Slow Small Steps

Last weekend I had my first thunderstorm in my summer city. Naturally I went out for a walk, because all cities are the quietest when it rains it seems (or at least in this part of the world). The evening was fresh, beautiful, and, as anticipated, quiet. This left me to think and wander at my leisure with no disturbances despite the fact that it wasn’t raining terribly hard. Being a country girl I revelled in the time to myself in a busy place but I also settled into a Saturday night melancholy. This lead to a poem sorting itself out in my head which I titled Slow Small Steps. Now, this is rather rough, and I haven’t done revisions but I thought I’d share!

Slow Small Steps

 

I set off down a road I hadn’t seen before

until I found a path I’d never walked.

Down the path I wandered

’till I came upon the water,

and thereupon the green, green grass of home.

 

Here amongst the willows

and the tall strong trees of childhood

I rest my head upon the rain wet roots.

And I wonder at the sky,

which upon my cheeks does cry

 

is it lonely for the silence

that no one breaks to comfort?

That no one dares to walk to with a smile.

Does it weep for lovers lost

Or simply for the forest?

 

Again I walk back home

with more questions

and a poem,

but no more answers

than before I left.

 

But a sense of quiet solace,

with the cloudy sky above us

draws me closer to the earth

as others huddle in their homes,

and a solitary dog huffs as I pass.

 

xx.

Nearly Nomad

“The thing about chaos, is that while it disturbs us, it too, forces our hearts to roar, in a way we secretly find magnificent.”  -Christopher Poindexter

Hey y’all! So, update on my summer thus far: I finished my first week of work for the summer. It went well. To be totally honest I don’t think I have ever worked in a more functional workplace. The communication is great, the people are cool and kind, and the animals are amazing. I’ll probably talk more about this later in the summer but today I have other thoughts on my mind.

I would call myself nearly nomadic. For the last three, going on four years, I have spent eight months of the year moving between two locations: my university city and my hometown. The other four months I am… where ever the pasture is greenest, and by pasture I mean job prospects. 

I haven’t spent two summers in the same place in at least three years, and haven’t lived at home for the summer since I was sixteen. To solidify my nomadic tendencies in your minds I might add that I have taken my horse everywhere with me for the last four years, until I sold her this Christmas. I am already looking forward to the next animal that will travel with me (most likely a dog, but maybe another horse, or both).

Even this summer, I am living in a different city than the one I am working in, and so my nomadic-y continues. Today I’ve been thinking about this, as I put out a call on Facebook for church recommendations in my summer city. Looking back on the week I see many instances where my roving lifestyle is apparent—using my roommates library card (because I don’t have one here), having to ask what my other roommate meant when she said “The Park”, discovering new food places, or struggling to mentally place where my coworkers are from when they give small town names to me.

Today I was telling my roommates about something I call “The Tramp Effect”. In “Lady and the Tramp” (yes the Disney movie) there is this scene where Tramp is wandering through the city looking through windows at happy families. The Tramp Effect produces a longing for that love and the community that family (biological or chosen) provides, while you simultaneously appreciate and desire the freedom being outside the window affords. As a young nomad I often feel this effect acutely.

The trouble is I exist in no place consistently enough to feel part of a community typically. Part of this is because I form relationships very slowly and typically maintain most people at arms length with very few close friends, I’m not sure if this personal distance is something I do subconsciously or something other people do to me for whatever reason. In general though, I often feel as though I am looking through a window. Those I would consider close friends/family are scattered very diffusely across my country, and a few are on other parts of the globe. I adore these people, this network of family, who I can count on should I ever turn up in their orbits.

Each move presents a difficulty though, or I suppose a choice—do I find friends in this new place, or do I just work, do me, do whatever, and not worry about it. If I find friends I might feel wanted, I might find a community, and I might love it; on the other hand, if I do me and form a few acquaintances but nothing exciting or deep, I may be lonely but I will also do many things, maybe adventurous things, because I feel the freedom to move about as I want.

This strange no ties type living, I can only say, is not bad or good. Roving simply is. Some days I find it liberating to be able to take detours, to be able to disappear and do what I want without having to think about other people, and other days a part of me questions why people don’t want to love me, or maybe what I’m doing that’s preventing them from loving me.

I guess what it comes down to is that community is important, but during your life you may have seasons (sometimes seasons that last years) of solitary roving, with those you love rotating in and out of your vicinity. I am in a season of wandering, I have been for a long time, and as I search for a new church community that I know I will leave again in a matter of months I once again sit like a Tramp outside a window loving my freedom but wondering when I will be the one inside the house.

With all this in mind I went searching for some words on wandering, so please, enjoy the fruits of my Googling.

 

xx.

 

“I was forced to wander,

having no one,

forced by my nature to

keep wandering because

wandering was the only

thing that I believe in,

and the only thing that believed in me.”

