Jan 31, 2008

I make negative money

While it's definitely hard to forget how much debt we're going into over here, nothing quite hits it home like filing your "income taxes", just to make sure the IRS doesn't make some stunning oversight and hit you as having not filed just because, you know, you don't have a job.

Now, I did my taxes last year from Grenada and grabbed a neat little return from the previous year's labor. This year?

Ishie's income for 2007, as reported to the IRS: -$69.

Yowch. Yup, I made negative thanks to student loan interest before everything was deferred. What's the poverty line?

I suppose it's strange because though I don't have a job, medical school is *way* more work than almost any job I would be in, thus I feel like, even though intellectually, I know I'm going into so much debt it makes my neocortex ache, it doesn't quite hit home that *I'm* paying to do this (eventually) until I file that 1040. Nor did the fact that I live out of the country. That should be obvious every time I walk outside and forget which way I'm supposed to look before crossing the street AND making sure there aren't any cows in it, but it's when that question came up of "Have you spent more than half of 2007 outside the US?" "Yup." And will spend even more of 2008.

Crazytown! Speaking of "outside the US", I'm starting to lock in that schedule for this summer, with probably deciding on flying into Berlin, staying for a couple of days, taking the train to Prague, doing the selective, and then flying out of London. Now, all I have to do is learn German, Czech, Italian, French, and English. By English, I mean "English", not the "like, dude" varietal that I speak. I've got my work cut out for me.

But school... first exam was on Monday, and I'm pleased with the result. I thought it was pretty fair, and it's strange to have a statistics exam so short on numbers. The wonders of the "no calculator" rule.

Now, we're going into more neuro-based psychiatry, as well as some math-based epidemiology, so I'm making damn sure I keep up on those and don't get too complacent. But so far, third term is pretty much going as promised. I'm also LOVING the afternoon small groups, like I did in second term. Not necessarily loving them as in "loving the content at all times", but loving it as in "opposite of first term's bright/early labs where I was NEVER awake for anything". I am so not a morning person. If they had exams start at 1 am, I'd have straight A's in medical school. I wonder if that counts as a learning disability...

Well, speaking of such, back to psych, a class that gives you so many disorders to remember, you can't help but diagnose yourself with 6 or 7 of them.

And now, a random Grenada photo:

Addendum: In the "Analogies that don't work" category:

Comparing the lack of ambient neurotransmitters in the brain to the amount of gas in a carburetor. I can honestly say I know more about brains than I do about cars, since I usually attribute the functioning of the latter to leprechauns living under the hood.

Jan 29, 2008

Exams already?

Well, exam already. But single exam that is half behavioral science, 30% statistics, and 20% health systems.

It is hard to take third term as seriously, largely because of the reputation it has. I'm wondering how much of that is perceived, as in, things are easier because the rumor mill has them easier, so you may study in a more relaxed but effective manner, which makes them seem easier.

Or maybe it's just easier. Who knows?

Third term, in the past, has been broken up into small two unit classes for each segment, where for our term, it's a conglomerate of not entirely closely related classes into a single 6 unit class.

I'm not sure if this means you can conceivably decel over third term since the rule is that if you fail a class worth 5 or more units, you have to decel; and if you fail a class of 4 or fewer units, you have to take a makeup exam. I'm not sure what happens if you fail the makeup exam. But since the entirety of third term is now over that 4 unit limit, what happens if you fail it since the term is only 6 weeks long? Do you just go onto fourth term and then take third term again when you get around to it? Do you have to then decel for third and fourth term? Dunno.

But regardless... the worst part of this exam for me was having to drag out of bed before noon for a change, since my pledge to continue showing up for class on time dissolved once the lectures were reliably going up on Sonic Foundry, thus I can watch them on "TV". I'm so predictable.

It had the potential to be a difficult exam, but I thought it was pretty fair. Surprisingly, I thought statistics was the easiest part, probably because since I'm afraid of math, I studied it the most, and part of my innate fear of math stems from my calculator-dependent upbringing, thus my inability to do basic arithmetic, which wasn't heavily required.

