3 dissections and a "knighting" ceremony

I thought I’d post the Sunday entry a day late, so I could write about today’s dissection as well. Because last week was all about dissections and group assignments (and even more freshers’ activities of course, but well get to that later).

Throughout the week we have dissected a salmon, a chicken and today, a dog. We’ve also done a bit of microscopy on different tissues and gotten a small introduction to the cell biology subject we will start in a few weeks, but I thought I’d focus mainly on the dissection, because for many this is the first encounter with a dead animal.

I was pretty sure I’d get upset by it, as I’d heard stories about people fainting, and quitting school and whatever else people can say to scare you away from vet school. And I’m not going to say that it didn’t get to me at all, because there is something inherently wrong with seeing a room full of dead pets. Strangely enough, you get over it pretty soon, and if you’re wondering if it’s anything like high school dissections, in my opinion the two experiences are worlds apart!

For one, you don’t have any squeamish people in the room, and most people are there to learn, so the whole thing is much more structured. The dissections always start with us watching the professor dissect the same type of animal, with a camera mounted above him, so we can follow the dissection from his viewpoint on a monitor behind him. In addition to a document telling us what we are supposed to find, and how we are supposed to find it, the professor demonstrates exactly how to cut to find what we’re looking for, making the entire process a lot more streamlined, and less messy. As you can see from the pictures, we always wear a lot of protective gear to keep our clothes from getting bloody. I did however manage to get blood splatter in my mouth today, which was by far the least enjoyable part of the day.

As for the three animals we dissected, we mostly focused on where the different organs were, and how big or small they were, and how the different species had different adaptations in their skeletons and organs based on their habitats and lifestyles. The chicken for instance as incredibly light and brittle bones compared to a mammal. And after dissecting the salmon, and seeing how much fat it had around its organs, and how frayed its fins were, it made me want to do some more research on the Norwegian salmon industry. It seems like there are many moral grey areas in our fishing export, such as the overdependence on soy products for fish food, the death rates in certain salmon populations, and the use of wrasse fish as sea-lice pest-control. I’ll probably do an entry on that September 14th, so if you’re into animal welfare and environmental issues, be sure to check it out.

This week also marked the official end of freshers’ week(s), and while I can’t disclose everything, I can say that this has been one of the most insane and fun weeks in a while. I wish I had more pictures from the prank I mentioned in Wednesday’s post, because the outfits the seniors were wearing were amazing! I can’t wait to dress up like that in my senior year! Other than that they threw us a three-course dinner this Saturday, we all dressed up and celebrated, and it was so much fun. They showed us videos of some of the freshers’ re-enacting scenes from twilight, the boys singing drunk backstreet boys-karaoke, the choirs sang, many hilarious speeches were given, and it was just a great way to round off the first few weeks. We were also blessed by the patron saint of animals and veterinarians, Saint Blaise, (no, I am not kidding, this school has so many rituals and traditions, that there was legitimately a whole group of people dressed up, almost knighting us with a huge staff and everything(!)), and the whole ceremony was rounded off with a shot from a test tube.

This week also marks the end of the first subject, and next week we have our first exam, which feels so strange! Be sure to check back in on Wednesday for the entry on how to best prepare for a difficult subject, and feel free to ask any question on the dissections or any of the other topics I’ve talked about! I’d love to hear how vet school is like in other countries!