       Roman Payne

 

“Wander at will, day after day,

wander away, wandering still

—soul that canst soar! Body

may slumber: body shall

cumber soul—flight no more.”

       Robert Browning

Self Over-Educated

Hey guys, want to know how big of a nerd I am? Well let’s talk about my summer plans in list format!

 

The adventures I currently have planned are:

I bought “Scales, Chords, and Arpeggios for the Piano” and a three-in-one theory book to improve my musical foundation and plan to play from it for thirty minutes a day (feel free to bug me about this on any post I put up between now and August, maybe then I’ll feel guilty enough to actually keep up with it).

My roomie for the summer and I made a bet which is resulting in an art competition between us, winner gets two boxes of their favorite cereal or two coffees of their choice based on my other roomies judgment.

I have planned out my reading, separated into fiction and non-fiction, and scheduled it week by week with morning and evening timeslots. It’s library time!

I’ll be doing one sketch each morning or at least working on one (again, feel free to harass me about them/ask to see them).

I’m going through all my notes from my major classes last year (starting with the courses worth the most credits first) and compiling them into a single, personal, integrated “textbook”. Also, I am creating a basic cheat sheet for the start of each of my binders.

I am travelling for two weeks in July.

I have two weddings to go to this summer (possibly three).

My roomie and I are going to visit a corpse flower that is blooming in the local botanical garden. (Woohoo! Incredibly large flower that is so stinky it was named after rotting flesh!) Hopefully this is going to occur at midnight, but we’ll see.

One word: Bananagrams. Millions and millions of games of bananagrams.

I found two of the coolest fibre stores in the area I’m living for the summer! One even gets its own dye lots that aren’t available anywhere else (there’s this one that is just… drool). And they both carry roving!

I bought some gorgeous wool to weave a wall hanging with… yep.

I get to work! So excited (and I bought scrubs! The best scrubs ever, they’re so great).

 

Adventures currently in the works:

Trying to see if the local P.D. will allow me to observe their military working dog training or take me on a ride along with one of their canine units.

Trying to see if I can get a private tour of the national MWD training center (which is a couple hours away).

I am hoping to sign up for a beginner, one day fibre dying course.

Folk festival maybe, I don’t even know if this city has one…

I might do a bit of painting, or a series of detailed portraits of my family (black and white with one colour element).

 

Adventures being considered in a general sense:

I want to do some hiking, not quite sure where yet.

I am thinking of a couple of small road trips.

I am thinking about trying to swim a couple of days a week again, since I’ve gotten out of the habit.

A figure drawing class… I’m just going to leave that at that.

 

Yep, I am high on the nerd scale. Most of what I’m planning is moderately educational and totally devoid of risk. I’m a little bit Bilbo Baggins, when really I wish I was more Pippin, and Mary (or Aragorn, but then we’re not staying on the hobbit theme). That said, which of these would you like to see a post about most? Do you have big plans for your summer? Any suggestions for things I’m missing in my summer?

 

xx.

A Strong Voice

Quick recap—I applied to vet med last year and got an interview last May, my previous post Shaking Hands talks about the preparation I did for the interview if you haven’t already read that part, Final Destinations talks about my first year in vet med and what it was like to get accepted. The interview itself was in the first week of May and my interviewers were a small animal ophthalmologist, a production animal ethologist, and a private practice vet who had had a multitude of roles over the years.

If your looking for the most interesting tidbits and the questions that nearly made me scream in public skim down towards the end, there’s some fun stuff in there. So, that’s a fair warning that this is long right?

I arrived twenty minutes early, checked in with the administration office. Where I sat and waited there were many magazines from the professional associations (both national and regional). I read through the ethics and education sections of the most recent while I waited (which actually was very helpful during the interview). I was invited into the room right on time and offered water, and coffee or tea too I think (I took a water incase my mouth went dry). I shook hands and was introduced/introduced myself before being asked to sit down. I almost wanted to apologize for my clammy hands (I ended up keeping it to myself because it would draw attention to my nervousness and I was sure they already knew I was nervous).

I’m going to touch on the questions that stood out to me in the interview (and my answers) in just a second but wanted to remind you that this is the gist of it, not word for word (unless I say otherwise). Also I won’t be mentioning every question as I can’t remember all of them.

So, starting with my general feelings: I folded my hands in my lap where they trembled almost continuously, and despite occasionally raising them to rest on the table (tightly clamped together to prevent the shaking) I was able to quell my fidgety tendencies. I had practiced this (albeit always one on one) three times after all.

I was asked after introductions (they talked about their backgrounds) if I had any questions before we started. I turned to the ethologist and said, “I’m really sorry but I can’t say I really understand what an ethologist is?” He explained very nicely and we moved on.

