Welcome to American University of the Caribbean!

Today is the day! We’ve been dreaming of this day, planning for it, and praying for it for many months. No, it’s not our wedding. We already did that. Today is Ben’s first day of medical school!

Like the dorky picture-snapping wife I am, I took a “first day of school” photo and posted it on Facebook.

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This is technically the first day of classes, but Ben has actually been on campus all week. We first stepped onto campus for our campus tour last weekend. Our first impression of the school was that it is spacious, clean, secure, tastefully decorated, and has a great view. We also thought that the campus is pretty big, but anything looks big compared to our undergrad university. Our campus tour showed us the “welcome center,” or guard shack, as it is commonly known, where security checks in and out every single person who enters campus. The next stop was the rotunda, a large, circular room in the center of the main building. Here, there are stairs that go to a second floor, which contains a few lecture halls, the library, and other rooms. On the same level as the rotunda is a nice recreational building with a ping-pong room, a room with couches for chilling and studying, a yoga room, and the gym. I was most excited about the gym. I’ll be spending a lot of time there. It has several treadmills and ellipticals in addition to other workout machines that looked like they are in great condition.

Pumpin' iron
Pumpin’ iron

There is also a cafeteria near this area, and the prices aren’t bad. Ben got a chicken wrap, an apple, and a bag of chips yesterday as a free new student gift, and he liked it. I think it would usually cost $5, which isn’t bad at all, considering the price of food on this island.

If you walk straight from the front door into the rotunda and then out the back door, you will arrive at note services, more lecture halls, and study rooms for rent. There is also a basketball court and the smoking area. I have no idea why anyone would be going into medicine and also be a smoker, but to each his own.

Basketball Court
Basketball Court. Too bad I took this at night– the lagoon is in the background.

Through a patio garden area, down the steps, and across the street is The New Building and the dormitories. The New Building has many lecture rooms, offices, a smaller cafeteria area, a study zone, anatomy lab, the auditorium, etc. Ben will be spending most of his time here. His class is the biggest at the school so far (about 280, I think), so they will be living in the auditorium for most of their classes. During anatomy lab, they will be upstairs working in small groups. Thankfully, each person gets their own anatomy lab locker, so nothing that smells like cadavers and formaldehyde will come into our apartment!

The auditorium
The auditorium

Behind The New Building is a stunning view of Simpson Bay and the mountains that make up this island. Beautiful.

Mural outside Ben's classroom. It represents giving a bright future to the island's children.
Mural outside Ben’s classroom. It represents giving a bright future to the island’s children.

Besides a tour, the school has hosted many other fun and/or required pre-class events. There were several shuttle runs to the grocery store over the weekend. Saturday was a beach volleyball game and Ben got his ID badge that same morning. Sunday was registration in the morning and a welcome meeting in the evening. Happily for us, the evening event was catered with a delicious meal! Nothing says “happy students” like free food. After the welcome meeting, everyone was invited to compete in a scavenger hunt (this provided the lovely photos for this post) and an ice cream mixer.

Boats in Simpson Bay Lagoon
Boats in Simpson Bay Lagoon

Monday included seminars on wellness and professionalism. If I had named them, I would have called the sessions How Not to Die and How Not to Lose Your License. Most of it seemed like common sense to me as I flipped through the booklet, but it’s always good to hear good advice, especially during times of transition and stress. Besides, there are a lot of ways to be stupid and get in trouble on this island. Hopefully people will take the warnings seriously, because coming to class with a massive hangover is not a good way to pass one’s Step Ones.  There was also an assessment and a reading quiz on Monday over the book Short White Coat. 

Island Bus Tour
Island Bus Tour

Yesterday (Tuesday) contained more and longer workshops, as well as an island tour. We stopped in Marigot and visited a French Patisserie. It was actually a pretty good price– four delicious pastries for about six bucks. We also stopped in Orient Bay to see Saint-Martin’s best beach. I have to say that I like Mullet Bay much better. Orient is pretty seaweedy this year, and the beach was pretty busy. It does have a good view of Anguilla and some small islands, though. We didn’t stop anywhere else, but it was nice to drive the perimeter of the island and see the less touristy areas where local people live. I was delighted to finally see some fresh fruit stands! After the island tour, the students went back to school for complementary subs and a meeting with their orientation advisers.

French Pastries
French Pastries

The week is not over yet! After today’s classes, there is a student mixer. Tomorrow is the Spouse Organization’s first get-together. Friday is the white coat ceremony. And from there, it’s all about studying, studying, studying.

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