I travelled to a rural area on the west coast of the South Island of New Zealand, to a place called Ashburton, in the Canterbury region. Canterbury is famed for its flat landscape, which lends itself well to large-scale dairy farming. As a vet student interested in bovine medicine, this was my motivation to visit the area and I was able to time my visit with New Zealand’s annual calving. Most farmers in the country calve their cows in a ‘block’ pattern, which means that the thousands of cows in the country all calve within the same 4-6 week period. This provides a lot of work for the local vets and provided me with an excellent opportunity to get stuck in and learn how to effectively assist with difficult calvings. I spent my time working with the team at VetEnt Ashburton, who proved to be an invaluable support and gave me the best work placement of my 4 years of vet school. By the end of my time there I was able to complete calvings unassisted, whilst also gaining valuable knowledge of nutrition and lameness-prevention techniques employed in New Zealand.
Before I left, one of my worries was of gaps in my veterinary knowledge, because I was hoping to prove myself as a capable student and engage with the clinicians so I could gain the most out of my placement. The fabulous team at VetEnt meant that this worry dissipated within a day and they were all incredible teachers that really allowed me to get the most out of my time. My biggest worry, however, was that I was travelling to the other side of the world on my own. I had never travelled such a long distance before, nor had I travelled solo. This was daunting because I was moving in with 2 different vet families whilst I was in Ashburton. One of the things I learnt very early on is of the kind and generous nature of the Kiwis and I was welcomed into both homes, which meant an incredible amount when I was so far from my own. I was lucky enough to have some time to travel the country after my placement too and learnt that as a solo traveller you are never “alone”. I met some incredibly inspiring individuals whom I shared some amazing experiences with, from swimming with wild dolphins, jumping the third highest bungy jump in the world and trekking on a glacier!
New Zealand is undoubtedly one of the most breath-taking and friendly countries I have ever visited. A large part of my motivation to visit and work there as part of my GoAbroad experience was to gauge whether or not I could move there after graduation. I can now say that it is somewhere I will definitely be returning to in my lifetime and absolutely somewhere that I would love to work as a vet. I would encourage anyone to visit this gorgeous part of the world: you wont regret it.
Assisting difficult calvings
Trekking the Franz Josef glacier
Traffic in Canterbury