Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Estimated Budgets and Other Budget Busters as a Student

BLOCK 2 is finally OVER!!!  Okay, so I completely understand that you may not even know what that means but basically the semester is divided into 4 sections called blocks.  The end of the blocks have celebratory exams to assess your learning of that section.  I would say that I did better than last semester.  At this point, I just want to make sure that I pass.  A’s and B’s are not my major concern because after all this is medical school.  To celebrate, I went with some friends to Mead’s Bay to a restaurant called Blanchard’s.  Here’s a few pictures if you want to see my adventure as well.
So today’s topic is financials.  A few days ago, I posted on Facebook that if anyone wanted to contribute to the poor fund of Ariel Sheppard, to send me a message.  I think everyone thought it was just a joke although I was very serious.

Since I have been here, I have been milked for money.  Actually before I left home.  Before leaving home, everyone in my class received an email stating that the immigration laws have changed in Anguilla and they now require that ALL students have the student visa documentation from our class on.  This is before we find places to live and after we’ve paid about $10,000 for tuition and enrollment fees.  By the way, the $1000 to hold your seat does NOT go toward your tuition but to the enrollment fee instead. The student visa documentation requirement cost a total of $600 consisting of a $100 application fee and $500 documentation fee.  The application is actually due today as a matter of fact.  I didn’t plan to spend this much money in my first semester but it is very difficult not to when you have fees such as this.

Also, to point out, the upperclassmen don’t have to worry about this fee because they are exempt so this is only for future classes.  Sounds a little unfair in my book, but life is unfair.  My class did argue that we were misinformed about this fee because it was never mentioned in the webinars but the argument was that we were told that additional fees may apply.  I hate the fine print sometimes.
Either way, between the price of an apartment with electricity, internet and gas plus the cost of food, I think it is safe to say one could spend $700-900 per month easily.  For example, I pay $480 for rent and electricity was $36 which was split between 4 people.  Internet can be about $80 a month if you get it from the cable company which has the fastest speed.  Gas for cooking is needed depended on how often you cook.  Not to mention the cost of water when you have a cistern but depending on how much you use it or if the landlord covers it depends on how much you may spend.  About 5000 gallons is around $300.  And the cost of food?  I’ll take some pictures and let you decide.  All prices are in EC which is $2.68 to our US $1.  When I am shopping, I typically divide everything by 3 to overestimate the cost and determine if I would like to buy whatever it is I am looking at.  Depending on if you like to go out to eat determines the extra cost you could incur.  The restaurants here don’t exactly have lunch specials or anything similar.

Another thing that may affect your wallet, it is not necessary to buy that 90 day return flight ticket when you enter the country because you get a stamp that last 6 months.  And yes you could use this instead of the student visa but Anguilla just now wanted to start enforcing this law.  Attempt to rent somewhere that comes with a car.  Or just make some friends with people who drive so you can go places when needed.  Plus, if you needed to start a diet, it’s very easy because the cost of snacks and sweets is more expensive than fruit.  I’ve already lost 23 pounds thus far.

So the words for the week include that of faith while taking the wisdom of others.  This week’s sermon included scripture from Daniel when he was convicted of praying to God by his peers but he was spared in the lion’s den like I was for exams.
My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.

-Daniel 6:22

Monday, June 15, 2015

What I wish I brought to Anguilla....

Hey so today is a holiday so therefore we don't have class.  Again.  I should really be studying but hey I need a break.  So what if it's a 5-hour break?  Well, maybe that does matter and I will definitely regret it later but it's a beautiful day.

So this weekend has been very eventful and unproductive (meaning a lack of studying).  Friday night, I went to a Bonfire with the church members I met an that was really fun.  They fattened me up with chicken wings, very sweet watermelon and some sandwiches.  It was really good.  They also had some games including musical chairs and such but I was just watching.  It was still a lot of fun I would say.  Going on that night was also a White Coat party that I didn't have the energy to attend.

