We landed on Friday morning after our layover in San Juan. Customs went smoothly and we were met outside by representatives from Ross University with a cell phone ready and waiting for us to call home and let them know that we'd arrived safely. From there our Orientation Leaders took over, assigned to us by location of our residence on the island and took us by taxi to our apartments to drop off our luggage and do a walk through of the place. Everything from a single burnt out light bulb to malfunctioning appliances was noted and the landlord called to fix right away. After that we went to the grocery store.
Ross University certainly takes very good care of its students. We don't want or need for anything in the week before classes start. We have an OL at our disposal for questions, emergencies and anything else we might need. My roommates and I spent a few hours at our OL's apartment using her phone and internet before ours got set up. Our OL, Devinne, has been wonderful and has done a great job of getting necessities such as groceries, utilities and driver's licenses dealt with while also taking us to the beach and great restaurants.
That said, St. Kitts is not the U.S.A. It seems silly to say so, but it has to be said. The moment you step off the plane here you have to be prepared for total immersion in a foreign culture, otherwise you're going to flounder pretty hard. White people are in the bottom 5% of the population here, so welcome to being a minority for the first time in your life! Other things that are different are that it is a developing country. That doesn't mean mud huts and pot-bellied naked children, but it does mean adjusting your reliance on instant gratification that American culture facilitates with things like Wal-Mart. The road here is frequently blocked by herds of goats, sheep or cattle. Dogs, cats and chickens roam freely. Island time is a very real thing here, and if you can't be patient and respect that they do things differently, you'll likely spend your entire time here frustrated. Kittitian culture is also highly conservative, and things like swearing in public can have very serious consequences.
But Ross really tries hard to thin the herd a bit during the interview process and ask questions that will weed out those who couldn't make the adjustment. A large part of my interview was dedicated to how much time I'd spent in other countries, how I would adapt to a new culture, etc. One of the new Rossies' favorite jokes is, "Now, where is Walgreens again?" But we were told by our OL that there have been a few who despite interviewing well made it here and couldn't deal. One girl never left the airport and boarded the next plane back to Miami. It's hard for me to wrap my head around the idea of someone so rigid in their comfort zone, but then Ross students really are in a class all our own. Not only is our academic program intensely rigorous and on par or above par with any vet school in the U.S. but we also get much, much more hands on surgical experience than U.S. vet students and have nearly two and a half years of experience living 2,500 miles away from our home, family and normal lives. As our OL told us, not only do you leave Ross an excellent future veterinarian in terms of education and clinical skills, you also leave with nerves of steel and the ability to adapt to any situation that gets thrown at you.
Today was very busy. We got our student visas, school IDs, driver's licenses, nurse health checks and financial aid all settled and taken care of. Our internet, phone and cable also got set up, obviously.
Enough talk, time for pretty pictures.
|The view from the second floor balcony of our apartment.|
|The beach outside of the Marriott hotel. Huge, very pretty, but the waves were pretty rough that day.|
|Bird Rock beach, a very quiet little enclosed beach where the waves aren't as intense.|
|An arrow crab we found while snorkeling on Bird Rock|
|Captain Krabby's idea of a funny warning.|
|View of the student union and part of the grounds and administration offices on campus.|
|Another view of campus.|
|More pretty on campus.|
|A huge mango tree on campus that students are free to raid. I feel a lot of mango smoothies coming on.|
|A green anole hanging out on one of the buildings.|