LIFE IN ST LUCIA-“Accepting the Challenge”

General Info about St. Lucia

St. Lucia offers a serene, safe, and beautiful environment for students and visitors alike. The island has plenty of natural beauty for students to enjoy and explore on weekends or during breaks. Traveling to St. Lucia is hassle-free with daily direct flights from several cities in the US, Canada, and Europe. The cost of living in St. Lucia is generally lower than the US and much lower than the majority of other islands in the Caribbean. St. Lucia is located in the West Indies in the southern Caribbean. The island is a part of the Windward Island chain and measures 27 miles long and 14 miles wide. St. Lucia is an independent nation and has a Prime Minister as the head of government. The island has a population of around 160,000 with most living in the capital. The capital of St. Lucia, Castries, is located on the northern side of the island. The IAU campus is located in Vieux Fort, St. Lucia, near the southern tip of the island. Vieux Fort is a quiet town free of distractions. Local currency in St. Lucia is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar (EC$), which has a fixed exchange rate of EC $2.67 = US $1.00. US dollars and major credit cards are widely accepted at most grocery stores and restaurants. There are several bank branches near the campus. The closest bank is Scotiabank which is located directly across the street. Bank of America or Scotiabank customers can use their ATM cards at Scotiabank ATMs with no service charges. This is the best option for banking in St. Lucia and will reduce the amount of cash you need to bring with you. If you do not have a Bank of America or Scotiabank account you can open an account before leaving for the island.

Safety

The people of St. Lucia are friendly, welcoming, and always willing to help. St. Lucia has one of the lowest crime rates in all of the Caribbean and Vieux Fort is a quiet, small town where there are rarely any problems with crime. The University is located three buildings from the Police Station in case of any emergencies. There is also security on-campus during hours of operation. Students who exercise caution and common sense should not have any problems with crime in St. Lucia.

Language

English is the official language of St. Lucia and is widely spoken by everyone.  Many locals also speak a French-Creole called Patois.

Time Zone

St. Lucia is on Atlantic Standard Time Zone, which is one hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time, except during Daylight Savings Time when the time is the same.

Climate

Temperatures in St. Lucia are mild year round, ranging between 83° and 88° along the coasts. Due to Vieux Fort’s location, breezes are usually blowing which keeps humidity relatively low compared to other Caribbean islands. The rainy season lasts from June to November. Hurricanes are also a possibility, of course, but chances of St. Lucia getting hit by a major hurricane are drastically reduced since the island is bordered by cooler Atlantic waters.

Transportation

There are many options for transportation in St. Lucia. Most locals use either public busses or own a car. Students can get around safely and easily by public bus, taxi, rental cars, or even walking. New students can also choose to use the IAU Shuttle Service which costs around $40-50 per month to travel to and from school. More details on transportation options will be given during Orientation.

Communication

Students have several options for communicating both locally and internationally. Since internet access is widely available, most students use some type of internet-based phone for international calls such as Skype, Magic Jack, or Vonage. It is recommended that all students have a local cell phone while living in St. Lucia. Digicel and Lime are the two major cell phone providers in St. Lucia. IAU Students are provided with a pre-paid Digicel SIM card upon arrival in St. Lucia for a minimal cost. Any “unlocked” cell phone from the US or Canada which holds a SIM card can be used in St. Lucia. Students wishing to use an “unlocked” cell phone should contact their cell phone provider to get details on how to unlock their phone before arrival in St. Lucia. Local cell phones are also available for purchase on the island for $40 and up.

Electricity

St. Lucia uses 220 Volts therefore adapters and converters are required for all appliances using 110 Volts. Converters and adapters can be purchased on the island. The University has both 220V and 110V available for student use on the campus but most housing options only have 220V.

Money and Banking

Local currency in St. Lucia is the Eastern Caribbean Dollar (EC$), which has a fixed exchange rate of EC $2.67 = US $1.00. US dollars and major credit cards are widely accepted at most grocery stores and restaurants.
There are several bank branches near the campus. The closest bank is Sociabank which is located directly across the street. Bank of America or Scotiabank customers can use their ATM cards at Scotiabank ATMs with no service charges.  This is the best option for banking in St. Lucia and will reduce the amount of cash you need to bring with you.  If you do not have a Bank of America or Scotiabank account you can open an account before leaving for the island.

Shopping

Super J’s is the major grocery store in St. Lucia. There are two large grocery stores in Vieux Fort, one is located adjacent to the campus and the other is nearby the student housing. Grocery stores carry local as well as US brands of most items and prices are generally comparable to US prices. Some specialty items may have slightly higher prices. All grocery stores have fresh meat, produce, bread, and dairy as well as all other main essentials including toiletries and cleaners. The University is located adjacent to a local mall with a variety of stores including clothing, shoes, bookstore, pharmacy, electronics, house wares, and appliances. There are also several other shopping areas and malls around the island.

For more detailed information about St. Lucia please visit www.stlucia.org

Photo Gallery - St. Lucia Island