Super Seven Saturday

Wow, I’m not even sure where this Thursday went. Did we have one? I have absolutely no recollection of a Thursday this week at all. So I guess this is Top Ten Saturday; or, to keep with the whole same-letter thing I’ve got going on there, Super Seven Saturday.

So here we go – for this blog’s first even Super Seven Saturday, here are seven not-often-thought-about reasons why we are excited to be going home tonight. (The obvious ones are family, friends, the holidays, etc. but I feel like everyone knows those.)

1. It’s cold where we’re going. And not that that is particularly exciting – in fact we are scared to death, since the 73 degree low last night felt freezing to us – but it does mean that all the mosquitoes are dead, which is legitimate cause for dancing in the streets.
2. Christmas music will be playing on the radios and store speakers, and it won’t be the reggae version on steel drums either (which is just really weird).
3. We’ll get to sleep past 6:30! Yes, we love Meera to death and will miss her very much, but she’ll be having a blast in a big yard with a half dozen other dogs and we’ll get to sleep without a sudden wet nose in our faces very early in the morning.
4. I’ll finally be able to prove that I can physically get a tan! Granted, it’s not very much of one, but the fact that there is even the faintest color difference under my tank top straps is a big deal for me.
5. Home looks like Christmas. The Marriott is the only place I’ve seen a tree anywhere, and our old house is the only one I’ve ever seen with lights on it, although they are sad, droopy lights that have been there for years and no one can figure out how to turn them on. Or take them down.
6. We’ll get to pass out the awesomely cool, tropically-inspired gifts we’re bringing back. You’d be surprised the sorts of things people can make from a coconut. 😉
7. We’re going to get three whole weeks where we don’t have to worry about if the car is going to start, if it’s going to stay running, if something is going to fall off or if it is going to stop fast enough. We won’t have people zooming around playing chicken with oncoming traffic until they can slip three-wide back into their lane. We won’t have people stopping in the middle of the road, holding up long lines of traffic to have personal conversations with their friends. However, we will have to remember to drive on the right side of the road. And we haven’t seen a traffic light in eight months, so that could be interesting too.

What do you look forward to most when you’ve been away from home for a long time?

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Top Ten Thursday – More About the Mutt

Some of you may remember when we first decided to adopt little Meera and be her forever family back in July. We decided to keep her island name, rather than change it, and she has definitely grown into her own personality.

She has lots of names, actually. Pooper scooper, stinky breath, stinker, squirt, silly butt, pee pot, mutt, poopy butt, wiggle britches, and dill pickle (the Mister came up with that one), among others. I don’t know how she knows we’re even talking to her. Slowly but surely, though, she is learning to answer to her name and come when she is called – although her listening skills are still very selective. (She will sit and lie down on command, though, and we’re getting a good handle on “stay” and “bring me the ball.” Although fetch only lasts a couple of throws before a shinier object catches our attention.)

She is very much my baby, though, and has grown very attached to me, something I was irrationally afraid wouldn’t happen. She loves her momma, likes to follow me around in the early mornings and if she loses track of me she will automatically go into our room and look on my side of the bed. Apparently she’s learned that momma likes to sleep. Wonder how she came to that conclusion…

This week’s top ten is a list of the puppy’s quirks that we’ve come to know and love.

1. She LOVES swimming in the pool. We are trying to teach her that it’s only ok to jump in the pool if we are already in it and tell her that she can, but if anybody in the water makes a loud noise – yelling or laughing – she takes that as her cue to leap in and come to the rescue… even though the “rescue” usually ends up as her using the offending swimmer as a pool raft. (When she’s swimming, she looks a little like a very large gray rat with her long tail floating along behind her.)

