Sunday, December 14, 2014

Semester 1 of Vet School

I survived Semester 1 of Vet School!

I've finally passed all my Credit tests meaning I can start Spring Semester, just need to take the Finals but that can be done any time up until August.
I've already done the Slovak Final and got 97%, though it was really easy and she checked our papers before we handed them in, and am planning on taking a few this week; Latin, Anatomy and Milk Hygiene & Technology.

I'm leaving Genetics until after Christmas and really not looking forward to that, he's not a very nice man so people are scared of him and you really have to know your stuff or he'll fail you straight away - sometimes even if you know what you're saying, if its not in his words or if he doesn't understand you because of the language barrier he will fail you. There are 3 people in our class who have had to do 'Compensation tests' to prove they have grasped Genetics before he'll even let them sit the Credit test. I'm planning on coming back a days before my exam in January to revise, sit the exam and then depending on the date I'll go back home for a few weeks or go skiing and visit Budapest or Bratislava.

It was by 23rd Birthday on Thursday but because I had exams on Thursday and Friday I didn't do anything and celebrated on Friday instead.
The 12 of us in our half of the year group went out for food at Burekas an Israeli restaurant then for drinks at Smelly Cat and Piano; we had a good night and was really nice to spend time with the group outside Uni.
People have been stressed for the last few weeks and realised we need to let our hair down and spend time with each other, which hopefully we'll do more now.

We've had 4 exams a week for the last 3 or 4 weeks so all I want to do is sleep and I cannot wait to get home for Christmas and spend time with the family!

Frantiska the Harris Hawk

Do you wanna build a snowman?

Love this photo of Frantiska the Harris Hawk in the snow.
One of the girls took it when it was snowing last week, Frantiska is really cheeky and was free flying around campus when she landed on his head.

She also landed one one of the horses the week before, luckily he didn't seem it mind!

Sunday, December 7, 2014


I am SO ready for Christmas; 13 sleeps until I jump on that plane.

Feeling overwhelmed by the amount of exams we have this week and then it happens all again for Finals before Christmas. Other people seem so organised and on top of the subjects, I've tried revising for the last few hours but just ended up staring at a screen not actually taking any information in so now even more behind.

Genetics seems impossible just from the way it's taught (or not taught) and the fact that the final is an oral exam means your grade can depend on how he's feeling on the day.

There are stories going round that he will fail you before Christmas on the principle that you've not had enough time to revise, that he always fails 1/3 of the class on principle, that he'll grill you for an hour and a half and still fail you by 1%, that he'll fail you if he's had a bad day. 

13 sleeps.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Physiology of Birds

We've just had a class on the Physiology of Birds, starting with a lecture on their anatomy and physiology followed by a practical.

First we took blood, either from the Brachial or Ulnar vein of the wing or the Medial Metatarsal vein which runs on the inner leg just above the hock.

They hold the birds differently over here than we do in the UK, by also restraining wings which I wasn't overly comfortable with but that's how we had to do it - Antonia and I put a tube down her esophagus and syringed a starch solution directly into the chickens crop:

After 20 minutes she was humanely euthanised by the vet technicians and we carried out a full dissection to look at the anatomy and physiology.

Samples were taken from each part of the digestive tract from the esophagus, grop, gizzard all the way through the small intestines to the cloaca; these were put into test tubes and incubated with a solution which changes colour depending on the presence of starch. The same was done with a solution which reacts with glucose so we were able to see exactly where starch is digested and were glucose is present in the digestive system.

I did the dissection and I found it really interesting as I've eviscerated lots of birds before and known what the major organs etc were but I'd not realised where the pancreas was before (in the duodenal loop) or seen the proventriculus just above the gizzard; I also learnt the yellow lining of the gizzard has a name, the koilin.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Cytogenetics; Mouse Bone Marrow

We had a Genetics practical today in which we undertook chromosomal analysis, or Cytogenetics.

During Metaphase the chromosomes can be seen under the microscope and the number, shape and size of chromosomes  is different for each species.

The sides we were looking at were those we prepared earlier in the semester, using bone marrow samples we extracted ourselves from the femur of a mouse.

Under the microscope the chromosomes can clearly be seen in metaphase:
Pretty cool...

