The I will be in Slovakia this time next week feeling…

Vet School Year One Semester One Timetable

Maybe the title gave it away, but I will be in Slovakia this time next week… Its a scary thought when I consider how much I have left to do! I’m kinda nervously optimistic that I will be able to get it all done though so fingers crossed. My main concern at the moment is sorting my paperwork from the past 4 years, I kinda want to scan all my old lecture notes and take them with me…. The pile at the minute though is easily as tall as me.

Well in terms of updates today I have now got my timetable for the first semester (click it for the larger readable version)…

Vet School Year One Semester One TimetableIt’s kinda good that I’ve only got one 7:15am start, with the timetables the double line blocks are lectures, and the single line blocks are practicals which are split into groups. As you can see food production is already a major focus with an entire day dedicated to milk…

Liverpool, and the nightmare of the trains

Ok, so today’s diary is a video diary. I went to Liverpool today to meet with a company. At the moment all I can say is that I will be working with them on an exciting new never been done before project. Will give you guys more details in a few weeks 🙂

[youtube_sc url=”ph6eSfs97M4″ title=”Liverpool,%20and%20the%20nightmare%20of%20the%20trains.%20Vet%20School%20Diary%20Video%20Diary”]

Just 8 whole days left in the UK…

I apologise for being so quite on twitter today, it has been completely packed with trying to get as much done as possible… I’ve been working my way through 4 years worth of paperwork. It’s a mountain! I’m trying to scan as many of my lecture notes as I can so I can have them with me to refer to over the next four years. I’ve also been making progress selling more stuff, today I sold my Encyclopedia of Microbiology competely by chance. I’ve also got my first monthly sponsor which really does help as it allows me to budget better.

Today with a little prompting from one of my supporters I have taken the step of creating a newsletter for people that financially contributed to my vet school fund. This will be a monthly digest in addition to my daily diary, in addition I will be giving dates when I am in the UK for anyone wanting coffee. I’m not sure what happens with graduation, however I am going also be looking into organising at least one supporters party which you will also get an invitation to attend. It’s still in its infancy however it will also allow me to keep you informed of how I am Paying it Forward after graduation too. Everyone that has donated so far should have an email in the Inbox somewhere, get in touch if you’ve not 🙂

Tommorow (well later today considering it is 2am) I am off to Liverpool to meet with a Veterinary CPD company to discuss if there is a possibility for me to do some work for them. I am definately crossing my fingers here as it’d be awesome to have a job before I go, in addition to talking about potential ways to moneytise my diary a little more. If you’ve not noticed pages now have adsense at the bottom, and on the right there are now spaces for businesses to advertise across the site. After Liverpool I am heading to see my half brother as I want to leave my photo albumns and stuff like my medal for finishing the Edinburgh Marathon there so its safe (and saves storage fee’s).

I should have a couple of hours spare tommorow afternoon in Liverpool so will use this time to write the next part of my animal nutrition article series. I realise that I’ve ranted a bit the past couple of days, thats not the point of the diary, however I do believe that its important to speak up when you believe a message to be important. The point of my diary is to give you a unique inside look into the world of Veterinary Medicine, and to help you understand the science behind animals.

With me personally its never been enough knowing something, I need to also know the why behind it. I believe that understanding is the way forward within veterinary medicine, to allow pet owners to make informed decisions regarding their pets care. This model is already widely in use within human medicine, and with pets now pretty much part of the family I believe the same (if not better) level of care should apply.

Anyways I now have to get back to sorting stuff. I am hoping to be halfway tonight to make the next few days as stress free as possible.

Canada lacks animal welfare laws protecting marine mammals

Most people believe that it is third world countries that lack stringent and effective animal welfare laws, you can imagine my suprise when I found out Canada made this list. When you think of animal welfare you assume that all animals are covered, however in Canada Marine Mammals (cetaceans such as Whales, Dolphins and also the shark family) are not. A little further digging has brought up several cases where marine mammals have not perhaps been treated in the best manner however thats beyond this diary entry.

Earlier in the week I tweeted about how the USA was permitting a new aquarium opening in Toronto to hunt sand tiger sharks of the coast of South Carolina. The sand tiger shark is listed as endangered on the IUCN redlist. The 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act provides protection for captive marine mammals in the USA, and also the hunting of marine mammals from the sea under a permit scheme. The hunt and capture of the sand tiger sharks is under a Marine Mammal Permit. I am against the taking of any animal from the wild for commercial or entertainment enterprises, in this case the aquarium have sourced 3 from another aquarium so it is beyond me why they want more. In addition the method used for the capture of these animals causes devastation

Anyways, since that tweet I have come across the fact that Canada has no legislation for marine mammals. I believe it is a irresponsible decision for the USA to grant this whilst there is no legislation protecting them in Canada where they’ll be transported to. In addition the track record of the ability of Canada to regulate and protect these animals is dubious at best. In 1998 Zoocheck commissioned a team of marine mammal experts to inspect Marineland in Niagara Falls in Canada who produced a report describing conditions as “appalling”. The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals whilst having the power to lay charges, there is a lack of enforcable standards against which conditions can be compared to in order to bring charges. In addition a lack of specialised knowledge of these marine mammals has also been highlighted as preventing OSPCA taking action.

