Embrace the experience!

Hey guys!

So much for one post a week – so sorry! They’re not kidding when they say vet is an intense course, oh my goodness!

Busy as these two weeks have been, I’m absolutely loving the course. It’s such a relief to realise that all the hard work in high school, all the hours working at subjects I didn’t really like have really paid off! The lectures are all focused on us being in a clinic one day, and knowing that makes learning so much easier because you can immediately see the application. It’s not all plain sailing, and I’ve felt lost more time this past fortnight than I did in my whole high school career, but it’s all settled into place eventually. My lecturers are all obviously passionate which is another thing that really helps – you know the way some school teachers just seem over it? College professors aren’t like that – at least mine aren’t! I haven’t actually got many lectures, per se – this semester is quite a light workload, actually – but the autonomous learning is just as important. If we don’t read the notes that the lecturers put up online before class, it makes it infinitely more difficult to follow what’s happening – trust me, I tried winging it and it’s so not worth it! I came out of that lecture really stressed, feeling like I’d never catch up.

One thing that I still haven’t quite got the hang of is our “dry labs” – we spend three hours on a Monday afternoon using an online microscope and we have a weekly assignment based on screenshots. I realise now that taking some sort of crash course called “technology for dummies” may not have been as bad as it sounds. Vet is a course which relies heavily on a laptop – you have to have one!!! I’m a self confessed technology dinosaur and I’ve found it tricky to learn the course content and the basics of laptop-ery simultaneously, so if you’re planning on doing veterinary, make sure you know what’s what with your laptop! Similarly, I use Microsoft OneNote to take notes in class, and touch typing would be a real asset! If you’ve never heard of OneNote, as I hadn’t two weeks ago, it’s absolutely genius when it comes to taking notes. All of our lecturers put the PowerPoints they use up on Blackboard, so we can save them as PDFs and put them on OneNote. That way, we already have the basic notes and we just need to take down the extra things they say rather than frantically trying to remember everything they say! It honestly makes life so much easier, and you can share pages of it if you have a group project or something. There’s also a recording tool so you can record each lecture, too, and listen to it again if need be. Honestly, every college should show students how to use it during orientation!

It’s not all been work, of course! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the vet students are the absolute best! VetSoc, which is our dedicated society, organises mixers for us the first four Wednesdays of term and they’ve been so much fun. It’s a really good way to meet new people both from our year and from the years above us – each week, a first year is paired with someone from each of the years above, so it’s forced mingling but it really works! Last week was first year-fifth year and this week was first year-third year, after which we went to a club and then headed back to one of my friend’s apartment and ordered pizza at 5am – uni is fun, guys! This week was fresher’s week, and Monday brought the UCD Fresher’s Ball in Dublin. We had the BEST night, it was so much fun!

I was really nervous going into my first lecture – I was scared I would be immediately overwhelmed, I was scared I would do something wrong and I was scared no one would remember me from orientation. Those fears were completely unfounded! Near everyone is in the same boat – very few people know each other, so everyone is looking for a friendly face in the first few weeks, and the lectures start off with at least some connection to something you’ve heard before! The best advice I can give you is to embrace the whole experience – don’t hold back! I’ve joined societies I didn’t know existed – FoodSoc anyone?! – and I’ve met people I’ve just clicked with. I didn’t have a bad high school experience, exactly, but already in college I feel closer to some people than I ever did in school and that’s part of why I love it so much.

I hope you guys are finding these posts at least semi useful – if you have any suggestions, they are of course welcome!

Love always,
Cici xoxo

Orientation week

Hey guys!

So, this week was orientation week at UCD, and I already love it! The orientation for my course didn’t start until Thursday, but I went in on Monday to help the Student Union and I met a bunch of other first years. Wednesday night was the “first college night out” in Dublin city centre which I went to with a group of amazing people and had the best time!