We counted the number of chromosomes in each set and looked for breakage in the arms. In 'real life' they do it to map genes, look for mutations in genes, inherited diseases and tumours. 

It took us about half an hour to find and count 5 sets but the veterinary genetics technicians said they can get though 500 sets from one animal per day!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Busy couple of weeks

It's been a bit hectic here and was really grumpy and bogged down last week.
We had 3 credit tests last week, 4 this week, 3 or 4 next week and then it's the end of term so have Final Exams to start before Christmas!

Last week was Anatomy, Latin and Histology 2 this week we have Histology 3, Slovak, Anatomy and Physiology - next week is the massive Genetics test, Anatomy and then probably retakes of Histology 3 and Latin.

The weekend before last I didn't leave the house all weekend apart from going to feed Clarence and was bored out of my brains being stuck in dorms so I was grumpy last week but then we had
Matriculation Ball on Friday which was really good; this weekend we just went into town, went to Tesco and hung out with people so felt like we actually did something with the weekend.

The Christmas light switch on is this Friday so I think we're all going to that, followed by a Christmas jumper party which should be good.

One decent thing we had was a Milk Hygiene practical testing loads of different types of cheeses.
Next week is milk powders, condensed milk and ice cream!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Matriculation Ball

This weekend we had our Matriculation Ball which I guess it's the equivalent to a Freshers Ball in the UK.
There was a ceremony where all the Freshers stood on stage and put their head through the butt of a fabric cow and did a shot, then we were knighted with a Femur (thighbone) before putting an ink print of our fingerprints on a certificate.

The wierdness of it all kind of sums up this place but it was all organised for us by Slovaks in the older years and they did a really good job!
There was a sit down buffet style meal with free alcohol all night.
They leave bottles of wine, spirits and mixers on the tables for you to help yourselves and as soon as they see one of the bottles was nearly empty, it would be replaced with more wierd and wonderful Slovak Vodka or Tatransky Caj.

Friday, November 21, 2014

PCGB National Poultry Show 2014

Had a great weekend at Telford International Conference centre for the Poultry Club of Great Britain's National Poultry Show.

I flew into Luton on Saturday where I met a friend and travelled up to the show.

Supreme Show Champion was a Rosecomb (Mr Taylor) and Reserve Show Champion a Yellow Dutch (Mr S Yorks):

We went to the Saturday Evening Social which was to be honest a bit disappointing.
We've been for the last 3 years and they usually have a really good auction followed by a live band or disco.
In previous years the auction prizes have been art commissions, expensive metal chicken statues, rare antique books, poultry cigarette cards, egg skelters, coop covers, peck a blocks etc; this year they had 5 pairs of shoes, a new book and a couple of feeders.
In the past we've been out on tables and mingled with 'strangers' but this year people stayed in their groups and didn't chat.
We did have a speech from the Championship Judge Andrew Sheppy which was interesting, if a little long!
He did leave us with this, which I might start living my life by... "If you have a nice one, get it out and show it, I might like it."

It was really nice to catch up with friends that I've known for years and to finally meet new people I've been speaking to over the year on Facebook and Twitter.

Of course I had to get a photo with my old friends Chip from EasiChick and the legend that is Mr Simon Pickles!

I love this prototype clear MS Broedmachines Incubator 

...but as amazing as the Heka Incubators are, I still don't think they will hatch this rare breed Kinder egg:
They had little hatching trays with different types of dividers so separate eggs by colour, parents or breed etc which was clever; I've seen people make their own but not seen them manufactured to fit the incubator trays before.

Chris Jones the artist was there again so spent 10 minutes admiring some of his oil portraits. The detail is stunning and every time you look at them you spot another little details.
Will be a few years saving before I can afford one of his originals, but I bought another of his calendars ready for next year.

Think the Barnevelders had the best rosettes...
Some breed clubs has tried to go modern with just the paper circle and a ribbon coming down, no 'Rose' bit around the outside but they just looked cheap to me.

Also these birds are the grand-chicks of the Serama boy my Flatmate brought down from Scotland to Aberystwyth for a friend of mine!

Sat on the tube in London on Monday and the last next to me was reading The Guardian and I spotted this!

There has been a lot of bickering and political unrest in the club over the last few months with new members getting onto council and some members being stuck in their ways rather than moving with the times, but everyone came together and put on a fantastic show.
The Poultry Club, it's committee and all the volunteers clearly worked so hard to get to where the show is today, a massive improvement on the cattle sheds at Stoneleigh a few years ago; let's hope 2015 is even bigger and better.

Home Sweet Home

Just back from nearly a week at home and longer than I planned to be away!

I flew to Luton on Saturday where I met a friend and travelled up to The National Poultry Show.

Sunday we were at the show until lunch then I went home for Sunday Lunch with the family, in the evening a couple friends came round and we had an impromptu trip to the Birmingham Christmas Markets. It seems much better this year with quirky things for sale compared to the same stuff we've bought every year for the last 5 years.

Monday I went down to London and met Lidds the girlfriend - we were gonna go shopping but I couldn't fit any more in my hand luggage so I couldn't buy anything.
I also saw my beloved Nandos after 10 weeks.

Tuesday morning I was meant to come back to Uni, up at 5.30am but someone was faffing doing her hair and putting contacts in so I missed the early train which meant I was late getting to the airport... I rushed through security and got to the boarding gate but they'd shut it and I missed my flight!

I could see the queue of passengers but even on the plane but they wouldn't let me through.
£60 Missed Flight Fee and booked onto Wednesdays flight...

I went back to Lidds' and slept most of the day while she was at work, got Dominos on Tuesday night then up extra early on Weds to do it all again.

I was early on Weds and caught the flight, back in time to go and teach an English lesson then went straight to Anatomy self study.

Yesterday I had the Anatomy exam (muscles of the neck and face) and was über lucky to get a C considering I'd only revised for one day!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

We found a puppy...

We were walking back from Anatomy self study this evening and saw something run round the corner down the hill in the middle of the road... It was dark so took a few seconds to realise it was a puppy and then saw headlights coming in the distance behind it.

Being Vet Students we all started calling the dog over to us but he didn't know what was going on and when we ran over to him he jumped into the ditch along the side of the road and we heard a splash.
There's a shallow river running under the bridge so we ran across and Alfie jumped in and grabbed him and passed him up to me.

Now we're stuck with a soaking wet puppy, no ideas where it came from and nowhere to take it.
We stuck him in Alfie's coat and walked into dorms.

We've posted photos on local Facebook groups and will speak to the vets tomorrow so see if they hear anything...

Monday, November 10, 2014

Morning Clarence

Clarence had a lie in this morning because it's raining but he's now happily perched outside catching worms.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Sian's moving back home

Today my best friend left Slovakia..:

We came out to Uni together in September but Sian never really settled and struggled with the distance from home and stress of having exams (sometimes 3 or 4) every week.
She'd get A's every week so it's not that she couldn't cope with the work, just the stress of the exams looming all the time. 

She's been unhappy for a long time and finally decided to leave when our parents visited last weekend.
I think it's a really brave decision to move back home and wish she would have stayed until Christmas but completely understand why she decided to go home and am happy she'll be happier at home.

Gizmo and Clarence are just as sad as me to see her go!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

International Falconry Meet

Today we went to an International Falconry Meet near Košice and had an amazing time.

We met at 7 and got a coach with the rest of Falconry club to a hotel in Dargov about 40 minutes away from Kosice.
There the Falconers lined up with their birds and had an opening ceremony. We didn't understand what was said but the birds looked amazing; Golden Eagles, Harris Hawks, Peregrine Falcons and even a little Kestrel!

From there they separate into groups and go off hunting. We didn't have cars and the bus couldn't take us so we tried our best to speak to people and jump in cars and get a lift with them.

I went off with the Eagles with Sian, Lucy and Niamh while others spent the day with Hawks or Falcons.
We had nine Golden Eagles with us from all over Europe - Slovakia, Czech Republic, Austria and Hungary - so it was really interesting seeing the falconers speak to one another, mostly in German and English as their common languages, though they all knew a few words of each language.

We spread out along the boundary of one field in a straight line 10 metres apart from each other with two people between every Eagle, the idea being that we flush the field as we walk across it in a line and the eagle closest to the prey or quarry is flown.

Being November everyone layered up expecting winter weather but we had glorious sunshine all day and walking all day everyone was roasting! We stopped at midday to give the birds and everyone else a rest. The birds all sat there good as gold, some of them not even hooded without stressing or trying to bait off the glove so they really were a credit to their trainers.

After lunch we carried on as as the weather cooled down a bit the birds were flying better and had a lot more successful catches.
We saw pheasants, hare and deer but only caught hares - Eagles don't go after pheasants and the deer were a bit too far away for the falconer to run after them and get there should there be a problem.

After the hunt we returned to the hotel for drinks and to talk to people then everyone sat down for a four course meal of soup, chicken with roasties, goulash (which everyone went mad for) and then cake!

I'm so glad we went and it was an incredible experience.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Anatomy; Muscles of the Thoracic Limb

We've moved on from bones to muscles this week, starting with muscles of the thoracic limb.

In last weeks practical we dissected the legs of a cow and goat and we've just had the credit test on all the muscles, origins, insertions and functions.
 I got a B so really happy with that :)

Next week we're tested on Muscles of the Pelvic Limb!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Genetics Karyotyping - Chromosomal Analysis

Today we had a Genetics practical in which we examined chromosomes from samples of bovine blood and bone marrow which I collected in clinic last week.

We also used Mouse bone marrow samples which we harvested in a previous practical.

We were then given random unmarked slides which we had to find and count the number of chromosomes to identify the species and sex of the specimen.

My slide had 38 chromosomes, 19 pairs, which could have been a Cat or a Pig but I worked out it was a pig from the market chromosomes; the smallest chromosome wasn't half the size of the second smallest, meaning it was a pig.
There was no Y sex chromosome so I also determined that it was a female or sow.

Maxime's slide had 46 chromosomes which is a Human karyotype!

Pretty awesome that I'm only in the eighth week of Vet School but we have already collected blood and bone marrow from three species of animals - Rabbits, Mice and Cows.

Homework we've been given is a photo similar to the chromosomes above which we have to determine species, marker chromosomes and sex then cut them out and arrange the Karyotype according to international rules!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Weekend with Family

We've had a really nice weekend with family and am already sad that it's over; my mom and brother came over on Friday with Sian's parents and we dropped them back at the airport this morning.

On Friday we went straight from the airport to town for food which was a slight disaster...
Wierd nutty paste pancakes, pasta with jam and chopped up pasta with poppy seeds, spinach balls... You get the idea.

In the afternoon showed them around town and Uni then took them to fly the falcons:
Everyone was pretty tired so after dinner we separated and got an early night.

Saturday morning we met on Hlavna for late breakfast at Theatre cafe then spent the day at Košice zoo.
We missed out loads of things when we went last time so was nice to go again - the zebra, some of the birds and monkeys weren't on exhibit, I guess because it was so cold, but we saw the bears this time.
It's a really nice zoo, the only criticism I have is the big cats - they don't have enough room or enrichment so not great to see. They're in good condition but the tiger was pacing in a figure of eight obviously waiting for food and he didn't have ponds, balls, swings, logs etc like the enrichment they'd have in UK zoos.

Yesterday we did our own things with our families so we went shopping to AuPark and met up late afternoon. We went to look at food in M&S and there was a sale on so I got two pairs of jeans which should have been €40 each, one pair was €7.99 and the other €3.99!

We met up later for coffee in a really nice place, Cafe Frei, and decided to take them to Steel Arena to watch the Ice Hockey!
Košice were playing MHC Martin and tickets were only €5 (cheapest were €3!) which is awesome value for a night out.

Košice won, obviously, 3-2 but there were something like 35 and 22 goal attempts so was exciting to watch.
At one point a guy took a puck to the face and was knocked out...

We dropped them off at the airport early this morning and I'll be home in less than 2 weeks! :)

Saturday, November 1, 2014


Mom and my brother Nat have come to visit me in Slovakia for 4 days!
We had Friday off Uni (Rectors Day) so taking advantage of the long weekend and spending it with family.

Sian's parents are also visiting so we met them at the airport, came back to town and gave them the guided tour. We showed them round Uni, even though most of it was closed, then came back to Dorms.

Family Falconry Selfie