There are no assigned seats in lecture halls in vet school, but Lord help you if you sit in someone else’s spot. Every day, all day, we sit in ‘our’ seats, next to the same people; all hell breaks loose when we were asked to change rooms with the second years this IP. We have to sit in the conference center? But… we like our cave (the auditorium). It’s comfortable there, and we know where to sit and who will sit next to us. But we switched, and some of our classmates ate lunch in the conference center, an hour before class was due to start, so they would be sure to get a good seat; one person would save a whole row, and if you came in late, you might not be sitting next to your regular group of people.
The same goes for exams; we take most of our exams in the computer labs, and almost everyone has a favorite seat in their favorite lab. If someone sits in the wrong spot, it throws off the whole dynamic, and sometimes we end up sitting in a different room, next to different people, and our stress level skyrockets. I accidentally sat on the wrong side of the room for my microanatomy practical, and the microscope, slide box, and exam sheet just wouldn’t fit in the right way on the bench. There was no physical difference between the lab bench I was at and the one I normally took the exam at, except the relative location of the aisle, but in my head I was in the wrong place, and it took me longer than normal to settle down to take the exam.
I’m not saying there is anything wrong with routine – routine is an essential part of life for most people, but sometimes we can get far too stuck in our ways to accept new things. Sitting next to new people might yield a more productive lecture hour (there are certain people that I love to sit next to, but can’t, because we will goof off too much), or sitting in a different seat might ease the neck-ache front-row sitters get from looking way up at the screen that is set at eye-level for the back row of the auditorium. At the beginning of the year, our administration told us that the curriculum is only a part of what they strive to teach us at veterinary school – professionalism, integrity, time-management, and adaptability are also in the cards. Although I don’t think our administrators are behind the seat-switching during exams, it certainly fits into the lesson plan; this lesson is one that will help us not only as students and members of whatever community we find ourselves in, but as veterinarians. The ability to adapt to whatever situation we are thrown in, whether that’s giving an IV to a half-wild horse or performing a dental exam on Mr. Bitey the feline terror, isn’t just a good resume builder; it’s essential.