Hi potential and current vet students, or others!
My name is Sarah Batiste, and I am in my first year of the vet program at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies. I am what everyone refers to as a Graduate Entry Program (GEP or jeh-up as commonly pronounced), which means that I have an undergraduate degree already, making the program a slightly shorter 4 years for me. I am an international student, coming all the way from Grimsby, Canada, a small town alongside Lake Ontario.
Since the program is shorter for GEP students, we began in August of this year, and so my journey as a vet student began. I had traveled to Edinburgh in the past, so my first week here before classes was spent roaming sites that I had not yet experienced, including touring the famous Edinburgh Castle, admiring the art (for free!) at the Art Gallery, walking through Princes Street Gardens all the while preparing for the “first day of the rest of my life” as my family liked to remind me. When the first day approached, I was just as nervous as I was starting secondary school and my first degree! However the school organized a full day of orientation activities to meet other students who were also international students just beginning the program. We all hiked up Salisbury Crags as a gang of young and eager vet students who had just met. The day was full of awkward conversations, small talk, and the beginning of some friendships!
After a few days of orientation, the classes were in full swing! We began learning anatomy of the cat, dog, cow, and horse while having practicals including dissections and handling of animals from the get-go. It was great to have the hands-on experience with cows and horses within the first few weeks, and we were able to get good use of all of our personal protective equipment! The semester really flew by with all of the class material, practicals, and meeting new people, and soon enough the exam came around for our first Animal Body course. Although we were all very nervous for our first vet school exam, most of us did much better than we all expected because we all loved the material!
With our first exam under our belts, we had a few days off before the next semester and many of us traveled to various places around the UK and Europe. I was lucky enough to have a visit from my partner back home and we traveled up to the Cairngorms while staying at a highland cattle farmer’s Airbnb! It was lovely to get away and not focus on school for a nice vacation.
Shortly after, we began our first full semester, and the school was in full swing when we returned! We began the semester with a White Coat Ceremony to welcome the whole class into the veterinary profession informally. It was a great way to feel like we were all beginning the career we had dreamed about before.
So far, semester one has flown by again, as we learned about bacteria, parasites, viruses and more, while continuing our animal husbandry skills. By this time, our whole class has settled in, with everyone having made friends and felt like Edinburgh is home. During this first semester, I joined the Student Ambassador program to get involved with talking to potential students about the program and assisting with any questions that they may have, which is why we started this blog! Within the last few months, I have truly had the chance to experience Edinburgh (wet weather, wind, and all!) and the beauty that it has. I have hiked the Pentland Hills and got some amazing views of the city, found many coffee shops to hole up in to get some studying in outside of the library, and even managed to squeeze in some time for a movie!
Now we are all preparing for our second round of exams, and I would like to say that we are all less nervous, but I think we still are because we want to do our best and succeed in the field we have chosen to travel the world for. Classes have begun to wind down as we prepare for a revision week to study for the three exams that we have for the second Animal Body course. It certainly has been a different course than AB1- and maybe not my favourite!- but interesting nonetheless. Although we are all busy studying, we have to find time to ourselves, which is easy to do as Christmas is in full swing in Edinburgh. I for one, have loved procrastinating just a tad and exploring the different Christmas attractions the city has to offer (and then returning to study!).
Speaking of, I should definitely get back to preparing for my upcoming exam. Thanks for reading!