April 15, 2013

Coming to America

We are done with semester one! I can't believe it's over and we are heading to America!

Matt finished his 3.5 hour test, and we've been wrapping up things ever since. We've got nearly everything packed, put money down for electric on our new apartment, stocked money on our phones in case we need extra minutes if travel plans don't go the way we intend, and got our remaining items to the lovely Ann who is storing them for us!

I also had to call and confirm our flight with Liat for tomorrow. They are a small airline, so there is no online check in. When calling in, their voice message says, "Clickety Clicket for a Tickety Ticket." All with the steal drum version of Dancing Queen playing in the background. It doesn't get more Caribbean than that folks.

Then there was the call to Chase and Bank of America to put travel alerts on our cards. The woman at Chase asked me three times what country Dominica was in. And then asked the same about St. Martin. That was a fun conversation. It went something like this...

Chase: What country is Dominica in?
Me: Dominica.
Chase: No, but what country is it in?
Me: Dominica. Dominica is the country.
Chase: Not the city. What country is Dominica in?
Me: Dominica is the country. It's not a city. It's a country all by itself. And it's not the Dominican Republic.

Chase: Where was your layover? St. Martin?
Me: Yes.
Chase: What country is that in?
Me: St. Martin is a country.
Chase: Is it part of Europe?
Me: No. It is its own country in the Caribbean.
Chase: How do you spell it?
Me: Well, it depends. There are a few different ways of spelling it. Actually, never mind. We'll just use different card.

We did a walk through of our current apartment and also found out that we have a good chunk of money on our prepaid electric. Since we can't carry it over, you can bet we are blasting our AC. And it is awesome.

In preparation for our long flights, we've been downloading movies to rent from iTunes. I also got the season pass to Mad Men. This girl is excited. About the movie part - not the flying just to clarify.

As far as our flights go, the taxi driver is coming to pick us up at 5 a.m. tomorrow. It's about an hour drive to the airport, and then our flight is at 9 a.m. We fly to St. Martin where we have a four hour layover. This is good because the airlines tend to be behind, (island time maybe?), plus we need to get our luggage, go through customs again, and then check back in. So four hours is a good amount of time.

At 2:30 p.m. we have a four hour flight to Charlotte where we will step on American soil! We're staying overnight there, and then have a 7 a.m. flight to Vegas - a five hour flight. My nerves are so excited. <---That's sarcasm.

Once we hit Vegas, it will be go, go, go. And now that Matt is done studying for a few weeks, and I'll be busy working, you can bet those roles will be reversed. He already has the assignment from the staff to be the designated fountain Diet Coke getter - among other things, too, of course. He will also be taking over the blog, so be looking forward to that. And I take no responsibility for what is put here.

We are in Vegas until April 27 where we head to Indiana. We are then in Indiana until our early trip back on May 3.

You know how you know when you're getting old? Tonight, our celebration consists of cozying up in our air conditioned apartment to enjoy our company together without him studying. And we're perfectly happy doing that!


April 11, 2013

Semester 1 Down...Almost

Well, we've made it through the first chunk of exams! Matt's survived and isn't completely gray yet, so that's a positive. Although, we did notice the last time I cut his hair, his hairline seemed to be a little more uneven this time around. I told him to think of his 'changing' hairline as a trophy of sorts of his hard work. It works, right?

His tests have all gone very well, so we are incredibly thankful for that. There haven't been any major surprises, and he was fairly satisfied with his study prep. Now we just have the big test coming up on Monday, and we are home free!

I'm definitely ready for our trip home. I've resorted to dreaming about Target and McAlister's. This morning, I woke up with a serious Starbucks craving. I'd say it's time to go home. This is getting a little ridiculous.

Plus, I got the most amazing piece of artwork waiting for me when I get there. The next Monet don't you think?

In case you can't tell, it says "Mimi, I hope you enjoy the sea turtles and the whole city!"
That will be going on our fridge ASAP when we back.

Our barrels are packed. Our flights have been confirmed. And the taxi service is coming tomorrow to move the barrels into storage. Little by little we've been able to cross things off of our list.

A few things I've observed in our last few days here.
  • The internet gets incredibly slow during finals week. I mean incredibly slow. It's enough to drive me mad.
  • I have not been near as homesick this semester as I was in the Bahamas. Woo! 
  • The fourth semesters who are selling their belongings are making out like bandits. That stuff sells like hotcakes.
  • I'm actually looking forward to coming back next semester. I will have missed all of our friends, and we have that exciting apartment to be looking forward to. Plus, we will get all of our goodies we are shipping back in a barrel.
  • I'm going to be in for sensory overload in Vegas. Going from one extreme to another will be interesting. I'm sure my sinus's will freak out, my skin will be chapped from the dry climate, and who knows how we will adapt to real American food again. I won't even get into the massive change of pace we are in for. Considering all that, I am still incredibly excited to be in Vegas and be reunited with my work family. 
  • Matt and I both having our most stressful weeks at the same time is not a good combination. We are usually able to balance each other out, but not this time. So we are both equally ready for this week to be over!
  • Finally, I'm definitely going to miss Dominica while we're gone - our friends, the views, the sun, the pace and the community. But it is a much deserved break. 
I'll be anxious to see how much hotter it has gotten while we are gone. I'm sure the Dominican heat will be in full force when we are back. What better way to welcome us home I suppose.


