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SJSM Staff Column: First Visit to St. Vincent

February 10, 2015
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Author: Katie Morin Job Title: Document Specialist St. Vincent Orientation 2015 – Katie’s First Visit to the Island
At the start of January, I had the opportunity to travel down to St. Vincent and the Grenadines to welcome the incoming Spring 2015 class along with one of our admission advisors. This was my first trip down to the island and it was different from anywhere else to which I've traveled. St. Vincent is the largest island in what is known as St. Vincent and the Grenadines; it also is host to the island chain's capital, Kingstown. All three Pirates of the Caribbean movies were shot there, and just looking around at the scenery, it was easy to tell that Captain Jack Sparrow did indeed spend some time here. The northern side of the island also has a volcano, La Soufrière. Visitors are welcome to hike right up to the top. Unfortunately for us, the hike was a full-day event and we did not have the time. Movie set near Saint James Medical School School   We did, however, have the opportunity to drive up the windward side of the island, the side that faces the Atlantic. I was able to spend some time on one of the black sand beaches. The waves were high, the sand really was black, and the view from the beach was of the surrounding mountains. I stood barefoot on the beach, looking up and around at the lush green mountains that surrounded me and drinking in the warmth and sun. A warm breeze blew in off the water, and truly, it was a beautiful sight. Scene from Pirates of the Caribbean near medical school campusLater in my stay we drove up the leeward side to visit the Pirates set. The area is not a tourist hotspot and the set isn't given the best of care, but the area was serene. The location, Wallibou Bay, is located down a very steep hill and feels cradled by the surrounding mountains. Because the area doesn't face the Atlantic the waves were calmer and we saw more people out on their boats just enjoying the afternoon. The drive could be daunting at times because in St. Vincent they drive on the left side of the road and the road twists and turns. The sign for the bay is easy to miss so we overshot the area by quite a bit. Though we ended up getting lost and driving farther north than planned we did get treated to some higher views of the island as we drove up a mountain. I thought the view from the beach was beautiful, but looking down from a high vantage point was something else entirely. I could see colorful houses, the ocean and the mountains. St. Vincent is a very green place making me feel like I had wandered into Jurassic Park. On our last day on St. Vincent we traveled back up the leeward side to go to the Buccament Bay resort. It is a place to be pampered and relax. We swam around in the calm waters and talked to guests and locals and just enjoyed the scenery before heading back to our hotel to pack. Though St. Vincent is a beautiful island there are a few things to remember. This is not the U.S. or Canada and though the people were extremely helpful and friendly they do have their own customs and things are just done differently in general. Island time is a very real thing; people take their time. When we went through customs it took a while and sometimes the person we needed to talk to about things like international drivers' licenses was just away from their desk with no estimated time of return. When we got dinner our food took a while to actually reach us. The only things that seemed to move very fast were the other cars on the road. Things just sort of move at their own pace, so be patient, don't stress and enjoy yourself. It was exciting to get to meet not only the incoming Spring 2015 class, but also to meet the MD2 and MD3s already on St. Vincent. I heard nothing but positive feedback. Incoming students were excited to be starting classes and returning students looked forward to continuing their studies. Orientation was a huge success, with the MD1 class meeting their professors, mingling, and taking a bus tour of the island. Before the bus pulled away with the MD1 class in tow excitement was in the air. Students were connecting with each other, getting to know their professors, and were getting an introduction to the sort of community SJSM has to offer. Even on the first day of classes--when the real work began--students were still in great spirits. It was a real pleasure to meet all the students I had been working with for the past few months and see them take these first steps to becoming doctors.Saint James School of Medicine Staff Visit Island School I definitely recommend St. Vincent. It can be a bustling place in areas like Kingstown and Arnos Vale, where the school is located, but it can also be very quiet and removed from everything too depending on where you are. It is a wonderful combination of beaches and mountains, cities and hiking trails. I look forward to going back to greet future classes! —Katie Morin
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