An Ode to Grenada

In what could be one of the greatest satirical pieces of work, Catch-22, Joseph Heller once wrote:

What is a country? A country is a piece of land surrounded on all sides by boundaries, usually unnatural. Englishmen are dying for England, Americans are dying for America, Germans are dying for Germany, Russians are dying for Russia. There are now fifty or sixty countries fighting in this war. Surely so many countries can’t all be worth dying for.”

Heller was right. Surely, all countries cannot be worth dying for. Only those countries you choose to regard as your own. I wasn’t born in Grenada, but a part of me is certainly alive because of this island. Some might even argue it’s the most important part: the piece that nourishes your what-ifs and gives substance to your wishful thinking. On the night of my own departure, as I try to test out my own wings from the land that’s served as my nesting grounds on-and-off for the past several years, will I ever deem Grenada as my own

Some of my favorite shots of campus:

Only time can tell what Grenada will become to me as I continue my life elsewhere: a pit stop, a detour, or a makeshift home? Even more, what will I become to Grenada? An honorary citizen, or merely a temporary dweller, holding as much fondness for each other as a midnight traveler to a dingy motel room. Was Grenada merely a means to an end, or did it define a bigger purpose? All I know is that when I moved to a different country four years ago, nothing was harder than saying hello for the first time. As those years started turning into hours, it got even harder to say goodbye for the final time. 

My journey as a medical student started off deeply depressing. I made a home out of feeling lost and inadequate. I became dissociated from myself both physically and mentally at a time when I needed to be grounded and steadfast. And then something as simple and complicated as the passage of time resuscitated my resolve, slowly but surely. Overweight and overstressed, I lost 40 pounds and traded them for 40 friends. My anxiety over late nights and early mornings turned into eager anticipation of a new day to tackle the never-ending work because when you truly enjoy the material despite the time constraints, every petty thing you could complain about seems just that, “petty.” The fact that you’re never more than a couple of steps away from an amazing coastline is a luxury that will surely be missed. And in the midst of learning treatment after treatment, you learn a Grenadian sunset is really the best medicine in the world.

Yet, despite all of this natural wonder, it’s the beauty of the people you have the opportunity to know that resonates most. Despite the intensely lonely routine of sleeping and studying, you learn to struggle hand-in-hand with those around you. Struggling together turns into surviving together, and surviving together morphs into thriving together with those that live out their limited days in paradise, studying in the most unlikely corners of the world, reaffirming that you are not forgotten, and that the severely delayed gratification of becoming an MD is still worth bleeding over and longing for.

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8 thoughts on “An Ode to Grenada

  1. Best of luck as you continue your medical career. As I have always said, you can leave Grenada, but Grenada will never leave you. She will always be here, patiently waiting for your return.

  2. You write well. What is the reason you were not admitted to a US school (if you don’t mind me asking)? Also you mention being in Grenada for 4 years—but basic sciences is only 2 years there?

    • Thanks for stopping by Karolyn. I can’t say what exactly made my US medical school application unappealing but if I had to guess, my science GPA was a little on the low side of favorable applicants. I was mainly placed on the waiting list or rejected.
      As for my time on the island, I came to Grenada four years ago because I was admitted into the MD/MPH program around the summer of 2010, which I wrote about in another post (https://shahblahblah.wordpress.com/2010/07/07/why-mph/). Soon after I deferred my acceptance into the MD program to take a year off which I wrote about here (https://shahblahblah.wordpress.com/2011/09/26/a-tale-of-two-paths/). And then in August of 2012, I came back to where it all started. Hope that clarifies my time lapse.
      -Palak

  3. Oh ok, cool! Good luck to you! I was wondering, do you know of any classmates who were unable to get a residency from there I’ve heard you need to be at top 1/2 of your class to get a residency because only 1 in 2 match from foreign schools? Is this true?

  4. Also if someone is in a position where they have both a high overall and science GPA (both above 3.75 GPA) but the MCAT is only 1 point below the US average—would it better to just retake the MCAT and reapply? I also have outstanding extracurriculars and a professor who wrote a rec stating I was one of the best students he/she ever had. I honestly don’t think I could handle the pressure of living in the Caribbean/foreign country and studying such a rigorous course like medicine. Knowing myself, I probably would not perform as well as I usually perform academically (not because I couldn’t handle the workload) but because I would become too stressed out and anxious from the lack of support…Just thinking about being in the Caribbean for med school, sends shivers up my spine because it’s really scary to think that if you fail a class by even 1 point or something goes wrong on an exam, you could be kicked out or perhaps not even match into a residency…Given that, do you think taking an extra year to get in as opposed to starting this year in Aug/Sept in the Caribbean is worth it? My parents set up an educational fund for me, so fortunately I will not have loans. Like you, my dream is to be a great doctor and I think I should take the time, rather than rush it….Last time I only studied for MCAT for 1.5 months and it only low by a point for US MD schools. It is very competitive for DO schools…What do you think?

    Thank you!

  5. I know I can be admitted to a school in the US if i wait a year. I am now doing MCAT practice tests and scoring much better. I am just worried about being old (like how you said in one of your other posts how you also worried about being old when you finish…) If I wait, I will finish med school in early 30s but probably have a better experience.

  6. i am an anxious mother who is sending my son for medical education,to grenada.your information has offered me lot of moral support.thank you.

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