April 7, 2013

Semester One Exam Week

It's hard to believe that semester one is coming to close! Didn't we just get here?

Anyway, with the end of the semester comes a flurry of exams. Here's a bit of breakdown of what Matt will be doing over the next week.

Mini 3
Covers Block 3, the cardio and pulmonary block.
This exam will be roughly 2.5 hours.

Clinical Skills Exam
For this exam, Matt will have to watch a video of a patient/doctor interaction, and he will have to write up a report and answer a few questions.

Wednesday A.M.
Histology Exam
Comprehensive exam of all histology lectures throughout the entire semester.

Wednesday P.M.
Gross Anatomy Practical
This will cover the lower limb and thoracic cavity.

Next Monday
Cumulative Final
Covers all material throughout semester one.

I'm exhausted just putting that together.

In the middle of all that, we are packing and moving all of our things and getting ready to head to Vegas then Indiana. We'll store all of our belongings and then be in our new apartment when we're back in Dominica on May 3.

So for this week, outside of a busy week at work, I will be packing and confirming all of our taxis, moving, storage, etc. Not to mention preparing for a long flight schedule.

In the meantime, say a little prayer for Matt and for the rest of the student community as this week will be a stressful week for everyone here.

Matt did get a great good luck video. What more can you need?


April 5, 2013

Semester 1 Lessons Learned

I can hardly believe that the first semester here in Dominica is nearly over. This was Matt's last week of lecture. Now he gets to end the semester with five exams. Jealous?

While most of the time here has gone by in a blur, we have learned so much in a short amount of time.


Buy electricity prior to any and all holidays. You will run out. And so will the stores who are still open for the holiday.

A 'jelly' is a coconut.

The iguanas are more scared of you then you are of them. Maybe.

Making a list for the grocery is useless for the most part. They will likely not have the things you need, but will have things you didn't know you needed! So we've learned to be creative in this realm.

A positive attitude and a sense of humor can go a long way.

I've never realized the luxury of a 'super' store such as Target, Meijer, etc. We've learned to shop at many different stores to find the things we need instead of shopping at a one stop place.

Just because the sun is shining, doesn't mean it's not raining. Believe it or not, it was raining in the picture below.

The Dominican lawn mower is a weed whacker.

Check expiration dates on your food. If you are buying imported foods, it could take awhile for the products to get here, so it's best to be safe.

Walking everywhere isn't that bad. (Minus the heat.) You are able to take in the beautiful scenery, say hi to your classmates and locals, and enjoy the time talking to your companion rather than yelling at the crazy drivers around you.

All of the sunsets here are picture worthy.

We've learned to sleep without any covers.

Don't send out for your laundry the day before you need something. Inevitably that will be the one day they can't return it to you on time.

When it rains, the flying ants take over. We aren't sure if they are really flying ants, or termites, but whatever they are, they are gross. And I have no idea how they get into the apartment, but they do. 

Speaking of gross, I saw my first living Dominican rat. I think it was a rat anyway. Due to the size, it could have been a small dog. Blech!

It's very refreshing to live in 'simpler' life. It reminds me so much of my family back home. We have learned to go without many material things here, and believe it or not we are just as happy. We've gained a different perspective and are grateful for how that is impacting us both.

Apparently, there are snow days. My snow day looked like this. Not too bad! (When my office in Indy gets hit by a snowstorm and causes the office to close, we all win.)

Tuesday is garbage day. This is warning to take very seriously if you plan on being outside.

Most importantly, Matt and I have learned to cherish the small amount of time we have together between his studies. We don't take that time for granted. We've also learned we are a little stronger than we thought. And our relationship has grown tremendously by putting us in a situation where we have each other, and have to rely on each other 100%. I wouldn't trade this growing experience for anything.

We've also learned how vital a good support system is. Whether it's at home or here, or both, you need friends and family to keep you going. Even a small note or a few words of encouragement mean the world to both Matt and me. We've got a great support network!


April 3, 2013

Dominican Wives Gone Wild

We're on a tropical island and our husbands are studying all the time (even more with exams coming up) so what do you expect would happen?

Dominican wives gone wild.

Dad, you can read this post. It's not what you think.

We've started this wonderful tradition with a group of our friends that is Tuesday night dinner. Each week, we pick a different restaurant and all venture out to enjoy a break in the week and each other's company. Our other halves come if they are able to break away from studying, or it can be a ladies night. Either way, it has quickly turned into my favorite part of the week.

This week, we ate at the Chinese restaurant where we got our fan - Hope's Restaurant. Believe it or not, they have delicious food, too, along with selling fans. We all sat around a couple of picnic tables for dinner, and commented on how blessed we were to be in this place, on this journey together, with a group of friends who are so positive, supportive and quickly turn into a family of sorts.

Hope's Restaurant
After dinner, we strolled to this ice cream shack. It's homemade ice cream right on the island. And it's delicious.

And this is where the wild part comes in. We all got tattoos.

Don't freak out. It's a henna, Dad. It will wash off in a few days.

Sorry for the poor quality and crazy eyes. It was dark!
There is a sweet family who offers haircuts, tattoos (real) and henna tattoos. That's their baby with Allison!

So yes, Dominican wives gone wild is a friendly dinner filled with laughs, ice cream and henna tattoos. It doesn't get much better than that.

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