Semester 1 over and out. I can’t say I’m not relieved that it’s over, but what a term it’s been. Despite my previous experience of uni, it goes without saying, vet school is unlike any other degree. It came to me as no surprise that the hours and workload are much more intense. We’re in 9-5 most days and so far, I managed to keep up to date on my lecture notes through the week. Treating uni like a job made it easier to fit in time to play sport/ go to the gym, see friends and most recently, visit the Christmas markets. The tuition fee deadlines were rather daunting but being a postgrad does have its perks. I soon realised I didn’t have to spend hours ‘finding my style’ when it came to lecture notes. In general, having less to worry about made it easier to concentrate and keep up, which I feel most people struggled with. The content wasn’t necessarily hard to understand, there was just soooooo much of it! A little older than most, I’d say I’m just above the average age in my year; there are so many postgrads, foundation year and gap year students. For once, having an August birthday has been a blessing. It’s been a slow start to lacrosse and sailing, with a busy timetable and my knee still in recovery, but my swimming is nearly back on track! I love my new house so much I’m moving back in for second year! Besides copious amounts of lectures and labs, which I decided no to bore you with, here is my semester 1 review (you may have seen some spoilers on my Instagram and Facebook stories):
Welcome week (freshers)
You’ve all heard of freshers, 18-year-old me certainly smashed it and 3 years later… not a lot has changed. Knowing my way around campus made me a bit of a tour guide but I didn’t mind, it certainly helped us with the treasure hunts and other welcome week activities. I went to all the usual sports and society fairs, I’m back at SJA first aid and I’m hopefully sitting my advanced exams next year too.
Week 1/ vet freshers
The vets sure know how to party! The vet society (LUVS) organise socials and events for every occasion! Having met my buddy (Rachel) and her house mates (one who I knew from a VETSIM course back in 2015), we had our ‘buddy meal’, bar crawl and welcome party (first years had to dress as cacti and for my buddy meal I was a puppy).
I went to the vet squash taster session, unfortunately it clashed with lacrosse most weeks, but it was still fun to play with other vets and meet other freshers. They have a lot of vet sports clubs to help students fit in sport around their timetable.
The first week of HACs (handling animal classes) and anatomy lectures. At HACs we got to handle pigs, sheep, horses, dogs, cattle and sheep one day a week over at the Leahurst campus (on the Wirral). We were advised to ask for anatomy colouring books for Christmas… they weren’t joking.
The vet sports teams had their annual medics vs dentists vs vets sports day and we had a lecture on EMS (extra mural studies/ work experience). In short, it looks like I have no summer holidays, with 10 weeks of EMS to do this year alone.
We finally got our name badges! It was beginning to sink in; I’d been waiting 3 years for that piece of plastic with my name on it! I made a start on my letters, applications and emails to various charities, foundations, funds and trusts, for help with my uni fees.
Week 6 (halfway)
Another vet party, this time the annual Halloween party. I went with two other vets (Eve and Izzy) as Regina George from Mean Girls. It was also AVS weekend in Glasgow or a half-way ‘long weekend’ off if you didn’t get an AVS ticket. AVS is one big sports weekend held by a different vet school each year. Next year it’s in Liverpool, so at least we won’t be fighting for tickets.
LUVS hosted a bonfire with mulled wine out at the Leahurst campus and we started our dissections too… I can’t say a lot about them, but I will say that as they really are an invaluable learning experience. Mum and her work colleagues crotched me some purple poppies to sell in aid of Trusty Paws for Remembrance Day.
The vets have numerous societies for anatomy (LVAS), equine (LEVS), small animals (LSAVS) and farm animals (LFAVS). Each society hold talks (with free pizza) throughout the semester. I went to one on calving complications held by an alumni vet. The Lady Lumley’s Foundation were happy to cover my gym membership fees and kindly sent me a cheque in the post. Every little helps.
LEVS had a talk on gastric ulcers in horses and LUVS had a ‘Schwartz Round’ where three vets discussed times when they first felt they had ‘imposter syndrome’ and how they coped with it.
And another talk, and more free pizza, this time on pet obesity. I only had three coursework/ continuous assessments to do this semester which I completed one weekend so I didn’t get behind on lecture notes, including; an essay on Lyme disease and a histology drawing of cell membranes. I’m no Picasso but I was chuffed with 17/20 on my drawing.
A final party to finish the semester; the annual Christmas party. I know you’re probably wondering when we actually do any work, but it’s all about balance right?
Week 12 (final week)
FINALLY our stash (vet school clothing) arrived. We spent the last days of term donning all our LUVS gear; better late than never. In clinical skills, besides rehearsing episodes of ‘Loose Women’, we practice CPR, blood and urine tests, asepsis, IV drips, lambing, bandaging, radiography, drug dosing, surgical instruments and knots. We had our last clinical skills ‘OSPE’ before our practical exams in January, we were visited by a Doberman puppy afterwards as a treat.
12 weeks of learning all things forelimb, histology, husbandry, clinical skills and the major organ systems, and it’s finally time to start revising… after vet placement, Christmas, Boxing day, Christmas (2), New Year, oh and a wedding! Thanks for reading my last blog of the year, and a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year to you (especially if you’re going to be up to your eyeballs in revision like me). My cats best be ready to help me practice my clinical skills… yeah right!
Until the Easter hols,
The Wannabe Vet