Barbados | Study Abroad Spring Semester Packing List Part 2


Last week I talked about the essential luggage and clothing to bring to Barbados, but there is so much more! Let’s start with essential items. 

Essential Items 

  • Passport (plus copies)  

This is probably the number one most important thing you can bring it for obvious reasons. Without it, you cannot get into the country! I recommend making a business card sized copy of the passport page with your name and picture on it. Then write COPY on this and get it laminated. This allows you a durable passport “copy” to carry around in your wallet so that you can keep your actual passport stored at home in a safe place.  

  • UWI Offer Letter 

The UWI Offer Letter will be sent to you from UCEAP and is something you need in order to get into the country. You will need to present this to immigration once you arrive. Be sure to have a printed copy that is easy to reach in your carry on.  

  • Return Ticket 

The Barbados student visa requires students to have a return ticket in order to enter the country (which means it needs to be purchased BEFORE you enter Barbados). You will also need to have a copy of this for when you enter the country. Not all immigration officers in Barbados will ask to see it, but I’ve heard stories that some officers make you purchase a ticket while standing there in the airport before they let you pass through customs and immigration.   

  • Sunscreen, Bug Repellent, and Aloe Vera 

Bring two to three bottles of both sunscreen and bug repellent, more if you have fair skin. Barbados is quite a bit closer to the equator than L.A., so even if you have a darker skin tone, it’s important to wear sunscreen in order to protect your skin. Also bring aloe vera (I love the Fruit of the Earth brand as it doesn’t have added chemicals). Bug repellent is especially important because some of the mosquitos in Barbados carry Zika virus. I particularly enjoy Sawyer Picaridin Insect Repellent for bug spray. It doesn’t make me feel sticky, and the best part is the bottles are 3 OZ, so I can take them in my carry on! 

  • Electronic Devices 

Barbados has the same voltage as the U.S. (110 volts) so all of you U.S. electronics and plugs should work in Barbados without any adaptors. The only electronic devices I have been traveling with are my laptop and my cell phone, and fortunately I have not had any problems with theft. However, if an item of yours gets stolen on your trip, be sure to check out the UCEAP Theft Insurance policy! 

  • ATM Cards 

Transaction fees can add up fast, so be sure to check with your local bank to see if there are any fees associated with international transactions or withdrawals. Consider opening an account with a credit union for the semester. I bank with a local credit union in Northern California which has no international credit feeds; however, I get charged $5.50 from the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) ATM here in Barbados every time I withdrawal money. But if I had Wells Fargo I would get charged $5.50 from RBC and $5 from Wells Fargo. It is also important to have at least two ways to access your money (two different ATM cards) in case one gets lost or stolen. Finally on the note of money, I’d recommend having an emergency fund of at least $1,000. Especially for students who are accustomed to working a part time job in school, this will save you a lot of stress in case your financial aid does not come through in time. For example, even though I have a UC SHIP grant, I had to pay my UC SHIP (approximately $1400) out of pocket before I got reimbursed. If I did not have an emergency fund, I do not know how I would have paid for it. 

  • Enough prescription medication to last the length of your stay  

Unfortunately, prescriptions written in the U.S. are not valid in Barbados so you probably won’t be able to get your prescription refilled, but still bring a copy of the prescription slip! Be sure to bring enough of any prescription medication to last the entire length of your stay, and double check to make sure that your prescriptions are legal in Barbados. For example UCEAP advises students not to bring pain killers containing aspirin into Barbados. 

Additional Things 

  • Snorkel and Mask 

Snorkelling with turtles is a definite highlight of Barbados! In fact, it’s so much fun, that you will want to do it again and again. Save yourself some money by bringing your own snorkel and mask. This way you can go as many times and you want without needing to pay to rent gear. (If you’re buying a snorkel and mask for the first time, be sure to test them out in a local pool before you leave. It would be a shame to get the mask all the way here only to find out it leaks!)    

  • Swimmers Ear Plugs 

If your anything like me, too much swimming gives you swimmer’s ear infections. A great way to prevent this is by swimming with ear plugs to keep water out of your ears! 

  • Toiletries 

Shampoo, conditioner and other toiletries are easy to find in Barbados, but if there is anything you MUST HAVE, I would bring it. Living on an island limits your choices sometimes. 

