This is actually one of the forgotten stories of my time in Bonaire. Sometimes I don’t realize how many times I mentioned something because of so many blog posts that I have written. As you know the Bonairians will try to squeeze every cent out of you if you have an American or Canadian passport. Trust me when I tell you, the vast majority of Bonairians are not your friends. Only a small handful of Bonairians are good people, but that can be said for any group of people, even in America. However, in Bonaire, if you are an American or Canadian citizen you are venerable. The native Bonarians fear the European Dutch, not the Americans, surprising I know…j/k. And when they see that you are a white person, they think you are loaded with cash. My landlords are very unsympathetic, they know I’m a venerable foreign student and even then they asked me to pay extra rent money when I wasn’t staying for the entire month. So for the last month I left for a friend’s house and my landlords couldn’t find anyone to replace me for that month; sucks for them, they could’ve made some money instead of no money.
The Bonaire government will charge you over $40 in exit tax when you leave the country. So someone told me that if you’re still going to USA or Canada through local flights then tell them you are going to Aruba or Curacao or whichever part of the Netherlands island your connecting to. By doing so you avoid paying so much and you just have to pay less than $10 in local tax. I did and it worked.
I took Insel Air to Curacao and trust me when I say this; that airline is run by idiots. Insel Air left my luggage in Bonaire and the officials standing around didn’t know what to do. So I had to go and ask around to different officials in what do to. I had to call back and forth until I found an official who spoke English. I filled out a lost luggage form and got their office number, cell phone number, their manager’s number, just enough numbers for me call constantly to drive them insane. I went to American Airlines in Curacao and told them what happened and they just assured me that they’ll do whatever they can to get it. Unfortunately the luggage wasn’t lost in a domestic USA flight; otherwise the airline who lost it would just send me a check in the mail.
Two days later after I got back home I called the non-English speaking official in Curacao and understood his broken English enough to confirm that my luggage came at my local airport. And yes I communicated well with him because I had Google Translate right in front of me when replied back in Spanish to the guy. I went to my home State’s airport and apparently no available airport official could help me, what a surprise. I made a mistake of asking a TSA officer of where to go, those idiots don’t know much, except of how to use their authority to feel on women passengers; I’m kidding. Luckily I found an official of the airline, which was supposed to bring my luggage, and we resolved things out after a while. The problem was that the Curacao airport official gave me 6 out of the 8 tracking numbers over the phone; and the missing two tracking numbers were two zeros, go figure. Anyways, I was taken to a back room where a lot of lost luggages were and I found my luggages half beaten up. So, I avoided paying luggage fees to the airline and I avoided paying extra money to the Bonaire government. I don’t feel guilty about it because Bonaire government charged me on this and that, even to get my deposit back from immigration office; and I know all SJSM would’ve done the same. At the end everything worked out well, except for the half-beaten up luggages which cost me over $300.
By the way, this happened when I returned to USA last December.
This is supposed to be a motivational post because that’s all everyone needs in order to be successful from Bonaire/Anguilla and also in Chicago and elsewhere. When you find something very tough, don’t give up because it’s hard, the words “give up” should not even be in your vocabulary if you’re a medical student.
If you think about it, when you set your mind on something and be passionate about it then your body will shape your actions to reach that goal. The keyword in the last sentence was being “passionate”. People who are passionate in what they do are the successful ones. For example, the late Steve Jobs who died recently, was passionate in creating innovational products and he created very successful products like the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad.
If you think about something in your past, there was something you always wanted and you kept on thinking about it and you wanted that something really passionately and eventually you go it. Now think, how is that any different than getting and MD, or a residency of your choice? It’s not; it’s the same concept and by following that concept is how I survived Bonaire. In my mind my goal was to pass all my classes in Bonaire and get out ASAP, and that’s what I did.
What I’m trying to say is you want something really badly then you will willingly and passionately work for it then eventually you will get it, God willing. A normal person has the mental and physically capacity to reach his or her goals regardless of what they are. And make sure you set your goals very high because if you work harder then you are supposed to then the results are satisfying.
Here’s the news people, SJSM raised their tuition $300 for basic science and $350 for clinical science. Here is the news letter with the updated info. SJSM was known to be the cheapest medical school in the Caribbean that had descent accreditation but I guess that change. I hope loans come out soon and stay permanently otherwise students will have trouble paying so much for clinicals. In my opinion if you want to go to SJSM but you don’t have money then take 2 years and save up the money, of course by then the tuition can go up even more. SJSM is gaining good accreditation and it’s developing very fast if you look into it. People in Bonaire told me the new MD1 class has 90+ students plus more students from the pre-med group. I don’t know how they could fit so many people in those two campuses. My class had 50+ students and we felt crowded.
As I progress through the months, I realized that AICM could’ve been well optimized if and only if I was better prepared in Bonaire. AICM can be a good program if taught by certain teachers but it can be a waste if it was taught by other teachers; however, the same can be said with Kaplan and Falcon review courses as well. My biggest mistake was that I started to prepare late. I cannot emphasize enough on that enough. When you’re an MD4 use every second of your free time to prepare for the USMLE Step 1. Of course you have to keep up with the MD4 courses, and that should come first, because without passing those you’re not getting off the island. Preparation early is the best option, but the living conditions in Bonaire was horrible for me so I was tired and I was not motivated to study. In MD4 semester all I could think of is how much longer till I get off the island and get back to the beautiful United States of America. But anyways that’s my two cents for now.