Plus, our professor had a tendency to say things like "While you have to know the principles behind a chi squared test, I am not going to make you calculate the value on a test where you're not allowed to use calculators because it's tedious and time-consuming."

Yeah... I'm going to stick with calling it "tedious and time-consuming" as a reason not to do it, rather than the truth of "Ishie may understand absolutely everything about chi squared tests, but when doing the calculations by hand, will add 6 and 2, get 9, and get the question wrong. Ahh, public education. My friend Slappy and I have had the "grad school while counting on fingers" discussion many times.

On the plus side, when things are calculation based, I am not very easily misled so long as the exam is multiple choice, because when I get my wrong answer, I do so in a way no professor would ever conceive of, so my answer is nowhere near any of the answer choices so I know I have to start over. No distractors for me!

So what to do in celebration of an exam I felt fairly good about but have no idea what my grade would be (watch me fail it)? Go to St. George's for dinner!

I've gotten kinda tired of a lot of the restaurants right in True Blue, as they tend to be more expensive, have food that isn't quite as good, and service that's somewhat poor (there's exceptions), so when I do go out, I'm trying to go to new places a little farther from campus, and I have to say, it's a good experience, and so long as you are back before 10 (didn't make it this time around), the extra five bucks round trip in bus fare probably is less than the savings on the food. Plus, the Carenage is beautiful.

Tonight's excursion was to the Nutmeg, which is about a block before where the bus's turn to go up to the station. There's a sign and you go up to the second floor, which has a nice, small dining room with several tables with a really nice view of the water. Food was good, service was good, prices were fairly reasonable, so thumbs up.

Tomorrow starts more behavioral science with statistics and health systems being replaced by epidemiology. Unfortunately, it also means we change our behavioral sci prof, and I really liked Mrs-Dr. A-M, who taught us the last week.

Jan 26, 2008

Baskets while you wait

I'm trying to practice getting "people" shots, thus am caught in the eternal dilemma of "ask person to take picture and have them take a doofy 'hi mom' shot" or "take covert pictures of people like a stalker to get the 'natural' effort, and have people get pissed at me"? And I'm such a social coward, so neither is appealing. So I have to either figure it out, or spend the rest of my life getting the best darned New England church shots in the land since churches can't yell at you.

Fortunately, I asked the basket man, and he was nice about it, so if you need a basket, buy it from him.

Oh, right, and I'm doing that whole "study for Monday's exam" thing. Sort of. I pass off the fact that I went shopping by way of a quick trip to the beach by emphasizing that I was about halfway through the "Identifying sexual abuse in children" lecture, at which point you really want either a break or a shower. Yech.

Jan 25, 2008

Lies, damn lies, and...

I've been going through some statistics tonight, because I was gorging myself on Dr. Female A-M's developmental lectures, since they're like potato chips, thus putting me WAY too caught up in behavioral science at the expense of statistics.

Which is silly, really, because I think our stat prof is really good, goes through things at a slow pace (too slow for some, I know, but if there is one thing you do NOT want to race through with me, it's math), and overexplains things to a point where I feel pretty confident in the material even after only the lecture, but...

Everything was going perfectly well up to the "Power" lecture, again, not interesting, but relevant, and more importantly, things up to that lecture had been inherently logical. So maybe that line about "lies, damn lies, and statistics" is a little harsh, right?

Nope, it was just a matter of time. Suddenly, "So if you want this value and don't have enough participants, just move this one." "If your sample size isn't big enough, just increase your estimate of what you want the population differences to be." Or how willing you are to make a Type I error.

Hey! You can't do that!

What's sad is that despite a now-revealed tendency for statisticians to make stuff up, I think medical research/stat is still beating immunology and respiratory physiology for "things there would be a chance in hell I would do for a living". The wonders of a good professor.