  • TOWELS! 

Towels are something I always forget when packing. I brought two travel towels, which I would strongly recommend. They’re easy to fold, don’t take a lot of space, and dry 20 times faster than regular towels. Perfect for Barbados. [Symbol]  

What NOT to Bring 

Alongside the obvious things like firearms, illegal drugs, and porn, Barbados has a couple specialized things that travellers are not allowed to bring.  

  • Camouflage clothing 

Wearing camo is illegal for civilians in Barbados. Camouflage clothing is restricted to only members of the military. 

  • Fruit, Vegetables, Seeds, or any other agricultural product 

While this is a common thing around the world (some fruit is even illegal to bring into California from other states!), it should be mentioned. Traveling with fruit from country to another is dangerous because the fruit could contain insects that are damaging to Barbados’ agriculture and environment. Sorry Californians, this means no avocados during the Spring semester months!! 

Hopefully this list will give you a head start on planning your adventure. Good luck!

Angela Howard studied abroad in Cave Hill, Barbados, in Spring 2017:

Barbados | Packing List Part 1


You’ve decided to Study Abroad in Barbados. CONGRATULATIONS! You’re about to embark on one of the most exciting, culture-filled experiences of your life! I’m sure your head is whirling with ideas of what you will see and do. Let me assure you, living in Barbados truly is living in paradise. But to enjoy paradise to its fullest, be sure to come prepared and pack responsibly!  

First Things First: Get the Right Luggage 

I have been living out of one 60 L backpack and one small gym duffle bag for the past 8 months so if I can do it, you can too! A lot of international students travel with TWO FULL SIZED SUITCASES. Granted I am a minimalist at heart, but personally I think extensive travel with a suitcase is just too much. They are hard to get around, and don’t always fit well in the trunks of smaller cars in other countries. Not to mention, most airlines allow for one checked bag free for international travel. This means that you would have to pay extra both ways for your second checked bag. If a second checked bag is a must for you, at least bring a relatively empty one so that you have space to bring back souvenirs and gifts.

I bought my backpack at Big 5 (I worked at Big 5 for four years to help pay for school, so most of my gear is from there) three years ago $64 with a coupon while it was on sale. It has been one of the best purchases I have ever made.

I also bought my Under Armour duffle at Big 5 for $35. I am not usually loyal to any particular brand, but I decided to go with an Under Armour bag because most of them are water resistant and I knew I would be traveling through rainy/snowy areas this year. That being said, you can find large brand non-specificduffels for around $15. Personally, I prefer not traveling with black luggage so that it is easier to spot coming off the airport carousel.

 Packers Tip: Be sure to pack AT LEAST one change of clothes, PJS, and basic toiletries in your carry on. While traveling from Ghana to Germany my checked bag got lost (don’t worry, it was found and delivered to my house five days after I arrived) and I made the mistake of not having extra clothes. Fortunately, my travel buddy and I are around the same size so I could wear her clothes for a couple days. Now I travel with all my socks and underwear in my carry on because it’s easy to wear the same shirt a for a couple days, but it’s always nice to have clean underwear. 

Clothing and Accessories

(Seeing as I am only speaking from first-hand experience, this section is geared more towards females. Sorry guys!) 

The average day time high in Barbados is between 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit. Take the heat in addition with humidity and it can get quite warm so bring comfortable, flowy clothing. Don’t bring anything you absolutely love. Between the massive amount of bug repellent,

the sunscreen oils, and the suns rays, most of your clothing will get destroyed. My ex-favorite pair of short shorts now look like “mom jeans” on me, and all of my shirts are several shades lighter than they were when I first arrived in Barbados.  

  • 7 shirts/dresses 

Bring enough shirts/dresses to last you one week of wear. Clothing is affordable in Bridgetown (I have purchased several shirts and dresses for between $7.50 and $20 U.S.) and a lot of the styles are quite cute.  

  • 1 pair of jeans 
  • 2-3 pairs of shorts 

 Bring at least one pair of jeans, but nothing designer. They will get ruined whether it be from the sand, the sun, or a number of other things. Also, it’s way too hot to wear jeans during the day. The humidity affects us Californians, it’s VERY different from dry heat. I live in shorts, day and night here. I miss sleeping in pajama pants, here it’s too hot for me to sleep in anything but shorts and a tank top. 

