Terribly Sorry About Yesterday

Yesterday wasn’t a terribly difficult day.  I got up at the usual time, even though I didn’t have class until 9:00 instead of the usual 8:00.  My reasoning was that I got a ride with my flatmates and had an hour before class to look over the lab for the day.

From 9:00 – 10:00 was biochem lecture, and then from 10:00 – 1:00 was physiology lab.  It was a histology lab so it was three hours of looking down microscopes at tiny structures that I could barely convince my eyes to focus on, and then drawing what I saw.  I am not an artist.  I am severely artistically challenged.  I also get really bored when drawing things, mostly because I’m not any good at it.  Which boils down to me being really grumpy in lab.

It was fun to see the different structures and to note them, but my eyes really don’t like focusing together down microscopes.  I had to resort to trickery in order to get my eyes to cooperate, and even then one would focus, then the other, then one would go black, then the other until I had to lift my head away and focus on the wall every few minutes just to keep from getting a headache.  I am undeterred though, I will just have to spend some extra time with the light microscopes so that I can build up the muscle in my eyes.  After that, world domination.

I actually managed to get out of lab an hour early and had lunch with my bestie before heading home.  He brought me bacon and egg pie, which is one of my favourite things we used to make together.  After lunch, I caught the bus home and picked up some cubed beef stock (because I was too lazy to go all the way to the real market and get the good stuff) and flour.  Once home, I started in on my soup.  I love cooking.  It is one of the things that I like to do to destress at the end of a long week.  Nothing matters when I’m dicing veges or cooking meat.  And the smells, so good.  I used some of the steak that I bought earlier in the week and made a beef soup.  I even remembered to dredge the meat before cooking it, I am so proud of me.  I added potatoes, a carrot, an onion, and mushrooms as my veges.  I usually add barley to make it really hearty, but I forgot that when I went to the market so had to forgo the deliciousness.  When the soup was done I offered it to my flatmates (one of which took me up on it) and enjoyed delicious home made soup.

Today marks the day that the third year students are halfway through their program.  So today they went on a trip to commemorate “Halfway Day”.  Last night, some of the fourth years kidnapped some of the third years and got them extremely drunk.  Wasted.  Hammered.  Smashed.  Just this side of alcohol poisoning.  The intention being that for halfway day the kidnapped people would have to do all of the activities either hung over or still intoxicated from the night before.  A major goal was to get them to vomit.  That is right along the same lines as hazing and I definitely do not approve.  I also am going to make damn sure that I am not kidnapped because no way in hell would I play along with that.

Anyway, my flatmates were both on the same page as I was, and so really did not want to get kidnapped.  They were both so paranoid that they turned off the main lights in their room and studied by small book lights.  One of them came to me and asked that if someone came to the door, that I answer it and tell whoever it was that she was out and that I didn’t know where she was.  The other one was less paranoid but still on edge.  The second one’s fiancee thought it would be HILARIOUS to sneak out the window and tap on the first one’s window, then bang on the door.  When he did this, the first one DASHED down the hallway and into the bathroom, shouting that she was not hear as she screamed past.  Not sure what was going on, I got up and went to answer the door.  Standing in the doorway of her room was the second flatmate, laughing so hard she couldn’t breathe.  Through the glass of the front door I could see a blonde silhouette  of about the same dimensions as the fiancee.  Still playing along, I opened the door, called him a dick, closed the door and undid the chain so that I could let him back in, and then proceeded to laugh my ass off.  First flatmate came crawling out of her hiding place and was pissed but laughing.  Later in the evening, after all of the kidnapping was over, one of First flatmate’s friends came around and banged loudly on the door.  Second flatmate and I were in the kitchen, me doing dishes, her talking on the phone.  When I turned around to look, after hearing the noise, there was practically a flatmate shaped dust cloud from where she took off sprinting into the bathroom to hide.  First flatmate thought it was hilarious and getting Second flatmate back for the earlier joke.

Last night was also the first year/second year party, where the second years get the first years extremely drunk (you may be noticing a theme here).  As you may have guessed, I did not attend.  The people who did attend told stories about bruises and mud and missing memories.  Most of the people who went (and got drunk) didn’t make it to first lecture at 8:00 this morning.  Some of them barely made it to the labs later in the day.  It was only a couple blocks from my flat, and I could hear them talking, shouting, singing, and the music they were dancing to well into the evening.  I regret nothing.