By about five minutes in I felt as though we were just having a nice group chat (with me as the topic of conversation, which is weird). I did get cut off by another question during my responses at times (typically it was a follow up to something I had just said but occasionally it was shifting to a new topic). Overall, the time flew by.

My interviewers let me know which part of my application they would each be asking about ahead of time if I remember right—the private practice vet was asking about my leadership, hobbies, and current events; the ethologist was asking about my animal experience; and the ophthalmologist was asking about ethics and professional conduct I believe.

Now the interesting part, the standout questions (in approximately the order they were asked and in order by interviewer as listed above):

What type of leadership roles have you had over the last couple of years?

-I have worked at camps as a wrangler and lifeguard, both of which require you to take charge of groups of children from the ages of 6-18 while also making sure they have fun. I also lead rides at these camps where I was in an active teaching role and also was responsible for safety, incidence response and reporting, skills testing, and general planning for what we were doing on each ride.

I was prompted for more recent participation in leadership (I had been back to the camps more recently but not for long periods, and they wanted to know what I did during the school year that involved leadership).

-I know it’s not what you’re looking for but I have to admit I am one of the set painters of the world. I’m not always drawn to spotlight, leadership positions and really prefer to be behind the scenes. That said, if a leader comes to me with a job I’m happy to help out! Last year I played board games and lead a book club with retired monks and nuns in an old folks home—which is more down my alley.

What are some of your extra-curriculars?

-I love horseback riding during the summers (and would/did all year round but I can’t afford board for my horse at university), and am a real reader. I also enjoy art and writing during the school year. I like animal training, although since I started university that’s been on the backburner. I enjoy a variety of sports non-competitively. (There was other stuff but it’s not leaping to mind right at the moment).

Current events were brought up as well, although I can’t remember the exact question. We chatted about some major forest fires occurring in the area, a recent murder (another murder was brought up in regards to the court case and I had to admit it wasn’t a story I was familiar with) and a regional chain restaurant that had started preferentially using imported beef because they had changed their certification standards for humane production (which created a huge outcry because very few farms in my country had that particular certification, but still were treating their animals within the standards). The restaurant issue will come up again later.

That’s all I can really remember distinctly from the private vet—I do remember she seemed unsatisfied by my answer on leadership until I used the set painter analogy at which I remember a few nods and indistinct agreements/smiles. There was also a follow up on my mention of sports that I think was just about what sports in specific and whether I was on a team at the moment. The ethologist asked me a bit about riding and my horses as a follow up to my interests, and that’s where we’re going to pick up.

You mentioned that you guessed calling your horse a filly wasn’t really appropriate anymore when you said she was five years old and corrected yourself to call her a mare? How are you making that distinction?

-It’s a bit dubious in horses when to make the distinction. In cattle it is based on whether the animal has ever had a calf before, which makes it really easy. The trouble with horses is that many are never bred. So, it would be like calling a seven year old, never bred bovine a heifer to call a five or six year old female horse a filly. It’s definitely a true statement, but it is a bit misleading when you leave the actual age out of it. I would classify my horse as a mare and not a filly because, while she has never been bred, she is fully sexually mature and has stopped growing for the most part (other than in width), and in horse shows she would be shown in a mare class.

What vaccinations do you use for your horses?

-I vaccinate my horses for strangles, western and eastern encephalitis, rhinopneumonitis, tetanus, West-Nile virus, and I believe rabies (I’m not entirely sure if it is in my combination vaccine or not). I tend to vaccinate more rather than less as my horse travels anywhere I go, which includes camps where the herd size can range up to eighty animals and there’s a high number of people coming in and out.

You mentioned you were following the story regarding beef sourcing for _________ restaurant?

-Yeah, the most recent developments have been encouraging. The company has really been backing away from this new type of certification in favour of finding a way to establish which local ranchers meet their requirements. I think it’s also great that the public has become so aware of this and is really standing with our local ranchers. I also saw a statement from the company saying that they would prefer to use local beef regardless, and would love to find enough ranches to meet their supply needs.

What vaccines did you use for feedlot cattle, and what did you use for the cow-calf operation? (Just a little background: I have worked at both a ~5000 head feedlot and on a cow-calf ranch with ~1200 head.)

-They all get blackleg (either added to the 7-way making it an 8-way, or alone); a 3-way for BVD, IBR, and PI3; and a 7-way for clostridials. They might also get tetanus (particularly on the feedlot, and I believe it is sometimes added to the 7-way). The biggest difference between the feedlot and cow calf is that the feedlot was generally adding hormone implants while the cow-calf producer may or may not. Both places also put in ear tags or temple tags (another type of ear tag) when we process—for identification—at the feedlot though, even already tagged animals had their old tags removed and new ones put in so that they could be registered in the computer system and identified the right way for the pen they would be put in (radio identification tags were left in though). We also branded at both places, but less frequently at the feedlot.