Saturday, some students picked me up to go eat brunch at a restaurant called Gerardo's.  The food was tasty but not cheap in my opinion.  Maybe I am just too cheap.  Probably so.  But I think of breakfast as less than $5 and $9.77 made me break a $20.  I'm just saying.  It was fun to hang out with my classmates.  The food was pretty good although the service was sub-par.  I'll explain later.  After eating, we went looking for a store to buy our classmate a backpack since hers broke.  Well, first stop was Zazaas outlet that was more of a boutique.  Then we were informed of an Indian store across from the El Dorado mall.  After going there, we all purchased something because it was a pretty cheap store for toiletries.  Needless to say, when I got home, I attempted to study at 10:00 at night but I only got an hour in.  And I will also say the the third season of Orange is the New Black attracted my attention for the remainder of the night.

Sunday, I got up and got ready for church.  The minister picked me up and I came back home after service to cook some lunch and watch some more Orange is the New Black. To be really honest, I went to sleep around sunset after talking to my boyfriend for an hour.  So, no production there either.

Monday, since it is the Queen's Birthday, we have no class.  Not a problem with me but why did I wake up at 7 am this morning?  This is torture to myself I would say.  Either way, I got up and studied anatomy and histology for two hours like a good little medical student but after lunch, I did not study hence why I am writing this now.  I tell all of the future students reading this, you probably should study every waking moment.  Who am I kidding?  At least live a little while you're here but that does not constitute partying a lot either.

Okay, so back to the title of this post.  So the general consensus is that people wished they brought more food.  I will say the same.  I do wish that I brought more food although I don't where I would have put it!  It also seems that a lot of people brought a lot of items on the suggested list from admissions which it doesn't even appear we need.  This is all information based on the Anguilla campus which cost an additional $2000 compared to the other campuses.  The items such as the dissection kit, shoe covers, gloves, and face masks are all provided by the school.  I'm so glad I didn't buy that stuff.  It is useful to have more than one pair of scrubs and I brought 2 pair.  The stethoscope, blood pressure cuff and other instruments used for patient assessment are not used until MD 4 so it is no point in having them now.  The stethoscope and blood pressure cuff are useful if you plan to join Red Cross.

The organizations that are present include the Red Cross, AMSA, Cover 2 Cover and Student Government.  Red Cross is just like the Red Cross organization we have in the United States but for the school, they are involved in having health checks for the community.  It is also an easy way to start learning basic patient care.  It costs about $25 the first semester and you are expected to have 25 hours worth of activities completed by White Coat which is held in MD 4.  They also have initiated a pin that you can earn to put onto your white coat.  AMSA or American Medical Student Association is club that has a one time fee of $75 for membership of an organization that offers discounts for USMLE preparation.  I am not too sure how useful it is but that seems to be the only benefit in my opinion.  I will try to learn more about it.  Cover 2 Cover is a club that takes books donated by previous students and rents them to students for a charge of $10 of which you receive back in MD 4 after returning all books.  Student government is just like any other student government at any other school.  I would say that ours is really effective because we have many other amenities that other campuses currently don't have that I've heard of.  These are all my perspectives and in no way can be used as complete knowledge of these organizations. (Just covering my butt!)

All in all, I would like to leave with scripture about doing good even when no one is looking:
For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of men.
-2 Corinthians 8:21, NIV

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Finally, I went to church

Okay, so the main reason I think I did not feel at home the most was because I couldn't go to church so today, I was kind of on a quest to try and go.

Just know that it worked in my favor that after warming my breakfast, a roommate came downstairs and said they could take me.

He dropped me off at the Church of Christ in Blowing Point, not far from the ferry.  At first, I was concerned because the driveway looked sketchy but I am usually a trooper for things.  After going up the hill, I saw a car next to a building.  This building looked very big from the outside and it wasn't as I expected.  The church was not air conditioned although with the windows open and the fans going, you could not tell the difference in my opinion.  I knew as soon as I was brought here that there was no need to ask my roommate to come back and get me because most Church of Christ members go over and beyond for one another.

Everyone there was very welcoming and I could feel the warmth.  The sermon today was about God still having more for us.  I agree wholeheartedly because He wouldn't bring me this far to leave me.  I will admit that I needed that after my Block 1 scores.  I must admit that the sermon gave me a sense of hope for the rest of my time here and that school will be fine.  If I continue to study hard and stay focused, everything will come together.