Today I had first lecture, then second lecture, then a long break until the best part of the day: Animal Handling Practical.  This week my group (of about 10) got to do the dog handling prac.  Which meant playing with dogs for three hours.  We learned and practiced several methods of restraint, a trick for giving oral medication in the form of a pill, and how to dispense liquid oral medication.  There were four dogs that were putting up with us, two had done practicals before, the other two were young and inexperienced but game.  The old hand was Silly Lilly the rough collie/border collie cross.  She is six years old and has been doing animal handling practicals for a few of them.  Apparently she was rescued from a puppy mill where she had four litters in two years.  She is almost a dog again (according to her owner who was teaching the practical), and was a very good sport.  The teacher’s other dog was Willow, a golden retriever/border collie cross who is about 18 months old and VERY hyper and silly.  The other two dogs were well known by the teacher and her dogs.  Ivy is a French Mastiff who is an only child and very much a princess.  Shumba (or something like that) is a Rhodesian Ridgeback about the same age as Willow (yes, you are correct, her and Willow DID attempt to spend the entire time playing together).  They were all very well behaved (for the most part) and there was no near misses with any altercations or aggression.  Ivy did decide near the end that she was done playing that game and she went and laid down under a table, but she didn’t growl or give the stink eye to anyone at any point.

After lab I caught the bus home and got to Skype with my loved ones back home.  It was really nice and made me smile like crazy to get to see two at once (since they were hanging out together).  Being able to see (even if the picture quality is terrible) and hear my friends and family makes the homesickness less.

Another thing that I should probably mention is that there is a new (temporary) flatmate living in the spare bedroom.  He is a German fifth year student doing some practical work (and sightseeing) out here in New Zealand.  He is very nice and polite and his English is quite good.  Because he is staying in the cat’s room though, the cat is hanging out with me.  So I have a furry friend keeping me company tonight.  He is currently curled up on my bed, right where I might want to put my feet later when I go to sleep.  Ah cats, how I love them.


Over the Hump

Today was a relatively easy day for me.  Three lectures and then a tutorial on how to use MyPortfolio.  During the two hour break between third lecture and the tutorial I went to two club meetings (Radiology Club and the Wild Life Conservation Club) because both offered free pizza and I was a genius and forgot to pack a lunch.


During the one hour break between second and third lecture I caught up on my physiology study guide and got coffee.  Which of course made me antsy in third lecture and open my big mouth to ask about why small birds hop.  (apparently that’s why).


Radiology Club was really cool.  We were introduced to some of the concepts and told what to expect at future meetings.  Also there was pizza.  I am actually really excited about going to each meeting.  The radiographs we looked at today had a dog with an esophageal obstruction (that looked like a bone), another dog with bones in its digestive tract, and a dystocia (difficult birth) of a small breed dog with a single puppy.  The last one was the coolest, the puppy was almost as big as the dam and you could see the whole skeleton.  It looked like it was trying to jump out but could only get its head through the birth canal.  Unfortunately for the puppy, it was probably dead, but the radiograph showed where the problem areas were so the vet could help save the bitch.


After Radiology Club (I think it has a different name but that’s what I’m calling it until I can remember the real name) there was MSWCC (Massy Student Wild Life Conservation Club).  The meeting had a brief introduction to the club followed by elections for the club.  Its only $10 to join and I get $100 worth of magazine plus subsidised field trips and heaps of learning experiences.  I’m in.   Just have to remember to fill out the form and bring my money next week.  Of course this cuts into my lunch/study time on Wednesdays, but I’m ok with that.


After the meetings was the e-Portfolio tutorial where we separated into groups to figure out and work on MyProfile.  My group is pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.  As a group we have to demonstrate different Graduate Attributes that we are supposed to have by the time we graduate from the program.  We picked four.  All of us are doing 1.10: Demonstrate physical and mental health and self-awareness and strategies to maintain them.  The other three are being done in groups of three with one group of four.  My mini-group (sub group?) is doing 2.4: Be knowledgeable about animal welfare and able to identify and deal with animal welfare issues.  Since I read the Fugly Horse Of The Day blog (which deals quite a bit with welfare issues in the States), and I took Kevin Stafford’s paper last year on Animal Health, Behaviour, and Welfare, I think I have an advantage in that category.  I already know where to look for the information and am ready and willing to share it with my class mates.


At the end of the day I dragged my sorry carcass onto the bus and rode it home.  Now I have to look over the lab manual for my physiology lab tomorrow.