Now, our stat prof has been really good about relating everything we're doing to published papers in the medical literature so we can see real-life application. Also, every time she says "But you don't have to calculate this number since in real life, you'd just plug it into a computer", I would start some wave action going on if I weren't alone in my apartment. However, all of that paled in favor of the class response, when for linear regression, her chosen example was "relationship of med school GPA to board scores". That shuffling you hear on Sonic Foundry is the sound of 100 students suddenly snapping awake.

Jan 23, 2008


Keeping positive

Loan check? Oops, nope. Administrative error. Hopefully landlord won't be too horrendously pissed.

Luggage? Nope, AA has no idea where it is.

Packages? Nope, including the one that was sent two weeks before finals last term.

Airline tickets to Europe for the selective this summer before the prices shoot up? Nope, no loan check to buy them with.

Fan-freaking-tastic. But I bought a good papaya today, and I'm staying healthy, so it's all good. Plus, they've gotten up the most recent Sonic Foundry lectures, which is definitely good for my studying.

I'm staying positive this year, or at least this term. No one's gonna stop me. Hear me, school?

Jan 21, 2008

What I learned in biostat lab

Basically, that I don't know enough biostat. Holy crap.

In lab, you partner up with someone who hopefully is a good enough friend not to hate you when you don't know anything, calculate some problems on a DOS program and then stumble through your explanation until someone mercifully stops you as you present to a facilitator.

On the plus side, going back over my notes, I'm getting the material better, and lest anyone think stuff is all uber-difficult, I suspect my dearth of stat knowledge has something to do with both my innate badness at math and perhaps more, my decision to spend pretty much the entirety of the weekend at the beach. D'oh!

Next task up is acclimatizing to hotter and hotter temperatures in my apartment to try and whittle down my astronomical electric bill.

Jan 20, 2008

Me likey the 3rd term

Though granted, it's only the end of the first week, and I haven't had an exam yet.

Behavioral: Interesting, and so far, easy-peezy. I resist the soft sciences, but they keep beckoning me back. Highlight/lowlight of Behavioral Sciences so far was the mental hospital visit, also allowing for numerous jokes among family and friends about my "having to go to the mental institution", with my dad's line of "Well, don't let them keep you."

Why the mixed bag? Well, it's an underfunded mental institution, which should allow you to pretty much imagine what the low points would be. The staff seems to do their best, but the facility still has way more patients than beds, areas in desperate need of maintenance and upkeep, and a yard for the patients with an ostensible lack of things for them to do. When you go, you can hear people screaming; you can note the wear and tear, and a lot of the general misery that permeates. The overseeing doctor also explained to us that once you've been taken there once, pretty much all you have to do is sneeze to be landed right back there.

I do feel like it's a very positive educational experience. At the superficial level, you get yet another free and organized bus tour of a part of the island most of us haven't been to, but you also get to see the inner workings of the institution, talk to the patients, have an interview with one of the patients, and learn about where there are problems on the island, how they're handled, and what the social perceptions are, both of the patients and the facility itself. By talking to a patient (who was convinced that the local cable and phone companies were watching), we were able to see those awarenesses (like being powerless over one's own situation) even in the presence of strong delusions

Didn't get to hear the song though. One extremely well kept young man in the yard offered to sing to us, but we had to go before he got a chance, and he was gone by the time we got back.

There is a temptation in third term to skip scheduled events (I should know), particularly since you are allowed to miss one and still get attendance credits, but definitely don't make it the hospital visit. And arrive at the bus stop early. The only reason I didn't miss it (despite giving myself enough time to catch the bus) was because as I was waiting for the bus to go TO campus to catch the ride, a little reggae bus started to scoot by and a friend of mine in my group yelled "ISHIE!!!!" out the window and got the driver to stop. Phew.

Statistics does not have similarly interesting visits, nor is the class similarly interesting, a fact lamented by many. Statistics is what it is, and is precisely what it is in undergrad: An extremely important and relevant subject that is damn near impossible to make compelling. So just prop your eyelids open, pay attention, and realize the number of times you're going to be reading medical journals where things like selection bias and study size really are critical bits of information for making informed decisions. Then, drink another cup of coffee, because you're going to need it.

