Silverback, MD

August 31, 2006

Silverack MD

Tevin is a neat kid, maybe 12, whose mother slams his head into walls until he stops asking why she’s beating him. He likes the disappearing-thumb trick that my father taught me. Mrs. K has just had her foot amputated because of uncontrolled diabetes. She doesn’t understand any of this, knowing only that she has “the sugar”. Jeremy has “THUG LIFE” tatooed across his chest and an icepick in his left shoulder.

It’s a jungle in here. Read the rest of this entry »

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Grenadian Weather

August 29, 2006

For current, updated information about attending SGU, review of SGU textbooks, and access to more SGU resources, please visit the Welcome to Grenada site.

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The wet season is very wet and runs from August to December. It can rain for days on end. If you bring an umbrella, make sure it is the type that opens to form a complete sphere around you, because the rain falls sideways. Honestly, go to a camping store and get a waterproof cover for your backpack, a light waterproof jacket and a shamie. You will be the envy of everyone. Another thing to consider is the mosquitoes. The breeding ground for mosquitoes is standing water, and there will be a lot of it. Invest in a mesh tent for your bed and screens for your windows (only applicable if living off campus). Want to know a fun trick? Instead of a mesh net, get a standing oscillating fan. If you go to sleep with it by your head, the mosquitos get sucked into the back of it and murdered. You get to wake up the next morning with a pile of them on the ground. Good times.

There is little rain in the dry season which runs from January till June. It is the best time to be on the island and enjoy everything that it has to offer. Go to the beach, learn to kite surf, bring your surf board, or rent a jet ski. Head to the capital and learn how to haggle in the market. Most of all, remember to get a tan so that people believe you when you say that you go to school on a tropical island.


Island Culture

August 29, 2006

For current, updated information about attending SGU, review of SGU textbooks, and access to more SGU resources, please visit the Welcome to Grenada site.

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English is the language spoken in Grenada. In the school guide, they describe it as a “slightly lilting Caribbean accent”. I disagree. Those Grenadians that work with the university, or in another position that requires constant exposure to tourists and students, are easy to understand. Those that have very little exposure to foreigners can be near unintelligible, but once you have an idea for what someone is trying to say, everything seems much clearer. It is not unlike listening to lyrics from a difficult song after you have already read them in the CD jacket.

If you have a healthy sense of humor, the stressful things about Grenada can be hilarious. First off, if you go to a restaurant and read the menu, do not kid yourself and think that what is on the menu is available. The menu is instead a list of things that were once available and may be available in the future. This is due either to a lack of ingredients, the staff is too busy to make your order, or the staff does not care to make your order. So order something else with a smile.

Second, if you order a drink at a US bar and it takes more than a few moments, it is often because the place is very busy and the bar is understaffed. If you order a drink in a Grenadian bar on a dead night when you are the only customer, it will take even longer. This is not because the bartender is trying to piss you off or ruin your whole day as some dramatics will say, it is instead because the island is a slow place and you need to get used to it. That Grenadian bartender could turn to you and ask, “What’s your hurry anyway?” Try to remember that there is no hurry and life will be a lot easier on you.


The Day-to-Day

August 29, 2006

For current, updated information about attending SGU, review of SGU textbooks, and access to more SGU resources, please visit the Welcome to Grenada site.

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As a First-termer, I got up every morning around 7am and checked the class schedule. Typically only two courses are taught a day with each getting two hours of lecture time. On some days you will have Anatomy lab that can begin at 8 or 9am and lasts for three hours, or you have Histology lab at 8 or 10am that lasts for two hours. Lectures begin at 1pm each day and last until 5pm. You do not need to bring much to campus. I usually put my laptop, water bottle, two three ring binders and two textbooks into my backpack and grab the bus.

Eating on campus is not hard though students do complain about the selection. At the top of the hill (you will know it well) there are vendors selling fresh fruits and the Patels selling homemade Indian food. Halfway down campus is the Student’s Center which has two restaurants (Glover’s and Pearl’s) along with a convenience store. At the base of campus is the Sugar Shack. You will not go hungry.

Time before and after lecture is often spent in the library. The library has wireless internet and so should your computer (the “Computing at SGU” section of the SGU website does a good job of preparing you). During peak hours it can be difficult to get a strong connection (bringing an Ethernet cable is a bad move, as many of the plugs on campus work sporadically). The wireless network extends throughout campus into the lecture halls (you can follow lectures online or check email during breaks), across to the bus stop and down to the Student Area (where the gym and restaurants are located). Some students are able to get a connection in their rooms as well. If you live off campus in Grand Anse dorms there is a study room with a wireless connection. High-speed internet is available in off-campus apartments through a contract with Cable & Wireless.


