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.
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.
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!