Jurisprudence hasn't started yet, but it has "prudence" in the name, which means I'm probably going to fail it.

Baggage update status: A week without my luggage! Let's hear it for American for winning the "Who's gonna lose Ishie's bag for the longest period of time without any form of compensation?" competition! Woo! I've thwarted them by having the vast majority of the stuff I need either on the island already or in my carryon. They've thwarted me by having my path book for 4th term. I'm still going to convince myself that I came out ahead.

So in the minor breather that is 3rd term, particularly now that I've gotten my Sonic back up and running, what have I been doing?

Friday: Predominantly vet school party! They know how to do it up. Highlights were George's exquisitely made mojitos, real Mexican food, and an impermeable pinata (no tilda, I know) shaped like a parrot/toucan.

Best lines: "Look at the vet students beating on the bird!"

Best situation with best line: In response to inability to get more than a couple pieces of candy by repeatedly bashing the pinata until the stick broke into two pieces, and then using the sharp bit to stab the thing, heavier artillery was required:

Line shouted to attacker: "Do you want the blindfold?!"

Afterparty at Banana's. They've opened a little subbar on top of the "Carib Cave" which serves as ANOTHER bar, which combined with the one inside the club/restaurant proper, and the two inside the "Club Banana's" special area, or whatever, makes Banana's one of the few places in Grenada that you can get a drink in under a half hour. If you go to Stewart's, BYOB, holy crap.

So given that, I would do the responsible thing on Saturday, and study, right? Well... for a half hour. Then, phone call from Lori: "Wanna go to the beach?" Hell yeah.

Worth it though. Nice long swim with choppier conditions than usual, but at one point, there were DARK clouds over the mountains, the nearly full moon out in the daytime, and a rainbow completing the scene. Ahhhhh, medical school.

That also marked my first trip (after the beach) to the Food Fair in Monte Tout, which actually does have drastically reduced prices on certain goods and a better selection of meat and wine. IGA has more general stuff though, and they were well stocked on Saturday, so a good and relatively inexpensive shopping day. If you're over in the Food Fair shopping center, make sure to either get a rum/raisin or nutmeg ice cream cone from Rick's. YUM.

Today? I'm studying behavioral. No, really. It'll be at least another hour before I give up and go back to the beach.

Jan 18, 2008

Grrrr American Airlines!

They officially now have NO IDEA where my baggage is. Not sure if it's in Trinidad; not sure if it's in Grenada. No clue. So it's been transferred to "Central Baggage", where all their "unclaimed bags" (it's frigging claimed!) go, and as he explained, usually because the bags don't have any information on them.

My bag has a luggage tag with my name and location, not to mention "GRENADA" and "SGU" written all over the fabric of the bag in Sharpie marker. It contents include a giant animatronic robot parrot and a pathology book. Losing this bag is like losing Bozo the clown at a board meeting.

They also seem to be confused as to whether this bag has actually arrived at my apartment yet, since they did put it on a Liat flight, or at least they thought they did, as of the 15th. They don't know Liat very well. So it's lost. And probably lost without an AA luggage tag, since if they did put it with Liat, Liat probably removed the tag, stuck on their own, and then threw it in the ocean.

So no extra sheets, no parrot, no frigging TEXTBOOKS, no nothing. Thanks American Airlines. You've yet again done a stellar job.

Jan 16, 2008

Third term and American Airlines... again

Why do airlines hate me?

Let's recap some of my best moments over the last year:

Leaving Grenada (American Airlines): 6-8 hour delay in Grenada, missed connecting flight due to it, 2 hour delay in Puerto Rico, leading to necessity of staying in wrong state with no late meal vouchers, with fight over rechecking bag in the morning.

