Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Again, Another Look to See Changes in Culture

Hello readers, I am a classmate of Ariel’s and I will be telling you my perspective on our current situation.

The clear sky above me, the silky white sand gliding between my toes, the salty cool breeze that passes through me, and the sun rays that warm my skin. Those are all the elements that collectively paint a vivid image of what life in this tropical paradise may consist of. And to be honest none of the above is exaggerated. Anguilla is actually one of the most beautiful places on this planet. I’ve done my share of international travel and so far no place has compared to the serenity that is felt here in nature’s utopia.

That being said, it’s so unfortunate but living here brings upon a set of burdens otherwise not endured. This could be due to the fact that all of us medical students are from the United States or Canada and we have become conditioned to a certain lifestyle. Fast internet, reliable electricity, a home free of lizards and centipedes, drinkable tap water, and proper traffic laws are just the basics that we are accustomed too. Establishments such as shopping malls, movie theaters, or even fast food chains that once upon a time were part of our everyday lives are now luxuries we must do without. All of us students have become extremely adaptable and over time have adjusted to everything like champions. Initially, the lifestyle change was brutal but like the saying goes, out of sight out of mind.

Mentioned above are the tangible compromises one must make when living in the Caribbean. Believe it or not but that isn’t even the most challenging part about being here. The part that will break you down and keep you up at night is actually an internal struggle. Living on this island and dedicating all your time to learning the art of medicine dominates all aspects of your life. While you are spending all your time in class, at the library, in lab, at review sessions everyone else is going through human experiences typical of their age. For example, I can not tell you how many holidays, birthdays, weddings, funerals, baby showers, graduations, and seasonal changes I have missed by being here. It feels as if everyone else is truly living and we are merely existing. We wake up and go through all the same motions, our routine never changes, and we start to seek pleasure in our work such as getting an A on an exam or presentation. We become so indulged that we forget to reply to texts or return phone calls and then our loved ones become accustomed to our absence as an inevitable consequence.

So you see, being a Caribbean medical student is not for the fickle. It takes all mind, body, and soul to be successful in this lifestyle. You must be so dedicated to the Medical Sciences that you willingly sacrifice life’s precious moments that can never be earned back. No one truly knows what to expect until they themselves actually experience this chaos of holding on and letting go, accepting and adapting. On the bright side, time waits for no one; good or bad it will pass and one day it will all be worth it. So while living here brings about the essence of summertime sadness it does so with a view. And all you can do is stare out into the various shades of blue ocean and see the bigger picture, you will be a doctor and you will save a life.


- M

“It is not the eyes that are blind, but the hearts.” – Qur’an 22:46
Mead's Bay at Sunset

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

A Different Perspective

Hello guys. My name is Aqsaa, and I am one of Ariel’s classmates. She offered me the opportunity to write for her blog this week, which I thought I would take a crack at.

I would like to start with a little bit about myself. I grew up in the states, specifically in Maryland, and lived there until I graduated high school. I then moved to Philadelphia and attended Drexel University, from which I received a Bachelor’s in Biological Sciences. I continued to live in Philly after graduation, and worked as a Leasing Assistant, which had nothing to do with my degree, but it helped pay my bills. At this point my parents were quite frustrated with me, and wanted me to get to medical school as fast as possible, or move back home. After living on my own for five years, moving back in with my parents was not something I wanted to do. So I began my search for the right medical school.

I honestly never thought I would attend medical school in the Caribbean, but after about a month of researching schools, I decided to go ahead and apply. This began my journey here at St. James School of Medicine. From Ariel’s previous posts, you all probably already know the basics about SJSM, so I won’t bore you with the same information again. Other than the fact that she has mentioned that some of her classmates have moved as many times as she has. This is true. I have moved four times since coming to Anguilla last May. And it’s not due to the fact that I have bad experiences with landlords. It has given me the opportunity to experience different parts of the island which I now call home.

Everyone who attends school here has a very strong opinion about the school, which seems to be on the extreme. Either they like it, or they have an abhorrent hate for it. My personal take on it is that it is like any other university or school. There are professors that are amazing and have a passion for teaching, and there are others who probably are better off not wasting the time of the students. I will say that the first two semesters, which are technically considered the first year of medical school, were not too horrible. Anatomy was a tough class the first semester, and then Physiology was a challenge the second semester. But nothing could have prepared us for the rude awakening which is MD3. I truly believe that having spent one month in MD3, I finally feel like I am actually in medical school. I am sure many of my classmates will agree with me. Being tired and headaches are a perpetual part of my being. But there is hope that if I can make it through this semester, I can survive anything.

However, even though this semester has been off to a rocky start, I still try to take some time to go out and have fun, or spend time doing something I enjoy. I recently went home for winter break, and brought my camera back with me. I have not made too much use of it, but hopefully I will be able to take a break every so often and take some pictures. It is really important to take some time off from studying as well.

And say: "My Lord, increase me in knowledge." (Quran 20:114)

Viceroy Beach