Swimming with the roommate and Brutus

Swimming with the roommate and Brutus

2. Our neighbor’s dog, Kane, also loves the pool. He’s a rottie and a very good swimmer, and will jump into the pool anytime he’s outside, whether there are people around or not. Apparently he gets hot. He knows how to use the ladder to get himself out and will often climb onto a pool raft so that he can stay in the cool water without actually having to swim. The problem with this is that Kane is Meera’s best friend in the entire world, and if he’s in the pool she likes to use HIM as a raft. Literally. She will run around the edge of the pool and time her jumps so that she lands right on top of him, and then will spend her entire time in the water chasing him and trying to climb back on. But at least he’s taught her how to use the ladder too, so we’re not as worried about her drowning. (Although we are trying to discourage the practice.)

Kane loves to be in the water, but has learned how to beat the system.

Kane loves to be in the water, but has learned how to beat the system.

3. Meera loves rawhide bones, but Brutus – our housemates’ male boxer – often steals them and crunches them up. She’s recently developed a strategy though, and when she gets done with her bone she puts it under our bed. It’s out where she can easily chew on it again, if she likes, but Brutus is too big to get to it. She’s turned out to be pretty smart after all.

4. Under our bed is her new favorite place in the house. If you can’t find her, that’s probably where she is. I don’t know if it’s cooler under there, or if she’s just figured out that she can fit, but either way it’s definitely her spot. She often falls asleep with only her head tucked underneath the bed, presumably to block out the bedside lamps if the Mister and I aren’t ready for sleep yet.

Or, on the few nights we've kenneled her, she sleeps like this. Really doesn't seem comfortable to me...

Or, on the few nights we’ve kenneled her, she sleeps like this. Really doesn’t seem comfortable to me…

5. And she barks in her sleep. It’s the cutest thing, and I can never catch it on video because she will only bark a couple times and then it’s over and she never does it again during that nap. It sounds like she’s barking underwater, and oftentimes her big feet will twitch like she’s chasing something. At home we say the dogs are “chasing rabbits,” but it occurred to me that Meera has never seen a rabbit, so I wonder what she’s chasing. Mongeese maybe, or egrets.

6. She wakes up at 6 a.m. like clockwork every morning, and we are trying to teach her to lie quietly until we wake up and are ready to let her outside and give her breakfast. It doesn’t always work very well. However, the past two mornings she’s woken me at six, like always, and I tell her to lie back down. And then some time later, I wake up and she is sitting up on the rug by the bed, perfectly still and quiet like a good girl, staring at me. Not playing with toys or chewing on the rug… just staring at me. Waiting for me to show signs of life again so she knows she’s allowed to get up. It’s cute in a mildly creepy sort of way. Maybe we’re finally getting somewhere.

7. While she does love her momma, she is definitely a daddy’s girl. If she’s out in the yard or the front door is open when the Mister gets home from campus, she runs out to greet him at the gate, tail whipping everywhere. If she’s out on the balcony, she whimpers, her whole body wriggling in excitement, until he gets up the stairs, where she meets him at the door and snuggles with him on the couch for a while. If she’s already on the couch and too tired or lazy to move, she hears his whistle in the yard and that long tail starts thumping against the cushions. It’s adorable.

8. While cute, she ALWAYS seems to be dirty. Always. Even when she looks clean, even when I’ve just given her a bath or rinsed her with the hose, every time she stands up she leaves little piles of sand and dirt wherever she was just sitting. I don’t understand it. (Even as I write this post, I had just to stop and take her back outside to hose her down because she came in with mud all over herself.)

9. But she does love to be rinsed and dried. She will come obediently to the hose and stand still while I soap and rinse her, and then she loves to be wrapped in her towel and dried off. (This makes sense though, since who wouldn’t love a free full-body massage?) She sits obediently while I get her back and legs, and then will roll herself up in the towel – wrestling with it – while I dry her belly. It’s some sort of game where she gets all the points.

She does not object to be wrapped up and dried off. In fact, she will voluntarily stay that way for a while after I'm done.

She does not object to be wrapped up and dried off. In fact, she will voluntarily stay that way for a while after I’m done.