Returning to Grenada (Air Jamaica): Lost luggage for 5 days. Completely apathetic service personnel. Refusal to provide compensation. Told me luggage was arriving on days where AJ doesn't actually fly. Told me luggage wasn't coming in because a previous day's luggage was having to come in. Refusal to deliver bags once in, tried to refuse to give bags back at the airport until I finally snapped.

Leaving Grenada (American Airlines): After successful connections to Trinidad with Liat and JFK with Caribbean Airlines, lost luggage between JFK and Boston, American denied ever having the bag at all, had two people openly rude to me about it, found it in their care, and shipped it, so it arrived after two or so days.

Returning to Grenada (American Airlines): Left luggage in Miami due to tight turnaround from Boston to Miami because their plane arrived late (again). This time they acknowledge having it, but gave me the wrong number to contact in Trinidad, had the wrong number down for me, once corrected have never called it to update. At first, thought it was supposed to be picked up in Trinidad despite precise directions otherwise. Sent it 'right away' to Grenada last night via Liat. If you know anything about Liat, you can tell where this is going. Now, even American Airlines doesn't know where my bag is. On the plus side, unlike Air Jamaica, the baggage support personnel sound very sorry for it. Possibly due to the fact that this is the second time in a month.

Also, every time I have airline woes, I add more identifying features to my bag. I'm beginning to wonder if they're giving it less priority because it is becoming so very identifiable that they figure they can leave it behind because it'll be easy to find again. Next time, I'm sending my bag incognito. James Bond sunglasses and everything.

It's teaching me the value of just carrying everything on and never checking luggage again. Sure as hell made flying Liat easier. And Venezuela.

Third term. Bit slow so far, and I need to make sure I pay attention to statistics because I am famously bad at math, but it seems like a bit more of a "break" at this point, at least as is its reputation. Everything seems to be combined into one class, the instructors don't give me any trouble to date, so I just need to make sure I don't get complacent.

Did my main shopping today. For those keeping track, as of last viewing, IGA (local grocery store) was full up on many products but fresh out of others. Egg and American milk shortage, not nice potatoes/onions, but very well stocked in cereal, peanut butter/jelly, pasta, some of the veggies, a lot of frozen foods, frozen meats, but not fresh meats.

For incomings, when you go to IGA for the first time, particularly if you're somewhat late coming, do not be freaked out by the fact that the shelves are picked clean and they're out of everything. You will not starve to death. Egg shortages can sometimes be circumvented by seeing if D store has them (though they sometimes run out too), and there used to be an egg guy who came to campus, but I'm not sure if he still does.

Early on, as everyone either has their "won't get any food" panic or, like me, is just restocking their larder from the break, the incidence of the store running out of popular products will increase drastically. This eases a lot as people's shopping schedules space out, but Friday is still the main day that IGA restocks, so that's when most people go. If you really really want a popular product, go then. If you really really don't like being in heavily crowded areas, do what I do, and if they're out of what you need, shrug and go back another time. Plus,occasionally you will find variation, like going in on a Wednesday and find them stocked with stuff they were out of on Friday.

If you're running low on critical products, and want a way of getting a second shot, it may also be worth checking out the CK that's on the corner next to the Texaco on the Grand Anse/True Blue bus route. Just look for the Texaco station and get out there, as it's on that corner. There's a grocery store there that is seldom used. It's not as pretty, but if IGA has been picked clean by the incoming class, a lot of people either don't know about CK or don't go in there anyway.

There's Food Fairs on the Mont Tout route, in downtown St. George's near the Saturday spice market or en route to St. George's. In the latter two cases, get a reggae bus.

Most of the time, I admit, I'm lazy and go to IGA.

If anyone really wants the super fresh fish, IGA's selection of it is poor to nonexistent. Best place to go is the Fish Market in downtown St. George's, by taking a number 1 reggae bus (two and a half EC) to the bus station and it's right near there. You'll also get to see town.

Jan 15, 2008

Welcome home, suckers!!!!

Hi all you newcomings!!! I saw the campus groups leading around. It was cute.

How's everyone doing?

