During my first Thanksgiving break of veterinary school, I felt relieved that I made it, stressed for the upcoming exam that was on the Monday following the break and frazzled from the amount of caffeine I had consumed in the previous thirteen weeks. As anyone who was in my state of mind would do, I spontaneously booked a flight to Iceland for January by myself. Oh, wait, other people don’t do that? Well, I am here to say that it was such an incredibly eye-opening, soul-searching, independence building experience and I encourage anyone and everyone in veterinary medicine to make such a trip.
I have always had a part of me that is full of wanderlust. When I was accepted to veterinary school, I just about wrote off the thought of traveling so I could focus classes and save money to afford rent. I was criticized by family, friends, and classmates saying that I was not at a point in my life to travel halfway across the world for a week. After it all, it was so worth it. There is more to personal growth than academic achievements. Traveling by myself in another country pushed me to become more independent and develop connections with people I would have never met if I wasn’t by myself. I opened myself up to new cultural experiences and pushed myself to think critically through snowstorms and navigating foreign roads. Not to mention the amazing sites of waterfalls, snorkeling in glacier water, and celebrating one of the country’s holidays with a bunch of strangers. Yes, maybe booking a trip 45 days out from departure to another country was not the smartest idea I’ve had but I believe everyone should make a trip like this in their lives.
As veterinary professionals, we often get caught up in courses, patients and long work weeks and put our personal time on the back burner. It’s easy to get criticized to take the time to travel, but as we move out of veterinary school with breaks, it gets harder to find the time once immersed in the profession. I believe this trip helped me grow so much in areas I would not have exercised in the classroom and it made me a better veterinary professional. Next time you find yourself with a week of free-time, a stressed mindset, and the urge to push yourself – consider a road trip or plane ticket rather than a Netflix binging, relaxed week at home.