An island in the Atlantic about 300 mi (483 km) north of Venezuela, Barbados is only 21 mi long (34 km) and 14 mi across (23 km) at its widest point. It is circled by fine beaches and narrow coastal plains. Barbados is the 51st richest country in the world in terms of GDP per capita, has a well-developed mixed economy, and a moderately high standard of living. According to the World Bank, Barbados is classified as being in its 66 top high income economies of the world.
Barbados is a well of fascinating culture. Birthplace of R&B singer Rihanna, Shontelle of the band Cover Drive, and legendary rap artist Grandmaster Flash, Barbados musical culture has had a tremendous effect on the rest of the world. In particular, it's hard to imagine what modern music would look like had Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five never recorded the hit rap song The Message with its catchy hook of "Don't push me cuz I'm close to the ledge."
In sports, Barbados has contributed legendary players to the game of cricket in the form of Sir Frank Worrell and Sir Garfield Sobers. Cricket, the country's national sport, is a sign of Barbados' strong English influence. Compared to the other Caribbean countries, Barbados may well be the most English of the islands.
Located at the southeastern end of the Caribbean islands, Barbados may have been discovered by the Portuguese or the Spanish first, depending on who you ask. The island has been held by the Spanish and the Portuguese at different points in time, as well, and the island has had a troubled history with slavery with Europe. Finally claiming independence in 1966, Barbados now stands as a free island that actually sees a lot of emigration to Europe, leading to a diminished population growth which, on the upside, means that even with a population of 284,000 people across 166 square miles, the island isn't always so crowded.
Barbados and Japan have the highest centenarians per capita in the world, with average life expectancy at 72 for men and 77 for women. This comes down to both a cultural respect for one's elders, and the pleasant, easy living afforded by the country's climate.
Barbados in Brief
Here we'll cover all the basic facts that you need to know regarding Barbados if you are seriously considering studying on the Caribbean island.
- Getting Your Visa
For your student visa, you're going to need to talk to your local Consular Section. They will help you get set up with everything you need in order to apply for temporary residence in Barbados.
- Dress Light
We probably don't need to tell you that Barbados is a sub-tropical climate, and tends to be very warm and humid.
- Account for Your Living Expenses
Barbados could be described as modestly prosperous, so expect rent and food expenses to equal about what you'd pay to live in a small, rural town in the US. Transportation will be relatively cheap given that you can walk to most places you'd need to go on the island.
- Local Culture
Barbados borrows a lot of culture from the US and the US borrows a lot of culture from Barbados, so if you're an American, you shouldn't feel too out of place. The Caribbean really has a lot of western cultural influence. Your English should get you pretty far while you pick up the local Bajan language. The island is a melting pot of various cultures, so it's hard for a lot of hard-and-fast cultural etiquette taboos to survive. Basic politeness should be enough for most encounters.
Study in Barbados
Higher Education in Barbados
Perhaps due in part to the smallness of the island and the limited population thereof, higher education in Barbados is built around a strong sense of community. Barbados has fewer universities than some of the larger islands in the Caribbeans, but the colleges that they do have provide a strong sense of place and purpose for those who attend.
One of the pillars of advanced education in Barbados is the Barbados Community College. Subjects taught here cover a pretty wide range, from music and arts to education and science. The college offers post-grad and post-associate degrees, but many in Barbados use the Barbados Community College as a stepping stone to pursue an advanced degree elsewhere.
If you're considering studying in Barbados, you may also want to look into transferring to other colleges in the Caribbean islands. Barbados Community College offers a strong platform from which to launch your academic career, but you will ultimately want access to the resources that the other islands can offer. That being said, Barbados offers one of the better Chess programs in the Caribbean, and even has a Dominoes club if that's a game that interests you.
Tuition for extra-regional students (those not from Barbados) comes to $4,000 a semester, not counting books and other fees, while locals pay half that.
Some of the bachelors programs at the Barbados Community College are interesting. Such as a bachelors program in tourism and hospitality management. Barbados is one of the most-visited islands in the Caribbean, and it stands to reason that this would be a popular course.
Most of the courses offered in Barbados have a similar theme, being aimed towards practical, real application. You won't wind up going to Barbados to study making medieval chainmail, in other words. People go to Barbados to take two and four year courses in essential business, management and design fields.
A reason for somebody from outside of Barbados to come to the island to study can be simply to take some time to live in Barbados. It's really an amazing place, and the experience of living here for a year, two years or four years is worth just as much as the education itself.
Barbados' advanced education scene is still growing, but don't let that discourage you from considering studying on the island. Barbados is culturally rich and overwhelmingly pleasant and can offer an experience just as valuable as the education itself.