Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Here FINALLY... now what?

Wagwan! So for everyone who would like to be updated on my travels while in Jamaica this is the place to check me out!

I arrived early yesterday and the reason for my trip is because I have received a 10 month Fulbright Grant to research alternative methods of reintegration for deported person in Jamaica. As of right now I have some ideas how this will be achieved but really... I'm winging it! I am affiliated with the University of the West Indies (UWI) and a non-profit, FURI, that attempts to secure familial ties for deported persons back on the island. I am here with 4 other ladies who are also on Fulbrights, Anita, Jasmine, Nicole, and Iris.

The good news is... I have a temporary place to live with a lovely family who took in Anita and I while we get settled. Funny story how we got set up with this family, The Genzer's. At my job in the states, The Blue Dolphin in Katonah NY, I met a couple who once taught music classes in high school to Scott Genzer. Scott Genzer is now the principal of the American International School of Kingston (AISK). And as how all good stories start, I was on Facebook, and shot him a message and a few months later he picked Anita and I up at the airport! They have been so gracious with letting us stay with them and our ONLY condition is that we offer our babysitting expertise every so often! I have yet to meet Scott's wife Kim and his two lovely daughter because they are still in Canada, but they arrive tomorrow and we will be one big happy family!

So our first day involved a lot of sweating cause it's HOT, a trip to the local mall to get our cell phones set up, which by the way required unlocking our phone and just replacing the SIM's with a Digicel SIM from here! Scott and his friend/coworker Josh took us out to get some Jerk for dinner only to be complemented with some local Red Stripe. We promptly fell asleep at 8:30pm sweaty, happy and exhausted.

First day fun facts:
  • Jamaicans really love KFC... who knew!
  • Everyone is super friendly.
  • Straight hair is impossible therefore curly will always suffice.
  • Tomatoes are called "salad" and avocados are "pears"
Anita, Jasmine and I will be living together for our year abroad. Anita and I flew in the 17th and Jaz will get here on the 23rd or so. So the second day consisted of apartment hunting and setting up our student status at UWI. A referred taxi guy, Ricard, picked us up at 9:30 and brought us to UWI. So imagine you have been told that you can take free classes and you have been automatically accepted into a university... right awesome. SO THEN WHAT! We walked into the registrar's building, immediately found the International Student Center and met a LIFESAVER, Rachelle! She showed us around and brought us to our individual schools which I will be attending the UWI School of Social Sciences and I will be a part of the Governance Department! I signed up for my first graduate class ever, Caribbean Political Systems! I figure as I attempt to dive into my research which is transnational, political, and economical in nature I should probably understand the set up of Caribbean politics. Since the Caribbean was colonized by Europe they primarily function off the parliamentary system, one I am unfamiliar with. So needless to say this class will help my research a ton AND ITS FREE! Tuition at UWI is waived for Fulbright's!

I made it sound super easy to register for classes and what not but truly everything is a slight hassle and you will absolutely have to run from office to office and make call after call to get things done. Island time will take time to get used to!

After a crazy morning at UWI... hunger struck. Now refer back to fun fact number one.... yes correct, we got KFC. Jamaican's will tell you the KFC down here blows American KFC out of the water. I have gotten two separate reasons why. 1) local chicken = less hormones and therefore a tastier natural chicken. 2) they season the chicken before the batter and fry it. With that being said... fast food is fast food, not my thing. But I was starving and my Jamaican Colonel Sanders Chicken Sandwich did the job.

RING RING, Anita's phone goes off and there is our real-estate brokers Jeannine and Jason who are about to find us a place to live! They pick us up at KFC and were off in a whirlwind of apartment hunting! 6 places on the list to check out! I wont bore you with the details of every apartment but needless to say we narrowed it down to our favorite one in New Kingston. It's a high rise (for JA) and its a fully furnished two bedroom, yes that involves bedroom sharing! But in the grand scheme of things, who cares. I now live in Jamaica I will now not care about stupid stuff! This whole fully furnished things is totally new to me but it is BADASS. It includes everything from utensils to throw pillows and fresh linens in your closets! The apartment is 1450 so between the three of us I think we are just right for price. And we also get a super view of Kingston and of the Blue Mountains. One more apartment to check out tomorrow but I think our minds are made up! I will post tons of photos of the new place don't worry!

After this busy day I am ready to grab a box of Kraft mac and cheese, toy story shapes to be exact (i brought lots of boxes), and slip into a cheesy coma! More to come tomorrow!!


  1. awesome blgo ash, i cant wait to keep reading, and cant wait to come visit

  2. Dude Awesome!!!!! Sounds like you are having a blast! don't forget to try the Jamaican bananas.... according to Life and Debt they are way better than south american bananas!