10. She is not an instigator – that job belongs entirely to Brutus and Kane – but she is always happy to take part in whatever mischief they create. For example, earlier this week she participated in the stealing and eating of a loaf of white bread (Brutus pulled it off the top of the microwave) AND an entire bag of Dorito chips (stolen from the neighbor’s grocery bags while they sat on her doorstep). Needless to say, her little puppy belly was feeling pretty full that night and she moped around with an “I don’t feel so good” expression the whole next day. Silly dog.

Does your dog have any silly quirks? Do you?

Also, I would like to give a big “thank you” to all of you who are avid readers and who have shared my writings with your friends and family members. This is the Nut House’s 100th post, and if we had any money I’d host some sort of awesome prize give-away. But we’re poor students living on student loans, so you’ll have to settle for an appreciative italicized comment and a virtual pat on the back. Please keep reading, commenting and sharing. I’m amazed by how many people in how many countries care to know how we’re doing on this floating rock. Thank you.

Top Ten (almost) Thursday

One major benefit of being a VIP and not a student is that I don’t have to go to class, study or take exams. However, I’m attached to a student who does. So this week’s list is ten eight ways a non-student can tell that final exams are upon us here at Ross. (Assembled with help from my fellow VIPs.)

1. The students are nowhere to be found. There’s not a line to use the ATM. There are vacant tables outside the Student Union during lunch hour. The campus convenience store is empty. There simply are no students anywhere! (The Mister, however, reads this and says the students are everywhere, all the time. Change of perspective, I guess.)
2. Yet somehow, there is nowhere to park anywhere on campus. Not even on the weekends or early in the morning.
3. Every store on the island is out of Red Bull and Diet Coke.
4. You’ll find people sleeping in random places on campus, and students start scheduling power naps into their planners days in advance.
5. VIPs everywhere are scrambling to make a week’s worth of leftovers and flee the house. You see them congregating in abnormal numbers at restaurants, housing complex pools, the Marriott and beach bars for long hours in an effort to escape the strange person who sits at the kitchen table and mutters medical jargon late into the night.
6. The campus sale on Wednesday is more crowded with sellers but less crowded with buyers (the sellers being the only ones with a reason to be outside the lab). The wandering VIP now has his or her choice of whatever items may be available at rock-bottom prices from desperate seventh semesters who are eager to leave the island in two weeks with as little excess baggage as possible.
7. You can’t visit a seventh semester’s house without inevitably leaving with clothing, household goods, jars of spices, nonperishable foodstuffs, cosmetics, lawn chairs and anything else they are frantically trying to get rid of.
8. Everyone is using one of two Facebook statuses: (1) I’m going home in XX days! or (2) I’m not going home this break and I hate all of you who are.

What are a few signs that the end is near at your school?

Top Ten Thursday – Zip-a-dee-doo-dah

 

My grandfather and I have been singing this song for as long as I can remember, and it’s always been “our thing.” Back home it would come to mind every once in a while, but here I sing it a lot for some reason. Maybe it’s being so far from home, maybe it’s my brain reminding me to be happier about my life, but for whatever reason it’s been my theme since about the end of April.

This has been a pretty good week for me so far. I’ve had lots of chores to do and errands to run and places to be to keep me busy, which is always a preferable alternative to wasting my life away. In the past three days I’ve been grocery shopping, met with a mechanic about fixing our car, been to a girl’s night pizza dinner, cooked several good meals, been to the campus sale, met with our new landlord to sign our new lease, sent several important emails and gotten in a few payable hours for my online job. . .  so I consider that a pretty successful start to the week. In keeping with my currently positive attitude, this week’s Top Ten Thursday list focuses on good things about the island and life here.

1. It really is beautiful here. I probably don’t get outside and just enjoy the view often enough. There is a certain calming, meditative feeling that comes from just sitting on a hill by the ocean and watching the white caps of the waves come and go and the water change colors as it reflects the passing clouds and then the blue, blue sky. I’ve never seen water so crystal clear. Somehow the beaches are different here too, as compared to the few times I’ve been to a beach in the U.S. The sand is whiter and finer, the water is always refreshing and never cold, and there aren’t hard rocks everywhere to step on.

