A bit of a background.
My name is Belinda and I am currently in my second semester of my second year of Veterinary Science. I am originally from the Gold Coast, but relocated to Townsville to follow my dream at James Cook University.
What was my dream? What made me want to put myself through five – well, six – years at university? I guess you could say that I’m a bit cliché; I love animals. From dreaming to be a vet, to owning a pet shop, to being a vet, to working as a stable-hand, to being a vet, to running a farm, to being a vet and then even considering being a marine biologist, I have always pictured myself in a job with animals. Let’s be real, I played ‘horses’ in primary school, and have had animals all my life, whether it was a budgie, a long-eared guinea pig, chickens, a duck or two golden retrievers.
It wasn’t really a surprise to my parents when I told them I was considering studying veterinary science after year 12. So when push came to shove, I convinced myself (with the help of some extra courage from my family) to at least drop an application into the vet schools in Queensland (UQ and JCU). I had always considered myself to be smart, but I never expected to get into James Cook University to start a Bachelor of Veterinary Science in 2015. That day of acceptance was a whirlwind of emotions. “I got into vet!”. “I have to move to Townsville?”. “I got into vet!”. “What about my family… and my dogs?”.
It may have been scary, but I took it in my stride, and focussed on my goal of becoming a vet. And looking at where I am now, there may have been a few bumps along the way, but I wouldn’t have done it any other way.
A day in the life of a vet student
How tough is vet school? I’ll give it a 10/10 on the difficulty scale, but don’t get me wrong, I love my degree.
My mornings are quite convoluted. I generally wake up at 8am and feed my dogs (two golden retrievers, Woody and Luna). I have half an hour before I leave for generally a 9am start at uni. That half hour is crucial to how the rest of my day goes. I must remember to make lunch, pack lunch, eat breakfast, change out of my pyjamas (sometimes I almost forget), pack my bag and hope my laptop has enough charge whilst remembering to print my practical notes. Oh, and I can’t forget to brush my teeth because an eight-hour day with a smelly breath wouldn’t be enjoyable for the other 90 vet students.
My favourite days are generally when I have practicals. Whether it’s dissections for anatomy, looking at neoplasia under the microscope for pathology or, my personal favourite, getting a bull to ejaculate with my hands, when the electro-ejaculator didn’t do the job, to collect semen, I thoroughly enjoy them all. I find I learn so much more when I use knowledge that I’ve learnt in lectures and tutorials, and apply it in real-life, hands-on circumstances.
Home time after the full days are what I generally look forward to. There is only so much time you can sit in a lecture room listening to the different viruses and how they impact you as a future veterinarian. I tend to relax for a bit, eat some food because I am always starving and never pack enough food. I’ll take the dogs for a ride on the bike to the local dog park and watch them play for a while. Then I’ll make dinner – maybe chicken stir-fry tonight?
After dinner, I will get back to the books. Trying to cram all of that day’s knowledge into any available nook and cranny in my brain. I know what you’re thinking – ‘Eight hours of uni and she still wants to look at viruses? Is she crazy?’. Don’t worry, I ask myself that question a lot and I’ll be honest, I don’t study every night, but I try my best. Why? Because it’s my dream. I want this so bad. I want to be a vet and spend my life helping all animals; big and small.
If I had any advice to give anyone, whether you want to be a vet or not, if you have a dream, follow it. Put your nose to the ground and be the golden retriever trying to find that last crumb of dinner. Follow that nose to your dream.
Written by Belinda Feodoroff, 2nd year JCU BVSc student. Author of ‘Retrieving the Dog Files’ .