So, as promised here’s my second instalment in my ‘Looking Back on 2018’ series. If you’re interested in my thoughts on what happened in 2018 – things that struck a chord from around the world then click here. As I’ve mentioned previously 2018 was a jam-packed year, and one which was filled with both amazing highs and some really difficult times for me, which I’ll be touching on in this post and my next. I’ll warn you in advance this post is not all fluffy bunnies and bluebells but it’s what happened so I feel like I need to reflect on it and I owe it to you guys not to sugar-coat everything because it’s simply not reality. I hope if I share my struggles it may encourage others to do so too! But I’m hoping it will make for an enjoyable read regardless! I’m going to try and keep this fairly chronological, not only so you guys can keep up, but so I don’t get confused myself – like I said it’s been a very busy year!
Saying Goodbye to University Life….
First and foremost I entered into my final few months of vet school. After five years studying veterinary at Liverpool University, the end was finally in sight! This was bitter-sweet as the finish line was approaching and I was now so close to achieving my dream of becoming a vet and beginning an exciting new part of my life! However, at the same time, a chapter that I’d become so familiar with was closing, my life as a student. This meant there was a lot of final moments; Our last Leahurst party – the infamous vet social gatherings no Liverpool vet will ever forget. Our last rotation, leaving behind the lecturers who’d rolled their eyes and made fun of our less than stellar moments and the groups of fellow students who had clubbed together to make the tough times more bearable and always made me laugh. We said goodbye to our little house with the red door in Neston where we’d spent the last two years and sadder still, I said goodbye to some of the best friends a girl would ask for, who would no longer be a stones throw away. On the one hand I couldn’t wait to leave uni, I was so ready to get out there and get a job and finally have a chance to be the vet I’d always hoped I could be, but at the same time leaving uni was scary and giving up the familiarity of university life (in particular the wonderfully lengthy holidays) and having the responsibility of an adult was scarier still! Check out my posts on vet school life here to reminisce with me or to enjoy for the first time!
Our Sunny Beach Send Off…
Before we left vet school for good, we had one last epic event for all the final years, and one which had been greatly anticipated through the toil of exams – Grad Holiday! For all my sins, I was one of the organisers along with three other fabulous girls and somehow, we managed to pull it off without a hitch (Getting 100 vet students to Bulgaria and Back in one piece was no mean feat let me tell you!). In case you hadn’t put two and two together, we jetted Liverpool class of 2018 off to Sunny Beach Bulgaria for a week of fun and frivolities on the Black Sea Coast. It was a crazy week of water parks,banana boats, beaches, boat parties and UV paint and was an amazing way to unwind after the stress of final exams. What’s more, I got to spend it with all the amazing people I’d become so close to over the past five years, we even managed to find a little bit of beauty and culture amongst the booze and phallic paraphernalia! If you’d like to read more about our Sunny Beach shenanigans click here!
And Then My World Fell Apart….
Just when everything was going so well, on results day I opened my email as everyone was celebrating becoming vets and found out I’d failed my final veterinary exams by a whisker. One exam, one silly mistake due to nerves had cost me so dearly. I was devastated. Not only could I not celebrate on results day with my friends but I would also not be graduating with them, a day I’d daydreamed about since starting vet school. I was heartbroken, furious, bitter and shattered emotionally to my core. To this day I have never cried so much in my life, I swear I looked like a walrus for about a week while my face recovered. Now this may sound a little dramatic, I know, nobody died, I’m still alive and healthy and worse things happen at sea and all that but guys, I can’t tell you how truly devastating it is to have dreamed of something your whole life, wanted it so desperately, worked tooth and nail for it, only to have the world ripped from under your feet when you’re so close. I had to watch all my friends graduate while I was at home having to toil to re-sit exams while they all celebrated. I felt like such a horrible person, I wanted so badly to be proud of them, to be gracious and happy for them but it was all too much for me to take. I became withdrawn, de-motivated and felt completely demoralised. In truth, I’m still healing; my confidence, my happiness, my self-worth took such a knock and what was devastating to me was I felt so alone in my struggle and disappointingly, my university really didn’t provide me with the support they should have to help me get through it. I don’t want to go too deep into this, its going to be mentioned in my ‘things I’ve learnt’ post and I will talk more deeply about this when I’m ready but I wanted to mention it as it was a very significant part of this year for me.
I finally became a Dr….