What implants were you using?

-Um, mainly the Revlor series and the Ralgro series, depending on what the buyer wanted.

What do you mean by series?

-There’s different types for different ages and sizes of animals, so like Revlor-S versus Revlor-G. Saying it out loud I’m actually not sure if Revlor is the one that comes in S and G or if it’s Ralgro, but same idea. Some of them are numbered (like Revlor-1000 or whatever).

You mentioned your dad has specialized his practice for beef cattle, does he have a PhD or a board certification in that are?

-No, I suppose specialized would be the wrong term. He has narrowed the focus of his practice to that area, and takes all his continuing education in the area.

He asked me a few more questions about my dad’s practice (whether it was ambulatory or if he had a physical clinic location, which vet college he went to, when he graduated, really just curiosity questions). This is basically all of what I remember from the ethologist, so we’ll move on to the ophthalmologist. This is where I really had to put a lid on myself as I have some very passionate feelings on some things.

I don’t remember being specifically asked about the professional governing bodies although I vaguely remember talking about the roles of the regional and national bodies at some point, possibly to clarify something for another question.

This one is ALMOST word for word: So, I’m really mainly small animal and I don’t really know about cattle production, why would I want my beef to be hormone treated?

Okay, before I put my answer let me say, AHHHHG! This question nearly drove me up the wall. Well not the question but the set up—for a veterinarian (small animal or not) to try to convince me that they don’t understand hormone treatments… I mean either you think I’m stupid, or you honestly need to educate yourself a bit more (I mean I know its not your area of specialty but at least have a passing awareness of it)! Alright, got that off my chest. My answer here and in the next question, especially the last part of the follow up question, is pretty much word for word because I had just been reading up on this topic the week previous to my interview.

-Well, the main hormone in most of these implants is estrogen, we administer it under the skin in the ear and it is in like, tiny slow release tablets. These can be administered from very young ages and all the way through life at certain intervals. By administering these hormones we are able to achieve faster growth, a larger amount of beef in lbs/animal, and better feed conversion. Ultimately this means less food and water is needed to produce more beef, which is far more environmentally friendly. Better feed conversion means less gas production, and less time per animal spent in a feedlot before they reach slaughter weight. Altogether, with increasing populations hormone implants are the only way to produce beef sustainably enough to keep up with demand and not wreck the environment.

But won’t those hormones be bad for me? (My answer here, especially the last part is pretty much word for word because I had just been reading up on this topic over the last week)

-While some estrogen may be excreted into the environment and run off from feedlot site, improved feedlot management and waste management makes this pretty inconsequential. As for the beef you eat impacting your hormone levels because the animal was hormone treated, you would pretty much have to eat the cows ear right after implantation to get any significant amounts of estrogen. All of the implants have withdrawal times before slaughter meaning they are out of the animals system before it becomes your steak. From a more technical perspective though, a 75 g serving of beef from a hormone implant free animal contains approximately 1.1 ng of estrogen in it, while a 75 g serving from a hormone implant treated animal has approximately 1.9 ng. Which is different, but when you consider a birth control pill contains 20 000-50 000 ng and 75 g of cabbage contains 2 025 ng things may come into a little more perspective. Hormone implants in beef certainly aren’t going to change your hormone levels, I mean even an adult man produces 136 000 ng of estrogen a day.

The answers above resulted in a moment or two of silence. Oh, and sorry for the lecture.

What was one of the most interesting cases you encountered when you worked with vets?

-There was one case I saw where an older, unspayed female dog came in with a uterus full of puss, gosh what’s it called (interviewer provided: a pyometria). Yeah! That’s it. Anyways, it of course resulted in one of the messiest spays ever. That was pretty cool. Oh, and I saw an abdominal exploratory in a pit bull puppy that revealed a dog tag style necklace that was starting to involute a part of his gut, and an incredible amount of tangling. It was even funnier though because he was initially brought in because his owner thought he’d eaten a brand new pair of lacy underwear.

What type of practice do you see yourself working in?

-I want to start in mixed and keep my options open, but imagine I’ll do more large than small if I had my way.

Can you give me an example of an animal rights organization versus an animal welfare organization and tell me the difference?

-Well PETA would be animal rights, and the SPCA would be considered more animal welfare. PETA believes that animals should have the same rights as people, but typically has a high number of urban supporters who don’t understand animal behaviour or production animal systems and standards, while the SPCA is more focused on humane standards of care and humane methods for administering care.

It sounds like you’re not a big fan of PETA? (the ethologist)

-I think that PETA supporters want what they think is the best for animals but, often get overzealous in trying to achieve it.

