I’ve received a few questions lately about the experience of moving to and living in the Caribbean, especially in terms of moving there as a student. So I’ve put together a few tips and things you have to know in order to make the most of your time in the Caribbean.
I encourage you to first of all be open to new experiences and to change in general.
Depending on where you’re moving from, the Caribbean will be vastly different or not much different from prior living experience. People from the US or Europe and the like may have a harder time adjusting to the weather and things like that. Whereas people from Africa where the weather is similar might find this bit easier.
So what’s it like in the Caribbean?
I lived in St Vincent and the Grenadines for over a year and also visited Barbados a number of times, so I can tell you that some islands are more “developed” than others. Islands like Barbados, St Lucia and St Maarten, I’ve heard are more developed, have wider roads and more stores and things like that.
St Vincent and Dominica are smaller, more rural areas. St Vincent has a hilly terrain so if you like to walk, you’ll get a good work out in just by walking to school everyday, depending on where you live. It gets reaallly hot in the dry season and you get quite cold nights in the rainy season. Most flats have air conditioning so you have that option, although, AC’s come with a higher electricity bill.
How do people get around?
It’ll take you 3-4 weeks to know your way around parts of the island you’ll regularly be passing through. All buses go to town (or downtown, or “city center”) and they come from every part of the island to town. There isn’t really a proper timed schedule but some buses are more frequent than others. The buses are small, can get really cramped and play super loud music. Also, island driving is pretty ridiculous, BUT you get used to it.
If you have a drivers license from your country, you can easily buy a used car (check your school’s student forum for info) and drive yourself around if you’d prefer that.
Food & Shopping
Fresh fruits and veggies are as cheap as they come on the island!
*pictures were actually taken by me in Bequia, The Grenadines
Plus you can try tropical fruits like starfruit, wax apples and soursops if you haven’t ever had em. Processed stuff however is on the more expensive side; stuff like cereal, especially brand name goods like Tesco and waitrose stuff or even Kelloggs products. You can find nearly anything on the island, it just depends on how much you’re willing to pay. They have garri, although it’s called farine on the island. If you’d like to ask about something specific, you can always leave a comment and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.
There are meat and fish markets, markets for other food stuff and supermarkets like Super J and Greaves on the island of St Vincent.
Clothes shopping on the other hand, I can’t say much about because I was only able to shop in Barbados (and it was not cheap). You can find basic stuff in smaller island like Jansport backpacks and baseball caps and really everything else but then everyone else will be wearing it and it probably will not last. I gotta shout out the cheap sunnies though, those are great. And the hats and beach wear. Love em.
Night Life & Dining Out
There are a number of restaurants and night clubs in St Vincent. My favorite restaurant is French Verandah. They have the best smoothies. There’s also Subway and KFC.There’s Rick’s pizza. There used to be a Pizza Hut but I think it’s closed now. Feel free to try new places when you can. The island is your oyster!
I tried to get around a bit while in the Caribbean, traveling to Grenadine islands like Union Island and Bequia (still in St Vincent & the Grenadines) and also to Barbados. My school also organized some boat trips to other islands so definitely take advantage of your location. You may never again get the chance to live there again.
The Caribbean is nature’s paradise. Really. Beautiful flowers and stunning beaches. Don’t forget the sunsets! Take it all in!
What to pack
Nice dresses for occasional school events
Fancy stationery (if you’re into that stuff)
Specific cereal you love (Bring one pack, at least)
Hair dryer/hand mixer/blender (look, any electronics you can carry safely will save tons of money)
Hair extensions (if they’re cheap where you’re coming from)
Don’t forget to pack a camera!
Personally, the Caribbean has been my favorite place in the world to live in (I’ve lived in Ukraine and Nigeria, spent time in the UK and the US)
Any Carib students have anything else to add to the list? Let me know in the comments and I’ll add it to the list!
I had a fantastic weekend, even though I came down with a nasty cold towards the end. More on my trip will be up later in the week.
How was your weekend?