2. I have learned to enjoy some types of sushi. Rituals Sushi near the Marriott is a good Friday night place, and I’ve come to love their grilled salmon rolls. Granted, this is the first place I’ve ever eaten sushi so I don’t have any points of comparison, and grilled salmon roll is definitely the safest thing on the menu, but a girl’s gotta branch out just a little at a time.

3. I now feel like if I don’t have to chop or dice something, I’m not really cooking. We eat a lot of fresh vegetables here (when I can convince the Mister they won’t kill him) and I enjoy cooking them. Yes, it’s more work than just pouring out a bag of frozen broccoli or dumping baby carrots into a pot, but I think it’s fun. The incredible expense of packaged foods here forces us to eat healthier, and I think this will be a habit we carry back to the States with us when we leave (probably to the Mister’s disappointment, but oh well).

4. We have discovered that we can live without a lot of things. Granted, we’re not as comfortable without those things and probably won’t give them up when we move back home, but for the time being we’ve learned that we don’t need cable or even a television; we don’t need automatic car washes or drive-thru fast food; we don’t need air conditioning in the car; we don’t need internet (or a camera, or even speakerphone) on our cell phones; we don’t need more than one room in our house, a dish washer, washer or dryer, and we apparently can eat without an oven. Now, like I said, we don’t need these things to live (not that these examples are life-altering anyway), but they are definitely bonuses and we will be reclaiming their luxuries when we get home. There are days I would do almost anything to be able to just drive past a window and order a quick dinner, and I have 14 days as of this posting until we move into a place with an oven and I am counting every minute until it gets here. But at least the knowledge that we can do without if we have to is positive.

5. We’ve met lots of new people from areas of country we barely knew existed, much less knew anything about. Diversity is good, and I’ve learned that the South really is the best place to be. 🙂

6. I’m learning many new crochet stitches and will, I hope, soon be learning to make small stuffed animals as well. I probably wouldn’t have ever sat down and taken the time to improve my skills back home.

7. I’ve really come to love the concept of yard sales. I fully expect to be a “yard-saler” when we’re back home for good because that’s the only real shopping I get here and I love it. Here of course we actually need things like household and kitchen items, towels and school supplies that we can’t get cheaply in the stores. But at home, I can really see myself getting into repurposing crafts and finding all sorts of things at yard sales that I can turn into cool pieces of furniture or artwork. This may or may not be a good thing, depending on how the Mister looks at it.

8. We have a greater appreciation for manners and common courtesy. Our future roommate and I often talk about how we would be thrilled if a grocery store cashier actually told us to have a nice day. I feel like I need to be careful to be more purposefully  courteous and understanding when working with the public because I now know what it’s like to be constantly running up against walls because I’m different and locals don’t want to work with me to help me understand their expectations. Maybe this will help me in my future public relations position. This leads me to #9.

9. Common courtesy lesson #2: I’ve always known that people who work in some positions – trash collectors, gardeners, taxi and bus drivers, for example – are undervalued and underappreciated, but I didn’t really take much notice or put much thought into it before now. Here, my eyes have finally been opened to how much these people really put up with from the rest of society. Here, taxi drivers are ordered around a lot; it’s the nature of their job to be told where to be at what time and where to go and how to get there. But at the same time, that doesn’t mean you don’t still need to be courteous about your requests. The Mister and I took a taxi (our favorite driver, a super sweet older man) to meet a few friends a couple of weeks ago. When we arrived at the location, we were in the midst of telling the driver when we needed him to come back and get us when our friend approached the driver’s-side window. And right there in front of him, not even caring that he could hear her, she started talking about how the group would find us someone to ride home with so that the driver (talking about him like he wasn’t there) wouldn’t have to come get us and we wouldn’t have to wait for him or have to ride home in a hot cab. Her language was very dismissing of him and his hard work and I was embarrassed for her and for him that he had to listen to it. We paid him and did end up riding home with someone else, simply because the situation was easier that way, but I still hate that so many people just talk over others like they aren’t there. I want to stop this habit in myself and take a better appreciation of these people and their work back with me to our life in the States. Which leads me to #10.

