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.

IMG_1389.JPG
My beautiful pool
DSC_4041.NEF.jpg
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 🙂

DSC_3996.NEF.jpg
We survived term 1 🙂

Course breakdown for FTM/CFP

I remember when I was starting this course, I searched for every source to gain more information. There are not a lot of detailed blogs out there so I decided to focus this one to give  a breakdown for every class and I hope it will be helpful. Remember that everyone studies differently, I am just giving a breakdown of what worked for me so it may not work for someone else so it’s really important to figure out your studying habits by quiz 1. If your studying strategies don’t work in quiz 1 then change them ASAP. Do not wait till midterms because it would be too late by then.

Anatomy: I really enjoyed this class. I know i know it is a lot of memorisation but you get used to it. I made sure that I looked at a single anatomy lecture atleast 3 times in 1 week.  I used to keep white-boarding until I was able to memorise the material and I realised this was extremely helpful for embryology where I was able to summarise the entire lecture on a single whiteboard. My friend used to quiz me by the end of the week once I was done memorising and she used to quiz me again before exams. I used to mark the slides I was unable to memorise and came back to them some other time. I made a master histology sheet and also made a blank copy and I used to label it myself before exams.

  • Anatomy lab : I used to spend my Sunday evenings looking at the lab images. I used to remove the labels from the lab images and then try to label them again. I made sure I was prepared for lab and I took the printed images to lab as well. Lab and buzz quizzes are not worth much but honestly every point counts in the end so it is important to score well on them.

Physiology: This was the hardest course for me. I did not have a good start because I was not sure on how to study for it but I identified my problem post-midterm and I really got my grade up. At the beginning of the course I was clear on my concepts but I could not apply them to practice questions which was a huge issue. To resolve that, I made sure firstly I understood the lectures. I used to make a concept map on the whiteboard and then add extra information by reading BRS textbook for that topic. I used to do BRS questions after that and I also did questions from Guytan and Pre test but they were harder. Also, I tried to reason why other options were incorrect. I used to try and do 15-20 MCQs in 1 hour for every topic and realised it was OK to get them wrong, that was the whole point to make mistakes then and not on the test! In the end I just wish I had done more practice MCQs for quiz 1 as well.

Biochemistry: Whiteboard! whiteboard! whiteboard! Yes I cannot emphasise enough. You will memorise gazillion pathways, enzymes and their regulations but it’s all doable if you whiteboard because it really helps you with recall. I used to draw out the pathway, regulated enzymes, activators and inhibitors and the location of the pathway. I used to take a picture of that whiteboard and then later try to draw it out again without looking.I only  focused on the lecture slides and paid extra attention when the professor spent more time on one slide over another.

Molecular Biology: Again I would only stick to the lecture slides. I memorised the slides and made sure I looked at those tiny fonts under the images because that could show up randomly on the exam. She dropped the lowest quiz grade so I made sure I aced my quiz 1 and did not have to worry as much for quiz 2 even though that information was on the final. I also went for SL sessions for this class and I found them extremely helpful. The exams were all first order questions  which was good.

Abnormal psychology: This was my favourite class, hands down. I will also sound biased because this was my minor in undergrad but either way this class is really interesting. I went to every lecture and wrote down all the examples she gave in class and also the videos she used to show for that topic. Whenever I studied for it next time, I could hear her voice playing in my head. I memorised the medications and then made sure I knew the diagnoses and durations thoroughly. Do her online practice questions because they were helpful and used to show up on the actual exam.

So this is a general breakdown but I could answer questions on how to memorize specific topics(e.g. muscles). As I said this worked for me but not necessary would work for everyone. It is extremely important to study smartly and not just hard. You could study for 12-13 hours and still not understand a topic. If you are stuck on a topic, MOVE ON. Yes move on to  a different topic and then go back to it. Apart from that it is important to get proper sleep. I made sure I slept 7-8 hours and at least 6-7 hours before the exams. You don’t want to be tired when you are taking an 8 am exam. Anyways, I hope this will help someone and feel free to shoot me a message if you have any questions 🙂

I survived FTM

Where have I been for the past 2 months? Well, I had been at Modica study hall since my midterms got over. I just wanted to say that I successfully passed Foundations to Medicine Program and I received my acceptance letter to School of Medicine. This course was rigorous and as I had mentioned before that you have to maintain a 3.5 GPA and score 75% on PMSCE which is a cumulative exam at the end of the term.

