Things You Should Bring for St. James School of Medicine

It’s Thursday and tomorrow is a national holiday so no classes; therefore, I took 20 minutes to write this post.

Once you’re accepted you should be getting a list of the books from the Chicago office for all the semesters. My advise to you is, don’t buy all the books. The only books you need are the Clinically Oriented Anatomy by Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, the Anatomy Atlas by Netter, and the BRS Gross Anatomy (Board Review Series) book. The books for the other subjects are not needed and if you do want to buy them then you can buy it for cheaper prices from other students or get the PDF version of the books for free from the senior students.

Scrubs or a white lab coat; I prefer the scrubs because it’s just less hassle while you’re dissecting. Closed toe shoes; you will not be allowed to attend anatomy labs if you were wearing sandals. Overall grab regular shirts and shorts because you will be going to a tropical island so you don’t need anything heavy. The only time you would need a sweater or a light jacket would be while you’re attending classes because the AC in the class rooms keeps the rooms very cold.

Medical Equipment
Dissection Kit – you may or may not use it because you may be using other people’s kits.
Stethoscope (won’t need it in your first semester)
Latex gloves – you will be getting your hands dirty while dissecting so it’s advisable to grab a box of them. One box should be enough to last the entire semester.
I’m sure the Chicago office gave you a list of things you need to bring. I haven’t used most of the things on the list. I’m guessing we will be using them in the fourth semester.

Cell Phone
Before you come to the island, make sure you grab an unlocked phone or be prepared to buy a cheap local phone in Bonaire. There are two cell phone services I use Digicel but I don’t know the other one. You need a cell phone just in case a school staff member needs to contact you for any reason. Over here you can buy pre-paid or post-paid cards to reload minutes on your phone; I prefer pre-paid because it’s less hassle.

Having a laptop is mandatory here. It is not mandatory by the school, but over half of the notes are in digital format so, it better to get one before arrival. Make sure you have your recovery disk just in case you need to restore your computer. Also, a laptop makes studying and communications easier while you’re on the island.

Flash Drive
You should get a 4GB or more flash drive. The notes, that the test questions come from, are in digital format and people pass the notes around with their flash drives.

For Notes and Study Materials
Paper – grab as much paper as you can. You will be taking a lot of notes so it’s advisable to grab a good number of sheets. Highlighters
Color pencils (optional) – just in case you want to draw out the muscles to study Gross Anatomy.

Dried Foods
I know it’s ridiculous but you should spend the extra $100 to pay for a 3rd luggage at the airport and pack it with dried food. In Bonaire, due to the customs fees, food is very expensive, especially food from USA. A box of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes cereal is around 10.35 Nafl which is $5.84. My roommates brought a lot of dried foods like granola bars, chocolate chips cookies, etc.

Internet Router
Routers here are very expensive; there aren’t many choices when it comes to variety of brands of products so you have to pay without many choices in products. A new router here, from the store, costs about $80 and it’s not the high-quality one. I bought my router for $30 from a local person; it’s a Linksys and it’s used, but as long as it works I didn’t care.

Mosquito Net or Repellent
Mosquitoes are very annoying here, especially at night and near the beach or pool. At home you will still be bitten. Before I go to sleep I spray my legs with mosquito repellent. For those who live near the apartment complex Caribbean Court, they have a lot of mosquitoes there because it’s near the beach.

If you want to call back home (USA or Canada) then get a year subscription of MajicJack. Over here some people can you use MajicJack but other can’t. The reason is because some people’s internet is faster than other people’s. MajicJack is a VOIP phone service which allows you to call anyone to USA & Canada from anywhere in the world as long as you have internet.

Power Surge Protector
Even though the electrical output here is 110 Volts, which is the same as the United States, you still need a power outlet. I strongly recommend you get a quality one before coming here and make sure you have enough ports.

External Hard Drive
This is something I didn’t bring, even though I was told many times by senior students to bring one. The ones on the island are very expensive so, I bought one from my roommate. Some of the students have Anatomy videos that you need to get and those will come in very handy when it comes to understanding the concepts. It’ll help you study faster than just reading hundreds of pages of information with unnecessary content which you don’t need for the USMLE tests. You can get a 1 TB size hard drive for $100 Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Fry’s, etc.

