Today marks an important day for the class of 2019 at my school. As of now, we are officially second years. Although this difference in classification is about as great as the difference between an American Yorkshire and an American Landrace pig (hint, there is not much of a difference), to us it means a great deal. Today feels a little bit like a chapter of my life is closing, far more than changing from a junior to a senior in undergrad ever did. There are two things that come with this new status in our school, and both have been greatly anticipated for the last eight months. (Have I really been a vet student for eight months?)
The first thing that changes is our parking spot (although we don’t actually get to park closer to the school until after the undergrad semester ends in a few weeks). The half-mile walk from the parking lot at times was a great way to let off some steam before heading home to study more, and at other times was a giant hassle – like on the morning I realized that I had a 7 am exam at 6:35am as I was washing my hair. Our new parking lot is closer, but at the bottom of a steep hill, so it will be interesting to see how long it takes us to forget how excited we were to switch lots.
The second thing that will be different next week has been the source of probably most of the tears, sweat, and actual blood shed this year (scalpels are sharp, in case you weren’t aware). For the first time since we started vet school, we will not have to spend any length of time in the anatomy lab. No muscle innervations and origins to memorize frantically at midnight, no variable artery branching that is different in every animal, no formalin soaked lab coats. I know this is going to probably get me kicked out of my class, but I feel a little nostalgic. Before everyone gets out the scalpels, let me explain. The ‘team-teaching’ style of anatomy lab often turned into collaborative guesswork and application of critical thinking. As a class, we were never more united than the week leading up to an anatomy practical, spending long hours in the lab outside of class and teaching each other the finer points of salivary gland identification. The repetitive nature of cleaning specimens became almost therapeutic, leading to stress dreams about cleaning fascia during particularly difficult exam weeks. After our last anatomy exam ever, our class put on a party for ourselves and our teachers. We celebrated the ending of anatomy, but we also celebrated the amazing and incredibly intelligent and caring individuals who woke up at 2 am on exam days to set up for the practical, who came in after hours and on weekends to help struggling students, and who were only too happy to go off on tangents, related to anatomy in some obscure way, entertaining us and helping us to see that there is something greater than an exam that we are working toward.
Monday is the beginning of year two (you didn’t think we’d get a break, did you?), with new classes and new teachers, but no matter where we end up, we will always remember where we started.