Living in the Caribbean: 6 Ways to Adjust to Life in Grenada
Your love of adventure combined with your passion for pursuing a medical career has you considering Caribbean medical schools in locations like Grenada. You understandably have questions about the weather, the culture, and which Grenadian foods to try.
What should you expect? We identified some of the most important considerations to help guide your decision about whether living in Grenada is the right choice for you.
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A primer on living in the Caribbean
Believe it or not, living in Grenada is likely as safe as your hometown. The US Department of State recommends exercising typical safety precautions such as traveling in groups after dark, sticking to well-lit routes, and being aware of your surroundings.
It’s also incredibly easy to stay in touch with family and friends while away. If you have a phone, you’ll be able to reach your loved ones without issue.
“Access to wireless networks keeps you connected,” says Colin Dowe, Associate Dean of Enrollment Planning at St. George’s University (SGU). This means online chat services are a good option.
It’s also important to note that Grenada’s electricity runs on 220 volts as opposed to 110 volts which is typical in the US. This means you will need a transformer to ensure you usual plug-in electronics work.
6 Adjustments that can make living in Grenada even more enjoyable
There’s no doubt you can have a wonderful experience in attending medical school Grenada. You just have to know what to expect. These adaptations can help ease your transition to living in the Caribbean.
1. Start to think about seasons differently
Many people living in North America are used to thinking about the weather in terms of four seasons — each with distinct attributes. Living in Grenada is unique in this respect. U.S. News & World Reportshows the average temperature is consistently between 84 and 88 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year. The biggest fluctuation in weather comes during the wet season, which lasts from May through November.
Karin Kronstal, city planner at City of Nanaimo, easily adjusted to the weather when she lived in Grenada during a work contract. She recommends packing a hat and an umbrella to block the sun.
2. Embrace a laid-back attitude
You might be used to a life where everything from eating out at a restaurant to getting directions from someone happens at an incredibly fast pace. If you’ve grown to expect speed, you might find Grenada to be a refreshing change of pace.
“The laid-back lifestyle comes with a warmth that is welcoming,” Dowe explains. Even if you have to wait until well past your scheduled time to see the dentist, it’s likely you will have a positive experience.
Caribbean medical schoolstudents will, of course, be busy with their studies most of the time. When you do have free moments in Grenada, Kronstal suggests fully embracing the slower pace. “It’s a great place for relaxing on the break weeks since everything is so close together,” she says.
3. Prepare before hitting the road
Public transportation in Grenada consists of taxis, local buses, and, for SGU students, free shuttles. Because these options all run on set schedules, some people prefer buying or renting a vehicle during an extended stay to make sure they can always get around.
If you do opt to buy or rent a vehicle, you first need to obtain a Grenadian driver’s license. You fill out a simple form at the police station, pay a fee, and present the license from your home country. These Grenadian licenses are valid for three months, so make sure to renew prior to expiration. One final thing to note is that you’ll be driving on the left side of the road in Grenada.
4. Plan shopping trips wisely
If you’re someone who likes to plan ahead, you’ll have a huge advantage in Grenada. “There is no 24-hour Walmart here,” Dowe says. That said, most supermarkets are still open well into the evening.
You should also consider making a shopping list to stick to a budget. Some items will cost a bit more, depending on what you purchase. “You have to appreciate that the majority of things consumed in Grenada are imported,” Dowe explains.
Locally grown spices, fruits, and vegetables are very affordable. Get your fill at St. George’s Square Market, a popular Saturday shopping destination.
5. Start using cash instead of swiping a card
Grenada’s official currency is the East Caribbean dollar, which is pegged to US currency at a fixed rate of 2.70 per US dollar. Though credit cards are widely accepted, you may find it easiest to carry cash.
You also might want to consider opening a local bank account while living in Grenada. This will help you avoid the ATM fee you would otherwise pay to withdraw from an international account.
6. Get out there
Students can get acclimated pretty fast through a number of orientation activities. But what’s the best way to get familiar with Grenadian culture outside of an academic setting? Try joining a clubor participating in other group activities. Dowe says this approach is a great way to see which locations and activities you prefer.
You should also consider exploring some of the Grenadian businesses. Take advantage of the unique products while you can. “Try the cocoa tea from the Grenada Chocolate Company,” Kronstal recommends. “I miss it more than almost anything else!”
Ready for an adventure?
You now know living in the Caribbean can be a wonderful experience with just a handful of simple changes. If you’re eager to expand your global experiences, the SGU School of Medicine may be an ideal fit. Our graduates have improved health outcomes in dozens of countries. Learn more about some of the work they’ve done in our article, “9 SGU Medical School Grads Who Are Improving Patients’ Lives Around the World.”
*This article was originally published in January 2018. It’s since been updated to reflect information relevant to 2021.