There were moments when I wanted to give up, my revision went poorly, I had no motivation and I couldn’t help but think “why the hell am I putting myself through all this? Do I even want this any more?” The truth was of course I did but it’s easy to have a defeatist attitude when you feel like you have an impossible task in front of you. But finally my exams were over and despite everything, I somehow managed to pass, I was a vet, finally! In truth, I didn’t celebrate, everything still felt far too raw for me to feel happy or proud of myself, I just thought “Thank God that’s over, I can finally move on” But now, I’m in recovery a little and I can smile about my achievements, sometimes. I would like to say through all this I had such wonderful, supportive friends and family who were always there to provide a shoulder to cry on, agree with me that life sometimes sucks and to be on the other end of the phone when I needed a chat. My mum didn’t badger me once to clean my room ( and for those of you who know her you’ll know how painfully hard that must have been for her) and one of my friends drove two hours to visit me, help me revise and bring me an awesome bag of treats to cheer me up. Without them I’m not sure I could have got through it because one thing this has taught me is that when you don’t believe in yourself, you need someone who does! So for those of you who know who you are, thank you for loving me regardless and for seeing my worth when I couldn’t.
Wow this got a bit deep so let’s get back on to happier things!
After the hard few months I’d had at home, I was so ready to escape to South America to immerse myself in another country and finally have some time to heal. I can tell you now it was just what the doctor ordered and I came back feeling much more “me” again than when I left. Our adventures began in Peru where we had the most amazing time travelling with Peru Hop. Our wandering began in Lima where we soaked in the beauty of the UNESCO world heritage city, found Paddington bear and played in the light fountains at Circuito Mágico del Agua. It was then on to the Ballestas Islands, nicknamed ‘the poor man’s Galapagos’ where we saw our first sealions of the trip. Our next location saw us sandboarding in a dessert oasis, getting merry on the Peruvian national drink, Pisco and watching the most amazing sunset from the top of the dunes – after that stop the sand we’d acquired in places I didn’t know I had stayed with us for about a month after! Travelling down the coast we saw the famous Nazca Lines, huge carvings in the earth made by ancient civilisations, ate reed bananas on the floating islands of Lake Titicaca and saw condors gliding on the thermals at Colca Canyon. Our next stop was Cusco where the Incas had really left their mark. We trekked the Inca trail to Machu Piccu, one of my favourite parts of our trip in Peru, and witnessed the bizarre yet beautiful colouring of Rainbow Mountain. What Peru taught me was that our world has so many natural spectacles and I felt very privileged to have been able to witness a small handful of them!
From Peru we flew out to the Galapagos, an absolute bucket list destination for me since I’d been a small child. I feel incredibly privileged I was able to go here this year, have dinner with one of the Galapagos tortoise vets and celebrate turning a quarter of a century (good God, when did I get so old!?) witnessing all the amazing wildlife which is astoundingly so integrated into society. Sealions had priority on park benches, you had to pick your way through basking Iguanas on footpaths and tortoises shuffled along the paths like little old age pensioners. I even found myself sunbathing on a beach next to a sealion – it was insane! One of my favourite moments has to be snorkelling with an incredibly playful sealion youngster. I was so excited at how close he was getting and how inquisitive he was around our go-pros and flippers I almost drowned!
After an amazing 8 days living on pasta and sauce so we could afford our time in the Galapagos (it was by no means the most glamorous of trips to Darwin’s wonderland, but that didn’t matter to us!), we headed back to mainland Ecuador. Ecuador this year was the location full of pleasant surprises for me. It is a place I will now wholeheartedly recommend to anyone. Here we worked with the fantastic Wanderbus who helped us travel around the country and see some of its most breathtaking sights. It was here I ticked off so many items on my bucket list and had some unforgettable experiences including white water rafting, riding the swing at the edge of the world, seeing my first humpback whales, horse riding in the mountains, standing on the equator, seeing Andean bears, having my first natural thermal spa experience and seeing some breathtaking scenery along the way. However, the most memorable experience we had in Ecuador was visiting the Amazon rainforest. Like the Galapagos, I had grown up absorbing documentaries about this spectacular ecosystem and couldn’t wait to one day go there myself. I expected it to be a pipe dream and the fact I am sat here writing this having had the opportunity to go there is an amazing feeling! We spent four spectacular days exploring the forest, swimming in the mighty river and falling asleep to the sound of the rainforest, I was well and truly in my happy place!
Our next stop took us up to Central America to visit Costa Rica. We spent a large amount of time feeling perpetually soggy thanks to our trip being in the middle of the rainy season. But we weren’t about to let the rain stop us! We explored the cloud forest, climbed a volcano, went to one of the largest (and poshest) natural thermal bath houses in the world and even managed to enjoy the beauty of the Caribbean coast when the sun made a few fleeting appearances (and of course, I burnt like a lobster). The two most memorable parts of Costa Rica for me were visiting the Jaguar Rescue Centre, a wildlife rehabilitation centre who rescue, care for and return to the wild hundred of animals a year. My resolve is to one day go back and volunteer for this fantastic charity in their veterinary unit. It’s seeing the work of places like this that makes me confident of my true calling in the veterinary industry! My second most memorable Costa Rican experience, and one which I’m sure will stick with me forever is seeing nesting green turtles at Tortuguero. It was truly magical to witness that special 1% of their lives these turtles spend on land and learning about the nesting process and how the turtle conservancy help to protect these fantastic creatures.