After service, I was informed that there will be a bonfire on Friday night that I will definitely rather go to than the party that happened this past Friday.  My roommates went by the way and they didn't sound like they had a lot of "fun."  Maybe another semester but not this one.  But back the bonfire, I am definitely interested in doing that plus it is a chance to actually hang out with the locals here.

Unfortunately, I did not take any pictures this time but I will the next time that I go.  And for the scripture reference:
You will again obey the Lord and follow all his commands I am giving you today. Then the Lord your God will make you most prosperous in all the work of your hands and in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your land. The Lord will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as he delighted in your ancestors, if you obey the Lord your God and keep his commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
Deuteronomy 30:8-10, NIV

Thursday, June 4, 2015

New Block, New Day

So I know it has been a while but I got into the groove of school and when I had to time to mess around, I kind of forgot to write on here.  But I promise to do better I promise. I must say that I am handling two schools very well.  Or so I think.

If you recall, I am attending Walden University at the same time attending Saint James School of Medicine.  Yes, I know.  You don't have to tell me.  I know.  It is difficult but a lot easier than you think.  I only work on Walden University work twice a week.  And I am pursuing a Master's in Higher Education so that makes it a lot easier.  I have two other classmates pursuing Master's in Business and another Master's in Healthcare Administration.  Overall, I think my program is the easiest.  Plus it's helpful in paying for my education for St. James.  I will add that the refund that I received from Walden is not enough to cover the cost of tuition which does not even include living expenses.  So still, I will have to apply for the Delta loan so that I can eat and sleep somewhere safe.

Now onto what you really want to know about.  I survived Block 1.  Block is how the school divides the semester and it is the exam period for all of your courses.  I will also add that everyone has them at the same time which is good and bad.  The upperclassmen are the available tutors but being conscious that they are studying for their exams as well as helping you study yours can make you feel more considerate when asking them questions.  I won't share how I did but I will say that I am pleased with my first quarter grades and I think I could of performed better.  It wasn't the greatest start but I know I have a chance of surviving MD 1 if I perform consistently.

I also will share that starting in the summer is an advantage because of the many holidays that we observe.  Already we have had three days off from school because of holidays.  I'm not complaining because the extra study day wasn't a bad thing.

So far, I think that my favorite course is embryology.  It may be a little biased because I do like the human life a lot but it's a great course overall to see how our organs came to be.  I can only say that everything has its specific place and our body was made in its way for a reason.  I can honestly say that I am amazed in all my courses at least once per class.  So generally about 4-5 times daily.

But I think someone would rather know about my study habits.  It makes a lot of sense since I wake up to this everyday.
View of St. Martin from my Porch
Not to brag but it's there.  Every morning.  Beautiful as ever.  I did say when I moved here that I was going to enjoy it as much as I can.  I very much appreciate my view each and every morning.  I will mention that my budget has been blown since I've been here.  For future reference, I'm going to have to do better.  Back to my study habits.  I will also mention that my study habits are going to start changing for this Block because cramming for a week before the exam was just not the right thing to do.  I am actually starting strong by reading through the material before class and it is really helpful.  I also suggest asking for help when you need it because before our review lab the week of blocks, I had no idea what the names of the coronary vessels were until I asked the professor and he showed me one by one on the cadaver.

I also will admit I did call home crying (home sick) last weekend because I had no clue as to why I came down here but this blog is a reminder of what this journey is about.  I will say that when I moved here, I did not rent a car at all.  A lot of students do to get around and maintain their sanity.  I suggest it if you can afford.  Me, however, I don't come from money that allows me to do such a thing.

I also have to mention that for some humor that the bus driver really would like to take me on a date.  Well, that is a great idea and all especially being that I mentioned having a boyfriend before.  But getting on the bus every morning hearing "Good Morning Gorgeous" isn't bad either.

 So far, this journey has been full of happy moments and tears at the same time.  I am praying for better days and study habits.  Tomorrow night, there is a block party at this island called Scilly Cay.  I'm not going simply because a professor said it is pretty expensive to drink there and drinking with people I don't know just doesn't sound very safe as well.  I'm sure that I would rather study and go to a beach on Saturday anyway.  I know I sound like a party pooper but there are plenty of opportunities to do things.

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
James 1:12, NIV