Now, generally interviewers are encouraged not to voice their thoughts on an interviewees responses but the ethologist really liked this one and said something along the lines of, “That’s a very nice way of putting it, I don’t think I’ve heard it explained like that before.”

So, what do you think a veterinarian gets paid starting out?

-Well, the national average is in the low $80 000 range to my knowledge but as a new grad I wouldn’t expect more than $65 000-$70 000 per year.

Alright, so these last two questions from this interviewer just annoyed the heck out of me. I almost lost a bit of my cool over the first one, not because I’m ultra feminist but because you could easily ask the question without any mention of gender and it would still be a valid question (work/life balance is a major issue in veterinary medicine in general) but, she felt the need to gender it because…? Also, both are given nearly word for word. Anyways, onwards because wow is this getting long!

As a woman how do you anticipate dealing with the challenges of work/life balance?

-I imagine much like a man.

Okay brief pause, because I actually did let that dangle for a few seconds before I realized I probably should expand on it.

– I mean, I had a dad who was a vet, and there were definitely times when my mom was frustrated with his long hours, or where he was less than pleasant to be around because he had to go out to three calvings between midnight and five in the morning. As a child in that sort of dynamic though I always knew that my dad was there for me. There were busy seasons where that was less true but I never felt less loved. I also think by being in a veterinary household I know better than most what boundaries I want to set on my time personally, and also I understand that I will have seasons where I have to just suck it up. Besides that, at this point in my life I’m not in a relationship that takes up my time, and I’m not very keen on having kids, so I imagine I will have fewer demands on my time than many people do.

You mention in your essay that this is the lifestyle you want for yourself, not just the career and you say that you anticipate being “bit, kicked, bruised, and ocassionally bloodied”. You want that?

Okay… again, this is right up there on the list of stupid question set-ups. Sure ask me why I mentioned that, but to ask me if I WANT that? Do you think I’m a masochist? Seriously, whaaaat are you thinking? (Honestly, the ethologist gave her a weird look about this one too.)

-Um, I certainly didn’t mean that I want those things but in the profession, no matter how careful you are, accidents happen. I mean, you often end up dealing with animals under extreme stress or that are extremely scared or both (and they often outweigh you by more than 10x) and while I would always take the greatest precaution there are times when either something just has to happen now and that means you have to take a calculated risk to make it happen or Murphy’s Law kicks in and what can go wrong, does go wrong despite your best efforts. When that stuff happens, because of the field of work, it means you can get hurt, sometimes very hurt. That’s part of the job, understanding the risk and doing your job despite it.

At the end I was asked again if I had any questions, I think I did ask one or two. Then I was offered a cookie, “or two if you want! It seems like all the students today have been too nervous to take them, that or they’re all on diets.” I took two, and it was a very good day.

I joked with my dad later that it either went really well or really poorly because it felt like a very casual conversation most of the time. So, either they assessed within the first few minutes it was a lost cause and decided to just have a nice chat, or I was just really relaxed (that worried me too though, maybe I was to casual about it myself). Obviously it all turned out well though and I am proud that I could “stand” with a strong voice despite my shaking hands!

xx.

P.S. These last two posts have been a little adventure to show you guys a snapshot of the vet med interview process. I hope it was fun for you, I enjoyed writing it, but let me know if you liked it or what your weirdest ever interview question was! However, for those of you thinking this isn’t your cup of tea don’t worry! I’m not going to be talking this much about vet med again for a while, summer fun from now on.

Shaking Hands

I interviewed to get into the college of veterinary medicine in May of 2015. I applied after two years of undergrad, I interviewed once, and I was accepted (for more on this pop over to my previous post—Final Destinations). So, what is said here is based on my own personal experience and only one interview. That said, I think some of this info could be applied to other programs (in some ways).

I thought, as it is basically the anniversary of my interview I would tell you guys what I found out, both while preparing for the interview and during the interview. I’m breaking this into two pieces (one on Monday and one on Tuesday) because it turned out rather long. The first will be on preparation and the second on the actual interview.

The school I applied to does a panel interview (with three interviewers: a practicing veterinarian (mixed or small animal), a specialist from the college (or the dean etc.), and an industry spokesperson/ agriculture professor/large animal vet). Many, if not all of the questions will be college specific (so don’t rely on my info alone to inform you about your college of choice) and some interviewers have favourite questions that they use frequently. A number of veterinary programs are now using the multiple mini interview format used in medical school interviews, I hear.

This is the first big part of applying! Know the colleges you want to apply to inside and out. Know the due dates for different aspects of your application, know how they calculate averages, and what criteria they use to choose interview candidates. Further, know what they are looking for in the interviews, how they score candidates, and how much the interview is weighted compared to your grades and application essay/resume. I’m going to focus most of this article on the prep for the interview and the interview itself but, what I listed above is how you get the interview in the first place (if you guys like this, and want to see more info on this aspect let me know)!

