Second semester went by in the blink of an eye and I managed to post nada. I’ve sat down to write three different recap posts, but I haven’t had time to finish them. Why? Because I’ve been studying. This summer isn’t a relaxing one for me because I failed two of the modules in the second semester of first year, which means repeats are coming up when I get back to college. I made the mistake of sitting back and aiming for just a pass – which is a D- minimum – in all of my modules, which meant that I didn’t put nearly as much time and effort into my study as I ought to have done. My two fail grades were Es, which means that they were both borderline – an E is the best of the fails. Now, if I had been aiming for As and slipped a bit, I would have ended up with Bs or Cs and I wouldn’t be spending my summer worrying about the enormous workload that I’m inevitably going to have in the first semester of second year.
College is all about learning curves, and this has been a huge one for me. Coming into a program like vet med means that every single person there is an overachiever. Every vet that I’ve spoken to has said “everyone fails at least one exam in vet”, but that doesn’t stop it coming as a shock to someone who has never failed at anything they’ve attempted in their life before that point. Honestly, it sucks, but it’s taught me that I absolutely cannot be complacent about it. If I have to put in more hours to achieve the same grades as my classmates, so be it. I don’t want to just graduate, I want to come out with a degree that will be my passport to the world, and for that to happen I need to push myself to get the highest grades possible.
When I got my results, I’ll be honest, I sat on my bed and had a bit of a breakdown because I was terrified about what was going to happen. I hadn’t even considered the possibility of failing, so I hadn’t researched it. I thought that I was going to have to repeat first year. Once the panic subsided, I texted my student advisor – who is an absolute godsend, everyone adores that woman – and she called me to explain the situation. The repeats will take place at some stage during the first semester of second year, and they’ll be pass/fail. I could do the same as before and aim just to pass them, but I’ve started studying according to a strict schedule for the summer because I want to ace them. I don’t care if that won’t be reflected in the grade – and its taken me until now to figure this out – because the information in the modules is going to be of use to me as a veterinarian, so I need to know it all anyway. The exam won’t test me on the whole thing, but whereas in high school, I could afford to leave out chapters that were highly unlikely to come up if I was struggling, that can’t happen in college. Yes, the exams are what are going to allow me to progress through the course, but in order for me to perform as a surgeon to the best of my ability, I need to know myself that I have learnt everything in as much detail as I can manage.
Failing exams in college does not mean that the world is going to end. Obviously, I have absolutely no intention of it ever happening again, but I have learnt that sometimes, it’s okay to fail because it wakes you up and points you back in the right direction. I think for someone like me, scraping through would have made me think “oh, this is okay, I can coast”. By having to resit the modules, I’ve had to rethink my approach to studying and realise that I just need to do more, even if that means sacrificing social outings.
Of course, second semester wasn’t all bad news! We were out at Lyons Research Farm once a week learning how to handle animals and – the highlight of the semester for me – I went lambing for two weeks, which was amazing! That was another serious learning curve – I’ve grown up with animals but they’ve all be pets. It’s a completely different thing to view them as members of the food chain, and although I didn’t find it hard per se, it was odd to distance myself so much from the animals. I have a habit of getting very attached very quickly, which obviously is going to have to change if I’m going to be a good vet, and lambing was fantastic experience from that point of view.
The other very exciting event happened in February: we got a puppy! We lost our darling Sandy in December, and Ash was very lonely without her, so when a litter of puppies turned up at the rescue centre, we went and Ash chose her new sister. Maisie Mouse is a lurcher collie cross and she’s now an integral part of the family – she’s lying on my feet as I write this.