I knew I wanted to be a veterinarian since I was a little kid. I fed all the neighborhood cats, nursed my Chihuahua after a stray dog attacked him, and cried when Mufasa died. Animals were an integral part of my childhood, so it was never a question during high school or college that I would go to veterinary school. I just never quite imagined that I would go to a Caribbean veterinary school!
Ever the Type-A personality, I made good grades and did all the extracurricular activities to make myself an excellent candidate for veterinary school. But throughout college, I always had the desire to travel. Unfortunately I didn’t have the opportunity as a broke college student, but that didn’t stop my dreaming and planning. Luckily, I met two vets my junior year who attended Ross University, a veterinary school in Saint Kitts. They were really awesome doctors and made the Caribbean veterinary school seem like an attainable option for me. I had originally wanted to take a year off after graduation, but ultimately one late night my senior year I pushed the send button on my application and never looked back!
People only go to island schools because they can’t get into stateside schools
MYTH. There are many students, including myself, who chose a Caribbean veterinary school as their first choice. While I didn’t apply to any state schools, I met all the requirements and had an excellent application. Itching to travel, the idea of moving to College Station, Texas for vet school seemed stifling. So I didn’t even apply. I chose the Caribbean instead. My motto has always been: “If I have to go to veterinary school, why not do it on a tropical island?!”
Island schools are easier to get into
Somewhat True. Ross has similar prerequisite requirements to most state schools. However, they are more lenient in some areas and have more spots in each class. They give many people an opportunity to pursue their passion that might not otherwise have had a chance at a state school. US schools simply don’t have the room for many people, and thus are highly competitive.
Island schools aren’t as “hard” in terms of passing classes
MYTH. While it may be easier to get into Ross, it is very hard to stay in. The classes and sheer volume of information you must learn is exactly the same as a state school. There are many people who fail classes or fail out of school altogether. Veterinary school is hard, no matter where you go.
Island students spend all their time at the beach
Depends. It’s incredibly easy to get to the beach in St Kitts. And the beaches are beautiful. Friday night beach volleyball is very popular. But school is ultimately the priority. Veterinary students study A LOT. We take regular classes, and often have labs or animal duties outside of class. Have you ever tried to study at the beach? There is sand everywhere! Don’t even think about taking your computer. Personally, I could read at the beach, but little else. On the other hand, it is very important for personal well being to take time off. That time varies for everyone, and a little sun and sea is the perfect solution!
Living in the Caribbean is a paradise
Myth and Truth. Saint Kitts is an amazing island with beautiful beaches. You can snorkel, scuba, deep-sea fish, take catamaran trips, hike, and even sky dive. I am so incredibly lucky to have lived there and am grateful for my experiences there. But it can be tough. You are far away from friends and family, which sucks, especially in stressful times. Flights home are expensive, and you only have 2 weeks vacation between semesters (no summer breaks at Ross). Recycled cars are unreliable, and parts are commonly stolen. Get used to bugs in your grocery store food and become an expert at killing giant centipedes. It’s hot, humid, and electricity for your AC is expensive. Be prepared for tropical storms or hurricanes. I mostly loved living in St Kitts, but I think it’s important to be mentally prepared that you are not in America anymore. On the plus side, living in the Caribbean made me a more patient, accepting, and easy-going person!
Let me know if you have any questions!
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