For preparation for the interview I personally chose not to do the student run mock interviews provided by the Pre-vet club at my university. In fact, I wasn’t part of the club at all. This is in part due to my unique connection to the veterinary industry through my dad (a vet) which allows me to “jump the queue” and get to know a lot of vets on a first name basis and see and participate in many areas most students can’t. The other part of me not being in the club was… well frankly I’m not big on clubs of any sort. One of the first things I did was seek out agriculture professors who I knew had helped with interviewing previous years.

I made a meeting with one particular professor, and asked similar questions of two different vets who had been on the interview committee before. I spent some time asking basic questions, I’m only giving the gist of their answers since I obviously don’t remember them word for word:

What sort of dress were you looking for?

-Professional but not over the top dressy generally. Don’t wear jeans but a fancy dress might not be the best either, as there may be some doubt whether you would be the sort to actually get your hands dirty.

What did you notice first about applicants?

-Some would sit down without shaking hands and introducing themselves, or being invited to sit. It might have just been a nerves thing but it didn’t look great. Also, your hands can shake but try to breath and keep your demeanor steady, friendly, and open. Dealing with people is a huge part of the job and they want people who are already pretty good at this.

What was the biggest mistake you saw during interviews?

-A lot of students didn’t have an awareness of themselves, which meant they forgot to breath, fidgeted without thinking, didn’t make eye contact, or sometimes rambled instead of answering questions directly. Try not to talk with your hands overmuch, as well, for girls mainly—don’t touch or twirl your hair, for everyone—don’t bite your lips or tap the table or the chair arms etc. The students who could relax were far more successful communicators and far less likely to exhibit fidgety behaviours. By far this is where most students could improve, be mindful of yourself.

How is the interview structured?

-Each interviewer has a line of questioning that they are expected to pursue but may jump in after your initial answer to another interviewer. Also expect to be/know you will likely be cut off during some of your answers if you are a person who gives really in depth replies. The time may seem like forever for you but, often it is hard to get through everything we want to ask with talkative students. That’s not bad, just don’t feel weird if you get cut off. Also, try to make your answers succinct.

Then I brought out the big guns: What can you tell me about the interview questions?

-There’s a pretty standard set of question types:

You will 100% be asked the difference between animal rights and animal welfare.

You’ll probably get one on leadership, what it looks like, and how you have participated in it throughout your life.

There will be an ethics question in most cases, and they may also ask you to define what a professional is or professionalism in general.

You may be asked a question about who your role models are (and they’re not looking for clichés).

It is likely you will be asked about the governance of the profession and the structure of the governing bodies as well as what their roles are.

Current events will be brought up, particularly stories involving the pet or agricultural industries but also the general human-interest stories.

You’ll likely be asked what you expect to get paid as a veterinarian.

Euthanasia generally comes up at some point.

Other questions will likely pertain to your personal areas of experience and interest as the interviewers are given the students files days ahead of time so they can review them and ask relevant questions.

The vets also asked me some of the types of questions they would normally ask a student applying. At the end I asked each vet to score me on a scale to five as to where they would’ve placed me (as in the interview all questions are scored on this basis, with notes from the interviewer) and how I could improve. While one of the vets gave me a 4-4.5, the other scored me only a 3. I will note that between the two vets there was definitely two very different personalities, they were from two different clinics, and they were of different genders.

When I asked about improving the vet who gave me a 4-4.5 told me I may benefit from making my answers a bit more succinct and that I needed to brush up on my understanding of roles of the governing bodies of the profession and current events but that he would change very little overall. The vet who gave me a 3 suggested that I needed to try harder to answer the question specifically and succinctly. She also told me not to overstep the boundaries of my knowledge and to brush up on a couple of things regarding my personal experience areas.

I presented myself for all my “mock interviews” as I planned to dress for the interview and asked each person whether there was anything about my attire they would change. Universally I was reminded to shine up my cowboy boots the day of, but otherwise was fine in my dress pants and blouse, with no makeup on whatsoever.

So, that was my preparation! Hope it was interesting. Let me know in the comments whether you’ve done similar prep for interviews and whether you found this interesting. I know it is very vet-y.

 

xx.

The Western Walk

Today is my first Saturday since I finished exams! Still knocking on wood, waiting for the marks but so far things are going good (in case you’re wondering). Also for your information, as I am done school for the time being I will most likely be talking about my summer job, my hobbies, and my adventures over the next little bit. I’d love it if you would stay tuned for it but, I get if it’s not your jam! Today I thought I’d start by posting something pretty different. You probably don’t know that I love poetry and art (seeing as how I haven’t talked about it on here yet). So, without further ado I present, a poem. Hope you like it:

 

The Western Walk

 

Down many road,

Past many rest.