  • 2-3 “night on the town” outfits and one pair of “going out” shoes 

Barbados is paradise, and in paradise there are plenty of places to go out and have a good time. While several places are casual, it’s nice to have a couple “nicer” outfits to go out in. When I go out, I usually wear jeans and a nice blouse because if I wear a dress I get eaten alive by the mosquitos.  

  • AT LEAST two bathing suits 

International students are well known for always being at the beach here in Barbados. It’s true, we simply cannot get enough of the crystal-clear water and white sandy beaches. Sometimes I even wear my bathing suit under my clothes and head down straight after class! I brought a one piece that I purchased in South Africa, and a two piece from Old Navy. Because I have very

fair skin, it’s nice to have a one piece as it allows me to go to the beach but keep my stomach out of the sun.  

  • 1 rain jacket

I bought my Columbia rain jacket on Amazon for $40 (vs. paying over $200 at REI) and I love it. I suggest getting one with zippers under the armpits to help keep you cool. I also love mine because it can fit inside it’s pocket to make it compact for packing purposes! 

  • 2-3 shorts and tank tops for sleeping

 It’s always nice to have a comfy pair of shorts and a tank top for sleeping or lounging around your house/dorm. Especially if you’re trying to adjust to sleeping in a climate that is MUCH warmer than California’s winter. 

  • 2-3 hats and 2-3 pairs of sunglasses 

Especially if you have fair skin, bring at least two hats. While I admit that my naturally curly hair is sick of me wearing hats all the time, but skin is very appreciative. I would also bring multiple pairs of sunglasses in case one pair breaks or gets lost.  

  • 2-3 sets of workout clothes/1 pair of running shoes 

I have my spandex tights/shorts and running tank tops, which make it much cooler for my morning runs. UWI also has a (VERY) small gym that is free for all students.  

  • 2 pairs of comfortable walking sandals 

 Some days it is simply too hot to wear closed-toed shoes outside. This problem is solved by getting a comfy pair of walking sandals (bonus points if you can wear them in the water!). I have a lovely pair of Keens that are great for long distance walking and wading in the water; but sadly they’re not the most stylish shoes on the planet. If you have more of a sense of fashion than I do (and let’s face it, most people do, I have no “sense of style”), I would recommend Chacos or Born sandals. They’re both on the pricier side, but your feet will thank you for it after you walk endless miles in them. And they last forever so it’s worth the investment. Be sure to check your local Ross or TJ Max. I found a pair of Born sandals last summer for $30 at TJ Max when they retailed for over $100! 

  • All the socks/bras/underwear you have! 

Really, a traveller can never have too many pairs of socks or underwear. I bought Under Armour “one size fits all” underwear before I left. It’s quite expensive ($12 a pair!) but I’m really grateful I brought them because after living in West Africa, I lost a lot of weight so it’s nice to have underwear that still fit me well.   

Unfortunately that’s all the time I have right now. Tune in next week for the second half of the Packing List which will include things such as toiletries, mosquito repellent/sun screen recommendations, and bank card advice! And don’t worry. It may seem like a lot of work to get ready, but soon you will be living in paradise!  

Angela Howard studied abroad in Cave Hill, Barbados, in Spring 2017:

Barbados | Time is Relative


Every country I have lived in has their own unique perspective on time. In California, people generally try to run “on time” meaning arriving within a +/- 10 minute window of the event start time, with the main exception being “fashionable late” to parties. In Germany the stereotype about Germans being punctual is an understatement. In northern Germany in particular, if you are anything less than 15 minutes early, you are late. Before I understood this nuance of “on time” I would often arrive to upset company. The conversation would generally go something like this (but keep in mind it probably sounded must harsher as it was in German): 

Friend: “Angie! I was so worried, where have you been!? We agreed on meeting at 12:17*. It’s 12:18!!!!”  

Me: “…Sorry I was one minute late.”  

Friend: “ONE MINUTE?! I expected you here 16 minutes ago!”  

* It was common for meetings with people to start at oddly specific minute increments. 

In Ghana there was GMT. Not Greenwich Mean Time, but rather “Ghana-Maybe-Time.”  (Ironically enough, Ghana actually is in the GMT time zone!)  