10. Common courtesy lesson #3: I have a much greater appreciation of what it’s like to be a visitor. Students here, and not just from Ross but from all over, are so rude and messy and disrespectful to the locals, even those who help us, and the rest of us who want to be mature adults get punished for it. For example, it’s so hard to find a place to live that’s a reasonable price, will let you keep pets and doesn’t require you to pay the extra $1,600 to put the electric bill in your name. Why? Because so many students in the past have come through and not cleaned up after themselves or their pets, damaged or destroyed furniture and other property, left landlords holding the bills or left the island without advance notice, leaving the landlords to clean up horrendously disgusting apartments. Our future roommates and I are still trying to convince our new landlord that we will pay all our bills on time and in full if she keeps them in her name. She is reluctant to do this because the previous tenants let a problem with the electric meter (their bill was $30 a month and they knew this was a malfunction) go on so long that the landlord was left holding a final reconciled bill for more than $4,000. I don’t blame her hesitation, but because of their irresponsible actions, those of us who have actually learned to be mature adults have a hard time getting people to trust us. So I feel like this experience will help us be more welcoming and understanding toward visitors in our lives, whether it’s visitors at church, new people at work or just those who are new to the area in general. 

Top Ten Thursday – 10 Things to Bring With You to Ross

1. Bring basic kitchen tools with you in your luggage. I brought measuring cups and spoons, a good paring knife, a meat thermometer, a good spatula and a can opener. (We fit them into the small pockets and lining of our garment bag suitcase.) Those I would definitely recommend, as well as some food storage containers, if you can fit them, and a few basic spices. I also wish I’d brought a mixing bowl, a whisk, kitchen tongs and a vegetable peeler. Yes, the kitchens here (in the dorms especially; the off campus apartments are better) are stocked with cookware and small appliances, but it’s only basic basic items. You’ll be amazed the things you never think about that you suddenly don’t have access to and really wish you did.

2. Bring as many towels (all types) as you can fit in your luggage. You can buy them here if you want, and that’s fine, but either way be prepared to go through a large number of towels. Things in the dorms never get completely dry – or at least in our room they don’t. It’s all the humidity and the lack of a good ventilation system. I wash towels constantly because everything gets that musty, wet-dog smell after 3-4 days.

3. Which reminds me, bring laundry detergent. I brought a gallon-sized ziplock bag of those little Tide detergent pods. They’re wonderful! No bottle to pack and worry about leaking; no bottle to lug around; I just toss one in from my little baggie and we’re done! If you do laundry on campus they are card-operated machines and the washers and dryers are BOTH $8EC a load (so $16EC total). HOWEVER, you can save $8EC by splitting the dry cycle. The dryers automatically give you about 75 minutes of drying time, and there is no way to decrease that. No load of laundry really needs 75 minutes in the dryer; our clothes are always done in 30. So always try to wash two loads one right after the other, since the washers take 30 minutes, so then you can use one dry cycle for two wash cycles. That $8EC adds up over time!

4. Bring supplies for whatever craft/hobby you have (if you’re a VIP). I finally found a few balls of yarn to buy off a professor who’s moving, and I was so happy to finally have something to do with my hands during the long hours of watching television or waiting for dinner to cook. (Thankfully I was smart enough to have brought my crochet hooks.)

5. Bring extra toiletries of all types. Pack as many bottles of soap, tubes of toothpaste, bottles of contact solution, cans of bug spray, etc. as you can fit in your luggage. You’ll be glad you did.

