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  • Writer's pictureBella Rawson

Vet School Diaries - Week 2, Year 1

Hello everyone and welcome back to the blog! This week has been super busy, so I’m afraid this post is quite long (it’s 4 A4 pages in word!) , but I’ve tried to break it up with pictures as much as I can! I’m working on a way to condense these a bit so you don’t spend lightyears reading them, but I’m not sure how the formats will work! Anyway, onto week two…


We got our kit today! Our dog skeleton (well, bone box) which turned out to be real bones instead of plasticised ones! Apparently these have been being used by vets for decades and are the bones of old greyhounds from the days there used to be a race track here. We also got given our dissection kits and our PPE (kindly gifted to us by uni) and assigned our groups for the year. It was an interesting experience trying to find Downing site – think getting lost a minimum of three times – but we made it, and got given our locker keys as well. I’ve actually got to try to not lose this which could be fun…check back in with me in three weeks time.

We were then meant to have a compulsory introduction to the vet school, apparently online but nobody could find it. No bother, two hours free (although spent feeling very guilty like I should be somewhere!) It did mean that I could get my MIMS lecture done early though, and this was quite a fluffy lecture so it wasn’t too important that I learned any of the content. Some of our lecturers for this course are fascinating, one has just won an MBE, and whilst the course seems pretty scary due to my general hatred for biochemistry (I mean, why combine two already hard subjects?) I’m actually excited to develop what we learnt at A-Level. These lectures are all delivered within the context of diabetes too (i.e. if we learn about the metabolic pathway of glycogenesis, we learn about it in the context of how it is affected by diabetes) so they’re fairly clinically relevant! Side note though: diabetes is more common in cats (1 in 230) than dogs (1 in 300)!

The final lecture of the day was, rather ironically, how to prepare for lectures! This was delivered by the uni’s librarians, and although I love using the library to study, the Covid restrictions take the spontaneity out of using them, so I think I’m going to stick to my room for this term ☹


Today we had our first VAP lecture, which was all about body plans and directions in animals. I did a whole blog post on it here so I won’t go into detail about it, but it was frustrating to learn that basically none of the human terms apply to animals!

Our first dissection also happened today, which was a bit of a shock to the system. We got to dissect a fetal pig, which was nerve wracking because I’ve never actually seen a dead fetus of any animal – they’re tiny! However, that all seems to vanish when you start cutting, because by the time we’d removed the forelimb and opened up the abdomen, it was fascinating! If you want to read more about what each section of the animal contains, you can do that here, but one thing I did discover was that pigs have a waxy, almost rubber coating on their skins when in the uterus, and also have hoof slippers to stop them damaging their membranes!

I had the rest of the day free which was great because it meant I could go over some notes and revise some things. I helped my boyfriend apply to some apprenticeships, then typed up my blog post on body plans, and then made some general histology notes! I also had a meeting with The Tab in the evening, whilst some of the staircase went to their Fresher’s formal. I tried to get tickets for this but they sold out pretty quickly and only three people from the household got them – the rest of us got relegated to next week, but we do get to steal the wine afterwards!

This is what I cooked instead, and I was definitely not complaining!


Today, rather weirdly, we went to a soap making class! This was organised by the college’s Student Union, and was part of the welcome welfare care we received. The soap wasn’t exactly a masterpiece and they never delivered it to my pigeon hole afterwards so I don’t have any photos unfortunately. However, I can paint the picture in your mind of a horrifically mangled bar barely more than three millimetres thick. Yes, I know, soap connoisseur in the making here.

The only other thing I had today was a fresher’s workshop which was compulsory, and though some of the tips were useful it was mostly a ‘listen to this and try not to fall asleep’ exercise. To be fair, the second years running it were really nice – we’d just heard all the content before in the other workshops last week!


One of the more exciting parts of the day was visiting the vet school for the first time for a tour, and to collect all our equipment. One of the fifth years very kindly showed us round, and we got to meet the resident cows (Princess and a dairy cow that I feel shite for forgetting the name of!). I would have taken photos but I’m not entirely sure what the policy is for that – for all the privately owned animals, you have to get permission from the owners, but I’m not sure if that’s the same for the vet school? Either way, I’d rather not get kicked off my course just yet (or ever, really, but we’re taking this one day at a time) so just imagine the cutest cows you’ve ever seen! We were then able to collect the equipment we’d ordered but unfortunately not everything had arrived yet, so it means we’ll have to go back some time later in the week to collect it!

In the evening, the Jesus college MedVet Soc organised a socially distanced meet up of all the fresher vets and older vets so that we could get advice and tips and meet people who aren’t actually much older than us, but definitely have waaaayyyy more knowledge! We had to share this with the medics, and I’ve noticed an interesting divide between the two of us…mostly fresher medics, not so much older medics, but seem to think they’re the ‘real’ medics, as one got confused with being a vet and hastily said they weren’t, they were a ‘real doctor’. Interesting perspective that one – I’ll remember it the next time your cat gets sick 😊


Today was relatively quiet.