It is a well acknowledged fact that the life expectancy of marine mammals is significantly reduced in captivity. In the UK the legislation is so strict that there are no dolphins in captivity that I am aware of. Many other countries legislate for Marine Mammals including Chile who banned the display, capture, import and export completely in 2005.

I realise that marine mammals post a mystery to many people, however by visiting them in aquariums are you really learning? It is certainly possible to teach as much, if not more through talks with videos as it is to learn by seeing these majestic creatures in environments made out of concrete. If you really wish to learn do a scuba course (BSAC in the UK offer great discounts for students!), and get out to see these animals in their natural environment.

The is a petition online here against the import of these Endangered sharks.

Illegal to film animal cruelty undercover in Iowa

So I changed my topic at the last minute for tonight’s diary entry after coming across something that I consider to be extremely disturbing within animal welfare legislation.

Animal Welfare on factory farming systems, though regulated relies on the inspection process being carried out on average once a year. Workers are fully aware who and what the inspectors are and why they are there. There is a ton of research supporting the change in behaviour of people when they know (or suspect) that they are being observed.

Recently in the USA there have been several large cases of animal abuse occuring within slaughter houses and animal facilities, these cases have been so severe that the USDA has immediately shut down entire facilities. Take for example a two week undercover investigation of Central Valley Meat Co a slaughterhouse in Hanford, California (grapihc & disturbing video here Or the case of Iowa Select Farms in Kamrar, Iowa one of the nations largest pork (pig) producers between April – June 2011 (disturbing video here

Whilst slaughter within food production systems is necessary, I believe it should be humane, without pain, stress or suffering and with dignity and respect to the animal. There are facilities that manage to do this, and in fact I am looking forward to seeing how the UK compares to Slovakia first hand. In the meantime however I don’t believe that official inspections get to see the whole story of the day to day runnings, and that sometimes a undercover approach works best. In fact when undercover films are released to the public, they generally attract a lot of media attention causing a public outcry and forcing rapid action to protect the animals.

It has therefore shocked me that Iowa, the state where the massive pig abuse took place in March this year quitely passed legislation making it illegal (a misdemenor) for undercover filming to take place. This means that anyone exposing animal abuse such as in the cases above would be prosecuted (I don’t understand the american legal system so not sure what penalties are). Undercover investigations are already high risk, in the 1990’s two ABC reporters investigating the Food Lion supermarket chain were found guilty of tresspass and fraud with damages awarded to Food Lion in the millions. However this new legislation is also being considered in Utah, New York, Missouri, Indiana, Illinois and Minnesota. It seems that the focus is on protecting facilities and producers rather than focusing on improving and ensuring animal welfare.

Whilst I can understand part of the legislation serving the purposes of protection from losses incurred in the advertising for, hiring and training of new staff. I do not believe this is in the best interest of animal welfare. You can find out more about “ag-gag” laws here:

In other less disturbing news, I have managed to sell my bed, warddrobe and bookcase which has raised the funds needed for a months rent.

The launch of the Video Diary and an amazing day!

Ok I dunno what I did to deserve it, however today has been absolutely awesome! I’ve managed to sell some more stuff, got a new sponsor, had some amazing support and in total raised £160 towards my tuition!

In addition I have also launched the video diary! Check out the first episode below, and now if you’ll excuse my short post this evening I really do need to sleep!

[youtube_sc url=”PxEWGPCmFc8″ title=”Vet%20School%20Diary%20Video%20Diary”]

Failure to Launch… Technology and why I hate it

Ok so sitting there at 2am trying to record the first ever episode of the Vet School Diary video diary didn’t work as well as I’d like… It kinda lacked sound 🙁 I guess lip reading is not a normal skill in today’s society so it kinda made it slightly pointless. I will be re-recording today to get it online this evening as my first ever Video diary with just 14 days to go!

It seems technology has become the backbone of society, and without it society would crumble. When you think of how many records are computerised and what happened with Natwest/RBS recently it kinda makes you wonder if we’d survive.

Anyways back to the video diary for a bit, basically its not rehearsed, planned or scripted in any way shape or form. I basically plan to record clips throughout the day as I am doing interesting stuff or have something interesting to say! At the end of the day I’ll put this clips together and upload it to youtube for all you wonderful people to watch! Like the diary I am going to try and keep it PG13 whilst also keeping it educational! 😀

Anyways, stay tuned for the first episode soon! 🙂

Comfort Zone? How I spent 2 years learning how to talk…

I’m so far outta my comfort zone it’s untrue. I’ve done a radio & video interview for the BBC, appeared in the Pet Gazette, Gloucester Citizen, and something is lined up for The Veterinary Times. Sadly I am still a way from my goal however am hoping to get some coverage from the national papers as well before I leave on the 6th September.

When I was younger I had delayed speech because of problems with my hearing. Which then led me into speech therapy for several years of my childhood including moving to a new school so I could have daily sessions for 2 years. Though it’s resolved now I still struggle sometimes to pronounce my h,w,r sounds. I am aware of it however I don’t have many options open to me for resolving it as I just don’t understand how. This drives me to avoid using certain words when speaking, or to try and make an extra big effort which can give the wrong impression.

This past year I have been President of the UWESU Land and Animal Biology Society and I had to face my fears of public speaking and get over it. I pushed myself hard and made progress, and then actually spoke in front of over 1000 people at NUS National Conference 2012 which for me was a highlight of my year and a great way to end my time at UWE. For me to have the confidence to do Video and Radio interviews is just something new, though I did object when asked to talk to the animals. I’ve nothing against talking to animals generally, it was just the microphone that made me suddenly very self-conscious…

Introducing a motion at UWESU AGM 2012

Today I was thinking about how far out of my comfort zone I am, and then I realised I’d left it when I became President of a society last year. When I took the responsibility on of a failing society, and turned it into a runner up for Society of the Year. When I introduced 3 new policies at the AGM. Then I took the step of running for Student Union President just to see what it was like (Hartpury campus was rather neglected by the Student Union at that point in time) and put forward a Hartpury candidate for the first time. My comfort zone had been shattered by my experiences as a Society President, and yet today I sat here restricted because of my speech problem.

I was planning to call as many companies as possible by phone today and ask if they were interested in sponsoring me. I called none. I hate to say it but cold-calling is something I can usually force myself to do, yet not something I am comfortable with. I am disappointed with myself that I failed to do this today, I managed to find tons to do instead to put it off. I have failed to keep to my own standards, and I can’t have that.

One of the ideas I have been toying with is the video diary, which will form the basis of my highs & lows DVD which I be producing at the end of the year for my supporters. I was going start it the day before I left, however will be launching it tommorow instead. In addition I am also make them phone calls tommorow, and my goal is to raise £500 in sponsorship.

Lets grind that comfort zone into dust! After all, if you always do what you always did, you always get what you always got!

15 Days left people! Are you excited? 🙂

Something I found, but very true…

Paying at the supermarket recently, the young cashier suggested I should bring my own bags because plastic carrier bags weren’t good for the environment. I apologized and explained, “We didn’t have this green thing back in my earlier days.” The clerk responded, “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations.”

She was right about one thing — our generation didn’t have the green thing in “Our” day. So what did we have back then…? After some reflection and soul-searching on “Our” day here’s what I remembered we did have…. Back then, we returned milk bottles, drinks bottles and beer bottles to the shop. The shop sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles repeatedly. So they really were recycled. But we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.
We walked up stairs, because we didn’t have an escalator in every shop and office building. We walked to the supermarket and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go half a mile. But she was right. We didn’t have the green thing in our day.
Back then, we washed the baby’s nappies because we didn’t have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts — wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that young lady is right. We didn’t have the green thing back in our day.
Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house — not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the Isle of Wight. In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the post, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But she’s right. We didn’t have the green thing back then.
We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. But we didn’t have the green thing back then.
Back then, people took the bus, and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their mums into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest shop.But isn’t it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn’t have the green thing back then? Please recycle this on your Facebook profile so another selfish old person who needs a lesson in conservation from a smarty-pants young person can add to this.

16 Days to go… So much to do

Well I have started working out exactly what books I am taking with me, put all my climbing gear up for sale. And made a long list of DVD’s that I am selling. I also need to buy more contacts for the next year, in fact I have decided that I am going see if I can’t get them donated if I can remember where my prescription is…. Actually its going be interesting out there with the different healthcare system so going have to work out opticians etc. Luckily there is a group of us that need our Tick Borne Encephalitis and prophylactic rabies (still not sure on the Rabies as Slovakia is rabies free but kinda standard for vets…).

I also featured on the front page of the Pet Gazette website today with a lovely article here: I am truly grateful for the support I am being shown!

In other news today has been productive, I’ve potentially gained a part-time job for whilst I am studying, heading up to Liverpool next Wednesday to talk to them and see if its a fit! Really excited! Also had a good response to my Memorials page as I believe I should have somewhere to recognise those that donate in memory of their pets and loved ones. Still gotta make a list of the books I have, hopefully I have found somewhere in town that may take some of me! This week is going be crazy!

Still trying to work out banking! Seems nowhere does Postgraduate accounts anymore, and instead just extend your student account. I have caused loads of confusion as no one understands it properly as its kinda a unique situation. I am planning to open an account out there as I am going be there for 4 years. When I get there I have to register for residency with the local police which takes 5-6weeks but then gives me a ID Card. With this I can open a bank account etc which may be easier as some of the UK Cards do not work there as they are too advanced. I’ve also got a Caxton card on the way which I can use in the meantime fee free.

I am getting nervous that I am not going have time to do everything, hopefully going try and move as much as possible as fast as possible! The more money I can raise the better!