UCEAP Advisor in Ghana (during orientation): “If an event is scheduled to start at 10 a.m., arrive at noon and bring a snack and a book. Or simply be mentally prepared to wait until it actually starts.” 

GMT was very subjective, sometimes events would “only” start 30 minutes late, and other times they would not even be set up by the designated start time. Even my courses at the University of Ghana would frequently start 30-45 minutes late. Being someone who is very involved in German culture, it was very difficult for me to adjust to GMT; however, it most definitely taught me the virtue of patience. 

In Barbados the phenomenon is referred to as “Island Time.” Island Time is known as “a certain slack attitude toward the clock” and to be honest, I’m still unsure how much time to allot myself (or not to allot myself rather) before getting to an event. For example, a few weeks ago I went on a cruise around the west coast of the island. The flyer for the cruise said “Boarding at 11 a.m., Setting Sail at Noon Sharp.” Not wanting to miss the boat, I promptly arrived at 11 a.m. only to find that the crew for the ship had not even arrived yet. We finally set sail until after 2 p.m. When people invite me to events, I generally have to ask what time they actually want me to arrive. One would think that after seven weeks of living here, I would finally understand the time schedules; however, unfortunately I do not. I can say that “Island time” and Ghana’s GMT have taught me to relax and reflect in situations where I would not normally do so. It’s liberating to not live the fast paced city live I had while attending UCLA.  

Seeing as UWI is in the middle of midterms I have spent most of the past week studying (and catching up. I got behind when my family visited last week). I have also been resting because I caught a double ear infection cough from too much swimming. 

I did have time to make delicious banana bread. Food is expensive here on the island because just about everything has to be imported, so we followed the recipe as close as we could… and I accidently added a third egg because I wasn’t paying close enough attention. But it turned out delicious so no complaints! We also don’t have a beater, but we figured out that when we are improvising, a blender works just as well!  There’s also always time for ice cream, no matter how much studying you have to do! 

I was texting an old friend this morning on WhatsApp, and as they exclaimed how excited they were that I was coming home soon, it made me realize how little time we have left here in Barbados. Sure, we still have two and a half months left, but in the grand scheme of being gone for 11 months total of traveling, two and a half does not feel like long at all. We are on the last leg of our trip, which means graduation and job hunting are right around the corner. I think I will seize my island time experiences as much as I can for the next couple months before getting back to bustling California. 

 Finally, sports are picking up right now. Possibly one of the only reasons I am looking forward to coming back to California at the end of May is so that I can watch the SF Giants at AT & T Park again. I’ve watched the Giants BEAT the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium in the past two years, but I have not been able to catch a Giants game at AT & T Park since I have been living in Los Angeles. I always wear my SF Giants baseball cap to keep the sun off my face here, so it will be nice to see the team I have been supporting internationally!  

Don’t forget to watch UCLA in the upcoming weeks! UCLA basketball is currently RANKED THIRD IN THE COUNTRY! With March Madness right aroundthe corner, this is particularly exciting! (For those of you that do not know, March Madness is a huge NCAA college basketball tournament that runs for the last two weeks of March every year.) This year, I have been teaching some of my Bajan friends about basketball, in exchange for them teaching me the rules of cricket, and we have all agreed to watch and support UCLA in the tournament. I wear UCLA affiliated clothing most days, simply because it’s what my limited wardrobe consists of, but I wish I had larger sizes to distribute for everyone to wear. As long as they don’t wear red, we should all be in the clear! GO BRUINS! 

Angela Howard studied abroad in Cave Hill, Barbados, in Spring 2017:

Barbados | The Foreigner’s Guide to Understanding Bajan Buses!



Living in a country less than one third the size of the city of Los Angeles would make you think it would be easy to get around. But while there are many busses on the island, as a foreigner, they can be quite challenging to navigate. So here it is folks, “The Foreigner’s Guide to Understanding Bajan Buses!”   

Hold on tight, you’re in for a treat! Most buses in Barbados have rails and handles bolted to the walls and seats for people to hang on. You’ll want to hang on even while sitting down, trust me! Buses in Barbados can feel like roller coasters without seatbelts. 

Keep in mind that in Barbados people drive on the left side of the rode and the driver’s side is right. There have been many times in low traffic areas where I have waited for a bus on the wrong side of the road.  

