FAQ: Preparing for AUC

Are you ready to begin your journey to become a physician? Below, you'll find answers to questions about daily life logistics, what to bring, and what life is like in St. Maarten.

  • Accommodations ACCOMMODATIONS

    • What housing accommodations are available at AUC?

      Students have the option of selecting either a one or two-bedroom apartment, which features a kitchen and dining/living areas. Every bedroom has its own bathroom. Most apartments have magnificent ocean views and are open to trade winds. Some apartments have a balcony. The AUC housing office also has a list of off-campus housing, but does not serve as a rental agent for students.

    • Can I live in the dorms for all 5 semesters?

      Incoming students should plan on securing off-campus housing after their first semester. Please refer to the Housing Department for further information.

    • If I live off-campus, which town should I consider living in?

      Students live in various towns including Cupecoy, Point Pirouette, Simpson Bay, Beacon Hill and Pelican Key. All of these small towns are close in proximity to AUC.

    • What, on average, do students pay for off-campus housing?

      The average apartment rent is about $900/month, with a range of about $700-$1500/month. Your monthly rent will depend on factors such as quality, location, pet fees, and whether or not utilities are included.

    • What is the average cost of utilities?

      The price of utilities can vary from $100 to $400/month, depending on where you live, and frequency of use (i.e. air conditioning). You may want to consider a location that exposes your apartment to trade winds in order to reduce the need for air conditioning. Be sure to inquire about the cost of utilities with previous tenants of the same complex, and the landlord, prior to signing the lease. For further information regarding on-campus or off-campus housing, please email the AUC Housing Office.

  • Banking BANKING

    • What is the accepted currency at St. Maarten?

      The U.S. dollar, although not official, is accepted everywhere on the island. Traveler’s Checks are also widely accepted, while personal checks are generally not. It is advisable to have $1,500-$3,000 available either in the form of cash or an ATM card, to support you during the first few weeks. It takes a minimum of 10 calendar days for a refund check to become available after a loan check is received.

    • What banking services are available?

      There are several banks on the island: Bank of Nova Scotia, Royal Bank of Canada, First Caribbean Bank, and Windward Island Bank. It is suggested that students open a “non-resident” U.S. dollar savings account. Establishing a checking account is also possible, however they are expensive to maintain and personal checks are not widely accepted by merchants. ATM machines are available for both savings and checking accounts. Another option is to leave money in a U.S. bank and use Cirrus ATM machines to make withdrawals.

    • Are there ATMs on campus?

      No, there are no ATM’s on campus, but there is one nearby (up the street), and there are several located throughout the island.

    • Is there anything I should know about maintaining a U.S. bank account while I am living on the island?

      In order to avoid being suspected of having fraudulent account activity, it is strongly recommended that you inform your bank that you will be studying abroad for an extended period of time. Additionally, consider asking the bank to raise your maximum daily withdrawal amount. Most U.S. banks will charge a $1-$3 fee for each ATM cash withdrawal. Find out if your bank will lower, or even wave, the fee for students studying abroad.

    • How should I send my loan check to the States for deposit?

      You may send it via FedEx (at the Mailbox store), or through DHL (at the DHL store). Both stores are located in Simpson Bay, and provide overnight delivery service. To prevent any delays, be sure to carefully list what you are shipping. If you intend to ship a check in excess of $10,000, you must complete a customs form and declare the total value.

  • Communication Communication

    • Does AUC provide access to the Internet?

      Yes, AUC provides Internet access to students for study and personal use on campus. Several computers and extra ports for laptops are available in the AUC library, accessible during library hours. There are several Internet providers available for home use. Representatives of Internet companies will be on-hand during the first day of registration to answer any questions.

    • How much does it cost to install a landline?

      Installing a landline requires a deposit in excess of $1,500.00. In addition to the high cost, the bills do not arrive on a regular basis. However, for those students choosing to live off-campus, some apartment complexes have landlines already set up and will only charge for monthly use.

    • What is the best way to communicate with the States?

