For a place free of distractions to focus on the demanding preclinical curriculum of medical school, you won’t do better than Saba.
Located just 28 miles (15 minutes by air) from St. Maarten, the island nation of Saba is small, quiet and extremely safe with something for everyone to enjoy: from quaint villages and mountain hiking trails to pristine scuba diving and well-regarded inns and restaurants. In short, Saba is a perfect place to study hard and, when time allows, enjoy the best of what the Caribbean has to offer. Take advantage of the official Saba Tourism website for information about the island.
Getting to Saba
You can get to Saba via air or boat by first going through St. Maarten—one of the major islands of the Caribbean, located less than 30 miles north of Saba.
Note: Remember your passport. A passport is the only reliable and universally accepted identification document for travel, and it proves that you have the right to return to your country of origin.
Major airlines from North America, Europe and South America all have daily flights into St. Maarten. From St. Maarten, you travel to Saba via Winair (Windward Islands Airways), which makes several flights each day. The flight from St. Maarten takes about 15 minutes.
You have two options to travel to Saba from St. Maarten by boat:
- Service from St. Maarten to Saba is provided via the Dawn II and takes about 2 hours. Many students do this, particularly when they are carrying a large amount of extra luggage.
- Service from St. Maarten to Saba is also provided by the high-speed ferry theEdge, which takes about 90 minutes.
Both ferries dock at the harbor at The Bottom, a short distance from the university. See links above for ferry schedules.
Shipping to Saba
Although all housing on Saba is fully furnished, students and faculty may want to ship additional items directly to Saba. Shipping by FedEx or Air Cargo tends to be expensive and not practical for heavy boxes such as books or household items. A few shipping options include: Hassell Free Exports (www.hassellfree.com), ICS Saba (www.icssaba.com), and SES N.V. (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you are planning on shipping from St. Maarten: Saba C Transport (www.sabactransport.com).
Getting Around Saba
Transportation on and around Saba is easy and, given the scenery, extremely enjoyable. Ten miles of concrete roads hug the mountainsides of Saba, from the airport in the north to the southernmost town, The Bottom, which is also home to the Saba University campus. The entire trip from north to south can be made in less than 20 minutes. Taxis and small vans are readily available. Hitchhiking on Saba is common and safe.
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.
The Island Government of Saba provides a bus service to assist students living off-campus with regularly scheduled transportation to and from class. Bus passes can be purchased on campus at the Administration Office.
Phone, Internet & Cable
Saba has a well-developed infrastructure for phone, Internet and cable TV:
- Land line, cell phone, Internet and island-wide wi-fi service are provided by the Saba Telephone Company, Satel N.V. Visit their website, www.satelnv.com, for information. Wireless internet is available on campus.
- For communications back home, many students use a U.S. call back number. A company on Saba, Island Communication Services, provides this service (visit www.icssaba.com for details). IP telephony (Skype, Vonage, etc.) are also popular options for staying in touch.
- Most apartments and houses on the island have cable TV installed and it is often included in the rent. There are 30+ channels, including CNN, Fox News, HBO, Cinemax, NBC and ABC. A few properties on the island have satellite television, which offers a larger selection of channels.
Currency & Banking
The U.S. dollar is accepted everywhere on the island. In addition, Visa, MasterCard and traveler’s checks are widely accepted.
Banks on Saba are open on weekdays but closed weekends. The two banks on Saba are RBTT Bank in Windwardside and the Windward Islands Bank in The Bottom, both equipped with an ATM machine. Generally, most students do not open a bank account on Saba. Most students maintain their account at home and access funds with an ATM card.
Saba, the island, has been welcoming students and faculty to Saba University since the early 1990s. As a result, the island is “ready” for your arrival. However, here are a few suggestions to make your transition to Saba life that much easier.
A wide range of everyday living products are available on Saba, 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 the island of Saba, but, again, if it’s a “must have,” consider bringing it or shipping in advance.
Printing supplies tend to be expensive on Saba, so be sure to bring extra ink cartridges and paper.
All electrical outlets on Saba are 110 V, 60 Hz—the same as in the U.S. and Canada. It is a good idea to bring along a surge protector as added protection for any electronic equipment.
There is a fitness center on campus with exercise machines, so be sure to bring running shoes and workout clothes.
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 Saba (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? Some homes on Saba have air conditioning, some don’t—depending on where they are located on the island. Fans are essential even when there is air conditioning.
Remember that everything you bring to Saba 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.
Recreation on Saba
So much of Saba is untouched and in pristine condition, inhabitants proudly refer to their island as “The Unspoiled Queen.”
As a result, there is no shortage of things to do when students need a break from their studies.
The views from Mount Scenery, the highest point on the island, are stunning. There are miles of hiking trails. And because the water surrounding its coastline (to a depth of 60 meters) is part of the protected Saba National Marine Park, Saba is widely considered one of the best diving locations in the world.
The official Saba Tourism website is a great source of information about the island.
Religion on Saba
Numerous religious denominations are represented on Saba. Churches include Roman Catholic, Anglican, Seventh Day Adventist and Weslyan Holiness. A wide range of religious affiliations are represented among the student body.
Schools & Daycare
If you plan on attending Saba University and have children, there are a number of schooling options on the island, including daycare and public schools for grades kindergarten through high school. All classes are taught in English.
ELEMENTARY SCHOOL (GRADES 1-6)
Name: Sacred Heart Elementary
Location: St. John’s
Schedule: 7:30 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. daily
Cost: Approximately $100 per year
Transportation: Transportation to and from school is provided free.
Subjects covered are language arts, reading, mathematics, social studies, science, art, music, physical education, religious education and foreign languages.
Name: Saba Comprehensive School
Location: St. John’s
Schedule: 7:15 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. daily
Cost: Approximately $250 per year
Transportation: Transportation to and from school is provided free.
Some of the subjects covered are English, physical education, mathematics, physics, computer studies, geography, business, accounting, art, foreign languages and history.
A daycare service, “Laura Linzey Daycare Center,” is located in The Bottom, not far from campus, and is open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The cost for children attending “The Care Bears” is $140 U.S. monthly. The cost for additional children is $45 each. Breakfast and lunch are included.