We had a lecture on the domestication of the major species that veterinarians look after which was interesting, but not the most clinically relevant lecture, and we followed that up with our first ‘intro to diabetes’ lecture in the MIMS course. It’s fascinating and I love learning about it, however we take the MIMS course with the medics, and given there’s about four times as many of them as us, it tends to focus on human clinical relevance, with only brief reference to veterinary perspectives. I think this is why I enjoy the VAP lectures slightly more, as they’re solely about what we need to know, and I don’t have to waste precious seconds of note making time trying to figure out if it’s relevant to my course.

I then had the afternoon off which was great, so I binge watched Modern Family whilst the rest of the staircase went out to their matriculation dinner (the vets are tomorrow, see below for photos!) Whilst they were out, I went vet speed dating to meet people on my course (panicked my boyfriend when I told him this the first time!) and it was really nice to see faces of other people on my course. Jesus are handling the pandemic brilliantly, but the one thing about only living with people on your course is that it’s quite hard to make friends and meet people outside of college. It was really good to finally meet some of them properly (even if some of them want to do research instead of practice! Kidding, kidding….)

I then had FemSoc (Jesus college feminist society) and that was the one I was looking forward to the most! We had an hour’s discussion about period poverty and the way periods are perceived by society, and bizarrely conversation turned to the female orgasm on our table?! Either way it was such a relaxed, kind environment – plus we got free snacks so I’m definitely going back next week!


Today we had the last of our intro to diabetes lectures, where we talked about insulin and its functions, as well as its structures. I’ve got to be honest, I was completely lost for most of it, but luckily I was able to go over the notes afterwards and it (sort of) makes sense. Ask me about it when we start revising and I’ll probably have changed my mind about it again.

Today was also the day of my first ever supervision, although it was just introductory so I wasn’t exactly using my brain (hoorary!) One of my modules, HOM, covers physiology and homeostasis, and this was the main subject of my supervision. We get essays and multiple choice questions for this section, so suddenly taking Geography A-Level is no longer a disadvantage!

I then trekked up to the vet school because our boiler suits had arrived and we needed them for our first animal handling session on Thursday. The walk isn’t too bad from college (maybe 30 minutes) and since we’re there even less in second year I’m leaning more away from getting a bike this year (too much hassle!). Unfortunately our labcoats hadn’t arrived yet so that means another trip up there at some point!

We also had matriculation dinner today, which is credit to the college really because so many places haven’t been able to hold them. We got the privilege of a Jesus college formal, which was stunning by the way – so stunning in fact the only picture I got was my starter because it was too tempting to eat it all at once!

I also spent the day looking over some animal management lectures, basic public health stuff and health and safety, as well as watching a surprisingly interesting lecture on imagining. X-rays are (unsurprisingly) pretty complicated stuff, and that was just an overview! In our clinical years (4-6) we actually have to know it in depth, and that’s gonna be haaaaaard!


Today was my first VAP (anatomy) and MIMS (biochemistry) supervisions! VAP was great, we assembled our dog skeletons and I managed to forget what a hip was, but overall it was fun. I think anatomy is the one I’m gonna struggle with the most, because as interesting as it is, there’s also a lot to learn, and lots that you can’t just use common sense for. I’ve also never studied anything like it before (whereas others have) so I’m floundering a bit with some of the terminology. But I guess that’s what I’ve got six (!) years here for so I’ll get it eventually.

I also had a practical today, but we were just looking at different animal skeletons and skulls so it wasn’t the most active of practicals. It was really interesting to learn about how different animals have evolved, and how their bone structure relates to their function. For example, in my VAP supervision this morning, one of the things we discussed was why we have two bones in our forearms and calves. Turns out, it’s so we can be flexible and turn our wrists upside down and around, same with ankles. They were originally designed for climbing (brachiating) and hunting, which is why dogs and cats have distinct radiuses and ulnas, as well as tibias and fibias. However, in animals like horses and rabbits who don’t hunt and are prey, then these two bones are (mostly, you can still see them) fused together! It was actually really good to see what we’d talked about that morning in context – there’s so much to learn!

I was super busy today, so I then grabbed coffee with Rosie to catch up! We’re planning on turning it into a regular thing which is nice because it’s hard to make friends here, so to have someone about who gets it and has known me a really long time is such a relief (also, check out that swiss roll!)

I finally finished off with my MIMS supo (short for supervision here in Cambridge) which was surprisingly much easier than I expected it to be – I guess I retained more knowledge than I thought I did! After some quick laundry where I wrote this blog post, it’s time to check my emails and head to bed!

I hope you enjoyed reading this week’s blog as much as I enjoyed writing it! It’s suddenly become a lot busier here (which is a good thing!) but it’s beginning to get tough to find time to do everything. I had signed up to write for the Cambridge Tab (an online newspaper) but I’m not sure I’m going to have time, so may have to rethink that plan! Off for a cup of tea and bed now!

P.S: part of our VAP homework was to draw the forelimb bones in a dog, and I actually think I did quite well (little humble brag there, but I’m proud!)

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