      There are several ways to communicate with the States including e-mail, instant messaging, call-back, and net-to-phone. In addition to e-mail, the call-back system is one of the most popular methods. The call-back service costs $0.20/min anywhere in the US with the MedAdvantage card, whereas the net-to-phone service charges about $0.05/min. Students choosing to utilize internet phone companies should realize that the internet service speeds on the island may not be comparable to what they are accustomed to in the States. Students may purchase prepaid phone cards online from www.cardsforstudents.com

  • Communication Health Insurance

    • Is health insurance needed?

      The government of St. Maarten requires all students to have a local health insurance coverage while on the island. AUC has arranged for a student health insurance policy through NAGICO (National General Insurance Company N.V.). Students have the opportunity to enroll dependents with the insurance company during registration. Clinical students are required to have health insurance, provided through AETNA, in order to rotate. These requirements are strictly enforced by AUC. Please contact AUC for further information at 305-446-0600.

  • Communication Island Life

    • What is St. Maarten like?

      St. Maarten is the smallest island in the world that is governed by two nationalities: the Netherlands Antilles on the southern side and the French West Indies on the northern side. Although English is spoken everywhere and the U.S. dollar is an accepted currency, the island retains many elements of European culture. The up-market lifestyle offers over 400 restaurants ranging from elegant French cuisine, sidewalk cafes, to American fast food. There are pristine beaches, excellent diving and other tropical sports activities, and duty-free shopping.

      For a complete list of recommended vendors, click here

    • What is the average temperature on the island?

      The campus at AUC is completely air-conditioned, but the local climate is warm all year round, day and night. Minimum temperatures are in the high 60s and maximum temperatures reach the low 90s. Moderate humidity is almost always tempered by trade winds.

    • What kinds of clothes are recommended?

      Dress attire both on and off campus is generally informal for all occasions, but students are required to dress in a presentable manner in keeping with the standards of future physicians. At least one semi-formal outfit is suggested (e.g. jacket and tie for men, dress for women). Long sleeves and sweatshirt are occasionally worn, but coats are not needed.

    • What extracurricular activities are available on the island?

      The pristine beaches on St. Maarten are ideal for a host of water sports such as snorkeling, jet skiing, kite surfing, wind surfing, parasailing, etc. Indoor activities include movie theatres, a variety of international restaurants, pool halls, and a bowling alley in Phillipsburg. Please refer to the official St. Maarten Web Site http://www.st-maarten.com for further ideas on recreation.

    • I would like to visit nearby islands – are there tours or special prices I should be made aware of?

      Special offers are frequently advertised for travel to other islands. Some businesses even offer discounts to AUC students. These are usually advertised in the AUC Newsletter. Most airlines offer inexpensive flights to nearby islands (less than $100 roundtrip).

  • Mail/Shipping Mail/Shipping

    • Should appliances be shipped?

      It is recommended that appliances be purchased on the island since the cost is generally equivalent to the amount spent on shipping. Still, should small appliances be brought, please note that the AUC campus is located on the Dutch side of St. Maarten, which has an electrical current of 110 volts, 60 cycles while the French side has an electrical current of 220 volts. Transformers may be purchased on the island for U.S. computers and small appliances.

    • How do I receive mail on the island?

      Many students set up a U.S. mailing address through the Mailbox, a business located in Simpson Bay. Mailbox representatives actually come to AUC to disperse the mail twice a week. If you decide not to set up an account through the Mailbox, you can have packages sent to the school with your name on them and they will be dispersed through Note Service. Note Service maintains a list of the mail they receive and posts it outside their window.

    • What is the best method of shipping items from/ to St. Maarten?

      When shipping items home, you may use DHL, FedEx, Four Star Cargo or US mail (through the Mailbox). Shipping via DHL and FedEx can get pricey – about $35 for documents. When ordering items online and having them shipped to your Mailbox account at school, make sure the company you are ordering from ships to a P.O. Box. You may also have mail sent directly to the school. The package must be clearly labeled with the student’s name, c/o American University of the Caribbean, #1 Jordan Road, Cupecoy, St.Maarten.

  • School Life School Life

    • Do students carry text books to lectures, daily?

      Not usually, unless the student takes notes in the text books, or plans on staying after class to study.

    • Are we offered lecture notes from professors, or should we take our own notes?

