Third year of college is world renowned for being the toughest academic year in any students life. I’m not going to lie. It is extremely difficult. Third year has different connotations in different courses; in arts it means the dreaded thesis, in a lot of degrees it means the beginning of the end! In veterinary the horrors of Micro and Parasitology await unwitting third years, two words which still strike fear and dread in the hearts of vets long since qualified.

With semester one finished (and passed by some miracle) I have the benefit of hindsight to look back at the previous few months. In the last semester I got my full driving licence, went on my first AVS, managed to keep my job, went to America to compete in my second Animal Welfare Judging Contest , got to go lambing for a week and went on my first ever ski trip. All while attending lectures and labs and practicals. Who ever said third year was all work and no play….

So last semester was mental, hectic, stressful, busy and most of all amazing.

From day one we got an idea of how much work was going to be expected of us, with a daunting timetable and stacks of lecture notes building up we got the idea that we were going to have to settle down and do a bit of work. This meant less going out and more going to the library. (An idea that some of us didn’t appreciate very much being honest)

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We did not however, forget how to have a good time, and when we did go out we made the most of it.The first point that the true extent of our “making the most of it” became evident was at AVS sports weekend. AVS stands for Association of Veterinary Students. One weekend a year all the UK and Irish vet schools gather in one university for a weekend of sports and socialising .As part of the weekend every college sets their own costume. This year UCD vets were sailors. In the host school people volunteer to allow people stay in their house; this basic accommodation entails providing a patch of floor to lay a sleeping bag and cooking breakfast on Saturday morning. The Friday night was manic; all the UK schools traveled over to our humble shores and we all congregated in the Wright venue for a night of live music and dancing.

The next morning was an early start; up at 8am too cook all the Glasgow dinosaurs staying with us a hearty breakfast of eggs and sausages then on to Old Belavedere rugby club for the sports day. I can rest assure you much serious sports were played….

The weekend was rounded off by a pub crawl through the streets of Temple bar ending in the famous Turks head.

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After the excitement (and let’s face it, carnage) of AVS we all nestled back into our books and all went quiescent.. for a few weeks. Next up was the Annual Animal Welfare Assessment and Judging Contest, held in Michigan State University. This was my second time competing in this event and it is always an amazing weekend. It was also my first time in the USA( #’murica). I competed in the contest as part of a team of four. The contest is based on four specific species, which are given in advance. One of the species , this year was beef cattle, you visit a farm/producer and you have to do a welfare audit of the facility and make an assessment as to your judgement of the welfare of the animals on it. Then , for the other three species you are given two scenarios for each, and based on previous research you have done you have to pick which scenario provides better welfare and justify your choice.Throughout the weekend we got to hear talks from people at the head of this developing area of veterinary medicine. On the Saturday evening there is a social event/dinner and we got to meet and talk to many of the founding people at the helm of the development of the concept of animal welfare (which sounds super nerdy but was really interesting).Unfortunately this year we did not place  in the contest, we won it in 2013 though. So overall (although the result was disappointing) the contest was an amazing opportunity and a fantastic opportunity to mingle with some really interesting people.

The other aspect of this trip was of course; discovering ‘murica.First thing I discovered ( of course) was the shopping !! The fact that you can pay with a simple swipe of  a card is plain dangerous in my hands. And absolutely everyone in America is Irish; whether it be 1/2 or 1/16 everyone know exactly how Irish they are. You also know their “uncle Patrick in County Sligo right ?” The most interesting interaction has to be a waiter we had in a BBQ house. Every 30seconds he circled back with a cheesy joke or corny comment. Certainly made for a very interesting lunch. He won the #bestwaiteraward in my book. One thing that glaringly stood out for me in America, one thing I could not warp my head around was, the food. It was so weird. I have never come across the likes of it. My first encounter with the strangeness was a “tootsie roll”, the most accurate description I can fathom for this is chocolate play dough. I was not very impressed. My next discovery was a phenomenon they call a “pretzel dog” . This is a hot dog wrapped in band of pretzel dough. Greasy and all together off putting looking it was surprisingly tasty.

Less than 72 hours on the ground and we were on  a plane back to Dublin. The plane from Michigan to Chicago (our connection) was smaller than your average Dublin bus. I have never felt so claustrophobic on  a moving vehicle in my entire life. The only redeeming factor was the absolutely picturesque sea of clouds with the end of the evening sun dying them a warm orange that was offering itself as in flight entertainment out the tiny windows. Straight from the airport into a parasitology and back to reality.

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Exams came and went  in a flash. Many cups of coffee and cans of red bull died during that exam period but all survived the stress in the end and Christmas rolled in swiftly to dispel all worries of grades for the time being.

Then on the 27th of December I carted myself off to Wexford for a spot of lambing. Nothing in this world makes me happier than working with animals. A friend of mine asked me yesterday did I make my choice for college based on fun/enjoyment/love of the course or the opportunities available from it ; the answer was simple, both. Everyone knows that there are huge opportunities available with a veterinary degree under your belt, that’s indisputable. However I am extremely lucky in that nothing makes me happier than working with animals, being out in the open with fresh air and having animals; cows, sheep, horses, cats, dogs,( anything really ) around the place. Lambing is always fairly intense but there is such satisfaction when you take a lamb that was desperately sick and little by little you see it improving and getting stronger. It really drives home that what you’re doing is actually making a difference.

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I was home long enough to wash and dry my clothes and repack my bag before heading off to Les Deux Alpes on a skiing holiday with 23 other vet students from my year. The fabulous Sarah Keogh organised the entire trip so on a bleary Saturday morning the 24 of us jetted off to France to enjoy the slopes of the French Alps. Given that I am about as coordinated as a wingless duck with two left feet I didn’t exactly take to skiing immediately, and there was plenty of falling but it was honestly such an amazing holiday and such great fun. Unfortunately we couldn’t ski everyday due to bad weather but we always found something to keep ourselves entertained ; weather it be bowling, ice-skating, hiking, shopping, eating or dancing on tables in the local bar.

 

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I can honestly say that it was one of my favorite holidays yet with an amazing bunch of people !

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I really hope that you can appreciate that while the toughest semester in an infamously difficult course is not easy it can still be a lot of fun if you make it and if you have amazing people around you. As always any questions or comments feel free to contact me 🙂