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.


Vet School from a Distance

The COVID-19 pandemic has, in a matter of days, changed just about everything in our daily lives, and our veterinary education is no exception. Near the end of our spring break, we received word that classes during the subsequent week would be cancelled to allow planning for a pivot to an online format.

What does an online veterinary education look like, you ask? Great question!

As I write this, our veterinary classes are set to resume in a few days, so I don’t have all the answers. What I can tell you is what life for me has looked like for the past week. Although no formal classes were held, our instructors continued to post class material so that we could continue our learning.

Back in College Station, our instructors have been working tirelessly to revise their courses to an online format. They posted new syllabi to reflect modifications to class formats, exam schedules, assignment due dates, and exam formats. Some classes will lecture by virtual video conferencing (such as Zoom), other classes will have content posted ahead of time for us to watch at our leisure, and other classes will ask us to review content ahead of time then meet virtually during our normal class time for a Q&A session. While it will be challenging to adapt to the various learning styles, I am extremely grateful that we may continue our education during this unprecedented time.

Day-to-day life as a student looks a little bit different for everyone. Many of my classmates, myself included, are in their hometowns to be close (albeit socially distanced!) to loved ones. I am currently living with my partner and his roommate in Oregon.

Because of the time difference, I am trying to wake up early each day so that when classes resume I can cope with taking tests and being functional at 6 a.m. Pacific Time. It’s a small price to pay for being able to stay home and close to my parents and loved ones. My classmates and I study and collaborate via Google Docs. When the weather is nice, I take a break from studying by exploring the nearby walking trails. I stay in touch with friends and family by phone, Facetime, and social media. When all else fails, there are always board games to stay entertained.

Although these are uncertain times, I take comfort in knowing that my classmates, my instructors, and I are all doing our best to adapt to the evolving situation and keep each other safe. Our resiliency has helped us get to where we are now, and it will help us get through whatever the next few months hold.