First of all what worked for me? I moved out of Grand Anse dorm to the campus dorm. That place was a rumor mill and full of drama so I just wanted to distance myself from all those people. I had a strict schedule that I made sure I followed. I did well on my first round of exam and then midterms so I didn’t have to change any studying strategies except in physiology since that was my lowest grade. I met up with the course director and got his feedback and he identified the problem. I knew my concepts but I just could not apply them when I had to do MCQs. Hence, I started doing 1 hour of practice questions everyday and I used to reason out the incorrect answers as well. I was getting ready for the 3rd round and I made sure I was on top of all the tasks.

It was time for 3rd round of exams and I performed well in all my classes and I was able to raise my physio grade up which I was happy about. I was still focused but now the last stretch was approaching. Things around me started falling apart. People in the course didn’t perform well so more than half of our class withdrew. We started with around 200 people and were down to 90 people. Basically, if you take the final and if you don’t have the GPA then you can never come back but it you withdraw then you get a refund and you can repeat the semester. Pretty much FTM was a mess but I had to keep myself focused and not let anything or anyone bother me.

 

img_0726
Puppy therapy is the best therapy!

 

 

There was 1 month left to finals and I had no time to waste. There was no time to work out, I was talking to my mom for only 5 mins and I barely spoke to my father. I never stressed out the entire semester but I was getting exhausted now. Before coming here I had never abused caffeine as such but I realized I was drinking caffeine every single day. It wasn’t because I wanted to stay up but only because I had to keep going. 2 weeks before the finals I started having caffeine withdrawals. I couldn’t eat properly and I was always nauseous. I was crashing by almost 8 pm. It wasn’t just me though, my friends who were still in this course were in the same boat but we had to motivate each other to keep going. I finally caught up on all the sleep and decided to avoid caffeine as my finals were approaching. But now I thought I was going insane. We spent 14-15 hours sitting on one chair in the study hall. There was a point where I wanted to just scream. I finally changed my study location and studied more outdoors which really helped me focus again.

Well finals week was finally here. The exams were the same difficulty level as before and they went well. I can’t explain that feeling when I submitted my last test. It finally hit me that everything was over and I only had PMSCE left. I had decided to take that night off from studying. The scores came out the same night and I was extremely happy! I was able to maintain an A in all my classes and I was able to pull my grade to a B in physio which made my GPA into a 3.778. I don’t think I had ever worked this hard before and I am glad I did. PMSCE was a cumulative exam and I was told that if you did well in all your classes then it’s easy and no extra studying was required. The information was true because I passed PMSCE as well. I went straight to the beach after that when we all got the results. Everyone was just screaming and crying. I could not believe that it was all actually over and that I was about to officially start my MD journey.

At the beginning of the term, I got the best and worst advice ever – you need to be selfish here. I took the advice and now 21 exams, I am here. Despite the ups and downs I am glad I took this course. Four months ago, I can’t guarantee that I would have been ready for medical school but now I am mentally ready too. I finally believe in myself and I have a more positive attitude.  I know my studying habits and what’s required to get work done in Medical School. I am extremely excited because the countdown to White Coat ceremony has begun and my parents will finally see me wearing that coat in a month.

img_0765
Best study buddy ever! We both made it and she is going to UK for 1 year!

My next few weeks are about to be exciting. I was chilling on the beach all day and I explored Grenada. I am going to be in New York on Sunday and about to be reunited with my friends. After that I am flying to Munich where I will meet my father and then finally after 1 year I will be going to home sweet home India.

Ps: next blog is only going to be on “how to survive FTM” for people looking for more information.

 

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).

img_0465
Hard work will pay off?
img_0547
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.

img_0404

img_0321
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.

img_0545
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.

img_0544
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

image-1-3
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.

Image-1 (4).jpg
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.

image-1-1
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

image-1

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

IMG_0233
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 😀

Image-1 (15)

 

 

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.

IMG_0127

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!

14034727_10157315864440054_3760694720839405895_nIMG_0135

IMG_0130
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 🙂

Image-1

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.

FullSizeRender.jpg
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.

Image-1 (12)
Student Center

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

Image-1 (11)

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

IMG_0134

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….

Image-1

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 🙂

IMG_0126

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-

FullSizeRender

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!!) .

Image-1

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).

Image-1 (1)

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 🙂

 

The Caribbean Experience begins…

I am going to start off with a rant first about my flights to Grenada. My flight from JFK was on 7th August but August 6th night was spent readjusting my luggages. It was definitely very stressful as Brian(my friend in New York) and his mom spent 2 hours helping me out. Anyways fast forward to JFK and I had no issues with Caribbean Air. I had a huge smile on my face at 4 a.m. and the attendant was super nice to check in 2 luggages and 2 carry ons and only charged $30. I slept like a baby on my first flight to Port of Spain (Trinidad and Tobago), oblivious to the nightmare ahead of me. It was supposed to be an 8 hour layover in POS and also you can’t check in your luggages all the way. Basically one has to exit and come back to departures for check in.

