Preparing for medical school is more than just buying supplies and packing suitcases. You also have to prepare your mind. With less than a week left before I fly out to the island, I still cannot fathom that I am one-step closer to realizing my dream of becoming a doctor. Even after I purchased my plane ticket, shopped for my new living space, and bought my favorite snack to munch on while I study, it still feels like medical school is months away. After submitting my seat and housing deposit, the rest of my prep was simply filling out forms. The forms ranged from indicating my housing preferences, providing the school with my most recent immunizations, applying for loans, and completing online registration as an incoming medical student. When visiting your primary care physician, be sure to notify him or her of your departure date so you can receive the most up-to-date vaccinations specific to the Caribbean islands. Aside from a check-up, be sure to complete a criminal background check at your local police station.

Because you will no longer be living in the United States, you must consider all possible challenges you may face while living abroad. Make sure to call your bank in advance to put a traveling notice on your debit and/or credit cards to avoid fees or issues when making transactions. When the time comes for packing, you should always prioritize. Many of the food items you may want to bring could be purchased at the local supermarket on the island or can be shipped over in a container, so it is best not to pack those items in your suitcases. Professional clothing, laboratory scrubs, and personal items should take priority.

It is highly recommended to apply for a Medical Educations Loan through the Bank of Lake Mills (BOLM) if you are eligible. Other options such as signing up for private loans, enrolling in payment installment plans, or paying with personal checks are also available. The many options AUA provides make it easier to pay for your medical education.

Once all forms have been completed and you have your finances taken care of, the next and final step is online registration. The process involves confirming your housing  placement, indicating your health insurance method, and selecting the option for transportation. When you complete this, you will be provided with your Fall semester course schedule.  Online registration is not only recommended, it is preferred as it will ensure that everything is taken care of by the time you arrive on the island. At this point, you are ready for the moment you have been waiting for—putting all that hard work to action!

by Heela Azizi, Class of 2017