Last day before classes

Today started off wonderfully.  I slept all the way to my alarm, was warm and snuggled in my bed, bonded with the cat, all wonderful things.  I even had a lazy morning on the internet.  It all went perfectly until I decided that I needed a bookshelf.


I love books, in fact I may have a book addiction.  I have a hard time selling back books at the end of the semester.  I have books that I will likely never read again.  I have school books, leisure books, cook books, how to books, any kind of book.  None of which I can part with.  Out here in New Zealand my book collection is much smaller.  My kindle has given me the ability to hoard books in the aether where they take up much less space.  Unfortunately for my bookshelf needs, that means most of my books are honking huge text books.  Not just any text books, 2000 page biology text books and similar ilk.  I put all of my books into a large backpack that I own and it easily outweighed my two fully packed suitcases that I brought with me from home.  So when I go buy a bookcase, it needs to be sturdy, and large.


Around 3:00pm I texted my best buddy out here and had him come round with his station wagon.  We hung out for a bit and chatted and then I asked if he would be so kind as to go shelf shopping with me.  He is my enabler.


We first went to the Warehouse (which is kinda like Walmart for Kiwis) but their selection was not up to my standards.  Next stop was the Warehouse Stationary (where they have all kinds of things including desks, chairs, and bookshelves).  There I found a lovely 6ft+, sturdy, beach coloured monstrosity.  I was in love.  To be fair, I looked at all of the other offerings and concluded that none were as perfect for my under $100 budget.  After looking through them all my friend pointed out that they were having a sale and all of the shelves were 10-40% off.  With that knowledge, I picked up another smaller shelf to go next to my desk since I don’t have enough drawers for all of the things i want to put in it.  Hurray for organisation!  And all for under $100.


We asked a sails associate for assistance and purchased the hulking shelf-in-a-box and mini shelf-in-a-box and got it to the car.  Just slightly too long to fit laying flat, so the associate and my buddy turned it sideways and slid it between the front seats and it fit great.  popped the other one in beside it and we were ready to go.  Instead of heading home though, we wen’t to the market because my buddy wanted his “gas money” to be spent in candy.  After getting me a few things, and him his candy, we headed back to my flat.  As soon as we pull into the driveway I realise one terrible thing.  I forgot my key in my room.  We are locked out of the flat, and my flatmates won’t be home until late.  We tried the back doors but this place is locked down solid so I texted my friend who’s flat I had crashed at last week and she let me come stay till someone got home to let me in.  My buddy went home and promised to help me set up the bookshelf sometime later in the week.


At my friend’s place I hung out while she was cooking and met another future flatmate (when I move into that flat next year) who is the same year vet student as my friend (who I will call Hawaii).  The new person I will call Tennessee (in true Zombieland style).  Tennessee is really nice, he is also as much of a neat freak as Hawaii.  Living with them will be interesting to say the least.  After dinner, Hawaii took me back home and I greatfully put down my groceries and petted the cat.


Tomorrow classes start, I’m excited and nervous.  I really don’t want to screw this up.

So I got accepted

I have wanted to be a vet since I was a small child.  I honestly can’t remember a time when I, realistically, wanted to be anything else.  I’ve mulled it over, tossed it around, muddled through excuses and explanations, and ultimately come to the conclusion that being a Vet is what I was literally born to do.  That and gardening (but that’s a different blog).  In high school I was convinced that I would go to college, get into a pre-vet program, and graduate directly into UCDavis.  But instead I went to Chapman University (a very good school), dropped out of their Biology major and into Sociology.

I knew that it would be much more difficult to make my dream come true by switching majors, but I didn’t really care.  Living seemed like a much more important step than making future me happy (what with dying meaning there was no future me to make happy).  I struggled through several different health concerns (some stress related) and graduated with a BA in Sociology with a minor in English (because I took all the classes for fun and thought it silly to waste it).

As you can tell, I interrupt myself a great deal (usually with parenthetical asides), but this is much easier to read than my former internet writing style of “stream of consciousness”…which used many ellipses and few paragraph breaks…pretty mind numbing but much easier to type.

