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HomeBeefFarm vet shares advice for students beginning vet studies this year
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Farm vet shares advice for students beginning vet studies this year

In this week’s Farm Vet Corner, That’s Farming editor, Catherina Cunnane, speaks to a recent new grad farm vet, who shares advice on how to prepare for vet college as an incoming first-year student.

  • Organise your accommodation – Ideally, begin organising circa two to three months in advance where possible – do not take the last-minute approach;
  • Social media group – Reach out to the programme co-ordinator or local representative in your country (if applies) to seek to establish a social media networking group consisting of incoming first-year students – You can pool together to organise accommodation, flights, etc and form friendships before you officially begin your studies;
  • College stationary supplies – Organise your stationary – notebooks, pens, pencils, erasers, highlighters, pencil case, folders, binders, sticky notes, book tabs, flashcards, binder clips, a stapler and staples, paper clips, etc in advance. With regards to other supplies, a C-section kit, lab coats and stethoscope, speak to your college;
  • Networking – Along with forging friendships with your fellow classmates, try to get to know students in upper years. Generally, you will cross paths with most veterinary students within the first fortnight. Seek hand-me-down notes and tips and tricks on how to navigate through the year, exams, etc from them – do not be afraid to ask questions or reach out for their assistance;
  • Laptop/tablet – Consider investing in a laptop or tablet for your college work. Two-in-one laptops, which have the features of both a laptop and a tablet, are a common sight in lecture halls in recent times. Find something to suit your needs and consider performance (based on the apps you may be using), screen size, price, battery life, connectivity (USB ports are a must!), RAM, storage and weight;
  • Note-taking: Dictaphone or digital voice recorder and headphones – Recording yourself can be a helpful study method for some learners, but not all. Compile and read out your most important notes and mention the most important aspects, topics and/or points. You can transfer your audio files to your mobile device, for example, and listen back when you are in the library, travelling to and from classes, college, in the airport, ect;
  • College correspondence – Your educational provider will generally issue correspondence via email (some and/or via mail). Commonly check your spam/junk folder, as some mail can be found here;
  • Finance – Sign up for the likes of a Revolut card, which offers both physical contactless card and virtual card in-app use and enables you to perform all types of transactions from transfers to payments. Through its free-to-download app, you can also track your activity, receive instant alerts to stick to budgetary requirements, make payments with ease, by adding to your Apple or Google Pay and send and receive money among contacts. There are various packages, including standard (free), plus, premium, metal and ultra, with prices from €14.99-€220/month;
  • Healthcare: Check with the college’s requirements with regards to vaccinations and apply for an EHIC, European Health Insurance (once known as the E111 form), which allows you to avail of public healthcare abroad for free, or at a reduced cost since you are studying aboard in another EU, EEA member state or Switzerland, according to the HSE. It will cover the duration of your academic year. You can find more information and apply via this link.
  • Construct a study timetable (SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Bound goals) where possible – Try to be as organised as possible and try to stick to your study timetable as much as possible, but accept that things can change and may need to take priority.
  • Adjusting and adapting – The first year can be quite tough in particular for students, since most modules are science-based (it is a science degree after all). Also, it may be your first time living away from home, experiencing culture in another country and accepting, the transition from second to third-level education in a lot of cases. It can take time to adjust to exam styles, with oral exams being more common than written exams among some educational providers overseas;
  • Planning trips home – You will receive your college timetable at the beginning of the year, and this will enable you to plan, in advance, trips home, to visit family, friends, etc. Also, seeing practice during your time off can help you keep motivated and allow you to put the theoretical aspects of your course into practice.
  • Mindset – Above all else, keep your end goal in mind and think that by taking that next exam, and attending that next lecture or lab, you are one step closer to becoming a fully qualified and practicing vet.

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