What’s a spouse to do with all this free time on this beautiful island ? The reality of most student spouses here is that employment opportunities are rare. The few jobs that are available are 1)waiting tables at a local restaurant/bar, 2) teaching at the Ross University Day School for children of students and faculty or 3) working in the standarized patient program where you get to act out a particular medical scenario for med students to figure out what the diagnosis is. Most spouses have visa restrictions that prohibit gainful employment.
This lovely cake above was made for a good friend of mine who was an advanced medical practitioner from a major US city. When her spouse came to med school she moved to Dominica to support him but consequently had to put her career on hold, hence the “just a spouse” ongoing joke. Sounds like a dream right ? Living on an a beautiful island and not having to work…and for some of us it is, but for others it takes a major adjusting to-especially Type A career driven spouses or for people whose whole identity is wrapped up in their occupation/what they do versus who they are. Sometimes not having a job means nothing motivates you to get out of bed in the morning, your socialization with others is decreased, you no longer have your own pay check, and you have too much time on your hands.
So, I thought I’d write a bit about what the spouses do here- spouses meaning male and female spouses, boyfriends, girlfriends etc. The connecting point for many spouses is the Ross Spouses Organization. RSO has a spouses orientation and social at the beginning of every semester. They also plan 2-3 activities every week, from hiking to snorkeling to grocery shopping trips. RSO is a good place to get started meeting people.
Top 10 things spouses do in Dominica:
1. Take classes online. You have 18 months to take classes online to work toward programs you have always been interested in.
2. Get fit. Plenty time to hit the gym, take group fitness classes, hike or swim.
3. Get out and explore this gorgeous island! Check out excursions here .
4. Start a blog to document your overseas experiences. It’s therapeutic for you and it helps those that are looking for information about life at Ross.
5. Develop your gifts and talents/take up new hobbies.
6. Work. Thanks to computer technology, some people are actually able to keep their US job while they are overseas.
7. Get involved in campus life/Student Government Association groups. Most Ross student organizations open their membership to spouses. Anything you are passionate about probably has representation in student life. There are medical clubs, cultural clubs, religious clubs, athletic clubs, animal lovers club etc.
8. Volunteer in the local community-schools, churches, youth outreach, clean ups etc.
9. Start your own network within the Ross Community. Any talent you have can be turned in to some way to help students, faculty, or their spouses/children. This could be anything- personal training, baking, music lessons, tutoring, kid sports, fitness classes, swimming lessons, hair styling, massage therapy, sewing, ironing, making jewelry/crafts, team sports etc. For tips on how to start a small business in Dominica click here.
10. Slow down and de-stress your mind and body. Get into the island experience. Plenty of time to evaluate where you want to go in life but more importantly get out and have fun. Don’t be that spouse that hides in their apartment till the end of semester three = unhappy you + unhappy med student.