Recent Posts

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Week 1 in Grenada

In my effort to get as much information about what it's like in Grenada before I came, I heard one consistent message from everyone who has been on the island: "It's different." Every time I heard it said I thought, "What does that even mean?" I wanted hard facts, examples, etc ... But since being here I have realized that it is hard to explain, but it is true. It is different here and it's hard to pinpoint specific examples. It is hard to describe all of the cultural nuances or the impact on daily life of the lack of familiar systems and infrastructure. New smells, new tastes, new faces ... it's all a lot to take in and definitely hard to describe. One thing I want to emphasize, and perhaps this is also why others described Grenada as "different", is that different is not bad, it's just different.

A couple of obvious differences for me are that it's hot and humid and I don't run the A/C because electricity is generated by oil on the island, and oil is expensive (someone please come invest in solar infrastructure here asap -- it would be amazing). The roads are steep and in rough shape. Anytime I'm in a vehicle I feel like it could be my last few minutes on earth -- crazy drivers everywhere. I don't understand the locals most of the time even though we all do speak a version of the same language, English. I feel out of place, I ask dumb questions, people stare, I stare (mostly because I have no idea what is going on and I'm trying to figure it out). Food, especially familiar food, is more expensive, and while grocery shopping I often just stand in front of an item trying to figure out how much it costs in the currency I'm familiar with.

In some ways, I feel like I've been taken back in time several years and have started my mission all over again. But feeling like I did when I began my mission in Chile is both comforting and motivating, because for as out of place as I am feeling right now, I have first-hand knowledge that it will get better and I will be better for having experienced this place.

I think everyone here that I have talked to has their moments of, "Did I just make the biggest mistake of my life?!?" or "What do I think I'm doing?!?" I think this is completely natural and I have to remind myself of it. I wonder how often these moments of panic will continue to come along the way (especially once classes begin), but it helps to talk or write about it and know I am not alone to have felt this way at times.

So, lessons I learned from week one:

1. Even though I don't understand them over half of the time, Grenadians are generally wonderful people. They have genuine smiles, kind hearts, and have been very patient with me as I try to learn from them.

2. I have gained a deep respect for those who choose this path to medicine and hope to become like many of those who I have met who are in later terms. They are intelligent, competent, kind, and have sacrificed so much to become who and what they are. Med school is not for the faint of heart (I'll actually get a taste of it all in the next few weeks), but med school in a developing country presents other challenges for those, like me, accustomed to a cushy U.S. lifestyle.

3. It's okay to feel overwhelmed, things get better.

4. I will not die without A/C, although there was one night where I'm pretty sure I came close to it (fans are a lifesaver, also cold showers).

And I'm definitely no guru, but in my naivety I have discovered a couple of things that have helped me through the first week:

Bring something familiar. I can't believe how much of a difference it made in how I felt about the apartment to have replaced the shower curtain that was here with one from home.

Do something familiar. It's good to bring a familiar hobby. I brought running shoes and have had a great time seeing the island through an activity I enjoy.

Eat something familiar. When I first arrived, I was surprised by the cost of familiar foods and attempted to go all native. This only made me feel more estranged. I eventually just decided to buy some cereal and had it for dinner. While I hardly did this ever at home, it was a simple way to help me feel better about life in general. Go ahead, splurge on the Oreos every once in a while and eat your feelings.

Find something new. I found a conch shell during one of my first days at the beach that I have placed on my desk. It reminds me of good times here and reminds me there will be good times to come.

Try something new. I discovered snorkeling and I love it (I actually want to implement a Saturday Morning/Afternoon Snorkeling group to mix things up while in school, we will see if it happens). Who knew there were so many crawly things all around your feet out in the water?

Eat something new. Ever heard of guava cheese? It is awesome. Enough said. (Buy it from a heavier lady who has a stand in the middle portion of the spice market in St. George's. It is so much better than the stuff they sell at the store.)
And it turns out that breadfruit tastes like potatoes and is actually good with catchup.

More pictures ...

A couple of views of the drive that leads to our apartment.


-STEPHANIE said...

For only being there a week, you've done a lot already! La Sagesse! Sheesh that took as like a month to finally get to, but was always one of my favorite beaches. Great tips though. Although I have to disagree, I may have died without A/C, at least at night. Haha! It is overwhelming, but you will get used to it. And then other things will be overwhelming, but you get used to those too. Grenadian people are some of my favorite people on this earth. So glad you are liking the island life!

Our Family

Our Family
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...