Nevis is a wonderful place to attend medical school.
Beautiful, safe and easy to get to, Nevis is one of the many volcanic islands that stretch along the eastern Caribbean sea where it meets the Atlantic Ocean. Tourists come to Nevis to enjoy the warm Caribbean water, bask on the white sand beaches, hike the rain forest, snorkel among the reefs and investigate the ruins of the sugar cane era that dot the island. Nevis is also well known for its excellent restaurants and charming inns—many of them old plantation "great houses."
But for all it has to offer, Nevis remains very much a low-key destination, a captivating yet tranquil oasis in which to pursue your medical studies.
Getting to Nevis
You have several options for traveling to Nevis:
- Through St. Kitts: St. Kitts, Nevis’ sister island, is a popular Caribbean destination that can be reached by direct flights from Puerto Rico, Atlanta, Charlotte, Miami, New York and other locations. Once on St. Kitts, you can get to Nevis either by air (Liat) or by taking the ferry, which has regularly scheduled crossings throughout the day.
- Through Antigua or St. Maarten: Antigua and St. Maarten are both gateways to the Caribbean that are served by major air carriers. Once there, you can take a connecting flight to Nevis on Liat (Antigua) or Winair (St. Maarten).
Upon arrival in Nevis, the university is a short distance from either the airport or ferry.
Getting Around Nevis
Transportation on Nevis is easy and extremely enjoyable: You can make a circuit of the island in less than an hour, passing by all of the major beaches and small villages; the capital, Charlestown; the airport and other points of interest.
Driving is on the left side of the road. In order to operate any vehicle on the island it is necessary to obtain a temporary local driver’s license, which costs $48 U.S. for one year. In addition to good public transportation, there are approximately 15 car rental agencies on Nevis.
Students are permitted to acquire private transportation, and there is a steady turnover of vehicles with students leaving the island selling to the new members of the incoming classes. When you arrive, you can obtain more information about getting a driver’s license, insurance, and registering your car at the Administration Office on campus.
Nevis has a well-developed infrastructure for phone, Internet and cable TV:
- Caribbean Cable provides cable television, as well as cable-based internet access. Many homes and apartments include telephones.
- Cellular phones on Nevis use the GSM system. Many cell phone companies provide discounted rates to MUA students.
- Many students choose to make international telephone calls with their computer using a VoIP service such as Skype or Vonage. In addition, web-based calls can be made using services such as www.iconnecthere.com.
The U.S. dollar and Eastern Caribbean dollar are both accepted forms of currency. The Eastern Caribbean dollar (EC) is tied to the U.S. dollar at $2.70 EC per $1.00 US. Visa and MasterCard are also widely accepted.
Banking hours are Monday-Thursday, 8 am-2 pm; and Friday, 8 am-4 pm. There are ATM machines in Charlestown and at the airport. Money is dispensed in EC dollars.
Nevis has been welcoming students and faculty to Medical University of the Americas since 1998. As a result, the island is “ready” for your arrival. However, here are a few suggestions to make your transition to Nevisian life much easier.
WEATHER AND DRESS
Nevis is sunny all year and temperatures average 78° F (25° C). There is no rainy season, but short, heavy showers are common from August to February. Thin, light clothing is best.
A wide range of everyday living products are available on Nevis, but keep in mind that it is a small island, so you may not always find your favorite brand or size of product—at least when you first arrive. If there is something you absolutely must have, consider bringing it along. And remember: Shipping ahead makes travel easier and less expensive.
A surprisingly wide range of regional ingredients are available on Nevis, but again, if it’s a “must have” consider bringing it or shipping in advance.
As a medical student you will be pressed for time, so consider bringing hair clippers to avoid the trip to the hairdresser.
Printing supplies tend to be expensive on Nevis, so be sure to bring extra ink cartridges and paper.
Electrical outlets on Nevis are 220v cycle; however, the university and dorms are 110v, the same as in the U.S. and Canada. It is a good idea to bring along converters and a surge protector as added protection for any electronic equipment.
Remember that everything you bring must go somewhere when you leave. Many families recycle items at the end of their time on the island, but this is done before the first semester students arrive.
Dorm rooms are fully equipped with beds, private baths, closets, ceiling fans, air conditioning, refrigerators, microwaves, desks, chairs and lamps. Pay-per-use laundry facilities are located on the premises.
If you are renting a home on Nevis (2nd through 5th semester students primarily) you will want to check in advance to make sure items you need are included in the rental. While most homes have a microwave, TV, refrigerator and basic cooking items, not all rentals are identical. For example, check to make sure there is an iron and ironing board if that is important. Are linens provided and, even if they are, would you be more comfortable with your own?
Things to Do on Nevis
Nevis is a relatively small island—36 square miles. But there is no shortage of things to do when students need a break from their studies:
- You are never far from the beach at Nevis and the opportunity for swimming, snorkeling, birding, bar hopping or just relaxing.
- Walk the streets of Charlestown and see one of the best remaining examples of the colonial era in the Caribbean.
- Visit one of the beautifully restored sugar plantations that are now elegant inns.
- Tour the famous Nevis Botanical Gardens, filled with sculpture, fountains, and a tropical rain forest conservatory, built to emulate the conservatory at Kew Gardens in England.
- Hike Nevis Peak or one of many other spectacular trails.
- Take in a performance of a Nevis string band or enjoy the Kaiso (Calypso) music that Nevis and other Caribbean islands have made famous.
- Take in a cricket match, play tennis or golf, or go mountain biking—a real passion for many on Nevis.
- Keep your eyes and ears peeled for the chattering and scampering of a green vervet monkey.
The official Nevis Tourism Website is a great source of information about the island.
Religion on Nevis
Numerous religious denominations are represented on Nevis. You will find churches for the Anglican, Baptist, Roman Catholic, Seventh Day Adventist, Church of God and Methodist religions. A wide range of religious affiliations are represented among the student body.
Schools and Daycare
If you will be bringing children with you to MUA, there are a number of schooling options on the island, including daycare and both public and private schools for primary and secondary education.
The education system is similar to the British system. Children graduate from 6th grade and go to secondary schools starting at Form 1. The grades are Forms 1-6. Forms 1-5 (equivalent to grades 7-11) are in preparation to sit for the “O” Level exams, and the 2 years of Form 6 are in preparation to sit for the “A” Level exams. Classes begin at 8:30 am and end at 3:30 pm.
All classes are taught in English.
For families with preschool-age children, there are several preschools on Nevis.