      Most professors make their notes available through the library or “P” drive (accessible through the PCs in the Computer Lab). Note Service is equipped to post all notes online for students to access from any computer – anywhere. The AUC campus is equipped with wireless routers in the classrooms. This enables students with laptops, and wireless access, to download the day’s notes prior to lecture in the convenience of the lecture halls. Professors also submit their lecture notes, or PowerPoint slides, to Note Service for print and student pick-up.

    • Are professors available for extra help, if needed?

      Yes, all professors have designated office hours when they are available to answer questions. Professors are also willing to set up additional appointments with students as necessary.

    • Are there places I can go to print a document?

      Yes, but several students decide to either bring a printer with them, or purchase one on the island. Printers can be purchased for about $100. Alternatively, you can print your documents from the school’s computer lab. This tends to be more expensive than printing your documents at home, however. Note Service is another option as long as the material being printed does not violate any copyright laws (i.e. Kaplan materials).

    • Are there places to fax/copy a document?

      Yes, you can make copies at Note Service, the school library, or the Mailbox. You can fax documents at the Mailbox, as well.

    • Can students purchase snacks/food from school?

      Yes, snacks are available in the cafeteria and Note Service. The cafeteria serves meals daily from 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Note Service is open from 7:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

    • Do we need to buy a microscope to bring it with us?

      Microscopes will be provided for Microbiology II Labs, when indicated. Most histology lab work is done via digital images and CD-ROMs.

    • Do we need lab coats, dissection kits, etc.?

      Yes, you will need a lab coat and a dissection kit. Both may be purchased in the States, or locally at Note Service. Some students prefer to wear a white coat to lab because it allows them to attend school in regular clothes. Other students choose to wear scrubs instead of a lab coat. You are required to wear a (short) white lab coat for the White Coat Ceremony.

    • Where do new students purchase 1st semester text books?

      First semester books can be ordered through Note Service, or can be ordered online (via UniversityBooksOnline.com or another vendor of your choice) and delivered either to your State address, or directly to AUC.

    • Where can students study after/before school?

      Students can study in a number of places. They may choose to study in one of the outdoor tables, or in the cafeteria, library or Histology lab. The library and Histology lab are both used for quiet study, while the cafeteria is for group study.

    • What are the library and computer room hours?

      Both the library and computer lab are open from 8:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m.

  • Shopping Shopping

  • Transportation Transportation

    • Is a St. Maarten Drivers License required?

      Yes, if a student, spouse or significant other wants to drive a motor vehicle on the island, obtaining a St. Maarten Drivers License is mandatory.

    • Should I ship my car?

      Shipping your car is not recommended since purchasing a car on St. Maarten is reasonable. Cars can be bought from students leaving the island, new/used car dealers, and from ads in the local newspaper. The typical price range for a used car is $800-$4,000 depending on the condition. Owning a car in St. Maarten requires insurance with a local company.

    • What is the best mode of transportation (car, bike, moped, bus)?

      Most students would agree that a car is the best mode of transportation due to unpredictable weather and infrequent bus service. Additionally, many stores and shops are not within walking distance.

    • Should I purchase, or lease, a car on the island?

      A typical island car can be purchased for approximately $800-$4000. However, many of the roads on the island are not well paved. Therefore, most students will make, at minimum, minor repairs to their vehicles during their stay.

      Leasing a car is about $350 – $540/month, depending on the make and model of the vehicle. Leasing a car may require a slightly higher initial investment, but the leasing company generally covers repairs and other maintenance. If you do lease, you may wish to begin on a month-to-month basis. The most economical option would be to split the price of the car with a few friends. It is important to note, however, that everyone’s name can be put on the insurance, while only one person’s name is permitted on the lease.

    • Do I need to purchase car insurance?

      Yes, you will need to obtain local insurance coverage. Some students choose to purchase liability insurance, which can cost about $300/year. Others opt for full coverage insurance, for about $1200/year. You will be eligible for an insurance discount if you provide a letter from your current insurance company declaring that you have an acceptable driving record. The longer you have been with your insurance company, the greater the discount will be. Be sure that the letter offers sufficient detail (e.g. dates, phone numbers, signature, amount paid, statement of clean record, etc.) in order to receive the best discount available. If you obtain your local driver’s license before you apply for insurance, you will receive an additional discount.

  • Travel Travel