On Thursday morning, my proper orientation started and we started the morning by meeting our Peer Mentors – second year students who volunteer to show us first years what’s what! My peer mentor joined up with another, so we have a group of six first years and two second years. I may be a little biased, but I definitely think that we got the best peer mentors! They’re so much fun and they showed us around not just the “official campus” but also all of the back passages and other little useful tidbits. We also had talks by some of the important people in the vet school and to round the day off, a sports induction which included fencing, lacrosse, rock climbing, ultimate frisbee and trampolining! Seriously, UCD is the best place – it has an insane amount to offer and the campus is decked out with pretty much everything you need to try whatever you want. I shot competitively for years when I lived abroad but I haven’t been able to find anywhere easily accessible since moving to Ireland. UCD has it’s own shooting range, so I’m super excited to join that! On Thursday night, I went out with some other first year vets and their peer mentors, which was really lovely as we got to know each other a little more than when we were being shown around. The vet school has a real community feel – a proper family.

Friday started with a huge assembly in the O’Reilly Hall where the President of the college welcomed us, as did some other important faculty members. This was also where the “Scarving Ceremony” took place – basically, when first years start at UCD, we get a scarf in UCD colours. We tend not to wear them around campus – in fact, my peer mentor’s exact words were “just don’t wear it, that’s how we identify international students” – but it’s the official induction into UCD! Once all of the people in colourful robes had filed back out, we went back to the vet building where each peer mentor group was given a bag of stuff – a paper plate, some balloons, pipe cleaners… – and told to make “an animal with a backstory”. Our group made a pig with wings called Rupert, and even though Rupert was a little scary looking, we actually won second place and a box of Maltesers! The day rounded off with IT induction and then we went to get our student cards – classes start on Monday and we need those to get into the lectures halls and the gym.

Things to get before starting vet in UCD:

  • PhysioEx book (newest version)
  • Two pairs of steel toe-capped rubber boots
  • Two lab coats
  • A locker! (rent one on SISweb)
  • A laptop/tablet

This is just a very basic list, but I’m going to do another, more comprehensive one at the end of the semester when I know exactly what I need!

See you next week!
Cici x

Dreams do come true!

Hi guys!

I decided to start this blog to chronicle my five years of vet school – at least, I hope it’ll only take me five! I’m planning on doing a post a week (ish) just to give myself a way of looking back. If this helps anyone else, that’ll be a bonus!

A little bit about me: I’m nineteen years old as of two weeks ago, I have two dogs, two lambs, two horses and a little brother. I’ve wanted to be a vet for as long as I can remember – it’s been my solid dream throughout my crazy, hectic life. I’m English originally, but I spent three years in France prior to moving here (Ireland), which means that last year, I did the Irish end of school exams: the Leaving Cert.

The Irish system is such that we get our results at the end of August – this year it was the 17th – and I got 565 out of 625. I was originally offered a place in medicine at University College Dublin, which I was happy enough with but it wasn’t quite good enough for me. I was planning to start out in medicine and hope to be upgraded in rechecks – if not, I was going to go back to school and sit the Leaving Cert again. Today was second round offers day, but I wasn’t too hopeful as second round offers for vet are rare enough, but when I checked this morning, there it was! The magic button asking if I would like to accept a place in the veterinary medicine course in UCD. Being me, I called my family first to tell them (and also to reassure myself I was awake) and then got my mum to watch me click said magic button.

Twelve hours later, I’ve just about got my head around it: I’m officially a future veterinarian! Orientation starts next week, and classes start the week after that, so it’s all go. So many people helped me get to here, and it’s finally happening. I’m going to college to study the one thing that I’ve always known I want to do. You know when everything feels like it’s falling into place? After last year, which was my most stressful one to date, it finally feels like that for me. Here’s hoping it’s as good as I’ve always dreamt!

I have no idea what future posts will be like or even if anyone is going to read them, but this is the start of what I hope will be the best years of my life. If anyone does end up joining me, enjoy the ride!

Cici x