To the more observant reader, you will have noticed that this was almost a year ago. However, as it was a big milestone in my vet school career, I feel it is still worthy of a blog post ( even if it is a little late)!
So, to all you non-vets out there, halfway weekend is a tradition at Liverpool vet school which celebrates conquering the three-year slog of anatomy, physiology, histology and many other baffling subjects. It is a kind of right of passage, one which is greatly anticipated by all students. It involves a lot of fancy dress, drinking, and frivolities, usually coupled with some outdoor pursuits. It is a weekend which forces you out of your comfort zone, encourages you to try new things and club together with fellow students who don’t usually move within your circles.
Preparations began a few weeks prior to our big excursion when we were put into teams of 12 and given an anagram to figure out which would be our costume theme for the weekend. To our delight, our team’s theme was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. My housemate Sasha and I decided to go all out and be a pair of umpa lumpas ( the orange ones from the original film of course!) and set about ordering green hairspray, orange body paint and dungarees for the occasion.
So the day arrived and we arrived costume-clad and greeted by a hoard of multicoloured crazily dressed individuals clutching fruit shoot bottles of liquor ( we can always be trusted to be classy), ready to board the coach to head off to our ‘mystery destination.’ Each person received a goody bag complete with snacks (to help soak up the alcohol), a halfway weekend souvenir t-shirt and a ‘prop’ significant to each team’s theme which we were instructed to have on our person at all times and in true vet school fashion, there would be forfeits if we were found without them.
Now we vet students are a competitive lot so what would be more fun than a little harmless competition between teams? A lot of foul play soon ensued as people began a bit of daylight robbery to steal other team’s props, to ensure other teams lost points. Safe to say, I guarded my lollypop like a Yorkshire terrier guards a settee.
After a rowdy coach journey full of singing and excited chatter, we eventually reached our destination; an old private boarding school which during the week still educates 7 – 11-year-old girls but chose to hire out their facilities at the weekend to the likes of our unruly lot. The school was very Pride and Prejudiced with a splash of Harry Potter thrown in, it had broad, sweeping oak staircases, busts and portraits of past headmasters looking disapprovingly down at us all and the large manor house sat looking out onto vast areas of countryside. Now I was quite happy with my comprehensive school upbringing, but I have to admit I think it would have been pretty cool to go to school there.
We all flooded through the maze of corridors trying to find our respective dorm rooms for the weekend. I have to say, I am glad that I am vertically challenged as the little bunks we were expected to sleep on were little over 5ft in length. I’m not sure how some of the burly 6ft + lads went on! Once settled, our third-year hoard gathered in the dining hall in our teams to await instructions. The evening’s frivolities were kicked off with a quiz consisting of weird and wonderful animal trivia followed by a particularly entertaining round about the lecturers and each other. We were informed we had a bright and early 8 am start for breakfast (one thing you learn at vet school is how to party heavily the night before and still get up and be functional at a decent hour the next day) and we were then dismissed to find the gym where the music had been set up and questionable dance moves had begun.
The next morning we found out on the grapevine that halfway weekend had claimed it’s first victim. One of the girls in her uncoordinated wisdom had attempted to playfully rugby tackle one of the lads and …..missed. He went right, she went left and plunged full pelt into the floor with, what I’m sure would have been an excellent tackle. She returned victorious the next day with a lump the size of a small watermelon on her forehead and a black eye. The following night Beth, my housemate came a cropper while playing tug of war. She let go which resulted in her being catapulted, with significant force into a nearby fire extinguisher. She too sustained a bit of a lump which in the first few hours swelled at an alarming rate, luckily we avoided A&E this time!
What else could a group of less than rosy vet students want more the morning after a party than to be thrown out in the crisp spring air with a number of ex-army captains doing drills?! It’s safe to say none of us really knew what had hit us when we were having to run carrying our partner in a fireman’s lift, whilst trying not to bring up our breakfasts. It was a tough start to the day, but in true vet school fashion we all cracked on together and while our stomachs began to settle, we began to see the funny side. We did activities which tested our balance, coordination, stamina and most of all teamwork. Our greatest level of comradery was shown on our treasure hunt when one of our team members decided to go through the hedgerow rather than around it. This did not end very well for her and we took great pleasure in seeing her suspended and secured firmly in the bush, head out one end and feet still flailing about at the other. With a good heave-ho, we managed to remove her, leaving a girl-shaped hole in the shrubbery behind her.
That afternoon we went swimming in the school’s private pool and all promptly turned into children splashing and squealing and trying to drown each other. Amusingly much of the body paint donned from the evening before was still stubbornly adhered to the skin, including myself who looked like I’d had some sort of horrendous spray tan!
That evening we had party number 2, we all assembled in our PJs and onesies and played silly party games like musical bumps and musical chairs. What I did learn is to never get in the way of Rachel, one of my housemates when she was playing to win, she came home with the musical chairs queen title after frankly flattening most of the opposition! We then assembled for our presentation evening, this involved a number of silly awards such as ‘Mr Liverpool’, ‘Rear of the year’ and best couple, which of course went to the vet school comedy duo; Jack and Alex.
The next day marked the end of our weekend and to finish off we all ploughed around an assault course which was muddy, tiring, but also amazing fun. We all piled back onto the coach ready to be transported back to Liverpool and back to reality after our few days away. It was definitely a weekend to remember!