Our final destination was Cancun, Mexico where we were met by Sasha’s mum and Mike, her fiancé for the final leg of our trip. It was time here to allow ourselves a little more luxury. We ate out, got dressed up and thanks to the generosity of Sasha’s mum, spent our final few days in a really swanky hotel! Despite the short amount of time we were there, in true Frenchy fashion we managed to fit a lot in! We zip-lined into a cenote, joined a day of the dead parade and took a tour of Chichen Itza, one of the modern wonders of the world.
This trip truly came at the right time for me, it helped me heal and forget about the tough times I’d faced that summer and made me realise just how spectacular our planet was. It made me see that I’d got through the worst and now I could look ahead at the next chapter in my life. It gave me something good to remember about my graduating summer and it was truly the best medicine I could have been prescribed!
I could not have had these fantastic memories without my travelling partner in crime, Sasha. We bonded over our bad Spanish, she happily followed along with my crazy intense itinerary and was there for me when the reality of home life hit and things got tough. She also planned me the best surprise Birthday when in the Galapagos, when I thought that being in the Galapagos for my Birthday was present enough! It was lovely to share this adventure together as it marked the last time we’d ever be in such lengthy close contact as after we returned to reality, we knew we’d both be going our separate ways to start our new lives as vets. It was the best way to end our four years living together and I’m so glad she was kind enough to ditch her new fiancé (Thank you Mike for letting me steal her away for such a lengthy amount of time) to come and have adventures with me!
If you’d like to read more about my adventures check out my South America page, and stay tuned for more content soon!
Maid of Honour Duties…
I am excited to announce that two of my closest friends announced their engagements this year to two wonderful fellas. I feel incredibly blessed that they both picked me to be their maid of honour!! I really hope I do you both proud, I love you guys so much and I will do my damned hardest to ensure you have amazing days and hen-dos of course!! We have big things to look forward to in 2019 (and 2020 of course Sasha!) and I am going to be one busy bee making sure your weddings rock!!
My First Vet Job!
I am now two months into my first ever job as a mixed animal vet! I am incredibly lucky to have made some fabulous friends in my team and am enjoying living the James Herriot lifestyle in an incredibly supportive practice in the North West! This job hasn’t been easy, it’s been one hell of a steep learning curve and I spend a lot of my time second guessing myself F-ing up something on the computer system, getting lost trying to find farms (postcodes always lie) and running around like a headless chicken because I still don’t know where everything is, but despite all that, I love it! Every day is different, I get to meet wonderful people and animals and I feel like I’m slowly but surely getting into the swing of things! I got a real glow the other day when I was passed on a personal thank you from a client, it’s a small thing but it makes you feel like a super hero!!
If you’d like to read more about my first month as a real vet click here!
It has been a very different Christmas this year, for one I am dealing with the unfortunate consequence of being an adult with a job so only got a brief two days off this Christmas rather than the usual 4 week uni holiday I’d become accustomed to. But despite it being brief, it was fantastic and festive and I spent my time with family and friends, received some beautiful, thoughtful gifts and ate more food than I care to admit! It was also the first year I got to decorate my very own tree! The weekend before Christmas was spent with my two besties Beth and Sasha where we hit the Birmingham Christmas markets and spent an evening laughing and eating some pretty spectacular cheese with friends at Sasha’s new home. I also managed to sneak away for a Christmassy weekend in London with my mum, we soaked in all the beautiful decorations in the city, window shopped in Harrods, devoured some mouthwatering food at Winter Wonderland and then I took mum to see Motown as part of her Christmas present. This Christmas was definitely not lacking in substance!
So, What’s in Store for 2019?
2019 is booking up fast! I have two weddings to go to, a hen-do to plan and many visits up and down the country in store to see my uni family! I am getting prepped to head into one of the busiest seasons as a farm vet – lambing season, so wish me luck! And come October, (if I’ve survived the Northern winter and the chaos of being a vet in spring) I have my Liverpool Uni reunion to go to – It will be so lovely to see everyone and find out how my cohort of baby-vets are getting on in the world of work! In terms of travel I’m so excited to be returning to Walt Disney World, Florida in September 2019 with my family and I currently have itchy feet and am hoping to jet off somewhere else sooner – destination TBC so watch this space! I hope you guys will be with me every step of the way and as I’ve said before, thank you so much for your support! I hope you all have an amazing and unforgettable year in 2019!
Lots of Love,
The Baby-vet x