Moved from Montserrat, W.I | By Dr. Tiffannie Skerritt Bachelors in Medicine and Surgery (MBBS)
How do I achieve a good school/ life balance?
I found it very useful to maximise my time in the classroom. What do I mean? I attended the majority of my classes, labs and tutorials as assigned on time; I was mentally present, taking detailed notes, asking questions no matter how silly, engaging my lecturers and volunteering in
tutorials. For the 6 – 8 hours each day that I had school-related activities scheduled, I engaged fully!
This left 16 hours for me to do other activities. Of course, there was time allotted to rest, eat, and study but this still left me roughly three free hours on weekdays and almost 12 hours on weekends to pursue areas for personal development and enjoyment.
I joined my dorm’s choir and played for various sports teams on weekends, eventually getting involved in student leadership as a member of the Guild of Students (the university’s student-elected board). I also participated in off-campus excursions with student groups (more on that later), to appreciate Jamaica in its wider context. Whatever your interest, there are means of pursuing it or growing better at it while at university.
How do I choose and make friends?
It can often be challenging to integrate into a new society with a unique language, culture, and people. What I found helpful in making friends was joining groups or clubs that focused on things and activities that I liked or had an interest in. Friends usually share common interests, and this would be a great way to meet new people who share your likes and dislikes. I also did not hesitate to maintain certain elements of my pre-university life that were integral to my routine and contributed to my friendship circle – like finding a church that I could attend regularly. Friends tend to share values and depending on your chosen faith, attending services or masses may be an initial step to finding friends who share your beliefs and moral preferences.
Do you have to look far to find friends in Jamaica? Not at all. By nature, Jamaicans and Caribbean people by extension are very friendly and curious people. The people who you live with or next to, can quickly become acquaintances and friend because of shared space and down time together. Do not be surprised if after a few days or weeks of sitting next to someone on the bus, or in class results in them making an introduction or having casual conversations. It is up to you after making an array of acquaintances, to decide who your true friends are; those who you can trust, rely on and engage in an open, honest, and natural fashion.
What is there to do for fun?
For students who choose to live on campus, the options are limitless. For example, at UWI MONA, there are over 100 clubs and societies covering a variety of interests that students can engage in during selected weekly club hours. You can opt to choose clubs that you have an existing interest in or try something completely new. Take advantage of organised group tours put on by your dorm, club, or society – it is a safer and usually cheaper means of seeing all the tourist sites until you become comfortable with getting around the island on your own.
Off-campus, Jamaica offers a slew of activities for the party lover, nature lover, leisure seekers, foodie, adventure junkies and resort combers. For more details on where to go and what to do, I’d recommend perusing the following Jamaican pages that spill all the details on the must-see places to go.
How do I stay safe?
The concept of safety in numbers is true, so it helps to travel in pairs or larger groups. Make it a practice to keep a charged phone or power bank and ensure your phone always has minutes, data or whatever you need to get in contact with others in case of an emergency. Pay close attention to your surroundings and the people in them and avoid going to unknown areas that lack good lighting and visual security services, especially at night.
I hope you found these questions helpful to your selection process and that you consider Jamaica one of your go-to Caribbean islands for further study, no matter where you’re from.
Hey! Nia here speaking. I think Tiffannie is a really awesome person. Following her these last couple of years, made me really want to study in Jamaica. You can check out her Instagram @tiffannie.skerritt for more cool content on island life on Jamaica and Montserrat.
Stevikha Foster is a 4th year student currently studying this course at this campus. She gives a thorough breakdown of what to expect for the first three years of the course.