As most can tell, I arrived safely on the rock without difficulty (other than getting my luggage lost again) and then have been lounging into home.

Went to lecture and realized that third term may not be so bad for me, and is a lot of stuff I've covered before. Cool. Walked home and discovered that I'm apparently "bootiful!" by three guys, though sweaty, my again spotless apartment. Awwww....

Then chat seassions turned to wine and pizza sections on Lori's balcony with Sheryl and Lisa, talking about all our experiences, and it was just a pleasant envening with all going well.

And my eyelids are going closed.

Bye bye America!

Jan 13, 2008

AA Strikes Again!

That's American Airlines, not Alcoholics Anonymous... not until 4th term, at least.

I thought Liat was going to get the distinct pleasure of losing my luggage this time, but American Airlines once again stole the honor by leaving my bag in Miami due to a tight turnover caused by their first leg being late. They're at 5/5! They are the contenders!

On the plus side, since I'm trying to look for silver linings this year and stop being *quite* as whiny all the damn time (which will last around five minutes), it does mean that I'm getting to sit in Royal Castle in the Trinidad airport with some chicken and wi fi surfing rather than trying to drag my bag through the unairconditioned part of the airport and then wrassling it past Grenadian customs and into a taxi with my unreasonable amount of carry-on (since I anticipated this problem and packed everything I couldn't reasonably never see again into it). Instead, AA is helpfully shipping it to the airport later when they get around to it. Ahhhh, competence.

And Liat-willing, I'll be tucking into my apartment tonight and end the airport run for a while, which is always fantastic, and I haven't gotten any grief so far at the Trinidad airport (not that I did last time), and this particularly corner of it is air conditioned, so all is well. All is well. All is well.

Jan 12, 2008

Goodbye, cold weather

What an unpleasant adaptation I am going to have to make.

I'm a cold weather creature, which means that while it takes me a year in the Caribbean to begin even PRETENDING to be able to tolerate mildly hot weather for short periods of time, I can be shoveling off the dog run with wet hair in running shorts and a robe (seexxxxy) in 35 degree weather within three weeks.

But, I'd better get used to it, because I'm heading back to Grenada at 5:30 in the morning, and taking off for Boston to deal with the lovely people at American Airlines. In the last six months, they've screwed up 4 of the 4 flights I've taken with them. Let's see if they can make it 6.

Ahhhh, I've had a good vacation. Saw family, had good times, saw snow, spent the last two days in New York and Montreal and in the latter, ate at a place so French it had "Chez" in the name. I know, right? Pictures will be coming as soon as I've arrived in Grenada (AA and Liat willing, of course), settled in, attended my first day of classes, and registered. Er, yeah.

Safe travels and arrivals to all! May the pothounds you inevitably encounter be rabies-free.

Jan 9, 2008

Now he's covered in bees...

In the early days of this blog, I used an expression I ripped off from Eddie Izzard, specifically "covered in bees!!!" to describe how it felt to suddenly have sold most of your material possessions, and be getting ready to toss everything and move to the Caribbean.

Nicolas Cage will now demonstrate how it feels to be going BACK to medical school for another year after spending three weeks (with four more days to go) lounging in snow covered deluxe laziness:

Nicolas Cage is a terrible terrible actor. People have been confused in the past as to why I despise him so much, but I think this little clip clears it up.

Jan 5, 2008

Nothing says fun like...

shopping for clothes in the midst of a New England winter to outfit you for six months in the Caribbean, two months in Europe, and then another four months in the Caribbean. And then cram it into a 50 pound luggage allowance that has probably around a 40% chance of getting permanently lost.

Said goodbye to dad today and drove him to Manchester to fly out, which also meant cashing in my Target gift card (since that's the first place I could find a Target) and getting some shopping done. Looking at the stuff to take to Grenada, with the potential for not significantly returning to the US for nearly a year once I'm out, all I can conclude is... well, hope the courier gets me a good rate on the stuff I'll be shipping!