If you have personal items that you need to have then I suggest you bring them with you. You can find everything here that you would find in Canada/USA; however, things over here are more expensive to due customs.

Immigration Requirements for Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles

In Bonaire there are two medical schools you can choose from, the first is the Xavier School of Medicine, which was established about few years ago. The Bonaire campus is actually the second campus from the already established school which is located in Aruba. The second medical school is Saint James School of Medicine, which was established about 9 years ago. They have a more developed second campus located in the British colony of Anguilla.

Medical school is hell where ever you go. In Bonaire, you may have difficulty with immigration; it’s on a case by case basis on when you can get the temporary resident permit. I will provide information based on what I have done. I will provide information based on someone from the United States.

The paperwork you need to take care of are the following:

1. Birth Certificate (Cannot be older than 6 months) – You need the certificate notarized and have it apostled. If you are a US citizen born outside of US then you need or you can someone else to go to the country of your birth, get your birth certificate notarized, then go to that country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and get it attested there, and finally go to the Royal Netherlands Embassy (Dutch Embassy) and have them legalize it for use with the government of the Netherlands Antilles. Make sure the certificate is not older than 6 months.

2. Single/Marriage Status (Cannot be older than 6 months) – You need a statement from your self saying you are single and date it. You can go to any bank and get a public notary to notarize it, and then have the document apostled. If you are married you need to provide proof that you are. If you not from the United States then you need to get that legalized with the Dutch Embassy of your country. The document cannot be older than 6 months.

3. Police Report (Cannot be older than 2 months) – Go to the nearest police department to your house and ask for a background search. You need to order one and a half months before you come to the island. The issue date cannot be older than two months. However, even if you ordered one two months before, make sure you order another one and bring it with you a week before you come.

4. The Doctor’s Note (Cannot be older than 2 months) – Get a check up with your family doctor and get your doctor to write a statement with his or her letterhead stating that you are fine with no diseases what so ever (that is if your clean).

5. Bank Statement – This requirement changes often, but to my knowledge the most recent update (last August), Bonaire immigration requires that you have a bank statement stating that you must have at least $7,000 in your bank account.

6. The Student Declaration – A single sheet form in Dutch, declaring that you are there to study and only study. Students are not allowed to work or conduct any businesses. By conducting any businesses, you jeopardize your chances to gain your temporary.

7. Temporary Residency Permit Packet – Fill out the Dutch version; that is the form you fill out to apply for your permit.

8. Giving Permission to Apply – Fill out the form for the school to give you permission to apply for a temporary resident permit for you. Remember, the school must sponsor you in order to get your residency permit.

9. Passport Photos – Get 4 passport size photos.  This should be not challenging; just go to a photo center and get it done.

10. Passport Copies – Get two photocopies of your passport, I don’t know about other countries, but for citizens of the United States, you have to get it notarized; you can do that in any bank.

This should cover all the required documents the immigration requires but you should check with the Dutch embassy of your country if you need any extra documents.  Also, check with the office of the school that you’re going to attend.

The Royal Netherlands Embassy of Canada
The Royal Netherlands Embassy of USA 

NOTE: On the island don’t bother contacting the immigration because they will not deal with students. Each school has native Bonaire officers who work for them, and they are the ones who take care of the papers. Remember the people of Bonaire are very laid back and take their time so you have to be patient and polite regardless of how they treat you. The best thing to do is to contact the schools’ offices in the USA.

Contact the schools:

Saint James School of Medicine for Bonaire Campus

1480 Renaissance Dr, Suite 300
Park Ridge, IL 60068 USA
Tel: 1-800-542-1553, 1-847-375-0543
Email: [email protected]

Xavier University School of Medicine for Bonaire Campus

212 Churchill Hubbard RD
Suite D
Youngstown, OH 44505
Phone:1-888-XAVIER U (928-4378),330-759-800
E-mail: [email protected]

UPDATE: 1/19/2011
1. Xavier University School of Medicine are no longer on the Bonaire island.
2. Students are no longer required to deposit $571, but there is a fee in immigration.
3. The Netherlands Antilles has been dissolved and therefore Bonaire is now a direct part of Netherlands.