Anyway, back to the subject at hand.  With my shiny new bachelors degree burning a hole in my pocket, I went about looking into following my dream or whatever.  I realised at that point that getting into a US school was going to take a full year of Organic Chemistry (dun dun DUN!) and Physics (even WORSE) so I looked out of the country.  In high school my best friend and I had joked about going to New Zealand for our undergrad to study with the hobbits in Middle Earth.  Surprisingly enough that very same school has a very good veterinary program, and is accredited in more countries than I care to remember or recite.  I applied to Massey University’s pre-vet selection semester, hoping to take the prerequisite one semester of O.Chem and Physics, pass everything with flying colours, and then become an amazing vet.

That didn’t work out so well.  My first year out of the country consisted of procrastination, freezing, and homesickness.  I spent more time talking with people back home than I did studying, and my grades reflected that.  C+ in O.Chem, C+ in Physics, B+ in Bio of Cells, B+ in Bio of Animals.  All passing, and all acceptable.  Everything just depended on the other applicants (about 40 trying for 14 spaces) and how well they had studied.  I knew quite a few who had turned to drinking and partying instead of studying, a number who found a passion for another subject and moved on, and some like me who just missed the marks we needed.  I waited with baited breath for my email.  I did not get in.

Crushed, I flew home a week later and wallowed in self pity for about two weeks.  Then I pulled my head out of my ass and decided to give it another go.  If I could bring my grades up to A’s (preferably A+’s) I had a fighting chance.  With this plan in my head I applied for classes and went back for a second try, same semester.  This time I was ready, and (most importantly) not taking any chem classes.  I studied hard and kicked academic butt, discovered a passion for genetics and animal science (big surprise right?) and a loathing for plants (remember that gardening thing up top? yeah I don’t get it either…maybe its a sick control thing…or I like killing their babies when I eat the fruits of my labor…not sure).  A+ Introduction to Animal Science, A- Psychology as a Natural Science, B+ Human Genetics, B+ Plants.

Again I waited for my email.

Again, they denied me.

Crushed for a second time, I wallowed in a delicious shot of Glenfiddich 17 yrs for about an hour, went to bed, and woke up determined again to make my dream come true (with some nagging from my very wonderful and supportive boyfriend).  I called the “international pre-vet handler” and asked how close I had been.  She sounded genuinely surprised that I had not made the cut.  We worked out that if I had another equally good semester that my chances of getting in the next try were very good.  I determined that if I got straight A’s I would take a semester off and see family and friends and enjoy one last summer in So Cal.

Back to school I went.  Studying even harder, keeping to a strict sleep schedule, eating proper, and scheduling in relaxation time when needed.  A+ in Biology of Mammals, A in Psychology as a Social Science, A in Biochemistry of Cells, A in Animal Health, Behaviour, and Welfare.  I got my Straight A’s and was staying home for the first semester of the next year.

I worked the Southern California Renaissance Pleasure Faire with my friends and family, enjoyed Christmas parties and celebrated my birthday.  I worked the Corona Renaissance Festival with one of my dearest friends, reconnected with an old friend thought lost, and visited my bestie (the one who planted the seed of Massey in my head in the first place) up in Oregon.  I thoroughly enjoyed my time home, especially the sunshine.  I didn’t get to see everyone I wanted as often as I wanted, but I saw them all at least once.  On the day that I was to receive my email of acceptance (or denial) I went to an Irish pub and surrounded myself with friends, family, booze, and good food.  At 8:45 pm PST I received my email and at 8:46 pm PST pulled my brain out of wherever it had gotten to and shouted to everyone gathered that I was going to be a vet.  I also swallowed a fuzzy and coughed for the next 5 minutes.  The universe is just trying to keep me humble I guess.  We celebrated that night with Guinness, Whiskey, and Cider.  My darling sister bought my Guinness, my dearest brother bought me my Whiskey, and someone else had the cider.  I stayed up long past my bedtime, and early the next morning was up and ready to do the things required of me to officially accept the offered place.

Two days later I was on a plane headed for Palmy, and now I’m here, freezing my butt off wondering what in the world possessed me to do this the hardest way possible.  Whatever it was, I’m mostly glad of it because it has brought me to this beautiful country and allowed me to meet some wonderful people.  Everything isn’t puppies and kisses (though there are lots of animals in my life now), but I’ll take what I can get.

School starts in 5 days.  I am going to try to update this blog daily with my adventures in Vet School (the weird things people say/do, the heartbreak, the loneliness, the craziness, etc).  Some days I will likely be too tired to write more than small posts, and other days I will wright super long 1,000 word pieces to make up for them.  For the most part I just hope I remember to write every day.

Now you know where I came from, lets get to where I’m going.