus which only has my dorm and the beach but the classes and other dorms are located on True Blue Campus. We have a main gate on campus which is guarded by a security guard 24 hours and we have to show our IDs every time we enter those gates. I never got the experience of en enclosed campus life since Boston University campus was well spread out. I am still exploring the different buildings. All my classes are held in one lecture hall and small review sessions are in different buildings. I think I mentioned “Top of the hill” before. Below, is the view from that hill. Those are different dorms and lecture halls. My lecture hall is located on top of the hill so I have to climb that everyday!

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I am hoping I will get toned legs by the end of semester from climbing this several times a day! :p

I am greeted by this view and this is by far my favorite view from top of the hill. Also, don’t be fooled that I enjoy this view the whole time. I spent 9 hours in the lecture hall yesterday and when I was done, it was dark and I came back to my dorm room. So I only see this view when I am walking from one class to another but it still makes my day 🙂

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I get at least 30 minutes in between classes to grab lunch. I usually just carry my lunch and warm it up on campus. My favorite lunch spot is below and it has few tables and benches and also has 3 microwaves.

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It was really bright and sunny when I took this picture!

If I don’t want to eat my prepared lunch. There are vendors on top of the hill and they usually have food from 11am-2pm or until they run out of food. I have only tried the Indian vendors but they also have salads, greek food and other options. The Indian vendor goes by the name “Patel aunty”. The food is great and she also delivers after 1pm. You can also tell her a day in advance if there is something specific you like to eat and she cooks it for you which is nice.IMG_0133

Also top of the hill has fruits and vegetable vendors on Monday-Thursday. It is way cheaper than IGA (supermarket) and someone also sells eggs on Tuesday morning. He is usually out of eggs within an hour so I still have not been able to buy eggs there but apparently you get around 30 eggs for 5USD.

Well, If I don’t want to eat from the vendors, I can go to the student center for food which has subway, Glovers and some grill place(most non-vegetarian options). It also few microwaves and it’s packed during lunch time. The gym is also located here.

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Student Center

Another good spot to eat and study at the student center with a view 🙂

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Well, when I am done eating and if I have time between classes then I like to study either in the library or Quiet study halls located in Taylor hall and other buildings. If not, then I usually go to Modica Hall which is the breeziest spot on campus and my favorite too. I just wish they had tables in Modica Hall.

Well that was my little campus tour. I go to the gym on True Blue but on the weekend I go to the gym near Grand Anse dorm located at Excel Plaza which is also free for students. Excel Plaza is a tiny mall with a Movie theater, bakery, gym, convenience store etc.

First week in Grenada I was hitting the beach(my backyard) everyday but since my classes started, I have no time and not even on the weekend but I am hoping I can start reviewing my notes on the beach. Till then, I just enjoy the view from the window outside my room

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If you don’t believe me that I am already swamped with work in second week of Medical School, then this picture is proof. Haha, I am just kidding. Students are always paying attention in class but this picture was taken at the end of the day when SGU decided to have an orientation session after 8 hours of classes….

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My break is over and I need to hit the books now. But I will sign out with this pretty picture  from my room which makes studying a lot easier and worth it 🙂

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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 🙂

It’s a wrap week 1

Wow. I can’t believe it’s been a week here on the island. Everyday has been so different and exciting that I feel like I have been here for a while. The highlights of this week were Grand Etang Rainforest and Snorkeling! As I said before that this place is so picturesque that this blog is going to have tons of pictures from this week.

SGU organized a free tour to Grand Etang Rainforest on 8th August (2nd day). I have been to rainforests before but never to a tropical rainforest. Usually I would never dare to swim in a waterfall but this time I did. Grand Etang is part of the Seven Sisters Fall in Grenada.We started our day early at 8 a.m. SGU tour bus had 2 students to guide us around the city. We saw different sites like Port Louis, Fort George. We also learned a little history about Grenada and its famous politician Maurice Bishop who was assassinated in 1983 and the airport is now named after him. Anyways after a little island tour we began our journey on top of various hills and finally reached Grand Etang after almost 1.5 hours. We stopped to see the Grand Etang Lake first which was gorgeous.

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Also, I met some awesome people on the tour. I became really good friends with Anna, you can see her in the picture above and also Hassaan. They both had go pros so obviously I had to become best friends with the(just kidding). They are really sweet and a lot of pictures in water you will see in the blog have been taken from them.

We started making our way back through a trail. Our next stop was going to be Annandale Falls.

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Finally arrived at Annandale Fall and of course we had to stop to get some refreshing coconut water! The coconut water was really warm but it was a relief in the scorching humidity.

As we descending down, I was amazed to see the sight. The falls were not too deep which was perfect for a swim. Students were also cliff jumping but I was too scared. Maybe next time I will try it.

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Made some new friends 🙂

I had a really tiring day and thankfully our ride back was shorter. I took a great nap and then went grocery shopping which was  a nightmare. I will soon write a blog on the prices at IGA and Spiceland Mall. I had heard all about it but actually got to witness it now.

My orientations for school started the next day and I was busy during the day with them and then evenings were dedicated only for sunsets at the beach and chilling. This was my first week and last week of chilling before classes start tomorrow.

