Wheels off the ground, landing gear up, I’m excited, I’m sad, I’m curious and I know that this journey I am about to take will change my life forever. I sit on the plane looking out over the vast maze of lights which I call home as I depart from JFK into the darkness of the ocean. This isn’t my first time traveling alone, but this is, my first day of medical school and life in Grenada. And to start off, Grenada is pronounced like the explosive device created to blow off your limbs and send you into oblivion, suiting metaphor for what I was about to experience…
The fun part: After a short (12 hour) layover from 3am to 3pm in Barbados, I’m off to my home for the next 2 years. As a “grown ass man”, I refused to live in dorms and decided to live off campus on the beautiful location of Grand Anse beach, a short 15 min drive from St. Georges University. Upon arrival of my new beach cottage, I meet the first of my housemates, a Canadian veterinarian student in his 3rd year and his dog Otie (named after Caribbean cookies that resemble his fur). That night I decided to live it up before classes started and head to street carnival J’ouvert, and live it up I did. After arriving at the “Yacht club” (less impressive than it’s name) I met up with students who were bussed from campus, all wearing a yellow SGU J’ouvert T-shirt; I was wearing blue. J’ouvert is a celebration of freedom from French slavery, and as tradition goes, you get completely covered with motor oil and chocolate. So after a few drinks, and a dwindling crowd at the Yacht club I decide to head home, there’s were I encountered the majority of the street carnival. As I walk by smiling and pretending to dance, a young woman comes up to me, she’s completely covered in oil and gives me an enormous hug. As if I wasn’t covered enough in oil, she proceeds to whip oil off her stomach and arms and splatter it on my face, I’m loving life. As I walk home, I noticed my phone has disappeared in the festivities and know it’s long gone (I have not been on the island for more than 12 hours at this point). The night ends, or should I say day began, with me swimming in the ocean in my underwear with a group of medical students I met on the road to wash away the oil and return to my home where I only had a towel as a pillow and a broken AC unit. An amazing start to my medical education. (not being sarcastic)
The reality: Monday through Sunday, you’re grinding. The sheer volume of material they throw at you doesn’t slow up, so neither can you. In term 1 we had 5 examinations, so there was a test about once every three weeks. Looking back, it was a blessing in disguise, you always had to be on your A-game, ready to start up again after a grueling exam prep-week. I was absolutely miserable… I remember one day in particular I was on campus from 7am to 2am studying, and when I finally got home I couldn’t recall one thing I just spent the last 24 hours studying. I wanted to find the closest flight, go home, and quit… From experiences like this is where you learn the most important tool you’ll acquire in medical school, a good mindset. From the anguish, I made a mantra that I would tell myself daily (sometimes several times a day) it goes “No one on their death bed says ‘wow, I wish I spent more time feeling sorry for myself”. It sounds morbid and maybe it is, but it works. Time is always moving, you can’t take back those hours you felt like you weren’t good enough, or smart enough, or just wished you could live your friends life instead. If you want to be successful you need to move past looking at what others are doing and look at yourself. You need to realize success is working your ass off, pushing yourself harder than you think you could and picking yourself up when you miss your goals. Success isn’t thinking it’s unfair that you studied harder than a peer but they ended up getting a better grade, that’s called complaining, and no one likes complainers… When you can look yourself in the mirror and honestly say “damn I gave that my all” you’ll be happy no matter the outcome.
Sheesh, I started writing this with the intent to be a light-ish piece on life of medical school, took a bit of a dark turn/motivation-nation theme. Overall, I can say that I have no regrets on my decision to come to medical school in Grenada. And with 6 weeks left on the island, I can say this place has changed me for the better and will always be a special place for me.
Orrin: is a med school student who is currently grinding it out on his arduous journey to become a doctor. When he isn’t hittin the books he enjoys cupcakes, chilling with friends, snowboarding and the company for a friendly kitty cat. Orrin is currently studying in Grenada but you can find him stateside in the near future.