“Time… why do you punish me?
Like a wave bashing into the shore… you wash away my dreams.”
For anyone who loves American ‘90s music, this line may ring a bell. Whenever I think about time – and I seem to be thinking about it a lot lately – I hear Darius Rucker’s velvety voice and the rest of Hootie and the Blowfish’s instrumentals in the background.
I am caught amidst two very different concepts of time. My school, St. George’s University, is a mecca of sorts for veterinary and medical students wanting to live in paradise while struggling through the constant uphill battle of graduate school. While St. George’s students hail from all over the globe, many of us are from the United States, Canada, and the UK where life moves at an incredibly fast pace. To add fuel to the fire, we’re a generation used to instant gratification at the tap of our thumbs on our touch screens. And we’re medical students – so we’re Type A as hell.
This fast-paced, I Want It Now attitude is dramatically juxtaposed with the concept of time found here on the rock. It is the concept that people either lovingly or loathingly refer to as “Island Time”. For many of us, it feels like life here moves at a snail’s pace – whether you’re at a restaurant waiting for food, waiting for a bus or in traffic, or when someone says they’ll call you back in 10 minutes and that becomes two hours. However, the plus side is that living here undoubtedly teaches you to be patient and breathe a bit more slowly. When I returned home for the holidays, I had forgotten about how quickly time moves in the States, especially when it comes to food service. I would grab dinner with a friend expecting to relish in hours together catching up when our meals would suddenly arrive in a flash and 30 minutes later, our checks would be paid and we’d be moving on.
After a semester of going to school in Grenada, I felt like I was caught in between these two concepts of time but I thought that I was handling it pretty well – I had adapted to life moving slower around me but was still able to keep up with the hustle and bustle of school. However, I only recently reflected on how being caught between the two could affect my relationships when my friend Sam, a Term 1 “medi”, described how quickly she’s made friends here. You do everything here with the same group of people, which means you tend to form deep bonds in a short amount of time. Relationships seem to be one of the few things that move faster when on a rock in comparison to elsewhere.
Her description of how quickly time flies in terms of developing relationships made me reflect on a fling I had when I was home for Christmas. After casually dating for only a few weeks, the guy asked if I would be interested in being exclusive. Although this move was uncharacteristic of me, I jumped on it. I liked him, he liked me, we had great chemistry… so what if I live 2,000 miles away for the majority of the year? I figured if the feelings were there, we could make it work.
Our “relationship” lasted for a whopping 3 days, before reality set in. And quite honestly, it wasn’t until I returned to the island that I really realized how difficult it would have been to maintain a long-distance relationship that had practically no foundation whatsoever. I barely knew this guy! Essentially I was trying to pack several months of getting to know someone into a few short weeks, since that’s all the time I had, and that’s how I’d apparently gotten used to operating on-island.
As busy students on the rock, even though the clock ticks slowly around us, we grasp and claw for every last second of the day and try to make the most of it because we know that we simply do not have as much time as we’d like. We take advantage of the time spent waiting for the bus by flipping through Quizlet notecards on our phones. We utilize our time spent waiting for food as best as possible by developing friendships. Some might say we’re missing out on the full island life experience by rushing around, while others think we may have found the way to truly appreciate time for the non-renewable resource it really is. Me? I’m not quite sure yet.
I told Chels, my best friend from college, that I don’t know how to turn off this urge to move quickly into relationships since I’m used to trying to pack everything I can into a short amount of time. Wise as always, she told me that I can’t. It’s a part of who I am and my nature at this point in my life. I jokingly told her that next time I come home, I’ll likely end up in a shotgun wedding rather than a three-day relationship. You never know. It could happen.
“I’m out of my mind…thinkin’ about time…”