Sleep Deprivation, Scottish Lovelies & Getting Sh!*tfaced

What’s with the title!? I know, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

First of all, I need somewhere to vent my building frustration – and I’d probably end up telling you this anyway, whether you asked about it or not. Here’s the thing. I’m a vet student… in halls… surrounded by hundreds of people, mostly studying easy less demanding degrees.

It doesn’t take a member of Mensa to realise that my neighbours’ timetables and priorities are not always compatible with mine. What I’m trying to say is that they spend all night – every night – absolutely hammered. And they do it all, four to the floor, outside my door.

I promise myself every day, as I sit in my lectures with a headache and zero energy, that tonight will be the night I sleep. And then the evening comes and they start it all again. It’s no joke – I cannot carry on like this.

Something in me hopes that the novelty of being staggering drunk and rowdy will soon wear off. But the disturbance isn’t limited to them. It’s the endless parade of shouting, cackling, stomping, singing, door slamming and whistling (it’s the same guy, the same tune, every night. And those doors make my walls shake). I live in a tight community, there will be noise, I know that. But as I get up at 6:45am each morning, I creep around my room and close the door softly so as not to wake my sleeping neighbours. And what do I get in return? Oh, the irony.

I’m tempted to put up a sign that says something like “Vet student needs sleep – please keep quiet!”, but that would likely become the source of mockery, and a fine for daring to stick blutack to the door.

Literally from the first day, my friends and I joked about the stages of sleep deprivation we were experiencing. It’s day 14 and it’s no longer funny.

So there you have it. Unless something changes, you can expect to see the photos of me becoming more and more bedraggled.

Fortunately, on Sunday night I still had the energy to take part in one of Scotland’s most incredible traditions: the Ceilidh.

Since the queue for the main uni ceilidh was a couple of hours long, Kristen, Rowena and I attended the vet school ceilidh at a local church hall. And what can I say? People told me that Freshers’ would be the best week of my life… it was cool, but my life has thus far been amazing, and so I’m not ashamed to say I’ve had better ones. But Sunday night’s ceilidh temporarily changed my mind.

On the stage sat three men; one with an accordion, another with a fiddle and the third with some sort of clarinet-y thing. The clarinet-y guy talked us through the steps of some of the classic dances, such as the Gay Gordons, Dashing White Sergeant, Flying Scotsman and Virginia Reel. We started off clumsily, struggling to keep pace with the music and laughing uncontrollably.

But as the repetitions went by, the entire hall fell into step with the ever-increasing tempo, until we were skipping, spinning and swapping partners to the exhilarating sound of Scottish folk music.

At one point, I changed partners and was met by a male final year vet, and I reached for his hand to begin the next set. Instead of taking my hand, he grabbed me by the waist and lifted me off the ground, so that we flew through the movement (quite literally, my feet were moving but the ground wasn’t under them). I was less graceful upon meeting another man, who looked exactly the part in his kilt and shiny black shoes. Shoes that I stood on no less than three times, before yelling my apology over the music.

It was absolutely evident, when you changed partner, how old that partner was. The older students would swoop in and glide me through the steps so that I felt (but probably didn’t look) like a seasoned folk dancer. But when I took the hands of a first year, we would both trip and fumble our way through the dance. And it was glorious.

Aside from the multiple dances, the final year students taught me a very important lesson: don’t wear trousers to a ceilidh. Not only did I spend an unladylike amount of time pulling them back up, but I sweated, quite aptly, like a pig.

And that evening, I returned to my halls with that soaring high that you can only get from an evening in the presence of truly talented musicians and a whole bunch of friends. Thank you, Scotland.

And thank you Scotland, also, for presenting to me my only non-vet friend: Ella. It’s not clear to me how Ella ended up being in the unfortunate position of being stuck in my company, but boy am I glad she did. Although much more grounded and sensible than Kristen (and so, me), I feel as though Ella understands me right to my core. Her sense of humour is also excellent, she listens patiently to my stories, and always has one of her own to make me laugh for ages.

She’s no stranger to the animal life and, amazingly, her goat appeared on the TV show Vet School, which I had watched just before arriving. Small world! So as well as bringing something new and refreshing to the table, she can more than hold her own amongst this uni’s most animal-centric people. Thank Scotland for Ella.

So there you have my Scottish lovelies. And now… about that title.

Today was biosecurity day. Having had introductory lectures in the morning about histology and diagnostic imaging, we were bussed out to Langhill, the vet school’s dairy farm. Here, we rotated in groups around three activites: hand washing, gear washing and biosecurity.

The biosecurity consisted of a large animal vet showing us videos of people handling large animals (with various degrees of skill, and some rather questionable methods) and then asking us to comment. Cool, I really enjoyed that, but I’m not sure it’s worthy of any kind of description for you.

Hand washing was… well it was hand washing. Yeah.

But gear washing was like something from a military boot camp. Briefed and released into a changing room, we hauled on too-big waterproofs and wellies and marched out to a barn. Might I add that it was chucking it down, but I was in waterproofs, so what the heck.

Here we were lined up and presented with a brush and a bucket of brown sloppy… organic matter… which we were to slather all over each other. Now herein lies the joke. Kristen stood in line delighting over the opportunity to slap yuk across me, and when it came to her turn, got a bit over-enthusiastic. Right under the nose of the teacher, she wielded the filthy brush and smacked me right across my chin.

Without my permission, my body performed an exact replica of the Matrix bullet dodge. Except I didn’t manage to dodge anything, and stood upright with a great smear of the stuff across my face.

Kristen’s eyes were wide, “Oh my gosh.”

I hurriedly wiped what I could onto the back of my hand, before joining the circle of people around the unimpressed teacher for a demonstration. He looked around us all, “Where’s dirt-face?”

I raised my hand from the back. He pointed me over to the paper towels, and then proceeded to demonstrate the jet setting of the hose squarely into Kristen’s chest. HA.

What followed was all 32 of us trying to recreate his whole-body disinfection procedure in the allotted 5 minute period. The reality was not what I would call a procedure, where people proceed, but chaos, where people panic. Water flew in every direction as people hosed, scrubbed and dunked themselves. And it took way more than five minutes.

The scary bit? We have to do this next week under exam conditions, and I will have examiners watching me throw water all over myself in order to be allowed to continue the course. Fantastic.

And that, everyone, is whence the title came. I did not, however, turn into a Boston terrier, as the image suggests. Goodnight.

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