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Snapshots from Saint James School of Medicine Bonaire

February 04, 2013
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We started the New Year with a trip to the Saint James School of Medicine school in Bonaire. We’re big fans of Bonaire. The island is one of the ABC islands, a Caribbean archipelago made up of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao. All three islands are part of the kingdom of the Netherlands and the combined Dutch and Caribbean heritage make for a unique culture which blends Caribbean laissez faire with European influences. We thought we’d share some snapshots and notes from our trip. Most tourists come to Bonaire for its superb diving. The whole island is one giant pristine reef and is considered to be one of the best diving locations in the world. Its surrounding waters are designated a marine park, protecting the diverse reef life. Arid conditions and low rainfall make for calm, clear water with excellent visibility.   Many Saint James students take up diving when they arrive in Bonaire and you couldn’t ask for a more sublime break from your medical text books. Walk down the waterfront and take in the colonial architecture in one of the outdoor cafes. Bonaire has a permanent outdoor market situated by the old pier in Kralendijk. Venezuelan produce merchants come in by boat (Bonaire is only 50 miles from Venezuela) and sell fresh fruit and vegetables straight from Venezuelan farms. Locals recommend you brush up your Spanish to get the best deals! One of the many amazing things about studying medicine in the Caribbean is the opportunity it gives to enjoy local cuisine and experience new tastes. Bonaire’s cuisine is a cultural melting pot, with influences from mingling tastes from Spain and Portugal, Holland, Indonesian spices from the days of the Dutch Empire and West Africa. Local meats include goat, pig and iguana. Local produce includes beans, okra, sorghum, mango and soursop. Fish is a staple, with Dorado (Mahi Mahi) and Wahoo particularly common. Popular local dishes are a goat stew called kabrito stoba, funchi (a cornmeal dish like polenta) and pastechis, little meat or fish filled pastries. There are a number of interesting soups: sòpi di binja, wine soup, sòpi di kadushi, cactus soup and sòpi di yuwana, iguana soup. Bonaire also has its own drink, Cadushy of Bonaire, a liqueur made from the kadushi cactus. We were visiting Bonaire to welcome new students enrolling for the January semester of Saint James School of Medicine’s popular MD Program. Saint James Bonaire opened a new school extension in Fall 2012, expanding facilities to the Kaya Amsterdam location, conveniently located right between the Kralendijk and Hato schools, near to student housing. We visited the new facilities, and it was great to see these new facilities already being so well used. While we were on Bonaire we also visited classes to see how our students were enjoying studying the basic sciences. It’s always inspiring to re-experience first-hand how disciplined and motivated Saint James students are. Saint James has a high proportion of mature students and we really see their maturity in their commitment to their studies and their consistently excellent results. Last year we increased the student-to-cadaver ratio so anatomy students now have more valuable hands-on lab experience. It was wonderful to see students taking advantage of this and we look forward to our next trip to Bonaire. Saint James School of Medicine Bonaire accepts students into its MD Program three times a year, in January, May and September.  If you are interested in applying you can call us at 800-542-1553 or email us at info@mail.sjsm.org and we will be delighted to help. You can also apply online.
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