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  • Writer's pictureBella Rawson

Vet School Diaries - Week 7, Year 1

Wow, I've been getting bad with these posts! I meant to get around to publishing this on Wednesday but for some reason these past two days have been exponentially busy and I never managed to find time to do it (or, y'know, I'm just lazy?) I have Ambassador training from 7 till 8 as well so even though I thought today was relatively relaxed (my timetable said one lecture) I still had a million things to do! So sit back, the weeks are finally getting interesting...


I find it such a wonderful privilege being able to live in Cambridge. Not because of the fact that I'm in one of the best places in the world for education, but because it's truly one of the most beautiful places I've ever been. Since I arrived I've taken no less than two hundred photos just of buildings, trees, parks, as if I'm a tourist whose never seen a bin before (the rubbish in Cambridge is just really different, 'kay?) We had a practical where we looked at the stifle muscles (the stifle in an animal is the equivalent of your knee, and is hugely clinically relevant because too many dogs to count tear their cranial cruciate ligaments, including our Teddy). I may or may not do a blog post on this since I found it fascinating - we'll see how much time I have!

Other than that, most of us had the afternoon free since our animal handling practicals had to be rearranged and so I went for a walk in the early afternoon and did catch up revision (read: watched telly for a stupid amount of time) on physiology stuff I wasn't understanding. To be fair, I wouldn't recommend trying to watch The Russell Howard hour on catchup whilst studying cross bridge cycling in skeletal muscle - it's surprisingly hard to care much about it.


I'd felt really sick in yesterday's practical (to the point that my poor partner thought I was going to pass out because I'd gone white), and initially put it down to just really bad period cramps and waved it off. However, I woke up the following morning feeling like I'd been hit by a truck, with stuff coming out of both ends because apparently Mother Nature just really likes to shove the knife in and twist it. One panicked email about Covid to the nurse later and she was telling me I probably had some kind of gastroenteritis or flu thing and to wait it out and just get on with it. Yay me, I had to sit through lectures whilst the thought of food made me physically ill!

To add to this, we also had a HIstology practical, which was truly amazing, if a little off putting trying not to retch all over your muscle slides. We got to exam muscle filaments and see how exquisitely built they are, and for someone who has never much believed in anything other than empirical facts, there's something about striated muscle that makes you want to think someone's designed it. Thankfully, I successfully managed to avoid ruining equipment worth a couple of grand with vomit, and returned home after a long day to a warm bed and 12 hours of sleep. Truly - my body's exhausted.


Somehow, Saturday ended up worse, and despite my determination to avoid food my rational, scientific mind thought it would probably be unwise to starve to death in my room and I managed to drag my bum off to Lidl to buy the 'essentials' (Cadbury counts as an essential food brand right?). I'd intended to finish two essays I had due on Monday as well but apparently a thirty minute shopping trip was just too much for my fragile existence, and I collapsed and just watched one too many episodes of Modern Family instead.

I spent the remainder of the day asleep, because obviously after twelve hours what you need is more sleep, and woke up to a mass exodus of the staircase to watch socially distanced fireworks. Figuring this was probably a bad idea when all I wanted to do was stay in bed, I forced myself to go to Caff (essentially Jesus College's catering service) with a few others and shove some food into me. I did this in a dressing gown and slippers which I'm rather proud of - no one batted an eyelid as I clearly wore it with much confidence. I had a fabulous burger that unfortuantely saw the other side rather quickly, and spent the rest of the evening going back and forth between bed and trying my best to socialise with people who would probably rather I'd been five hundred metres away. They're too nice to say anything though - their own problem this time, I'd say :)


After another eleven hour sleep, I figured it was probably important that I get my essays done, and so the day was spent struggling through 2200 words of pure waffle about stifle joints and phosphofructokinase enzymes, with zero effort or f*cks given. Yes, I'm bleeping it, I do actually want this post to show up in search engines believe it or not.

Starting to feel a bit better I managed to at least act normally for the day, and startled my staircase several times by appearing for more cups of tea than is probably healthy throughout the day. Facetimed mum in the evening as well, hoping to see Molly and Teddy mostly and had to get through mum in order to do that (love you), but unfortunately both dogs were preoccupied with taking up too much sofa than their size warrants. All I got was a snort and a twitchy nose.


