Well today was my second first day, that is my first day of my second year as a vet student. I left dorms around 6:30am this morning as I wanted to check in on the horses before I started lectures today (there’s been rumours over the past few weeks that there will be a umbilical hernia arriving in a foal yet its not arrived…).
So we started today with a Pharmacology lecture, this was interesting as it appears that the university has a “new” pharmacology and toxicology building round the corner outside of campus which has bigger lecture theatres (which are definitely needed). The lecture was pretty basic covering the different classes of drugs (Mass Produced vs. Magistral and officinal preparations) however did look into history a bit which was slightly interesting (I might write some of this up as a separate post)!
We then headed back to campus to start our second semester of Nutrition and Dietetics, this semester will we be looking more at the requirements of animals and how to formulate diets to the match their needs. Last semester we looked at the different properties of various foodstuffs to give us the understanding required to do this.
Next up was Pathological Physiology (or as I will be calling it from now on Pathophysiology) which is the study of disease processes and dysfunction within the body. This is rumoured to be probably the hardest exam of the year when I have to do it next summer however is also one of the most interesting subjects. After the introduction we started looking at the effect of fever on the body which is pretty interesting as whilst I know the basics I had not got anywhere near this much understanding. The practical then continued this, however was done in a question and answer session which really made us realise just how little we remembered from physiology last year.
Pharmacology practical was a little bit of a let down as instead of anything drug related we went straight back into Latin (which I hate!). Here in Slovakia at least all prescriptions have to be written in Latin. This is a double edged sword as whilst I can already write English, it opens up every other country where English is not used for (so vets leaving England may struggle).
For now I will leave it there! Here is to tomorrow which looks to be another packed day!
Something that has been my mantra of vet school so far is it is the quantity of information that I have needed to learn rather than the complexity (jinxed myself for next semester now!). Over the past semester my time has been very limited as its been stressful trying to balance fundraising for next semester with actually studying, revising and passing exams. So without further ado, lets put it all into context…
Obviously this is a considerable amount over the 13 weeks, with a minimum of 30 hours a week in lectures and practicals I decided to try and break down my average week over the first semester. Depending on exams the amout of extra study per week did vary considerably.
There are 168 hours in a week
Minus 56 (8 hours a night) hours sleep = 112
Minus 30 hours scheduled practicals/lectures = 82
Minus 11 hours between lectures writting up notes = 71
Minus 3 hours a day for travelling, shopping, food + showering = 50
Minus 6 hours anatomy self study, 3 hours histology self study = 41
Minus avg 3 hours reading, revision & further study per subject (24 hours week) = 17
*** Minus whatever left doing diary, writting emails, and looking for funding = 0
*** – Depending on the urgency for grant applications or letter writting I did sacrifice study time to fundraising.
Anyways, onto what I am supposed to know now…
Was definately one of my most demanding subjects with a credit test every single week. During the 13 weeks the entire skeleton, all the muscles, joints and ligaments for the 7 major animals (Cow, Horse, Sheep, Goat, Pig, Dog, Cat) were covered. Whilst having similar bones and muscles there are differences in the shapes, size, attachment points and ligaments between species which all need to be known.
Histology There were 3 credit tests this semester which involved being able to identify an organ by looking at its tissue and cell structure under the microscope in addition to knowing the function and normal structure. In the 13 weeks I covered epithelium, connective tissue, supporting tissue, blood, muscle tissue, nervous tissue, cardiovascular tissue, lympthatic system, endocrine system and the nervous system (whooo try reading that list out loud!).
One of the most practical subjects with plenty of laboratory tests covered. This looked at the different body systems, their normal function and diagnostic tests associated with them. It included blood, nervous system, cardiovascular system, respiratory system, urinary system, immune system, digestive system, physiology of birds, metabolism. The practical sessions looked at different laboratory tests for each body system with around 25 different tests just for looking at blood!
One of my favourite subjects of the week this was a refresher to and built upon Microbiology in my previous degree. It included bacteria classification, identification, morphology, structure, reproduction, growth, distribution, genetics, plasmids, mutations, and horizontal transfer of genetic information. The practical sessions included a ton of different culture mediums, special staining methods, testing metabolic activity, molecular techniques such as PCR, and bacterial resistance.
The most intense subject nearly drowning me in infomation, its a single book of 122 pages, however the depth of the lectures was extensive and I used two textbooks to help me out here. The 6 year program has this subject over 13 weeks, where as we had everything crammed into the space of just 5 weeks so the practical time also went to lecture which I didn’t really like as I am an active learner. We covered antigens & antibodies, innate immunity, adaptive immunity, immune response, immune mediators, complement system, pathogenic mechanisms, serology, immunofluorescence, elisa, phagocytosis, lymphocytes, bacterial diagnosis, and hypersensitivity.
Genetics Ok I have a love/hate relationship with genetics; the practicals are usually very interesting and highly practical (I got to take bone marrow from a cow!) yet the lectures are very indepth and intense. Topics covered included genetic material, cell divisions, genetic analysis, pedigree analysis, chromosomes, sex and abnormalities, blood groups, inheritance, karyotyping, chromosomal abnormalities, genetic protection in breeding, genotype frequencies, mutagens and cancerogenes, gene mapping and GMO. Genetics involves a lot of maths which is a good thing, however the amount of information is staggering with 3 textbooks being given as additional reading to the 130 pages in the course text.
Another topic that I did enjoy was milk hygiene, basically if you think about everything you know about milk and then every product ever made from milk this is what it covered. The most memorable moment was when we accidently set butter on fire in the lab! Now this semester we covered milking procedure & equipment, legal requirements, butter, cheese (cow/sheep/goat), cream, yougurt, icecream, diseases of milk, microbiology of milk, components of milk, sheep milk, goat milk, pastuerisation, sterilisation. And in the practical sessions we covered all the different tests that were used in quality control of milk and milk products and the tests used to ensure milk is safe for human consumption.
Slovak Language & Latin
Both of these languages are very different to english (they use things like genders for words etc) and language has never been a particulary strong point for me. With Latin I now know enough to describe most medical problems, and with Slovak can have basic conversations, shop and order food. I do still prefer English though!!!
Now with 13 weeks gone, I have passed some exams however still have the big 3 (Genetics, Anatomy, and Milk Hygiene) to go. In addition I am also working furiously to try and raise the additional £1700 for tuition I need to continue studying next semester!
Something that still strikes me about Slovakia is the different culture, people are so happy here and this evening I went to see the lighting of the Christmas lights in town. The entire main street (Hlavna) has been transformed into a Christmas market, there are then more smaller markets scattered around the different squares in town. Something very popular here is hot wine with cloves and cinnamon which is available in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions.
Anyways this afternoon started with a trip to town to get some textbooks that are not available to buy printed up from old scans. These books are pretty much essential as they have the latin names for all the anatomy that I need to learn for my final exams in the next month. I then made a trip to the police station to pick up my residency permit which was interesting as my Slovak still isn’t great however I was lucky to have one of the staff from the Foreign office to translate. Now I am until 2017 officially a resident of Slovakia (YAY!) with a shiney new card to prove it 🙂
I then went to get an haircut which was an experience, the person cutting my hair could not speak english, shaver grades are measured in millimeters here instead of the numbered grade that is used back in the UK. With a little help from Google Translate I did leave looking semi-respectable again and with much colder ears than previously!
Now this evening the Christmas lights in town both on the Christmas tree and on the lamposts were all turned on. In addition there was also a free rock concert which I believe is also staying for the next few days as well! Anyways after a good evening I need to get back to learning my anatomy for tommorow, its the Abdominal and the Respiratory muscles this week in addition to the diaphragm.