I can’t even begin to count how many times the thought of quitting medicine has crossed my mind these past few months. I still feel quite a bit of love lost from where my passion for this path to medicine initially was, but now that I’m back home and can process it all, I feel a bit more like a human being and I’m ready to write. So hold onto your butts because we have a loot to catch up on.
First and foremost: long time no post, yet again. I had every intention of trying to maintain my writing this past while, I promise, but from the moment I found out I was leaving for school, every aspect of life became quite chaotic and this lil life diary had to take a backseat.
When I last left you all, I was about to embark on what seemed to be the most stressful part of med school thus far, flying 6000km away for half a semester of in-person classes (which apparently was imperative for our success). Little did I know the actual travel process would not only be the least of my stresses over the next few months, but only the beginning of the most hell-hole experience I have ever had to date. Let’s start from the beginning.
How it Started
Picture it: it’s 1:15am on the day you begin your journey to the island. You haven’t finished packing, and you realize in between tears and sobbing that your alarm to head off to the airport is going off 2.5 hours from now. ‘Fuck. Why am I doing this, this is the dumbest thing ever, I can’t believe they are actually making us go through with this’ replays over and over in your head while you try to shove the last box of oatmeal packets and granola bars into the tiniest remaining crevices in your suitcase.
But thanks to your mom’s calming words and help getting the final things packed away combined with your pup’s last-minute snugs (seriously how do dogs just KNOW when you are upset), everything gets finished, and you try to compose yourself enough to squeeze in a nap (unsuccessfully).
The travel process itself was okay (aside from being 29 hours long), and was made less stressful by the ol Type A “you should make multiple copies of every single travel document ever just in case” mindset, which actually came in handy a few times. Aside from having to get yet another Covid rapid test done in Toronto, (my flight was weird and had a long layover which seemed to confuse a lot of people with regards to Covid testing parameters even though I had already completed a PCR and rapid before leaving) the first leg was relatively uneventful.
Day two was a little less fun. Not sure exactly where the disconnect was with the airline folk, but I didn’t love it. My bags were initially checked straight through to my final destination, but I was told to double check in Toronto to make sure. Okay, that seems like something people should definitely know beforehand but whatever. Get to Toronto, wait for my bags, and I slowly see all my fellow plane friends gather their things and leave until it was only me, a sad creaking luggage belt, and one lonely little forgotten carry on bag that had been doing laps since I arrived. Okay, I guess it DID go straight through? But I went to the counter to make sure. Confirmed, yes noooo worries your bag is tagged and all ready for your flights tomorrow, smiley face smiley face.
Fine by me, so I sprint to my hotel room, realizing I can make it just in time for my “mandatory” small group class that I otherwise would have had to make up on a different day – you know, since travelling to the island for mandatory in person classes is actually considered elective and the one day of required absences are not excused.
This Wasn’t Part of the Plan
Fast forward to the next morning. Nothing says ‘I hate my life’ more than being at the airport for 430am (Pearson none the less which if you haven’t heard has been an absolute nightmare lately) allllll ready to go with your carry on only to be told (more like screamed at) that I apparently NEED my checked bags and the other airline is incompetent and they always do this and they are so stupid blah blah.
Listen lady it’s 430am and I have been awake for 48 hours and you are screaming to me about how much another airline sucks, this seems like a you guys problem, I just want my bags.
But no such luck, so I had to take some sketchy ass back hallway elevator down to the baggage claim from the previous night to try and deal with the other airline and find out where in the world my bags were. BUT GUESS WHAT DOESN’T OPEN UNTIL 7am.
I was delusional and almost in tears when I found an employee, who unfortunately was working the night shift and staying for OT since her counterpart hadn’t shown up yet. I could just tell she hated me and wanted to pretend I didn’t exist so she could go home. She told me I’d have to wait until 7 to talk to another employee about where my bags were.
Okay now the tears felt like they might actually be starting…shit shit stay cool. I explained to her that my flight started boarding before 7, I still had to go through customs, and I had no idea what else to do. So this beautiful angel woman radioed for some help and not only did they locate my bags, they moved them over to where they needed to be so that I could rush back to the miles long line that was security without having to deal with the dragon lady upstairs again.
The rest of the day thankfully went smoother. I got to slowly meet more and more of my classmates, which seemed weird because I felt like I knew them, but had never actually seen them in real life. Most were taller than I expected, but the pseudo-familiarity helped to not feel completely alone going into this stressful new experience.
I Guess This is Happening
As the day went on, I could feel the humidity increase with every new location, but once we got into St. Kitts and off the plane, it felt like it slapped you across the face with it’s islandy hot breath. I knew this was about to be the sweatiest experience of my life.
We had to take a van from the airport to a dock, hop on a speedboat with all our luggage for a 15 minute zip to Nevis, then another cab to our apartments. Welp, I guess we are here and this is actually happening. It still didn’t quite feel real.
I was greeted by more and more classmates, as most had arrived on the same day while a few had already been acclimated to the island. My apartment was quite cute, had AC in the bedroom thank goodness, and had a cute little view of the ocean out the back porch (if you could see through the pigeon conglomerate that frequently made their presence known).
A classmate that had a car graciously took a few of us newcomers to the grocery store, something that I would quickly learn would never be a “quick” trip as we become so accustomed to back home. On average a simple grocery store trip would take about 2 hours, longer if people wanted to stop at more than one store.
I also quickly learned that my nutrition would not be the same as when I was back home. The store selection was so dependent on the day, and whether or not they had just gotten restocked. More times than not the produce would already be bad, or on it’s way out, so I basically tried to live off of what I brought in my suitcase (soups, oatmeals, granola bars) and what frozen veggies I could find in the store. Oh, and pringles. Pringles became my staple of life.
I spent the Sunday before ‘real classes’ started studying for our Block 2 exam, which if you recall from my last post, was TWO days after we arrived. Needless to say, I felt very unprepared. The stress from packing, flying around town to get travel documents, flying and settling in left very little headspace for studying, no matter how hard I tried. Great, this is going to be fun.
I probably cried 100 times that weekend, and to make matters worse, on my second night there was a giant spider on the wall in my bedroom and it just catalyzed my emotional breakdown even further. It’s funny looking back on it now, but at the time I was in the most distress.
New Kid on the Block
Going into class on the Monday was very weird. I felt like I was a new kid on the first day of school, even though I had known all of these people for over two years, and the semester was over halfway done. I wanted to keep my head down, finish my work and get out of there.
Classes went as expected, with the added exhaustion of being in class 9-5pm. By the time I got home from later days and being around so many people all day, I was wiped. With the time change at home, I was used to being done class at 2pm, so the day didn’t seem so tiring. Plus, doing online classes allotted for more standing breaks and more importantly, snack breaks.
The first exam wrecked me, as I semi-expected it to. But it was okay, I would make up for it on the next one now that I could laser in and focus on what needed to be done. The clinical skills labs were neat, they reminded me a lot of nursing school labs with the hands-on aspect.
Okay, maybe this isn’t so bad. 10 weeks. That’s all we had to get through. One of my friends compared it to a type of bootcamp, and I embraced the analogy. Anyone can do hard things for 10 weeks. Right?
Unless of course, shit hits the fan and everything you know turns to sheer chaos after the first week…
But I think I’ll leave that part for next time.
If you’ve made it this far, thanks for sticking around. I promise I will not leave you hanging for another 3 months.
Have a great day!