Well it’s been a rollercoaster week for the Nut House. We left my parents’ house at 5:30 a.m. last Saturday, with me not having slept in 48 hours from nerves and stress. Our plane left Nashville at 8 and then our connection left Charlotte, NC, at 11 without any problems. We actually got to the island a bit earlier than planned, even though the flight was long and boring. We did end up sitting next to a very nice lady and her husband who were headed to the island on vacation, and got to talk to several other new Ross students while waiting in the immigration line. The airport here is just a tarmac and one room where you wait to go through customs.
From there our orientation leader (Caitlin, who is wonderful, by the way) took our orientation group to the grocery store to pick up some snacks and a few basic things for our new apartments. On the way there, Caitlin advised us to check the expiration dates on everything, open cereal boxes to check for bugs in the bags, and remember to divide by three to estimate the US dollar value of items. That was definitely a culture shock. We had been warned that shopping would be expensive, but when the sticker by the toilet paper says 32.75 for six rolls…. that was a shocker. Granted, that’s about 10 US dollars, which is better than 32 but still very expensive. (Prices are all listed in Eastern Caribbean dollars, which are about 2.6 to one US dollar.) Then our group went to dinner and saw some of the other groups out as well, which was very disheartening because everyone here drinks. A LOT. The Mister and I are not drinkers, so that has made for several uncomfortable meals since we’ve arrived.
Sunday we were not able to go to church services, since we don’t yet know how to find addresses here or how to navigate the public transportation. We hope to start attending somewhere in the next week or so once we can figure all that out. Instead, Sunday was IT day, where all the students got their electronic devices set up on the school wireless network. This was the first instance where I realized that my status as a VIP (a spouse, child or significant other) is very different from the Mister’s status as a student. I had been told I would be able to attend all the orientation sessions with him and move through the process as a couple. Well, that is not entirely true. The IT workers were not able to add my laptop to any of the wireless networks because I am not a student, and I had to beg them to add my iPad. Even then, I’m not allowed to have my own log in information; I have to use the Mister’s student information.
This has been true at all the orientation sessions I have attended. The school employees have, for the most part, been nice to me, but that doesn’t change the fact that I am constantly hearing, “This is not for you,” “You can’t do that,” “You can’t use this building,” etc. I know there must be other VIPs here with students, but I have only met one in passing. He is a fiancé to a student and was running against many of the same walls. So at least it’s not just me.
I did have one unpleasant encounter though at the immigration table. All the students were able to process their student visa paperwork at “one stop” on Monday, and I had never been told I couldn’t process my paperwork there as well. (I will not have a student visa, but I do have to apply for a visitor’s extension.) I had all my paperwork filled out, signed and in the order listed in our welcome packet. I approached the table and let them know I am a VIP, and the woman asked for the paperwork from my packet when I arrived on the island. I gave her the forms I had filled out that morning, and she insisted that I did not have them all. However she would not tell me which form I was missing so I could look for it in my stack. Then she saw my other paperwork and started yelling that none of that was for me, I had done everything wrong and I hadn’t read any of the instructions. Which is not true, I followed the instructions backwards and forwards. So when I finally convinced her that I did have everything in order, she yelled at me to pick up my papers and stop cluttering her desk (I only had my one neat pile). Apparently VIPs can’t be processed until next week. She could have just told me that instead of making me feel and look stupid in front of a whole line of people.
Unfortunately this is the same woman who runs the VIP program. Needless to say, it was not a good first impression. Maybe she will make up for it at the meeting next Monday.
I have had fun on our two trips to various beaches this week, however. I am adjusting to the presence of sand on everything and have even managed to avoid much of a sunburn. Which for me is a small miracle in and of itself. Last night our group met the other groups on “The Strip,” which is a length of each where all the beach bars are, and played sand volleyball until the sun went down. I like volleyball, but I chose to walk along the beach and recharge my solitary batteries instead; but the Mister’s team won the orientation group tournament. We have gotten to know and like the members of our group pretty well, and we generally have fun together.
Right now I am in our apartment while the Mister is in some sort of leadership training seminar. I’ve been going to the orientation seminars for fear of missing some important piece of useful information, but so far nothing has applied to me. Hopefully this will improve next week when I’m able to meet other VIPs and start making friends who don’t talk about emergency surgery procedures all the time. It’s definitely a downer to be the only person at a table of eleven who doesn’t understand what the conversation is about.
Prayers for both of us are appreciated. The Mister starts classes on Monday and receives his white coat and takes the veterinary oath that night, a ceremony which will be broadcast live over the internet. Anyone who is interested can go to http://www.rossu.edu, select ross veterinary school across the top, click the academic events calendar on the left, and then look for “white coat ceremony” under Monday, May 6 from 4-6 eastern, 3-5 central time.