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Vet Science, A Unique Discipline

By, Anindita Basu

Part 2 of 2

Read Part 1 of 2

At Waitakere Ranges Regional Park, Auckland
At Kakamatua Beach, Auckland

In vet school, I have met so many likeminded people. All throughout school I had never really met anyone who shared the interest of becoming a veterinarian professionally. However, once I was in vet school, I had 124 other people with whom I shared the same passions. And it felt like this was where I belonged. Although I must say, it wasn’t easy to get into vet school. Now, I described earlier what went into my application for it to become successfully accepted in Massey. However, that did not mean I qualified as a veterinary science student. How the BVSc degree works is that you have to perform exceedingly well in both academics and non-academic tests in what is known as the PreVeterinary phase. This phase lasts a whole semester and only 33% of the pre-vet students continue on in the BVSc degree depending on how well they did during the semester. After a lot of hard work, sleepless nights, and stress, I made it through, much to my delight and my parent’s relief! Since then it has been years of learning about hepatic lipidosis in a cat, uterine torsion in a cow, colic in a horse, salmonellosis in a sheep, Pasteurella infection in a rabbit, scurvy in a guinea pig and chronic kidney failure in a dog. Well, you get the gist! And as scary as it is, getting closer and closer to the end of my degree gives me a great sense of empowerment. Soon, I will be able to treat all these animals I love so much and help them be free of pain and suffering. As every semester goes by, we gain more and more practical experience through our many internships and this helps me solidify my theoretical learning. Performing a clinical example of a cria (baby alpaca)

Performing a clinical example of a cria (baby alpaca)
At a practical class in university

At this point in my study, I am starting to think quite frequently and seriously about future employment opportunities. One of the most important pieces of advice I have consistently been given by my lecturers and vets is that it is vital to find the right fit when it comes to applying for a job. The best fit means finding a clinic with a similar mission and employers with a common mindset. Luckily, with the number of placements we do over the years of our degree, we have chances to make a good impression through our work. And especially over 5th year, when employers keep an eye out for new graduate vets during our clinical rotations. 5th year is 90% practical work in different clinics and hospitals to solidify our surgery and diagnostic skills.

Calving Placement- helping cows give birth
Working with Red Deer

As far as my overall experience goes in terms of a university student, it has been great. I have been a part of several clubs over the years, such as the Equine Club, SVECCS (Student Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society), Football Club and, the Wildlife & Conservation Club. I spent my first year as a resident of the on-campus halls. And I enjoyed it so much that I came back to live in the halls again in my 3rd year of university. But as an RA (Residential Assistant), not just a resident. This was my first job and it was a feeling of great joy when I received my first salary. I was responsible for looking after the 1st year students of the hall I was assigned to. Their guidance, health, safety, and overall wellbeing was what I oversaw. I was very blessed to have lovely residents, most of whom I am still in touch with. Our hall even won the Gumboot Shied at the end of the year which was the prize for the year-long competition in various events between the various halls. It was the cherry on top at the end of a very fulfilling and exciting year.

The Residential Assistant Team 2019
At a tree planting event organised by the RA team

In the weekends, my friends and I would take advantage of the student conducive environment of Palmerston North. By that, I mean that Palmerston North is predominantly a student city and a small town in general. So, the maximum distance between flats is 20 mins by car. So, we could easily visit one another in each other’s flats at the weekend, with no need to worry about traffic or long journeys. In the weekend we also made trips to Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand, which is only 2 hours from Palmerston North. Among other places to visit in the city, we have the Esplanade gardens, windmill farms, walkway alongside the Manawatu river that runs through the city, the Plaza (mall) and Cloud 9 (trampoline park). We have 2 beaches, Foxton and Himatangi, nearby and visiting those on a good day is so refreshing. Other advantages of living in a student city include free bus service to and from campus and rent is also cheaper compared to other New Zealand cities. And this makes everything so affordable especially being on a student budget.

At the beach with my friends
At a local Holi celebration

Through all the hard work entailed in the year, we do get a bit of holiday time during the semesters. I usually only go home once a year during NZ Summer/India Winters since they are the longest duration of holidays. But during the other holidays I would visit my friends and stay with their family. This was a great way to learn and integrate myself into the Kiwi culture.

At the Kitekite Waterfalls, Auckland
Making snow angels on Mt Hutt, Christchurch

Among the adversities I faced, the biggest and probably the only significant one was dealing with homesickness. I came to New Zealand knowing no one in the country. I don’t have any family here and during tough times all you want is to spend time with family. I had to come to terms with the fact that for 5 years straight I would see my family only once a year. It has been quite hard actually. Especially with the demand of my degree, there are multiple periods of stress and pressure. And my parent’s presence gives me a lot of peace so without their physical presence getting through some of the days was definitely challenging. But I should not complain too much, at least I have technology on my side. I could not be more thankful for the video calling service. Being able to look at them and speak to them has been such a blessing.

Video calls with my lovely parents

I have been lucky enough to have some amazing moments over my days at university. One of the best moments of my life was qualifying into the official vet programme. I have never been number one when it comes to academics, so to make it through a very academically demanding course gave me a sense of achievement. And the happiness it gave my parents made it all even more worth it. Moving into my first flat with 3 of my closest friends from the halls was a big moment. We were going to be managing a household together and it was a very adult move. The entire year of flatting taught me a lot of things, especially when it comes to independence and accountability. Living in a place on your own, without the help from family is something I would recommend to every high school graduate. Managing a lifestyle where you must be responsible and organised enough to care for your own needs is a vital skill to have. And the faster we learn it the better. Another memorable moment was when my application and interview to become an RA for the halls on campus was accepted and I was officially employed by Massey University. This was a big moment as it was my first job and the earnings would cover both my food and accommodation. And this to me did wonder for my confidence and financial independence. Some of the other smaller moments I have experienced which will forever be in my memories includes, white water rafting in the Tongariro River, sailing on a yacht in the Waitemata Harbour, featuring on the vet class calendar, driving a tractor for the first time, snowboarding in Christchurch, and of course, the joy of homecoming every year.

When we found out we got into Vet School!
Moving into my first flat with my fellow flatmates/best-friends

Looking back, I made the best decision to move to New Zealand. And hopefully this write-up encourages more people to push past their comfort zone and make big moves. And most importantly, to work hard towards their dreams and goals. Remember, don’t ever give up on your passion!

Checking a sick horse
A happy me

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