word drift

a collection of musings and snippets from my life

halfway there: a reflection on the past two and a half years

It is still with some disbelief that I can now say I am halfway through my vet degree. Two and a half years out of five. Two and a half years of happy moments, of endless learning, of realisations, of doubts and of more struggles I have ever had in my twenty years on earth. It would be silly to think I could condense all of this into one post but this is the best chance for me to reflect on my time at university up to now and hopefully it will act as a springboard for other pieces.

My time at vet school seems to have gone by at once fast and slow. In one and a half years, I will be in final year, free of lectures and on rotations in the hospitals. Everything seems to have come so fast; sometimes when I think back to when I was in first year, a little lost and trying to find my feet, it was only yesterday. Yet when I look at all that I have experienced and achieved since then, it feels like a lifetime ago.

I could wax lyrical about how close I am to accomplishing a long-held, childhood dream, how thrilled I am to be where I always so desired to be. I wish – more than anything – that I could truthfully proclaim, hand on heart, that these have been the supposed ‘best years of my life’. But in interests of honesty, I can’t deny that this journey hasn’t been tainted with a kind of hollow sadness, blue and unkind to my mind.

I could tell you enthusiastically about all the fascinating things I’ve learnt and seen in lectures and practicals. However, there have also been countless late nights when I have stared at my notes in a state of utter despair, wondering how on earth I am going to fit all that information in my brain and retain it. I have sat through early morning and late afternoon lectures, not entirely interested but trying to focus because I need to know these things – a terrible mindset, I know. Now that I’m in my clinical years though, the information feels much more relevant and interesting.  There are plenty of placements at veterinary practices to come. The nerves are simmering now that the vets and nurses will have an expected standard of me but I am looking forward to learning more and applying my existing knowledge. Anything that serves a a refreshing reminder of why I want to be a vet is always most welcome.

My journey thus far has been punctuated with challenges, struggles and doubt to chip away at my mind, both on a personal level and academically. But I think it’s important for me to remember that every time I felt I had fallen, I always got back up. Undoubtedly, all of my experiences have helped shape who I am today, taught me more about myself than ever before. Lessons about me, my character and the people who surround me.  And I think I can say I have come out the other side a stronger person. More confident? Not quite, not yet, but I’m getting there.

I am rarely my own greatest supporter, with little faith in my abilities. I’ve been plagued by this sinking feeling that I won’t be a good enough vet, wondering whether I am suitable for this career. But each time I meet with my personal tutor, without fail, she tells me to believe in myself more, that all that I have achieved show that I am more than capable. And the study support tutor, who I check in with every so often to chat about study techniques and any other issues, once told me she can’t wait for me to graduate because she thinks I’m going to be a great vet. I’ve had positive feedback from various placements, I have family and friends who continue to believe in me so firmly. If I were to take only one thing from the first half of my degree, it’s that I can do this.  That my worries usually turn out to be unfounded, that I never do as catastrophically as I might think.

And so, I look to the next two and a half years with renewed hope and reserved anticipation.  I’ve made it this far already, halfway to being thrust into the real world and expected to tend to society’s animals.  It’s all rather surreal and despite the bumps along the way, I managed to successfully pass all my exams and have grown as a person in more ways than I could have imagined. Admittedly, when I am overwhelmed and struggling to keep my head above water, I am prone to complaining about vet school. When this happens in future, I want to remember how incredibly fortunate I am to be able to study here, to have met the people who have helped me in so many ways.  Honestly, I wouldn’t change what I have for the world; it can be tough and emotionally exhausting but I can’t think of anything I’d want to do more than veterinary medicine.

Below are a selection of photos taken at the Halfway Ball held last weekend, as we gathered to celebrate this milestone.

Here’s to the next half and whatever it may bring, to new experiences and opportunities for growth, to making the most of my time here so I can look back on it fondly in years to come.

I‘d love for you to share your university experiences with me in the comments below, whether you’re still in university or have already graduated. Equally, it would be great to hear from you even if you are not yet at uni or bypassed it altogether.

Much love,
Beverley

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8 Comments

  1. Reply 24th January, 2017 at 9:45 pm

    I loved college but ultimately, I’m doing it because my mother persuaded me to, but in the end, I have no idea what I’ll do with it. I have to get my financial aid back 🙁 Oh well. Glad you found peace and them turmoil in this last year, because that’s what a true year has: lots of turmoil to grow and learn from, and peace that follows.

