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Farewell to Anguilla, but Not Goodbye

August 18, 2011
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As the second class of Saint James School of Medicine prepares to complete the Basic Science program, they take a moment to reflect back on their experiences so that others may fully understand the opportunity Saint James School of Medicine Anguilla offers to those with a dream of becoming a physician.  (The Basic Science program is the 16 month program medical students undergo here in Anguilla, before they proceed to the US for an additional two and a half years of clinical education to receive their medical degree): The current graduating class consists of a multi-cultural mix from many different backgrounds, which enhances each student’s cultural experience.  While we may have reached our goal of completing the Basic Sciences and look forward to moving on to our clinical rotations and a continued learning experience, we are saddened that we must leave a place that we have come to call home for the past sixteen months.  It’s very difficult leaving new found friends, and a caring and concerned faculty that strive daily to assure that we are challenged and exposed to the necessary material to help us succeed at passing the licensing board exams, the USMLE. All the students agree on one common point: we were welcomed by Anguillans with open arms and they are always friendly no matter where we go. We loved the simplicity of life on the island, how laid back and quiet life here is. Until Carnival time, when Anguilla transforms into a week-long festive cultural celebration! We thoroughly enjoyed the events such as boat races, bicycle races and plenty of local cuisine to taste.  When you add all this to the beaches and waves, you have a perfect formula for fun and relaxation. Many will tell you, the past sixteen months have passed by so fast that it seems like it was just last week that we arrived in Anguilla.  Each and every student handles new experiences differently, but we shared the same goal, the same stress, and above all same opportunity to achieve our lifelong dream of becoming a physician.  The camaraderie at Saint James is fantastic.  The students embrace each other as though they are welcoming new family members.   And for many the experience and knowledge that we have gained these past sixteen months has been the best experience of our lives. Although the stress of academics looms over each and every student, there’s always time to balance studies with fun, and Anguilla has afforded that opportunity.  From waking up to beautiful sun filled days, to pristine beaches, snorkeling, scuba diving, and night life, there’s something for everyone.  It may not be a sixteen month vacation, because our studies are very demanding, but it sure helps when the weekend comes and a few hours of well-deserved down time is needed to decompress. We leave this island with memories of new friends, and a sense of accomplishment, which we will carry with us the rest of our lives.  As one graduate said, I can’t think of anywhere else where I have been able to focus on my studies, yet have a beach just a few minutes from my front door, no matter which direction I go. Thank you and farewell, Anguilla! The graduating Basic Sciences class of Anguilla, 2011
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