Feeling a million miles better in the morning, I figured I'd eaten something bad as opposed to having flu and promptly tossed out the food I thought had done this. This included, I'm saddened to say, some sliced chicken that was rotting slowly thanks to my forgetting it was in the back of the fridge. I'm not dumb enough to eat it (I may have considered it before coming to my sense) so this wasn't the cause of my mysterious shitting, but certainly it probably didn't help. Lessons in meat hygiene I suppose.

I had less to do today than I expected, an online physiology practical (completely useless, how are you meant to do a practical successfully online?) and a MIMS lecture that, for once, was completely useful! Who knew oxidative phosphorylation was so interesting?

I had some time before my anatomy supervision in the afternoon, and thinking fresh air would probably do me some good, I went for a run around the city (lol, the local park, who do you think I am?) and met some angry swans who appeared to think I was trying to murder their babies. No swans, I just sound like Darth Vader when I'm running. Here's me looking much happier than I felt on a 5k.

To add to an insultingly boring day, I also attended a talk on horse embryo transfer techniques in the evening (yay, semen!) because I've been trying to keep an open mind about going into the equine world when I graduate. To be fair, this talk was definitely aimed at clinical years and I was obvs not the target audience, and I had a lot of trouble keeping pace with the lecturer, so the inevitable happened and I logged out with shame. Excellent revision of first year embryology, but too much horse semen for my liking. (Wow, what a sentence.)


A biochemistry lecture I actually enjoyed? Surely not!?

We've started a fabulous lecture series with one of the professors on cell signalling and protein sorting, and dear God it's interesting. He makes total sense and makes the subject relevant to our course, rare - it's usually medics that get that privilege, and suddenly I might like biochemistry? Don't worry, it'll be back to our regularly scheduled complaining once this series is over though.

An online anatomy class later, we had a cardiovascular lecture that was also interesting but more complex than I would like - seriously, who knew I'd have to work to degree standard when I was studying at uni? I filled the afternoon with wonderful animal management lectures, including one that was taught by a woman I want as an extra grandparent, and fell asleep earlier than I should've. The term has gotten progressively more stressful and exhausting, and my eczema and skin picking tendencies have seen the brunt of it. My sleep pattern as well has gotten more complex, to the point where I'm missing alarms purely from exhaustion - I struggled to get up at 9 after falling asleep at 10 the other day. Don't underestimate the mental strain uni has on you, certainly medical courses anyway.


Given how exhausted I am lately, I thought it would be a good idea to carve out time every couple of days and explore the city. With Covid and my relentless timetable, we don't really have time to leave the staircase unless we make time, which can be incredibly difficult. But after being locked in for two weeks I'm appreciating the value being outdoors can have much more than before, and whilst it's much much chillier than before, I really want to make sure I at least know some of Cambridge before the end of term. (I'm very familiar with the four walls of my bedroom at this point).

So, with that in mind, between a discussion of a practical we haven't even done thanks to Covid and isolation and a lecture on statistics (equally as yucky), I went for a wander around Cambridge to see the sights and add yet more photos of bins, birds, and buses to my phone. I won't comment on this wonderful company branding that I saw.

This city truly is a wonderful place to be, simply because it's such a weird fusion of old and new. The Pizza Express down the road is literally in a building that looks like it's from the 1400s (I ain't good with history, this is purely a guestimate), and some of the shops are set into buildings with the most beautiful architecture you've ever seen. Some streets are still cobbled and there's a billion different passageways all over the city, which makes it feel a bit Hogwartsy at the same time as feeling incredibly modern and innovative. Basically, I get to study in the best place in the world.

I hope everyone's had a wonderful, busy week as well, and I'll be back (hopefully) on time next Wednesday for my thoughts on the penultimate week of term! Kind of crazy that we're already here to be honest, it's gone so quickly! Keep safe :)

P.S - at some point this week, info on vet med interviews will be appearing with advice for interview season, so if you know someone with a med/vet/dentistry interview, let them know about it!

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