  2. Reply 25th January, 2017 at 8:55 pm

    Dude, I feel the exact same way ;o; I totally understand how you feel about not feeling like you’re gonna be a good vet (in my case, a doctor). No matter how much support and positive encouragements I get from my friends and family, there’s still that little voice inside of me that tells me.. what if I’m not good enough? What if I fail? I actually have my med school interview this Friday, and I’m gonna do my best but I always think to myself.. what if my ‘best’ is not enough? What if I disappoint my family? It really is hard, dealing with self-doubt, but I’m glad you’re better at pushing those thoughts away. I BELIEVE YOU’RE GONNA BE A WONDERFUL VET BEVERLEY. I really do. Halfway more to go, you can do this. <3 Also giiiirl, you look stunning at the Halfway Ball. I love your smile omg :')

    musingful.com

  3. Reply 27th January, 2017 at 12:43 pm

    Hello, Beverley! First of all, I’d like to congratulate you for being halfway through your vet degree. I really love this post, you have reminded me once again of things I need to remember and carry within me as I go through my studies. That there may be challenges and struggles that would bring us down, but it’s one of the ways to teach us to learn how to get back up.

    I’m very sure that you will be a wonderful vet.

    P.S. You look wonderful in your pictures!

  4. Reply 27th January, 2017 at 2:13 pm

    I think you’ll be an amazing vet. Don’t stop being strong and working towards this goal. Nothing good comes easy. Cheers to another 2 and a half years! Also, I started uni only this year, so still got 3.5 years to go till I get my degree. It’s hard at times but it will be worth it in the end 🙂

    -Leta | The Nerdy Me

  5. Reply 28th January, 2017 at 9:18 am

    Yay for reaching the halfway point in your vet programme! It sounds like the past 2.5 years has been full of many challenges, but at the same time, you’ve overcome many of them. I think it’s good that you’ve held onto your dreams, and while you feel like you may not be as good as you claim to be, remember that we are our own harshest critic. In some ways that help us better ourselves, but in other ways our criticisms make us think we’re not as good as we really are in reality. Just do your best and you will ultimately succeed!

    My uni and postgrad years were kind of interesting. My undergrad programme, I just went with English because it was the most feasible degree I could handle, and my options were kind of limited. In the end, I’m glad I went with English because I learnt a lot about literature and discovered some interesting things with poetry and romantic to modern literature.

    My postgrad, I went for it because it was in align with my career, and I enjoyed expanding my knowledge in my career field. Even better that I was able to use what I enjoyed as a hobby and apply it towards my studies! My capstone project (aka “crapstone”) was a culmination of my hobby and how it can be applied to my field. It was fun, but a lot of work!

    I wish you all the best in the remainder of your programme. You can do it! You got it, girl 😀

  6. Reply 29th January, 2017 at 12:50 pm

    I really enjoyed reading this post, Beverly! Thank you so much for sharing.

    I understand where you’re coming from. Although a vet degree is somewhat different to Biomedical Sciences, I’ve had similar stress and thought processes like, “i just want to remember this information for the exam” rather than my own interests. Sometimes when we get lost in thoughts like this, it is always always ideal to remember why you started, remember why you filled in that application process and worked hard to get into vet school.

    I am so proud of your reflective thinking – it’s going to serve you well! You can do it!!!

  7. Reply 1st February, 2017 at 10:56 pm

    Congrats on reaching two and a half years!

    Time does go by really quickly. I still remember entering grad school and thinking, “Wow I have three years??” and then recently realizing that I wish school was a bit longer because I don’t feel ready for the “real” world yet haha.

    I love reading all your posts because you always have such great things to say – on top of your reflections and positive thinking! I especially related to “I’ve been plagued by this sinking feeling that I won’t be a good enough vet” and I think often times we’re our own worst critic. Like others have been telling you, I’m sure you’ll make a great vet! In my own personal experience, I have been plagued with the Imposter Syndrome just because I feel so inadequate compared to the rest of my cohort.

    Congrats again on reaching your halfway milestone! Whooo~!

  8. Reply 2nd February, 2017 at 5:51 am

    A beautiful written post, and congratulations on reaching this far! It’s not easy and it sounds like you’ve worked so hard through all of the stress, hardship, and anxiety to be here today. I’m sure you’ve grown so much since you first started. And now you’re halfway there!

    It’s been almost 3.5 years since I graduated from undergrad. I had a rough start freshmen year since I found myself unhappy with my choices. But it was more of my ego problem of not asking people for help and being shy about making friends. Eventually, I switched major and became friends with my wonderful classmates, making my college experience so much better than my first year. In hindsight, I don’t think I worked as hard as I could. I feel like a slacker compared to how much I work now for my job. Over the 3 years working, I’ve developed a stronger work ethic and a more engaged mindset where I would question things and think about it with more perspective; I think I would be a much better student now if I were to go back to school.

    I took chemistry and organic chemistry and physics in school, but it wasn’t until after I graduated when simple concepts started to really connect and become intuitive. Maybe I was too busy trying to memorize everything in time. I remember watching water boil as I was making dinner (post graduation) and suddenly the splitting of H2O and seeing the bubbles form at the bottom of the pot gave me my “Ah-ha! everything about chemistry is clicking” moment where I’m not just “faking” it on paper as I write down chemical equations and structures. Of course, this ah-ha happened after graduation… (Maybe it’s a good thing I’m not working in science. XD)

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