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Welcome to vet school!

Updated: Dec 12, 2019

So, you've been accepted and are ready to start vet school soon. First of all: Congratulations!

But what to expect now?

I remember that summer day in 2016 like yesterday. I had received my A-levels results, send them off to the university and had received an email back with their response. All morning I walked around my laptop, refusing to open the email, because surely, I hadn't gotten in. What if I didn't have enough work experience, wasn't old enough and not prepared enough for the acceptance interview? No way I had been accepted. Until I opened the email.

I'm not normally a screaming/crying type of person. It still took me nearly 30 minutes to be able to form a sentence long enough to tell anyone. It's to this day still the best e-mail I have ever received and I'm sure a lot of prospective vet students felt the same way!

So, you've been accepted and are ready to start vet school soon. First of all: Congratulations!

But what to expect now?

The first week

You will probably be incredibly nervous and excitement, maybe even a little scared. It’s okay, most of the other new students will feel the same way!

My first week at university is often spent as a fresher. It's different all over the world, but generally the first week is spent the same: Getting to know the university, the course and most importantly, all your new friends.

You don't have to meet your best friend the first day, or even the first week. But it is true that you will meet a lot of new people and if you're lucky these will become very important to you. And indeed, some of my best friends today, I did meet during that very first week of being a newly minted university-student.

The best advice to get is to be open. I remember vividly thinking that one of the girls was nothing like me and we would never get along - she's one of my very best friends today. Though, we're still nothing alike. The best advice I was given the very first week was: You cannot do veterinary medicine alone. You will need your friends. They will be your support on the long days. They will be there to celebrate your victories and make you forget your losses.

The first month

Prepare for chaos, confusion and a slight sense of feeling overwhelmed – you’ll get used to it.

Or maybe it was just me who was awful at finding my way around campus and memorising the name of all the lecture-halls?

The first month is spent mostly getting to know your way around and actually learning how to be a university student. Gone are the days where the teachers would help you out and explain everything again. It's not true that you can never get help, but you need to prepare yourself for being in lecture halls with +100 other students and only one lecturer - that means limited time for questions and explanations. It's okay, it can seem overwhelming when you're handed reading lists that are +1000 pages (if you're even so lucky as to get a reading list), but you will quickly learn to accept the all-encompassing truth: You might not always get through it all.

I've known A* star students who worked day and night for months, who still couldn't make it through the whole curriculum. It's a truth most of us struggle with, but to not run yourself completely into the ground it's important to remember. It's okay not to understand everything first time you hear it and it's okay to not know everything. You will learn it all in due time.

The first year

The first year will fly by (and truth be told, so will second and third year). Before you know it, you're halfway. First year is so full of new experiences, friends and more knowledge than you ever thought you could learn so fast. It's fun, it's stressful and I honestly believe it's a lifestyle. Don't get too bogged down with grades and endless nights of studying. Hold on tight to the feeling of when you first opened up your acceptance letter; it's a feeling like no other and you're going to need it. For all the long nights of studying, the endless amount of readings and lab exercises, but also for all the wonderful animals and their owners, your new friends and your university experience.

Welcome to veterinary medicine school - hopefully you will love it as much as I do - and before you know it, you're halfway. Then even sooner you'll be done.

Looking to help us abroad?

Veterinary students volunteering with wildlife zebra in Africa
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