School Culture

August 29, 2006

For current, updated information about attending SGU, review of SGU textbooks, and access to more SGU resources, please visit the Welcome to Grenada site.

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During your first two weeks here you have carte blanche to introduce yourself to as many people as you wish. Your class will probably go out each night that first week and I recommend you go each time. The first week does not contain difficult material and you will not have another chance like it. After this grace period the classes pick up a bit, people fall into routines and your opportunities to meet every member of your class will start to drop off.

SGU operates by four-month-long terms. This tricks you into thinking that each term is a year long and that people in second, third and fourth term are somehow separated from you. This is of course nonsense. The uppertermers will have advice for you on every class and most of it should be ignored. Instead, find a good DES tutor, give yourself a few weeks, and then start making judgments on how to handle your course load. Everyone should go to the Department of Educational Services (DES) office and take a look at all of their handouts on studying, test-taking strategies, and review sessions. It is a goldmine of helpful information.

SGU students study like they party: hard. Go to the Crab Races at The Owl every Monday night at Grand Anse beach. On Wednesday, everyone heads over to Stewart’s Dock for drinks and a live band. If you like to keep going until 4am, Banana’s is the place for you. There are so many organizations on school that every weekend has at least one sponsored party at the Aquarium, Thai Beach, Kudos, etc. Take advantage while you can. Before too long you will start looking forward to the weekend because it means no more classes and you have time to study. Yes, you will be ‘that guy.’


The Last Phone You’ll Every Buy

August 29, 2006

For current, updated information about attending SGU, review of SGU textbooks, and access to more SGU resources, please visit the Welcome to Grenada site.

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Motorolla Phone

No one gets a landline and you should not bring a cordless phone with you. So that means you are buying a cell phone. Since you are now going to travel from the mainland to Grenada and St. Vincent’s (and possibly Prague) you probably want a phone that can work in all areas. For this, you need to buy a Quad-Band GSM phone. There are two main companies that offer GSM service in the USA. AT&T and Cingular are now merged into one company, and the second company is T-Mobile. So here’s what you do:

1) buy a Quad-Band GSM phone from one of these companies
2) make sure that it is a pay-as-you-go phone with a SIM card
3) Google “unlock SIM” and pay for your phone to be unlocked

I’ll explain all of that:

There are four major broadcasting systems used throughout the world. So a Quad-Band phone means that you’ll never have to buy a new phone for travel. The SIM card is a chip that contains your phone number and your contacts. Put another way, it does not matter from what phone you call: if you put your SIM card in any phone the person you are calling will see that it is you. So if you buy a SIM Quad-Band phone at home, you will have a SIM card with your home’s area code. When you come to Grenada, you will buy another SIM card with a Grenadian number. At this point, you can simply switch the SIM cards while you’re one the islands and then switch them back when you return home. Taping them into your passport is a nice way to keep track of them when not in use.

The reason you have to “unlock” your phone is so that your T-Mobile phone (for example) will operate with a Digicel SIM card from Grenada (for example). Pay-as-you-go means that if you want to talk for ten minutes, you buy ten minutes. If you talk over that, the phone simply cuts off (after a warning of course). This means that you cannot possibly suffer overage charges and you don’t get roped into a contract. And why do you have to pay to unlock your phone? Because T-mobile doesn’t want you to buy there phone and then use it with an AT&T SIM card. T-mobile wants your money. Typically, these companies will unlock your phone for free if you’ve owned it for three months, but if you’re reading this now that’s a bit of late notice. So pay to have it unlocked from a separate code vendor and you should be set.
Some students make use of internet phones as well.

All in All, I paid $95 (phone $50, SIM $20, Unlock $25)

There are several programs that allow you to make phone calls over the internet for pennies a minute to anywhere in the world. Skype, Netphone, and PCPhone are popular programs and only require a headset with microphone.


A Picture is Worth…

August 29, 2006

For current, updated information about attending SGU, review of SGU textbooks, and access to more SGU resources, please visit the Welcome to Grenada site.

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1000 Words

It’s amazing how a few photographs taken by students can add some perspective to the place. Go to Flickr.com and search for ‘SGU.’ It says something that the students love the school enough to put all of this together themselves.

My favortite albums are shot by
Josh http://www3.flickr.com/photos/joshy55013
Felix http://www2.flickr.com/photos/sravishankar