So as I arrived in POS, the immigration and customs all went down smoothly but as I exited the customs, I was hit by the weirdest rule – no trolley allowed for baggages in the arrivals area..WTF? So basically now, I had 2 big luggages, 1 backpack and 1 carry on and I couldn’t use a trolley. Anyways they had “Porters” who charged $1 per piece. As I approached Liat air they informed me that I can’t check in my luggages so early and they only allow 3 hours before the flight. This was at 11 am and my check in would not start before 6 and I had 4 bags on me! I literally sat in a corner and could not move. I was starving and finally found a porter who took my luggages with me to a subway and then got me back. Finally checked in at 6 pm and Liat air opened my check in luggages and tossed everything around. I was losing my patience now. The lady tells me my carry on is over 15 pounds and I need to check it in or empty it. I explained to her that I got it from JFK and everything was fine there. She basically refused to acknowledge anything. So I started emptying my carry-on into my luggage, and guess what? The lady tells me my luggage is now overweight. Obviously what did she expect?? Anyways, I paid $90 for that and I was done complaining and I just wanted to reach Grenada. The flight was delayed by 2 hours and I was afraid that I would have to spend the night on that airport. I finally found some people who were going to SGU and on the same boat as me (even worse), so I felt a lot better and tried to stay positive.

Anyways after 18 hours, I finally made it to Grenada and I was SO HAPPY. I can’t explain the joy I felt when I saw this sign –

IMG_7309

People at the airport were really nice and students from SGU were welcoming us at the airport as they directed us to our cabs. It didn’t take me more than 20 to get out of the airport and to my dorm. I suddenly forgot about my whole day and just promised myself that I will never fly Liat again and would rather pay more for a direct flight 🙂

 

 

Packing Madness

3 more days to NYC and 6 more days to Grenada! Phew! Last 2 months have been crazy for me, from quitting my job in May to moving out of Boston in June and then traveling in Europe and MSAP in July.

I was really worriedIMG_7279 about packing initially because I had to fit my whole life in 2 suitcases! Everyone keeps emphasizing that everything is expensive on the island.Keeping that in mind I tried to pack smart(hah). I am flying Icelandair from Munich-NYC and I am allowed to take 2 suitcases and 1 carry-on and 1 laptop bag(SWEET!) . The problem is from NYC-Grenada. I am flying Caribbean Air from NYC-POS and then Liat air from POS-GND. I have heard terrible things about their baggage policies but I had no other option since I booked my tickets so late.

 

 

I packed all my essential items in my bigger suitcase and carry-on incase the airline decides to send my 2nd luggage separately(boo!). So here is a mini list of items:

  1. Duvet, 2 bed sheets, pillow cover – I put them in a vacuum seal bag and saved so much space. I had no idea about these bags until recently. They can easily be found on amazon and here is a picture below. IMG_7275
  2. Stationary items
  3. Kitchen items – fork, spoons, knives, chopping board, pressure cooker etc
  4. Beach wear (it’s the caribbean after all 🙂 )
  5. 2 jackets and 2 hoodies(incase it gets cold in the study room or lecture halls)
  6. Tons of summer clothes, flip-flops, sandals.
  7. Makeup and sunscreen

One of my suitcases was overweight by 5kgs, it must be the pressure cooker I think. I tried to move things around and got it to 23kgs and the other one is 17 Kg. Well, I am nervous I won’t lie but I am just going to risk it.

I will finish my shopping in NYC. I just need to buy insect repellants and big shampoo bottles and other toiletries that might be expensive in Grenada. Also, I realized Indian grocery is cheaper in NYC than in Munich so I will buy all the spices and my favorite maggie noodles there as well. I will just need to buy pots, pans and utensils in Grenada.

Packing takes a lot of time and making a checklist definitely helped me. I will make another post once I get there incase I regret something I should have packed but didn’t.Now, my plan is to go to the airport at 6 am on 7th August with my cute smile and hope that the attendants are in a good mood too and my 14 hour arduous journey will be a breeze! 😀

Anyways, since I am done with packing now, it’s time to binge-watch Stranger Things on Netflix. xx

IMG_7280.JPG
ALL SET FOR THE JOURNEY!