The New Normal

Change is difficult. Change of this magnitude in such a quick time-frame is even more challenging. And now, we’re all adjusting to a new normal.

In the span of a few days, I went from expecting to return to my normal routines after Spring Break to learning that all of our classes were moving online, and then to trying to figure out how to use Zoom and wondering how it can possibly handle 140 people being on the same call all at once (spoiler alert! It works surprisingly well!).

It has now been two and half weeks of online veterinary school, something that I never would’ve imagined experiencing. With classes moving online and having to stay at home, I suddenly found that I had a lot of time on

Virtual hangout session with friends. It was nice to see everyone’s smiling faces!

my hands. And my type ‘A’ personality, determined to channel all of this stress and uncertainty into productivity, has not let me rest.

When I’m not doing school-related things like watching online Zoom, prerecorded lectures, studying, or working on assignments, I have been busy searching for new hobbies and activities. I have always loved to cook and wished I had more time to make more intricate dishes. So now, I spend a lot of my time browsing through cooking/baking blogs for new recipes and even more time in the kitchen.

I even got a NYTimes Cooking subscription! I’ve learned how to make chicken lettuce wraps and cook pasta in 4-5 different ways. My next project is Butter Chicken, and I’m so excited to try it! What I’m most proud of is learning how to make my favorite coffee drink: creamy sea-salt iced

Online school is better with a nice cup of homemade iced coffee to sip on.

coffee. It sounds odd, but it is so delicious! I call it my “fancy coffee”. I also learned how to make my own batch of cold brew, which will definitely come in handy when I’m on rotations for 4th year.

I have also made sure to set aside time every day to do an at-home, apartment-friendly workout or go on a run outside (while practicing social distancing, of course). With the closing of the student recreation center and the gyms, I have been given the opportunity to explore new running routes near my apartment. I even discovered this small park tucked in between two apartment complexes down the street from me. I am so grateful for the chance to get some sunlight and fresh air on my runs.

My cat Snickers is finding that it’s hard to take naps with me around all of the time.

As an extrovert, social interaction is a must for me, and it’s one of the things I miss most. I always look forward to my virtual hangouts with my friends, and even virtual study group sessions because it’s an opportunity to catch up with them. 

I think my cat, Snickers, is having to adapt as well. She is probably wondering why my roommate and I are home all of the time and why she suddenly can’t nap undisturbed. She will just have to learn to accept this new normal, which includes me trying to leash train her (it’s not going very well).

Most of my days pass by pretty quickly since I have managed to find all of these ways to keep myself busy. Although sometimes, whenever I stop and think about the situation that we’re in, I do get a little anxious and stressed. I just remind myself to take it one day at a time and to focus on present and the little joys every day. Plus, I have my “fancy coffee” to get me through.


Looking Toward the Future

I am now about 10 weeks into my third year of veterinary school.


Although it has only been a few years, when I think back to when I was dreaming and praying that I’d get accepted into my dream veterinary school (Texas A&M, whoop!), it feels like a lifetime ago. Now, in a few short months, I will be entering my yearlong clinical rotations as a fourth-year student—and it feels surreal. It’s also a little scary because it’s a reminder that the future is fast approaching.


Since the beginning of this semester, our professors have felt the need to sprinkle in little reminders every once in a while by saying things like, “In about a year and seven months, you will be the doctor making the decision on this case. So, what will you do for this patient?”


Usually, one brave student will speak up and answer the professor’s question, while the rest of us stare at her with wide, caught-off-guard eyes all because she said the words “you will be the doctor.” It feels odd to be scared of the dream that I’ve been chasing and working toward for all of this time.

It really seems like just yesterday that I was buried deep in my anatomy book, and now all of the sudden, I’m spending hours working on my resume and looking up externships/post-graduation job opportunities. There has also been a dramatic shift in the types of courses we’re taking this semester. During the first two years of our curriculum, we focused on learning and memorizing the basics and the foundation of veterinary medicine. We took classes like anatomy, physiology, and pharmacology.

Now, in our classes—like Small Animal/Large Animal Diagnostics and Treatment—and our selected career-focused tracks, we have moved onto applying that foundational knowledge to recognize, diagnose, and treat diseases. In addition, now, we’re given with cases of how a patient might present, and we have to determine what diagnostics we might want to run or what our treatment plan might look like. Slowly, but surely, we’re learning how to think like doctors.

It’s a new kind of stress that makes me excited because I’m getting closer to becoming a veterinarian and caring for animals.Thinking about finally reaching that goal after years of hard work makes looking toward the future a little less frightening.

Learning Outside of the Classroom

Last week, I participated in a really unique event hosted by two of our student organizations—the Internal Medicine Club and the Veterinary Imaging Club. It was an after-school lab in which I got learn how to do ultrasound scans on dogs!

Ultrasound is an imaging technique used to look at soft tissue structures like kidneys, intestines, and liver. It’s an incredibly important diagnostic tool that veterinarians commonly use, and so I am grateful for the opportunity to get extra practice.

My fellow peers volunteered their own dogs—who were so well-behaved and sweet—and we spent two hours practicing our techniques and learning how to search for specific organs. We got a lot of practice in and, of course, the dogs got an abundant amount of love and treats from the students!

It was a particularly fulfilling experience for me because learning how to do an ultrasound scan has been a big focus in our “Professional and Clinical Skills” class.

I have been learning ultrasound techniques and practicing on models since my first semester in veterinary school, and it was very exciting for me to have the chance to apply what I had practiced on models to an actual animal.

I am quickly realizing that during my time in veterinary school, there will be many more opportunities to learn new things outside of a traditional classroom. I need to make the most of my four years here, so I am constantly looking forward to seeing what other doors will open next.

A Little Perspective

Emily T.It’s hard for me to believe this, but I am now just a few weeks away from completing the first semester of second year of veterinary school!

My friends and family love to ask me, “How is second year going?” And my answer to that has been, “It’s going much better than first year!”

Their reactions are always a mixture of surprise and wonder. Is it an easier semester? Are there fewer exams? What’s different?

Well, the truth is that veterinary school is still extremely difficult, and the exams are still just as stressful and overwhelming as ever.

That hasn’t changed, but my perspective has.

See, there were several times throughout first year during which I felt like my life had been put on hold. I watched as my friends from college moved to new places, accepted full-time adult jobs, and traveled to countries around the world, all while I was sitting at a local coffeeshop studying for my upcoming exams.

I had fallen into what seemed like an endless routine of wake up, go to school, study, sleep, rinse, and repeat. I found myself wishing that I could just skip to graduation and become a veterinarian, so that I, too, could start living my life. But then I realized that by wishing that, I was wishing time away.

Oftentimes, we let ourselves be blinded by our goals and the finish line and we don’t realize that life is happening at the same time; I realized that I am never going to get these years back.

It struck me that my life is happening right now—I need to be present in the moment and I need to live it.

So, this past semester, I made a conscious effort to lead a more balanced life. Of course, I still spend the majority of my time either in class or studying, but I made time for myself.

I started exercising regularly again and I didn’t let myself feel guilty for taking breaks and spending time with my friends. I deliberately set aside time for loved ones back home.

Every time I take a little bit of time away from studying and from school, I come back rejuvenated and excited to learn again, and it has made vet school so much more enjoyable than when I was just consumed by its stressful rigor.

It’s amazing what a little change in perspective can do.