My feet are dragged

Forever west.

These ragged bones,

These tired veins

Guide me to

A better place.

 

Though every step

A mortal blow,

My mind can’t change

It’s set in stone.

Each path I take

Will lead me home,

A better place

No ragged bones.

 

But time won’t

Save me still.

This wandering soul

Will not be killed.

The wind and rain

Will write my bill,

For weather worn

My veins still thrill.

 

When home at last,

My burden gone,

Time will surely

Not go on.

No ragged bones,

No tired veins,

Only peace

Will remain.

 

xx.

Final Destinations: Veterinary Medicine

“I have arrived. I am home. My destination is in each step.” -Nhat Hanh

 

When I was young I thought when I get my drivers license I’m going to be flying, I’m going to have gotten somewhere with my life. Well that happened, of course- first my learners license and then my full license. Next it was, when I get a job and make a bit of money boy am I going to be the bon-diggity! Well, in highschool I worked in retail, I was a lifeguard, I taught swimming lessons, and over subsequent years worked at many other places. Then it became, when I get through high school then I’ll be somewhere! Well I did that, with top marks and all the while avoiding the poofy dress parade (Yeah, I didn’t go to grad, or walk across a stage and receive a diploma. Not to say the poofy dress parade isn’t wonderful, it’s just not me).

Throughout this I never thought of these things as goals, or milestones but as destinations where I could settle in and relax. Now you guys might think I am a bit of a dunce at this point, especially when I admit that until this year, at the age of twenty-three, I still had destinations and not goals in my head. This perspective was never an acknowledged part of my psyche but just an attitude that happened to exist upon examination.

So why the examination? Well, I got into the professional college of my choice.

This was a destination I had dreamed about since the age of six. I can say that specifically because at five, based on a kindergarten work sheet in my memory book, I wanted to be a paleontologist (because it was a cool, long word and dinosaurs were involved). At six my dad (my favourite vet in the world) had taken me to the clinic more, and on calls more and I realized… Cows are AWESOME! As are dogs, cats, flying squirrels, horses, and any other animal that might let me touch it and refrain from biting me most of the time. I mean heck, raccoons are pretty freaking great too.

Midway through the summer last year, after the application and interview process, I received the dreaded/much anticipated email: Hello Erika, Congratulations on your acceptance into the _______ College of Veterinary Medicine!

This was a destination seventeen years in the making.

I said I would only do two years of undergrad before I got in. I insisted that I would be good enough. I decided. That. I. Would. Attain. This. and I. Did.

Reading that email you expect a certain feeling. I expected elation; I expected to be on top of the world. I even tried to force those feelings. I did the whole girly squeal, I jumped around, and I tried to convince myself I was excited. Finally, I said to myself: you’re just in shock.

So, I called my parents and my sister and let them know. I mentioned it to my employer, and I posted it on Facebook. And I waited.

Now I know, the feeling never came. I was hollow, I couldn’t make it feel that exciting. Other people were more excited about it than I was. I may have felt a bit of relief or maybe mild pride, but nothing over the top.

Then off I went into vet med classes and events, and still no elation, just nervousness, and a bit of confusion.

Now, first year (knock on wood, since marks aren’t back) done, I’m still all nervousness, with a bit of resentment, a bit of excitement, a bit of anticipation, and a newly developing consciousness that it was a GOAL, a step on my path that I really wanted to reach, and never thought past.

I have found out that I didn’t plan past this, because this is when I imagined the chapters of my book would run out and the reader would sit back and say, “My gosh, wasn’t that exhilarating. For a while I didn’t think she was going to get in, but she did!” and then put down the book, no sequel to be written.

Obviously my book isn’t over, but for a long while it felt like it ought to be. I had reached my greatest aspiration, now what?

I’m still wrestling with this. I mean obviously I’m going to become a vet, I’m going to work, I’m going to do things in life that I want to do, but where is it all going?

My faith says—super long term? Heaven. My head says—well that does shit all for me now.

Midway through my year in vet med a moment occurred that really made me sit back and ask: why are you so miserable right now? You’re where you wanted to be. So, I decided to see what I could do about my personal elephant, not the one in the room but the one in my head.

I went and saw a counselor, and we chatted, and I went back every three weeks for three months. I had nothing particular to say, I had no idea what I might get from it, and I didn’t really think I had a diagnosable mental health issue, I just needed to get what was in my head out and sort through it with someone who could be impartial.

Obviously I wasn’t there super frequently, and I did most of the talking but having someone who would sit and listen and offer perspective when I was hitting a wall was one of the most helpful things I think I could have done. Having someone who had “nothing better to do” than listen to me ramble for a bit, every so often did me good.

