The Medical Student Survival Guide – Aruba Edition

Whether you’re pre-med or a first-year medical student, studying far from home isn’t easy for anyone.

If you’re serious about making it to your second year, you’ll need to make adjustments (from study habits to living situations). We’re here to simplify that process for you, and provide great study tips for medical students to boost your grades and confidence.

Study up!

If you move to an island known for its record-breaking days of sunshine, it’s hard to keep your nose in a book. Use this to your advantage! Find a park bench to review lesson notes, upgrade your balcony to a study space, or meet up with fellow pre-med students on the beach – just be sure to tackle your assignments before jumping in the ocean!

It’s commonly accepted that people retain more information when they study regularly, at the same hour each day. Think of it like a habit: The more you practice, the more ingrained it will become. Here are some study tips that will keep your brain on the straight and narrow:

1. Avoid Cramming

Most of us are guilty of the last-minute study scramble, but it won’t help you retain your skills. As a medical student, most of the information you’re expected to remember is built over the years. Don’t think that you can learn it by osmosis!

2. Turn off Your Devices

If you’re attending medical school in Aruba, it’ll be tempting to constantly update your Instagram with gorgeous snaps. When it’s time to sit down and focus, be sure to turn your phone off (and log out of social media).

3. Keep Your Eye on the Prize

We understand the desire to study everything at once, but try to compartmentalize your study sessions. Instead of going over two or three chapters of your textbook, focus on single subjects. Not only will this keep your mind on track, but it also ensures that you become much more well-versed on the topic.

 

4. Ask Your Professors

Don’t underestimate the knowledge of your professors: It’s their job to develop your skills! If you’re hung up on a definition – or simply need a bit more explanation – don’t be afraid to raise your hand.

5. Make Studying Fun

If you’re more successful in group study sessions, congratulations! Most people, however, find that it’s much easier to study solo. With the advancement of medical apps, however, you’ll discover everything you need to challenge yourself.

To get your Latin and Greek roots memorized, try using flashcards via Brainscape. These can even be downloaded and shared with friends. Best of all, you don’t need to write anything down. If you need to study up on your pharmacology, ICD9, or general medical details, be sure to download Epocrates, one of the most popular medical apps out there.

Find a Place to Live

Like many Caribbean medical schools, AUSOMA doesn’t provide student dormitory accommodation. They do, however, have partnerships with multiple nearby apartments.

Ask your school’s student life representatives for advice on renting an apartment. They’ll be able to offer crucial information regarding average rental prices, requirements, and whether any students are currently searching for a roommate.

Living with a Roommate

Striking out on your own and renting a room is a rite of passage for students. That doesn’t mean, however, that you deserve a terrible roommate situation. Make sure you divvy up responsibilities, figure out financials, and communicate openly and honestly with one another.

There are countless roommate checklists and quizzes out there to help you avoid pitfalls, but if you live with someone, make sure that you never do anything on this list.

If you don’t “play well with others” (and can afford to live on your own), consider flying solo. Not only will you maintain your personal space, but you’ll also limit unnecessary stress.

Manage Your Money

Are your parents assisting you with finances? Are you surviving off of your savings or taking on a part-time job during med school? Are you eligible for a scholarship? The first few months of studying abroad are exciting, but it’s hard to avoid going broke at the end of each month. Aside from memorizing swathes of information, one of the biggest challenges for surviving medical school is sticking to a budget.

Consider the cost of living in Aruba: How much do drinks, food, and transportation cost? If you aren’t much of a cook, how often can you afford to eat at restaurants?

Take Care of Your Health

Without the normal day-to-day stressors weighing you down, it’s easy to push yourself to the limits. As a future medical professional, you need to learn how to take your own advice!

Feed Your Body

Drinking enough water (especially after a “long night”) is key to succeeding at anything in life. Be sure that you incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet, which shouldn’t be too hard, seeing as how you’ll be living in a tropical paradise!

Practice Relaxation Techniques

Consider working out, meditating, breathing exercises, or speaking with a therapist if things are more stressful than usual, then stick to your new healthy habits. You’ll be a medical professional someday, and life will undoubtedly be chaotic at times. Learning how to manage stress in a positive, productive way will help you down the line.

Get Enough Sleep

When you don’t get adequate sleep (7-8 hours per night), the effects can be staggering. Not only does sleeplessness affect your hormones and mood, but you can also gain weight. Just like studying, sleep habits are something that you can learn.

Take the Next Step by Applying to AUSOMA

The American University School of Medicine Aruba is one of the top Caribbean medical schools. Discover how to enroll so you can study in a tropical paradise!