6. Bring sunscreen in various SPF numbers. I personally really like the spray-on kind because it’s quick, easy and not greasy at all (we have the CVS brand), but it does run out pretty quickly. The lotion is fine too if you prefer that. Something is different about the atmospheric protection here, and even people who’ve never burned in their lives wake up like lobsters the morning after the beach.

7. Bring sheets and pillows. The dorms have full-sized beds, but US full-size sheets will not fit them properly. If you can, try to shrink them some before you come, and if you have room, bring more than one set. The dorms also come with pillows, but they are the super flat, super tiny almost travel-type pillows that are 30 years old. The Mister and I fit three of them into one of our pillow cases before we finally found a store here (TDC Hardware – $60EC each) that sells better pillows. I know it’s hard to pack pillows, but use them as your comfort carry-on or put them in vacuum-seal bags. You’ll miss them if you don’t.

8. Bring decorative items (with command hooks and strips). You’re so far from home, even just a few familiar items will make your place feel more comfortable.

9. If you have space, absolutely bring non-perishable food items – especially things you eat all the time. Have a favorite brand or flavor of coffee? A favorite gum or not-melty candy? A favorite type of soup? Bring them. Even bringing basic things like peanut butter, popcorn, crackers and noodles will save you money at the grocery store.

10. Bring movies or TV shows on DVD. VIPs will want these distractions and students have to take breaks every now and then. Netflix and/or Hulu subscriptions are great, get them if you can, but be warned that they don’t work the same way outside the US. We can get many of the things we would have watched at home, but they come with Spanish subtitles, and some movies/shows aren’t available here at all. It has to do with where your IP address is coming from (in our case, Puerto Rico – aka, Spanish movies).

**I’m adding #11 after the fact because I just glanced around our room and thought of it – bring surge protectors. We currently have two and that seems to be a good number for us – but they are both almost full. You are not allowed to have octopus or other multi-outlets. Only surge protectors with switches. Also, bring a wireless router, if you’re lucky enough to have one. Students don’t need this so much, but VIPs, who only have ethernet access to the internet (oh yeah, bring an ethernet cord too), will appreciate it.

*DISCLAIMER: I know this is all overwhelming. Before we moved, I would read the school’s “official list of things to bring” and then read blog posts of students saying things to bring and then read the baggage weight limits for our airline and think, “HOW IN THE WORLD AM I SUPPOSED TO PACK ALL THOSE THINGS???” Trust me, we know. A good rule of thumb is: if you use it on a daily basis or use it for class, if it makes you feel comfortable in your own home, or if it helps you keep your sanity, bring a supply. Paying the costs for an extra bag or an overweight bag will be worth it in the long run if it lets you take those things that will keep you from crying every day or murdering a rude cashier who doesn’t know if the island stocks SweetTarts. (FYI – I don’t think it does.)

Top Ten Thursday – 10 Basic Things to Know Before Moving to Ross

*My Top 10 lists are not necessarily in order of importance.
**Some of these things are for couples in particular, since that has been our experience, but single students can learn from them as well.

1. When applying for housing, it’s easy to look at the housing rates and decide “We’re married. We can live in the same room together for four months to save the extra money on a bigger dorm apartment.” I strongly caution you about this. Yes, it’s cheaper, but there is literally nowhere to move around. Everywhere you go you’re in the same place and there is no room to get away from each other when you are both home. Living on campus is not such a bad idea the first semester, since you won’t have a car for a while and it helps you meet people, but don’t go with an efficiency (studio) apartment. Splurge for a two-bedroom or opt to go off-campus right away. (Efficiencies are fine for single students.)

2. Make finding a car your first big financial priority. Yes, there’s a public transportation system that can take you virtually anywhere you want to go, but trust me, it gets old fast. Cars down here are not like cars in the states; they all have weird problems and would never be given a second glance off the island. But here, it’s all you’ve got, so bring your standards down and get used to it. The average vehicle around here in between 5-7,000 US dollars, when you wouldn’t pay 2,000 back home. But take heart, you can probably sell it to an incoming student when you leave and make most of your money back. (Single students will want to keep this in mind as well, although it’s much easier for a single student to use the public transportation or bum rides off other students for the first semester and buy a car once you move off-campus.)

