Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving St Kitts Style

Since I am not in the US, I had to go to school both Thursday and Friday, but to make up for it, my friends and I decided to make our own Thanksgiving on Saturday night. Luckily, the stores sold most of what we needed. They sold butterball turkeys, which I felt was meat I could trust. The 14 lb turkey cost about 110 EC which is about $40 plus the tax here, which is ridiculously high thanks to a new law, but we were willing to pay it. We split up all the food and decided to eat up the hill at the biggest house. The plan was to cook the turkey there so it did not need to be carried. We wanted to eat at 7, so at about 3, the turkey went into the oven as planned. I got a ride and was there around 4. The turkey smelled delicious. Since the turkey took up the whole oven, people who needed to cook other things went down the hill a ways to another house to use the ovens there. Everything was going as planned...until about 5. That's when we began to wonder if someone took the giblets out. As we prepared the tongs to go in, a phone call confirmed that the giblets had been taken out, but more on that later. We also realized that the turkey did not have the pop-up thermometer like we were counting on and we had no meat thermometer, so we were going to have to wing it. At 7, nearly everything was ready, so we went to get the turkey out of the oven and found that at some point, the oven had stopped heating. It was still slightly warm inside, but nowhere near the needed temperature. What to do? We took the turkey out and were going to drive it down the hill to further cook it. Unfortunately, we were up a dirt road that had been partially washed out in the recent rain storms and we decided the rough road would make all the juices spill out of the pan, so the turkey was carried down the hill. Did I mention that by this time it was dark? Because it was and street lights are not excessively common there. We got down the hill and put the turkey in. We figured give it about an hour and then cut into it to check. Unfortunately, the power went out about 15 minutes into that hour. The oven was gas so we were able to continue cooking the turkey, but we got to sit in the dark for awhile. Sitting in the dark is a common thing around the island, although not so much at my house. The island has rolling power outages all the time and if there is a big storm the power will frequently go out. I live closer to the capital than the rest of my friends and have only lost power once for an hour. An hour later, we took the turkey out and it looked down. We carried everything back up the hill and prepared to eat. We toasted new families and dug into our meal. We way overestimated how much food we needed and decided that from our island diets, stomachs had shrunk, so we had a lot of excess food, which meant leftovers. But the turkey was fully cooked and tasted delicious and the food was almost as good as at home. Now it is about three days to my birthday and then 17 days after that until I fly home, which I am looking forward to a lot. I am looking forward to seeing everybody and everything at home. Since it is still over 80 degrees here everyday, the fact that it is fall doesn't really hit me, but I'm sure stepping off the plane into the winter air will make it a reality.
I was holding the meat while the turkey was cut and thought I should just start eating now
Our thanksgiving dinner, I made the pie next to the turkey

St Kitts family photo

Monday, November 8, 2010

Photos from Past Few Weeks

Getting off the car ferry from Nevis. I got seasick so I watched the car get off the boat while standing on dry land.

While in Nevis we checked out some of the historical sites. Dean and Morgan are helping Katie with her moral dilemma outside one of the historic church.

Nevis on the way over on the ferry, about a 20 minute ride.

My new car, hasn't moved since I took this picture, but hopefully soon I will figure out the secret to jumping a car.

Rory being naughty. She has gotten to be quite a handful lately, but I still love coming home to someone that's excited to see me.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Supposed to be Studying

Since I'm supposed to be studying for a nutrition exam, I decided that this is the perfect time to update my blog. Lots has been occuring. First semester is more than half over already. After next Wednesday, my second round of midterms will be finished and I can hopefully say that I am still a passing vet student. Up to this point, I am happy to say that I am. The exam on Wednesday does not worry me much since about half of it is about forages, grains, and swine. We spent one class period learning the differences between barrows, boars, sows, and gilts. There was even a point where we learned that "piglet" is the proper name for a baby pig, so as I said, not too concerned. We also learned about raking hay and I realized that is definately one thing I will not miss from home, even though I haven't had to do it in years now.

Two weeks ago we had our mid semester break, so we had a three day weekend. Some friends and I decided to take a trip to the other half of St. Kitts and Nevis and stay in a hotel in Nevis. We did a bunch of touristy things: checked out some ruins, saw the botanical gardens, got lost, normal things. Definately planning a return trip there because it was a lot of fun. I also had my first experience with seasickness on the ferry ride over. Luckily, it's only a 20-ish minute ride from one island to the other.