 Most busses in Barbados do not have set time schedules. It would just put more stress on everyone if they did, because they would never be on time. Rather than leaving at a certain time, they leave once they have reached max (or close to max) capacity. If you get to a bus terminal and are directed to hop on an empty bus, you might be waiting for quite a while. There are three main types of busses in Barbados: ZRs (pronounced Zed-Rs), Minibuses, and Blue buses. Please note that all buses charge the same fare regardless of distance: $2 Barbados. 


 ZRs, also known as music busses, are modified 14 passenger vans owned by a private company.

The original seats have usually been taken out, and new ones are brought in to maximize seating. I’ve traveled in ZRs with over 30 people packed into one. The “mate” who collects the money from passengers is a master of human Tetris. They always seem to find new innovative ways to cram more people inside to maximize profits. (There was even an event at UWI Sports Day called “Pack a ZR!”) These buses are well known for blasting Bajan music, zooming down roads at racing speeds, and stopping wherever people ask (as compared to at bus stops) even though getting off a bus anywhere other than a bus stop is illegal. They can be identified as white vans with a maroon stripe. The ZRs usually take shorter routes along the South and West Coasts are more commonly seen driving through residential neighborhoods. Usually there is a doorbell to press to signal to the ZR driver that you want to disembark. The horns that these buses use sound like squeaky brakes! While I would not recommend the ZRs if you are severely claustrophobic or prone to motion sickness, I think that they are a blast and everyone visiting Barbados should experience them! 


  • A true Bajan experience 
  • Pick up and drop off anywhere (do not need to wait at a bus stop) 
  • Often able to provide change for up to $50 Barbados if you do not have small change for bus fare 
  • Accept $1 US as fare payment 


  • Common to sit on a stranger’s laps to maximize space  
  • Do not have posted schedules or routes  
  • Can be very claustrophobic  
  • Predominantly travel on the south and west coasts


Next we have the Minibuses which can be identified as being yellow. I’ve been on quite a variety of Minibuses. Some are nicer than Californian public busses, and others are completely falling apart. You never know what you’re going to get until you get on the bus. While these busses run the occasional secluded route, I most frequently see them traveling from Bridgetown (the capital of Barbados also known as B-Town) in the south to Speightstown (SP-Town) in the north. While the Minibuses often accept bills larger than $2 Bajan, they do not always, so it is a good idea to try and have exact change when getting on these buses. Unlike the ZRs, the Minibuses do in fact pick up and drop off people predominantly at bus stops. Particularly during rush hour these buses get very full but seldom decline entry to new passengers. While locals are accustomed to this, I have seen tourists have panic attacks due to the capacity of the bus. Finally, in order to get on these buses you must gesture to the bus driver to stop by holding your arm out at a bus stop. If you simply wait at a bus stop and do not flag the bus down, they will not stop for you. In order to get off these buses, there are usually doorbells on the sides of the bus; however, sometimes you must press a lump in a black strip that lines the ceiling. (I assure you, that will make much more sense if you are on the bus!)  


  • Larger than ZRs 
  • Frequently run along the west coast (sometimes three will pass by within a five-minute period) 
  • Accept $1 US as fare payment 


  • Very full during rush hour 
  • Do not always have change for bills larger than $2 Barbados  
  • Do not have posted schedules or routes 
  • Predominantly travel on the south and west coasts 

Blue Buses

Finally, on the bus front we have the blue government operated buses. These buses require exact change. If the smallest bill you have is $5 Barbados, then you are going to be out $3 after paying for bus fare. However, these buses do have an online posted schedule. That being said, I have never seen them run on time. The blue busses travel all over the island, whereas the Minibuses and ZRs are more heavily concentrated on the south and west coasts. In order to get off these buses, you usually have to pull a black string attached to the ceiling. If you press the red “stop” buttons, nothing happens (as I learned the hard way) and the bus will not drop you off at your intended destination. 


  • Travel all over the island 
  • Posted online schedules and routes 


  • Must have exact change 
  • Do not accept US dollars as payment 
  • Only pick up/drop off at bus stops  

Rather than buses having flashing neon signs with destinations like Californian buses, most Bajan buses have a laminated sheet of paper on the front windshield that states the bus’s final destination. The ZRs also have numbers on the back that indicate a certain route. If you’re ever unsure if your intended stop is on the route, simply ask the driver. They are very friendly. Very few minibuses and ZRs run on Sundays, as it is seen as a day of rest. 