3. Bring plenty of cash with you in your luggage. The Mister and I only brought enough cash to pay our Visa fees, which we thought they would take at the airport, and brought the rest in traveler’s checks. You don’t pay your Visa fees at the airport, and you don’t deposit traveler’s checks until 5-6 days after you arrive, so thankfully we were able to use that cash for spending money or we would have been in a lot of trouble. You’ll eat out A LOT during orientation week, so be sure you have enough cash with you for a week of expenses. And remember, it’s a tourist economy so things are expensive here.

4. Wean yourself (or your husband, in my case) off milk and soda. Ram’s is the only grocery store that sells large packs of soda bottles (or cans, for that matter), and a 24-pack pallet is around $60EC ($1US = $2.7EC. You do the math. Still not good.). Milk is about $11EC a quart, so we only use it for cooking now and the Mister has just had to learn to live without his three gallons a week. Milk is also very unpredictable, since it’s not processed in all the same ways as in the states. Regardless of the printed expiration date, it’s a toss-up. I’ve bought milk and had it last in our fridge beyond the printed date, and then I’ve bought the same brand from the same store and had it be semi-solid in 3 days (long before the printed date). So you never really know.

5. Also wean yourself off chicken, if that’s a personal favorite, and prepare to eat a lot of fish. Ground beef isn’t such a problem to find and usually turns out well, but chicken is another story. You can find it, but I wouldn’t always eat it; let’s put it that way.

6. The VIP (very important partner – aka, the non-student) needs some sort of creative/productive hobby. Lots of VIPs have online jobs from the States, which is awesome if you can find one, but otherwise, you need a hobby. Whether you paint, sew, crochet (like me), read, write, do complex mathematical formulas, it doesn’t matter. You just need something to occupy your free time, because trust me, you’ll have a lot of it.

7. Be comfortable being apart. Clingy couples will not make it here. Neither will over-protective/jealous couples. You won’t spend a ton of time together during the week because the student will be in the lab or studying with other students, so the VIP has to be comfortable on his/her own. If you’re not good at making friends without your significant other around, practice before you come. If you don’t like your significant other having a lot of friends of the opposite sex, get over it. Most students are female and most VIPs are male, so if you’re a male student and a female VIP, that’s going to happen a lot.

8. iPads are something I think all students should consider here. It’s an investment that will really be beneficial in the long run. The Mister has apps to track his constantly-changing class schedule, to organize and search through his notes, to view class powerpoint presentations and to create flashcards with images of the various bones, muscles, etc. iPads are also much easier to carry around campus and to use at other places on the island (beaches, pools, restaurants, etc.) if you want to study on the go. You can also hide them down in your bag easier than a large laptop, which is important to not getting it stolen.

9. Don’t order your textbooks from the campus website. Just don’t. Find them on amazon.com or through another online retailer, or see if upperclassmen are selling them on the various Ross students facebook pages (that’s probably where you’ll get the best deal). If you HAVE TO order them from the school page for whatever reason, only do it if you have several months in advance of when classes start, and don’t bother paying for more than standard shipping. They won’t get here when they are supposed to. Period. It never happens, so just don’t even waste the money or the brain cells worrying about it.

10. Bring a camera, one for each person if you can afford it. It doesn’t need to be a big fancy camera, just something to keep in your pocket for those off-guard moments when you glance across the sea on the way to class or the market and see Nevis haloed in mist and rainbows. Trust me; you’ll want to snap that. Also, if it takes underwater pictures, be prepared to share because everyone will want to borrow it. It is gorgeous here, despite the discomforts, and you’ll definitely want to have those pictures to look back on and remind yourself that the experience wasn’t a loss after all. (And to post on Facebook and make your friends and family jealous. :-))