Last weekend was Halloween, but since we had two big midterms last week, the going out here was limited. The 80 degree weather on the holiday was very nice though and there were some creative costumes. When I got home on Saturday night, Rory didn't come to meet me at the door and I discovered her stuck on top of the curtains for the second time. She has been getting very naughty lately, but I guess that's the kitten in her. My favorite part of Halloween was when the students from the on campus prep school came trick-or-treating to our nutrition class. It reminded me a lot of the costume parades we used to have when I was in grade school at North Cape. The kids were so excited and it made me wish that I could have gone to grade school here.

I bought a car on Monday and unfortunately, it stopped running on Tuesday. After finding some jumper cables and attempting to jump it, I figured out that we were doing it wrong. One of my missions in the next few days is to play mechanic and get it started. It's a light blue 94 Nissan Bluebird. It has its quirks, which is one reason the battery is now dead. You also can't get out the driver's side without opening the window because the handle is missing. I realized I'm becoming very laid back here on the island and learning to deal with things much better. Hopefully this continues when I get home.

Yesterday, we went shopping at the port which is where the cruise ships come in. I went from never seeing a cruise ship in my life to seeing one everyday, sometimes two. I did manage to get all my Christmas shopping done, which is really exciting. It's weird to think that it is November and I am still in shorts while it will be snowing soon at home. Going back is going to be really weird because of the weather and the general pace of life. Everything is so slow here that when we go out to dinner, I tend to "pre-eat" just so I don't get hungry waiting for dinner after ordering.

I'm at school now, so I will update with photos when I get home later tonight.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

End of First Exams

I finished up the last exam of my first round last Wednesday and am happy to report that I am currently passing all of my classes and am feeling confident about passing my first semester. Some days it feels like all I do is study, but I know that it is necessary and I keep at it. No exams this coming week, which is nice, but the second rounds of everything starts the next week.

When I opened my bank account here, I used a cashier's check from the bank and learned about a week ago that the money would not be available for use until October 14. Luckily, I had brought down a good amount of cash, which got me through the first part of my time here. On Thursday, my money became available for use, which is really great because I was able to go grocery shopping and buy food.

Food is probably the thing I miss the most. There are a lot of American brands here and are not ridiculously overpriced. The problem is the meat is questionable at best, and anything that is brought in is very expensive. I had been eating a cheeseburger on campus once a week in order to get a little protein and help my meat craving. Last week, after my anatomy exam, I ate my last cheeseburger because I ended up with a case of food poisoning. Unfortunately, I had a physio exam on that Wednesday and I did not end up with the 24 hour food poisoning, instead, I was sick for about four days, which made studying awful and basically nonexistent. I didn't do as well as I had hoped on physio because of this, but I still passed and have some time to improve the grade. I'm just happy not to feel that awful anymore.

I learned that my dislike of llamas could come in handy. For my nutrition exam, we had to learn properties of vitamins and minerals. I learned that llamas are susceptible to copper toxicity, which I remembered by the fact that I hate llamas and can poison them with copper. Fortunately, on the exam, there was a question about llamas and why they were sick, which I instantly got right. I'm glad they are useful for something, but still think they are not necessary.

Next weekend is our midsemester break, which means I get a three day weekend. We are planning an overnight trip to Nevis on the ferry and renting a hotel room overnight then doing some site seeing. I am looking forward to a nice break and I'm excited to see Nevis. I hear there is some good horseback riding there and would definitely like to check that out.

Last week was very rainy and lots of people lost power. Where I live, we very rarely lose power, which is really nice when I don't have to study by candlelight. The rain has let up now and the wonderful Caribbean tropical weather has returned. I enjoy looking at the weather at home online and it being freezing there while I enjoy the warmth.

Tomorrow we are going to try out a cafe for breakfast and then spend some time on the beach without bringing along my books. It will be a nice change. I also have to work on getting Rory a vet appointment so she can have her first check-up. All in all, staying busy and not missing home too much. Back to studying because the minute I stop I will be behind.

Rory sitting on my physio because she didn't want me studying

Saturday, October 2, 2010

First Vet School Exam

Last Monday was my first exam of vet school in microanatomy and embryology. This is my least favorite class with my least favorite professor. Last semester, 24 students failed this class, so needless to say, I was worried about passing. Fortunately, I came out of the exam with a B. It was a really nice boost in confidence to start out with, especially as I have two exams this coming week. So far, I've done more studying in the past month than I had in all of undergrad.