Unfortunately Google Maps has not been programed to handle the Barbados public transit system due to unset schedules and constant changing routes. If you’re ever in doubt, just ask a local, they are always eager to lend a helping hand! 

Angela Howard studied abroad in Cave Hill, Barbados, in Spring 2017:

Barbados | Church and the Farley Hill Experience



In the spirit of trying new things while studying abroad, I decided to take up one of my Bajan friend’s request to accompany her to church. Growing up in a nondenominational Christian household, I am no stranger to attending church; however, I knew very little about the Seventh Day Adventist denomination. Although Anglicanism is the most popular denomination in Barbados, there are several different prevalent denominations, including Seventh Day Adventist.  

While studying abroad in Ghana last semester, religion was a very important part of the local culture. The exchange students would often joke that the locals would only want to talk about family, school, and religion. Although I did not attend church while living in Ghana, there was an on-campus organization that held a church service very close to my dorm. The services were often so loud that it felt like there were speakers broadcasting it into my dorm room. In Ghana, it was common to have church services on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday nights, as well as all day on Saturdays and Sundays. On some occasions, we were actually happy that the electricity was out because it meant the service could not be broadcasted through giant speakers at full volume. Because we essentially attended church five days a week in Ghana without intending too, we didn’t feel the need to physically go to the service; but it was something on my Barbados bucket list because it is such as big part of the culture. 

My friend picked us up at 9:45 AM and we began our drive to the service. Unfortunately, we were rather underdressed for the occasion, but my friend said it didn’t matter because everyone knew we were visitors because we were the only people in the congregation who were Caucasian. It was a longer service because they were celebrating communion. Later I learned in the Seventh Day Adventist denomination, communion is celebrated at the beginning of each quarter. Although I could not understand the preacher very well, it was interesting to listen to him. I sat next to a very kind stranger who realized I couldn’t understand the preacher and let me read her Bible from her tablet. Halfway through the service, everyone from the church walked downstairs to wash each other’s feet, as is customary at Seventh Day Adventist services. At first I was apprehensive about touching a stranger’s feet, as I don’t like feet to begin with, but my friend’s daughter persuaded me to go with her. She taught me about the sentimentality aspect of cleaning someone else’s feet (which only consists of pouring clean cupped water over the top of someone’s feet). She taught me how the act symbolizes humility and is also a way used to “clear the air” after people have been fighting.  

After we went back up and listened to the rest of the service and the church members participated in communion. Everyone was very welcoming and friendly. Some of my friend’s friends even offered to take us parasailing before we come back to California. Everyone wanted to meet us, we must have met over 60 different people. After the service, it is customary for everyone in the church to eat together. Everyone brings food, potluck style, and sits in small groups enjoying their feat. Although it is not required as part of the religion, Seventh Day Adventism encourages vegetarianism. We had the best vegetarian feast I could have ever imagined. We are even meeting up with one of the church members to learn how to make the (DELICIOUS) lentil patties and cashew/walnut spread! The community was very welcoming and overall it was a positive experience. 

After church, we went to Farley Hill National Park. For anyone visiting Barbados, Farley Hill is a must-see attraction. The view from the top was specular and we were able to see the grounds of the once regal Farley Hill. Despite it being a Saturday afternoon, the park was almost completely empty, which only added to its beauty and serenity.  


At the top of the hill there is a beautiful view overlooking Barbados. Unfortunately, it was a little bit foggy the day we went, so the view was obscured; but being a San Francisco Bay Area native, I’ve always enjoyed the fog. It was truly a site for sore eyes.  

 If you are in Barbados, one of the best parts about visiting Farley Hill is that right across the street is the Barbados Wildlife Reserve. While I have not yet gone, I’ve heard amazing things about it and when I visited wild life reserves in South Africa last November, they were one of the best highlights of the trip. 

The moral of the story here is don’t be afraid to try things that are totally different from your routine at home. You never know what experiences will find you. 



Angela Howard studied abroad in Cave Hill, Barbados, in Spring 2017: