Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by this author are their own and do not represent the official position of the Barbados Today Inc.
“I wouldn’t call myself a doctor. Being called doctor is a title that you need to earn, and I haven’t yet. Hopefully, I will by the end of this year.
I am a 5th-year medical student at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus currently pursuing a Bachelor of Medicine and a Bachelor of Surgery. I am Anglican and Afro-Trinidadian. I walk a little weird. I have an iconic gait that my friends can spot me from a mile away.
I live by the motto: do unto others as you’d like them to do unto you. I see the world as an open book where there are a lot of new people to meet, a lot of new experiences to be had.
I am an alumnus of The President’s Award Trinidad and Tobago. The annual CASC camp is an exciting, thrilling experience for me. I like going to the other countries in the Caribbean and hiking, seeing what they have to offer, not just at the resorts. Here in Barbados, I like hiking along the beaches on the West Coast.
My dream is to touch every beach on the West Coast. On my average day before COVID-19, I’d wake up at 6 a.m., leave home at 7. I’d catch the school shuttle and reach school by half-past 7. I’d go to the wards at 8 and do rounds on patients until 12noon. I’d be home by 4 and study at night on campus.
From like 5 to 9, I’d go on campus and read.
Christmas 2019, I was home in Trinidad. I went to church in the morning with my mommy. I had bread and ham.
Then we went by my granny’s for lunch. I cannot remember the exact date I first heard there was a new disease stirring in China. I just remember not thinking too much about it because hey, it’s China.
Who would think it would spread all across the world and reach here? When COVID-19 reached the Caribbean, my first thought as a medical student was this is a problem. There was so limited research on COVID-19 at that point in time, that it was just like – what is going to be the outcome? As a CARICOM citizen, I was wondering are we as a CARICOM community going to be able to effectively manage this disease on our own? We are heavily tourism-based economies, not so much Trinidad, but the majority of the Caribbean, and it’s like how are we going to bounce back from this? When the first case happened here in Barbados, I remember the university shutting down. It was like wow. Yes, I was one of the students who were trying to return home to Trinidad. I got home eventually.
They had a repatriation flight for us almost two or three months after the actual shutdown. We were repatriated, all the UWI students who wanted to go home, together on a special flight. We quarantined together for three weeks.
Quarantining wasn’t that bad. I must admit they treated us very well. During the first lockdown in March 2020, I was home alone a lot. Ideally, I had made this plan to study. But I don’t remember accomplishing a lot.
I ended up exhausting all of my movie options and all of my TV show options, to the point where I had no more to watch. Occasionally I would pick up a book or two.
University life did change a lot. They reduced the number of students on the wards and tried to put us in different clinics. There are fewer students per team now. And there is an increase in the virtual component.
Christmas 2020, I was in Barbados. I went to church. I attend the Evening Light Pentecostal Church with Pastor Alleng and his wife. The church had breakfast. It was fun.
They made us feel like we were at home.
They had a wide assortment of meats, like bread and ham, plantain, most importantly sorrel. Afterwards, Pastor took us home with his family and we had lunch there. It was nice. I was grateful that he created that kind of environment for us.
My day now is pretty much the same as it was pre- COVID. We finish a bit earlier than we did before. I still get up at 6 a.m. but I return home by 2 p.m. I’m not able to study on campus as much. I am more intentional about staying in contact with my family and friends now.
Due to COVID-19, I wasn’t able to do an elective, but I did get to volunteer. I volunteered recently with the vaccination programme. It was stressful and tiring. I must commend the Polyclinic staff for the job that they are doing.
It is an immense task and I sympathise with them. They really do vaccinate a lot of people per day.
My happiest adulthood memory would be making new friends at Cave Hill and experiencing and enjoying a lot of new things with them. At Cave Hill, we have a very diverse campus. Being here was the first time I experienced a lot of new cultures and actually understood regional integration.
If the university were to become more virtual and more hands-off, I think it would be a negative. I have a lot of friends from different islands, and I am able to experience their food and culture. I get to hear their music and learn about their history. The university experience wouldn’t be the same without being able to go to the events that the Guild hosts.”
Jade Gibbons is an arts and business graduate with a keen interest in social issues and film-making. See https:// www.jadegibbons246.com