On Monday, I have my first gross anatomy exam. It covers the thoracic limb muscles and bones of the dog and the horse and radiology of the limb and palpation of the limb on dog and horse and differences in cattle and cats. It's a lot of information, but I'm feeling pretty good about it. I never thought I would learn every muscle and where they attach to bones and what they do, but I have. Hopefully, I don't lose all the information before Monday. On Wednesday, I have a physio exam. I haven't done much studying yet because anatomy is first, but the physio professor likes to tell us exactly what is on the exam so I'm not worried. I will probably start studying for that tomorrow and cram after anatomy.

It hasn't been all work. Last weekend, we went to the movie theater and saw The Town. The theater here is really nice and movies aren't any more expensive than at home and probably cheaper. I also joined a beach volleyball team that plays a game every Friday. Last night our team won because the other team never showed up. Since I haven't played volleyball since I wrecked my thumb at my cousin Amber's graduation party about three years ago, it will be interesting to see how I do. Hopefully, next weekend we will actually get to play. I have also volunteered to feed at the "zoo". The zoo is some guy that has been collecting animals and keeps them in his backyard. We feed them in order to ensure that the animals are getting the nutrients they need. He has quite the variety including monkeys (which I avoid), ducks, chickens, a mongoose, geese, peahens, turtles, an iguana, and more. In addition, there are many rats and roaches that take advantage of the food we provide. I've done it once, but will be doing it every other week. I plan on wearing closed toed shoes and shorts so as to discourage the possibility of rats climbing up my leg.

For people not on facebook, I have posted pictures on flickr and will try to update them as often as possible, but there is a limit to how many photos can be uploaded in a period of time.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Finally Have my Computer Back

Sorry for long time between posts. The day before school started here, my two week old computer decided to stop working. Needless to say, shipping it back to be fixed was a hassle, made even more so trying to get a computer back. I now have my undergrad computer here which is nice and I can return to full connection with the world, and just in time. I have my first vet school exam on Monday in Microanatomy, the one class I despise. But now that my computer has arrived, I can actually study. It's been a lot of work so far and I'm amazed by how much I've already learned. Today, my books also came in, which will definitely be helpful in my classes. For the first time, I got to work with live animals, dogs. We were learning to palpate and it was nice to not be working with a cold smelly cadaver dog.

Speaking of live animals, I also got a kitten. Her name is Rory and she is so cute. The second night home, she ate one of my earring backs. Unfortunately, she tore it off my ear while I was asleep. I've been searching for it to come out the other end, but as yet no such luck.

It hasn't been all work and no play. We go out on the weekends and study at the beach. We went ziplining and snorkeling and on a catamaran tour. More plans are in the works. Updates to come.

Unfortunately, this will be a short post as I have lots that I want to do with my computer. I promise more updates soon!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Orietation and Sad Days

Orientation will be over tomorrow. It was supposed to be a free day, but we had to rearrange due to the potential arrival of Fiona, who never saw land here. We are expecting Gaston to make landfall as a category 2 or greater hurricane sometime next week, so we'll see if the first week of class includes a few hurricane days. For an island that rarely sees hurricanes (nearly 10 years since the last one), there suddenly are a lot of them.

My mom left me on Wednesday, which was sad. She was glad to be out of here though and get back to everything at home. Fortunately, Fiona held off and she was able to fly out as scheduled. I'm not quite homesick yet, but that may be because this feels so much like a vacation right now. When Mom left, I called my dad and found out that my grandma was at the emergency room and not doing well. Unfortunately, not long after my mom got home, my grandma passed away. I'm not going to make it home for the funeral, but I know Grandma won't have any more of the pain she's had the past few months. It's just hard being so far away and being without any family to deal with this, but I'm managing.

It has been helpful that we've been busy. Orientation has been going on this week and today we had a tour of the island, including a few hours at the Brimstone Hill fortress, stopping at Thomas Jefferson's ancestors' estate where they now do batik demos, and seeing the lava rocks in the ocean. I have lots of pictures, but still little time to post them.

Tomorrow, I will hopefully be test driving a car and hopefully liking it enough to buy it. It's going to be weird to have my first left side of the road driving experience, but I already have my driver's license for the island. Tomorrow also ends orientation, besides our catamaran boat trip and snorkeling on Saturday. Classes start Monday, so I have some preparing to do for that. Maybe then this will feel less like a vacation.