It’s easy to feel like anything in the future is far away. That’s particularly true for eventual medical students. You spend so much time completing prerequisites and applying to schools that you may find yourself with tunnel vision. The start of school can sneak up on you surprisingly fast.
Now that you’re nearing the first day of classes at St. George’s University (SGU), you’re growing a little more curious about what it’s actually like living in Grenada. Perhaps you wonder what must-try foods to seek out or how you’ll get around the island.
While it can be overwhelming to think about everything that goes into creating a new home, you’re not alone. Many SGU students have come before you. And most of them thoroughly enjoyed their time in Grenada. Fourth-year student Whitney Morgan, who had previously lived abroad, especially enjoyed her time on the island.
“I’m mad biased, but I loved Grenada,” she reflects.
We spoke to Morgan and a few other SGU students to hear about their experiences living in Grenada. You may find their insight helpful as you prepare for the next phase of your journey.
What every future SGU student should know about living in Grenada
This insider information can help you better understand what to expect when you relocate. If you’re anything like these students, you’ll be settled in no time.
1. There’s both on-campus and off-campus housing
All incoming medical students, except for those with certain exceptions, will live on-campus. That means you don’t have to hunt around for apartments before classes start. It’s a huge help for students who aren’t able to visit campus prior to starting school.
“I think having the comfort of that was really nice,” says Lauren Sussman, a fourth-year student at SGU.
Living in the on-campus accommodations can also be a good way to develop friendships with roommates. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that housekeeping is included. That said, some people prefer to live elsewhere after their first year. Morgan realized that she wanted the privacy of her own place. And she says finding an apartment was really easy. While viewing a place recommended by a professor, she happened to notice another nearby apartment for rent.
"I loved it from first sight. I went back over there the next day to find the landlord."
“I just saw it and I loved it from first sight,” she recalls. “I went back over there the next day to find the landlord. He showed me the unit and I told him I wanted it.”
2. You have options for getting around
When it comes to transportation, many students take the free SGU shuttle buses. Sussman and third-year student Lindsey Jones were both big fans of this system. In fact, there was a bus stop right outside of the apartment Sussman moved into after her first year.
“I could just walk outside my apartment and, bam, the bus would pick me up right there,” she shares.
It’s easy to get a license in Grenada if you’d prefer to purchase or rent a car. You just need to go to one of the police stations to present a valid driver’s license from your home country, fill out some basic paperwork, and pay a fee. Just keep in mind that you need to drive on the left side of the road in Grenada. Morgan liked the freedom renting a car afforded her.
“I rented, because I didn’t want to have to worry about maintenance,” she says.
If you are considering purchasing a vehicle, know that it’s common for incoming students to buy a low-cost car from a student leaving the island.
3. You’ll have access to everything you need
For the most part, you can get everything you need in Grenada. Stocking up on food and household items is as simple as taking the bus.
“The grocery store is kind of in this mall area, so you can do one-stop shopping for everything you need,” Sussman explains. But she does recommend bringing your own cosmetics and toiletries if you prefer specific brands.
"The grocery store is kind of in this mall area, so you can do one-stop shopping for everything you need."
If there are particular things that you know you’ll need, make sure to bring them with you or ship them. Jones even encourages you do this for things that aren’t essential, but you know will be comforting to have throughout your education.
It’s also helpful to know that accessing money and paying for things is very straightforward, even though Grenada uses Eastern Caribbean dollars. Most Caribbean med school students don’t even find it necessary to open a local bank account. More frequently, students will use the on-campus ATM. You might have to pay a fee depending on your bank, but Jones says she typically took out larger sums of cash to offset it. She kept any money that she didn’t want to carry around with her in a safe.
4. Staying connected to your friends and family is simple
There are numerous ways to keep in touch with family members thanks to various apps. Many students connect the smartphones they already have to the readily available Wi-Fi throughout Grenada. This allows you to send messages and make audio calls through your preferred platforms.
“The only time I didn’t have Wi-Fi was if I was on the bus going someplace,” Jones explains.
If you do want regular calling and messaging capabilities, there are numerous options. Some people purchase an inexpensive global system for mobile (GSM) phones and a plan. If you already own a GSM device with 850Hz frequency, you can opt to purchase a subscriber identity module (SIM) card kit. It’s also possible, depending on your carrier, to enable international capabilities for your existing device.
"The only time I didn’t have Wi-Fi was if I was on the bus going someplace."
5. You can mail and ship items, but consider alternatives
Students have a school mailbox to receive items, but many find they don’t use them frequently. Standard mail sent from the US, Canada, and UK may take a few weeks to arrive in Grenada. While expedited shipping is possible, Jones doesn’t recommend it unless it’s necessary as it can be costly.
When moving to Grenada, you’ll want to bring everything you’ll need with you on the flight. Sussman does have one tip if you realize there’s something you forgot that isn’t an immediate need. If a friend’s family is coming to visit Grenada, you can coordinate to have your loved ones send the items to them. When your friend’s family makes the trip, they can simply bring the package on their flight.
6. You might need to adjust to the weather
Some students love the warm climate in Grenada. For those used to cold winters, though, it can be a bit of an adjustment. It’s typical for highs to reach into the 80s year-round. While the rainy season is usually during the summer months, plan to encounter precipitation anyway.
“Don’t forget to bring your raincoat,” Sussman suggests.
7. There are unique opportunities you might want to take advantage of
Food enthusiasts should embrace the chance to try some local flavors. “I loved the food—I like to eat!” Morgan enthuses.
There are also tons of fun things to do. While you’ll spend the bulk of your time studying, take advantage of opportunities to participate in unique activities like scuba diving or touring the island.
“If you want to do something or if your friends are going and you have the time, just do it,” Jones encourages.
"If you want to do something or if your friends are going and you have the time, just do it."
8. Your fellow students are happy to help
You’ll understandably go through an adjustment phase when you start medical school. But there are countless students who’ve gone through the exact same experience. One of the greatest things about SGU’s network is they’re always happy to help each other. Sussman highly suggests getting in touch with a current student, especially if you know you aren’t going to be able to visit Grenada in advance.
“I called the student call center in advance to make sure I had someone to talk to,” Sussman says. She notes that SGU makes a conscious effort to connect you with someone whose background is similar to your own.
There are also tons of student clubs and organizations. There are even Facebook® groups where students share information about items they’re selling or off-campus housing.
“There’s so much information about places to live,” Jones says. “I pretty much just took a recommendation from somebody.”
Make the most of your new home
You can see that living in Grenada isn’t all that different than living anywhere else. There are certainly some variances, but that’s to be expected anytime you move to a new location. And remember that you’ll be surrounded by classmates who are all in the same boat as you.
It’s also important to note that most students adjust to their new home away from home quickly. Some graduates have even mentioned they thought SGU was an ideal place for them to fully devote their attention to school. They might be on to something given how many students successfully secure residency positions every year.
Interested in learning more about how you can start preparing for your eventual postgraduate training? Check out our article “How to Land the Medical Residency You Want: 8 Criteria You’ll Be Evaluated On.”
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