Day trip to Phi Phi island

Now as my summer break is about to end, I have been busy being a tourist in Paris so I could not complete my blog about Thailand. But here I am, I am going to try and finish all my summer blogs for this summer.

Before going to Ao Nang in Krabi where I spent 2 weeks, I went to Phi Phi islands for a day. I took the morning ferry from Rassada Pier in Phuket. The ferry was approximately 90 minutes. As expected, there were a lot of tourists on the ferry. I have motion sickness and I was a bit worried but these ferries move so slowly and it put me right into sleep without even taking any medication :P. I had seen Phi Phi in the pictures and I was really excited. When I saw it in person I was really impressed. The scenery was straight out of a postcard – bright sun, long tail boats and crystal clear water. As soon as I got off the boat, I knew I had to spend the night here instead of Phuket. My friends and I walked on the beach on Loh Dalum Bay until we came across different resorts – we found “PP Princess Resort” right on the beach and it was $40 a night which was ideal.

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Made it to Phi Phi
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Nothing beats this scenery at Tonsai pier 🙂 

The room was not bad and there was access to the pool. The beach had a low tide so it was better to stay by the pool which was infact lovely. Well Phi Phi island has a lot of activities but unfortunately we didn’t do any of those and just relaxed on the beach and swimming pool all day.

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View was not bad 

 

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Life’s good 

This island is really small – you can only walk your way through it –  no cars, no bikes etc.  There were many backpackers from Australia and England in particular. I loved the vibe of this island, everyone was so relaxed and even the locals were so friendly. There were IMG_2078plenty of cute little shops with souvenirs, food and tour options. Since there were so many Europeans on this island, every single restaurant offered the same menu – Thai and Italian. Since this was a low season and also a weekday, the beach was quieter and cleaner. We stopped by this restaurant “Ciao Bella” for dinner. It was right on the beach and it had a very laid back atmosphere.

 

 

 

I had heard about the fire shows on the beach every night so we headed to Slinky restaurant and ibiza hostel around 9 pm. These fire shows are really popular in Thailand and I thought it was pretty cool. They were doing different stunts and even break dancing on the fire. A huge crowd had gathered to enjoy this and it lasted almost 2 hours. I even got a temporary UV light tattoo for free which was awesome!

I had a really nice day on the island and it was actually my favorite so far. People come to this island for snorkeling, monkey beach, scuba diving etc but I did not do any of that and did all the activities in Ao Nang instead.

Next morning I relaxed by the pool a little more and enjoyed the breakfast which was included. We wanted to spend the evening ferry back to Phuket but due to some reason the last ferry was at 2 pm. I was really sad to leave the island because it was actually my favorite so far. On my way to the pier I finally found a guy selling Ice cream rolls! I had been waiting to try these and I finally got a chance. It is really fun to watch the guy make the ice cream on the cold stone and add your favorite toppings.

After that tasty ice-cream roll, it was time to head back to Phuket which was a mistake I was supposed to meet my friends and colleagues in Koh Samui which is only an hour away from Phi Phi and I did not think it through and instead went back to Phuket where rest of my luggage was. I booked a shuttle and ferry service via Phuket travels for the next day. Little did I know it was going to be the longest and wasteful day of my trip but oh well it’s all about the experience. I will tell more about it on my next blog 🙂

 

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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 😀

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 🙂