Grand Anse beach does not have any coral reef to offer. The water is so clear that you can see your hands and feet but occasionally you will see some tiny fishes swimming around and one day we actually found a starfish. It was so pretty and felt so weird to hold it.

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I AM SO TANNED!!!

Sunsets on the beach are breath-taking. If you don’t believe me then checkout these pictures

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Our evenings ended at Bananas which is the typical college hangout spot for Medical School students on the island. We also had an ice-cream social where students could decide which organizations they want to join. I did not join any club because I want to focus on my studies but I will join it next semester.

My week 1 ended with snorkeling and my next blog is going to focus on that with tons of pictures (Yayy). My week 1 was amazing and I already feel like I am adjusting to the island well. I met some great people and got oriented with my school. I can’t wait for classes to begin tomorrow. I am glad I am starting this journey on a positive note.

I am finally on the island

Well it’s day 3 on this beautiful island as I write this blog. I finally got time to be by myself in the room to unpack and write, otherwise last 2 days had been extremely busy.

Day 1 – August 8th

So SGU has 2 campuses – True blue which is the main campus with all the dorms and lecture halls and Grand Anse which only has dorms for CFP students. I am located at the infamous picturesque Grand Anse beach. Even though I went to bed at 2 a.m. , I woke up by 8 a.m because I was so excited to explore the campus. SGU runs free shuttle between Grand Anse-True Blue campus. So, as I waited for the shuttle, I was greeted by this lovely view of my backyard-

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Fun fact – Grand Anse beach was also in the CNN World’s Top 30 beaches (http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/28/travel/100-best-beaches/) and I can see the reason why.

I took a campus tour and the buildings look exactly how they are in the pictures. The campus is so pretty and lecture halls are located on the hill. The campus also has the view of the alluring blue Caribbean Sea. I could not stop taking pictures at every step.

This view below is from top of the hill. Also I realized SGU students literally call it “The Top of the Hill” . It has lecture halls, student center with gym and restaurants(subway, Grill Master etc) and also has a spot where vendors can sell food during lunch hours which I thought is a great idea. There was also an Indian vendor and the food was delicious and cheap. It’s run by an Indian couple and they also deliver Indian food for free (Yayyyy!!) .

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I found my study spot! You can see below the view is from Midoca Hall. So I had been out in Grenada for only 2 hours but I was sweating profusely. I cannot even explain how humid it is. Even though I grew up in India, I have not gone back in summers for the last 6 years. Boston summer is hot but not as humid. So anyways, it was extremely breezy at Midoca Hall and it has a shade so I can imagine myself taking a break and just sitting on campus to enjoy this view with my food or books (I would say books 90% of the time).

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The buildings that you see is actually my campus. We followed a trail to reach this view point. Ignoring the heat and humidity, I was already falling in love with this island.Image-1 (4)

Also as I was taking this tour, I had already become friends with 10 people. Everyone is so friendly in Grenada that you feel welcomed. We checked out food options on campus and ate at the New York’s Finest Bagels Food Truck. The food was decent and had good vegetarian options and I can only imagine long lines in between classes. There is Greek Kitchen right outside the campus gate and it had a very chill vibe and seemed like a good spot to hangout after class.

I wanted to go dorm shopping but I was told that because of Grenadian carnival everything would be closed so that only meant one thing- Head to Grand Anse beach. We were a group of 10 who rallied to the beach and realized a lot of groups were there. It suddenly felt like I was in Miami for spring break with college kids on the beach. Everyone was just getting to know each other and trying to relax before classes begin on Monday. Grand Anse has a beautiful view of “downtown” Grenada and the hills. All the resorts are also located on this beach. So you may have realized I am already obsessed with Grand Anse beach. I was never  a beach person and have never lived on one before so this is definitely a good change for me. I have a balcony in my room, so I am going to make use of that when the weather is pleasant.

It was Day 1 and I took 3 showers – morning, after the tour and then after the beach. Yes, it’s that humid! Anti-frizz for hair is completely useless. People say you get used to the weather so I am hoping that happens soon.

Every student who had come earlier just raved about “Jouvert” the previous night. So bIMG_7347.JPGasically everyone is just covered in oil and chocolate and walks on the streets with music. Students also took part in this and said the experience was crazy. If you google Jouvert Grenada you can see what I am talking about. Well, on August 8th night was “SpiceMas” which is the second day of the carnival. I definitely wanted to check it out so headed out with a big group of people to downtown area. It was the most incredible site. Women dressed up and people just dancing on the streets. There were miles of just open trucks each with different music and the crowd dressed up differently with glow sticks. We went early and only spent 30 minutes there though because we were told as the time progresses, locals get drunk and things get out of control. So we avoided the chaos and came back to our dorms. I only took 1 picture at the carnival because they all looked the same, I do have videos but I can’t upload to this blog.

 

By the end of the day I think I must have met atleast 25-30 people easily. I felt like I was back in my undergrad at Boston University when people just wanted to socialize the first week of college but the difference is since this is  Medical School and the only free time would be after midterms and finals. Majority of the people I met were from Florida, Canada and few people from California and the East coast. I had a pretty solid first day on the island and was ready for Day 2- Tour to Grand Etang Rainforest 🙂