Year 1, Take 2: Back at it again!

Wow I can’t believe my first term is already over.  I’m so glad I’m one step closer to being a vet.  This year my program is two years worth of material rolled into one insane year.  I spend more time studying than anything else and it is more exhausting than I could have imagined.  My flatmates and I spend all afternoon when we are not in lectures in the common room studying like crazy.

At the end of term we had our first exam, which covered almost every section we had done so far in one test.  We had 4 days off to study, and I think I spent the majority of the first two procrastinating so the last two were horrible.  Thankfully it was only 5% of my grade and I only need a 50 to pass the year, so the stress is a bit less than US schools (for now).

Being Stateside again was great.  I missed my dogs so much while I was away, especially my old lab who was diagnosed with mast cell cancer in November.  It is really hard that I can’t have them at school, so much that sometimes I wish I picked a US school.  Luckily she is doing much better and I left her with a promise of a picture a day from my mom.

Last term I was able to get away to Scotland for the weekend with friends from home.  We went to Edinburgh and Glasgow and saw all the sights.  It was a desperately needed and reminded me that I came to the UK for a reason.  This coming term I have trips planned as well–since travel is dirt cheap in Europe–I want take advantage of being in Europe.  I am planning an Italy trip for later this month with some friends.  Thankfully RVC has some built in long weekends.

I got back to London on Sunday and all I can say is neuro anatomy is giving me a headache.  I have to get used to studying 5+ hours a day again after being oh-so unproductive at home.  I already miss the convenience of an American store, food, and my car.  City living is something that I am enjoying for this year, but it is definitely something I won’t do again.  Overall I’m glad I am here, but sometimes I wish traveling home/bringing my pets/shopping/everything was easier.

I’ll leave you with a picture of Mindy, who I miss every single day while I’m away.  She hates her picture taken and refuses to look at the camera, but she’s still so cute!

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Freshers’ and the First Few Weeks

I made it to London! It has been a crazy 6 weeks, but I have finally settled into a routine here at the RVC.  Moving across the pond had many challenges, most of which I did not foresee, but it is all worth it now to be in my first term as a vet student!

The first 3 weeks I was here consisted of orientation and Freshers’ Week.  Orientation for International students was aimed to prepare us for UK-style teaching, but to be honest we are 3 weeks into the term and I’m still unsure what the next day will bring.  Freshers’ Week is unlike anything that would ever happen in the US.  It was a week of binge drinking hosted by the school’s  student union.  It made me very thankful my flat is on the top floor full of older students, so we could avoid the crazy 18 year-olds.  We did take a trip out to the other campus just outside of London, where we will be next year, and we got to tour the hospital–the busiest in Europe! It’s hard to believe we will be doing clinical rotations there in less than three years.

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The first week of classes started off slow, but it has gotten very busy very quickly.  The set-up of the program is so different that US programs.  We have no ‘classes’ instead lectures are arranged in modules and we do 1-2 modules at a time by various lecturers.  We also have no in-term exams.  We have small exams in December and March and then a big 4-day final in June covering the entire year.  It is a little daunting, but it allows me to schedule my own studying and not only study based on my next test.  I still study at least 5-6 hours a day, and much more on nights before dissections.  We are essentially completing 2 years of coursework (the normal UK program is 5 years) in 1 year, so the schedule is tight!  I really hope I am studying effectively for the exam; thankfully we will have a practice exam in a couple weeks so I can see if I have to change anything.

The good part about our exam schedule, is that it is possible to take a few days off and go do something fun– like go to Scotland for the weekend! After recovering from freshers’ flu I was ready to do something fun, so a friend of mine was in Scotland for vacation and I got to meet up with her for the weekend.  The highlights for my nerd-self were the Harry Potter sights–even a grave for Tom Riddell AKA Tom Riddle! I would definitely not do that every weekend because I spent this entire week playing catch-up, but I will be travelling more this year.

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I really miss the US, even though I am having fun here.  I miss my dogs more than anything, it just isn’t the same without them.  I just keep telling myself they are so happy with my mom at home and that they would hate living in the city.   I didn’t know how much I would miss American food! I realize how lucky we are in the US that we can find pretty much anything in the grocery store, that is not the case in the UK.  I already have a list to buy when I visit home at Christmas.  Other than some culture shock, it’s been a good transition into vet school.  Every day I’m one day closer to being a vet!

 

 

 

Royal Veterinary College c/o 2021

image.pngHi! My name is Alli and this fall I’ll be trading in my New England life for 4 years in the original England! London to be exact.

A little about me: I am 25 years old from Eastern CT. My family has always had dogs, lots and lots of Labradors (currently at 6). While I was in high school we even bred labs for a few years. Even with all my crazy dogs, I always wanted to be a teacher. Once I started freshman year of college I realized it wasn’t for me, so I transferred schools and changed my major to Animal Science and worked with as many 4 legged friends as I could. It took me an extra year to finish my undergraduate degree thanks to my full time job and organic chemistry 2, then I ended up not applying for vet school in my last year of undergrad. In the end it was for the best; I got a job as a vet tech at a small animal practice and gained TONS of experience. I learned to love small animal practice, which I never thought I would say. I had always imagined a mixed animal practice, with lots of horses and I thought small animal only would be boring… it’s not!

Even though I love my job as a tech, I couldn’t give up on being a vet. So after a great year at my current job, I completed the VMCAS. I applied to 11 schools, and I was offered 5 interviews, attended 4, and recieved 1 offer first, then 2 offers off the waitlist. After days of debate, I couldn’t pass up my wildcard first offer at RVC.

I will be leaving everything that won’t fit into two suitcases as I head off for a crazy adventure in England. I’ll be even be leaving my 11 year old lab with my mom because she can’t fly :(. Still, I am looking forward to all the opportunities I will have in and out of school while I work towards being a real vet! I am simultaneously scared out of my mind and jump-up-and-down excited, but there is so much to do before I leave, I should be keeping pretty busy this summer!