Let me be clear: I still am not diagnosed with anything that would require a counselor (I mean I have health stuff, asthma for example, but not mental health stuff). I’m not saying that to give the impression of “Oh, no, not me, I’m not a headcase”, I’m saying that because I don’t want to self diagnose, or claim to have something I don’t. What I did get from going to a counselor was a sounding board, and an outside perspective on my thought processes—one that could point to some of them and say “do you think that’s healthy?” or “do you think that is fair to yourself, or kind to yourself?” or “what if you thought of it from this perspective…”.

Now I’m working on new goals, smaller ones, which will be accomplished more quickly, that I won’t be able to build up in my mind. I remind myself occasionally that not feeling isn’t a problem and neither is feeling. Many things have happened this year, some bad, some good, some pretty neutral. Between all these happenings I have changed, learned, freaked out, and continued on. Much of this has occurred with a bit less purpose than normal, and a good proportion of it has resulted in what I would call some of my… less graceful moments, and less impressive results.

I no longer have a destination (other than an ultimate one), and I have a bit more self awareness (which oddly enough makes me a more pleasant to other people), and I am content but not complacent. So a toast: to you, to the journey, may we move ever upwards!

xx.

 

“A good traveller has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” –Lao Tzu

 

 

Racing Onwards But Not Upwards

From my Agro self (written last year):

When I graduated high school I was really done. Done with the system and it’s regulations and rules. I took a few years off to be my own person. Now I’m in my second year of university: Watching all the fresh faced 18 year olds streaming in for orientation week, ready to start school… again.

Not to sound discouraging but they’re crazy. Some of them are just 17! I listen to their conversations and I hear people who don’t have money to go to school, people who are being bankrolled, people who are still dependent. I hear people who have no idea why they’re studying what they’re studying (and getting a “good” job doesn’t count), or they don’t have a realistic view of what they’re getting into. I watch them move through the university, perfectly made up, wearing their best clothes, still attempting to snub the people who don’t appear good enough to them. What they don’t realize is that it’s no longer a popularity contest, it certainly was never a race, and acting as though you’re better than other people doesn’t actually make it so. This peculiar type of immaturity makes me wonder when it was that we decided that we didn’t have enough time to gain experiences and instead should stumble after one another to broken university systems like the blind leading the blind.

When did our society become obsessed with the speed at which we arrive at a destination instead of the journey we’re making? The speed mentality says that the straightest line to a destination is the best because it’s faster but if we do that we’ll find ourselves blasting through mountains with dynamite instead of journeying over them and experiencing the beauty. I have a friend who is in his thirties- he’s a certified chef, he’s worked at grocery stores, and Shoppers Drug Mart, he was a florist, and was going to go into pharmacy but was inspired after his first year back at school to go into an honours English degree. I remember last year talking with him about marks and averages- after two years out of school I was unimpressed with my return performance. My friend said something that really hit me, knowing his history, “You have so much time.”

What I am convinced of, as a “mature” student, is that expectations are not always right. The expectation that you will go to university or trade school or go straight to work and stay there is wrong. Life runs something like this: Don’t think too hard about things, race through the week to the weekend, then race through the next week. Race to own your own place, race to settle down, race to retirement. Run hard! Wait, stop! I can run forward forever with my eyes closed like the world encourages me to, and really get nowhere because I didn’t realize that I was running on a treadmill instead of the open road: racing onwards and reaching no significant destination other than a socially acceptable adult life. I want something more interesting than that. I want to climb a mountain and stand on top and scream, whether everyone thinks that’s great or not.

The pressure is there though. I plan on applying to a secondary college this year, one that is difficult to get into, and I told some friends (a pair of married engineers) that if I didn’t get in I would be taking a year off. I’ve talked with my parents, especially my father about this before. I have no plans to let university rule my life the way high school did, when I want a break I’ll take one and do something I want to do regardless of it’s relevance to my degree. The family friends I told this to though, were horrified. They started assuring me I was smart and saying there’s no reason I needed to do that. They’re right, I don’t need to take a year off, I want to. I never want to catch myself following sheople around just because they say they’re right.

I’m sure some of these first years are going in with open eyes, and really want to continue school but, how many are going to piddle away first year (and all their money) partying because they really aren’t there to go to school? Stop racing onwards! Start climbing upwards! I’m not saying don’t work, but rather work hard at whatever you like- don’t consult the world. Want to be a saddle maker for horses? Search out a great saddler and ask if they take apprentices, if they don’t find someone who does. Want to be a travel writer? Earn some money, travel, write, send your work to people see what they think. Want to try out something? Try it out, maybe you’ll end up wanting to take a degree in it. Take a journey to what it is you want and let the experiences along the way shape you.

All you first years, I have loads of love for you, dream big. Don’t sell yourself short just because the world wants you to. Find what you love before you shell out thousands of dollars a year to take a degree in it.

xx.