So maybe I can help out with tips other than "don't try and save yourself a hundred bucks to fly out on an airline where you can only take 50 pounds, rather than 70 or 150."

What am I packing for 3rd term and on? Kitchen stuff and more clothes. Maybe it's that I tend to buy cheaply made stuff, but I'm finding that a lot of clothes wear quickly combined with the frequency of wear/harshness of washing machines/heat/humidity, so replenishing becomes necessary, especially of workout clothes. If you do gym workouts or plan on walking/jogging, bring a good amount of comfortable clothes for it, because they go QUICKLY, and depending on where "home" is and what season you're in, it can be hard to find the selection you want later, which is what I'm finding. A moisture-wicking running parka is not what I need to plan for jogging in 84 degree weather.

For your initial starter kit, bring sheets and a pillow because they are not provided, so unless you make room for them in your luggage, you're either going to be rushing out to buy one depending on when your flight gets in, or you'll be sleeping on a bare mattress. Bring towels, and as I learned when I came back for second term, pack a small towel in your carryon, because having to use a t-shirt in place of one while you wait for your luggage to finally get to you sucks (thanks, Air Jamaica). Speaking of which, though I've given this advice before as have many others, pack essentials in your carryon, since if you fly during the two peak times for students, you are fairly likely to get your luggage delayed, generally for between 1 and 7 days. For people that are entirely dependent on loans, since your loan isn't dispersed until you register for classes, this can be a really big problem if you are trying to replace your essentials.

I'd recommend bringing at least one sturdy pot that can double as a frying pan. For any of your start up necessities (kitchen ware, bathware, bedspreads), go to Spiceland Mall EARLY because all the incomings are going to be rushing for the same limited supply of products, and you may end up without silverware, pillows, etc for a while if you don't hurry and haven't brought them. They have all of it, and if you have free time, you can take a reggae bus downtown and get virtually anything you need, but easier, if you have the space, to just take it with you. It's cheaper, if nothing else.

If you have specialty products you really like (like a type of granola bar), bring them with you after checking whether they have them available. If you're from the UK, definitely check what they have before coming because the island has a TON of British imports and they tend to be more reasonably priced than the American stuff, so make sure you don't waste your luggage space.

When I was living in the dorms, I found the tap water to be perfectly fine. If you're planning to live off campus, I would recommend a filter. The water can be cloudy and tastes funny without one, and the filters get used up at a rate that suggests it's having to work pretty hard. If nothing else, in second term, parasitology will probably scare you into one.

For shoes, except when I'm jogging/walking, where breathable sneakers are key, I spend about 95% of my time in sandals. I've found it suspiciously difficult to find reasonably priced comfortable sandals on the island, so since they're light, it may be worth bringing down a few pairs. They wear out pretty quickly.

A good bag for laundry/groceries can be useful if you have an extra little bit of luggage space. Juggling groceries onto a packed bus with 40 other people also carrying groceries is not fun, and is made less fun when you're having to keep track of 8 bags.

And speaking of laundry, if you like dryer sheets, bring them. They are INCREDIBLY hard to find in Grenada.

OTC drugs you regularly use should probably be thrown in. The local stores can run out of things for a while and a lot of them are REALLY expensive. If you're going to buy OTC drugs on the island, I think the True Blue pharmacy tends to run better prices than IGA. For prescription drugs, talk to your doctor about a vacation prescription, since the pharmacies can run out of things at inopportune times.

Whether or not you pack any warm clothes really depends on you. I had a hoodie in Grenada that really only became useful when I needed a brief barrier against walking in and out of planes on the way back to the US, but some students get cold in the lecture halls or their dorms due to acclimatizing to the Caribbean heat and then getting thrust periodically into air conditioning.

Well, to bed for me. Good luck!

Jan 2, 2008

Happy New Year!

If a bit late... Sorry about that.

But it is SO nice to spend the new year back in civilization:

See? The farm animals are in pens.

Not to mention the fact that transportation is SO much better here:

Well... more fun, at any rate.