The graduate

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I started college at Kutztown University as a psychology major. I ended up regretting my decision. I think I rushed into attending KU without fully comprehending it. I didn’t think about how it would be, attending a townie school instead of a state school. Most KU students come to college with a good portion of their high school classmates and commute from home, no longer than 20 minutes away from campus. So, it wasn’t much of a welcoming environment because everyone else was settled with their friends and home while I was starting over. I did end up making a few great friends, but there were many reasons for transferring out – 15,000 students was too large for me, I wasn’t sure about my major, KU mainly specializes in education majors, and overall it just didn’t feel like a good fit.

I looked around at other colleges with a new perspective and an open mind. I thought more about my future and my career path. Delaware Valley College, or Del Val, popped out at me. It was a much smaller school, consisting of merely 2,000 students. My mom talked to her friends about my situation, and one of her friends just so happened to know a girl my age at Del Val – Laura (I know, same name as me… freaky coincidence!) So I signed up for a tour at Del Val and arranged to meet up with Laura G afterwards. I talked to her and a few of her friends to get the inside scoop about Del Val and to figure out if the risk of transferring schools would be worth it. Immediately I felt a good, strong vibe about the college. The people seemed so friendly. The campus was beautiful – with the gardens, gazebos, lake, and little trails. KU had a nice campus, but nothing compared to Del Val. KU’s campus felt more utilitarian, while Del Val’s campus felt like it had true personality.

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And that’s why I love Del Val: it’s authentic uniqueness. It’s not a state school, nor is it a community college. It’s a small, private college with a deep focus on agriculture. It offers a kind of experience that you will not find at any other college. Every class comes with hands-on experience. It’s not just about sitting in lecture, taking notes, and being tested. It’s about getting your hands dirty, trying new things, and being pushed out of your comfort zone. They don’t just offer biology as a major; they offer small animal science, large animal science, wildlife management & conservation, zoology, and several other specific majors you won’t find at other schools. Thanks to Del Val, I was able to practice working with REAL animals: rats, mice, hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, cats, cows, chickens, insects, reptiles, and even fish! I was able to take cool classes you won’t find anywhere else such as Introduction to Animal Management, Animal Training & Enrichment, Canine Behavior & Training, Animal Behavior, Animal Welfare, Human & Animal Interaction, and so on. I’m proud of the education I received.

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I came to Del Val at a crucial time. When I first transferred, people were discussing Del Val possibly reaching university status. Sophomore year, they built a brand new building for more classes with a Starbucks kiosk. Del Val started rapidly expanding right after I had arrived.

Delaware Valley College became a university my junior year. It was a bittersweet experience. The staff and faculty, especially the president, was ecstatic about becoming a university because it “looks good” and means more money for them. But the students felt much differently. We were upset that Del Val was on the road to losing its individuality and becoming just another plain old university. Some people even transferred out because of this. Us agriculture majors were annoyed that Del Val was taking its attention away from our majors, and instead, focusing on the new majors such as business and criminal law. Since this change, Del Val has been obsessed with quantity and has completely disregarded quality in order to compete with other universities and climb its way to the top. The new Life Science building that was added my junior year is very nice and modern, but before it was built, it was a garden area I used to sit at with my friends. Quality professors are retiring and Del Val is struggling with trying to find decent replacements. With more students being accepted every year, parking spaces have become much more scarce. And, also with becoming a university, comes the implantation of stricter rules. So, on one hand, I suppose graduating from a university as opposed to a college looks better on my resume. But I feel sorry for the younger classes who come to Del Val when it becomes too late to appreciate its uniqueness and impressive agricultural focus. I hope that the future agriculture students of Del Val get the same amazing opportunities I had. I hope Del Val never loses its character.

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My classes were extremely challenging and there were many times when I thought I would not make it. Classes that I thought would be “fun” like Animal Behavior turned out being extremely challenging, and classes I thought would be pretty hard like “animal anatomy & physiology” ended up frying my brain. I feel pretty smart now.

College was a time of major growth for me. I had a lot of difficult experiences along with many great memories. I feel like a very different person than the person I was freshmen year.

Now I am cleaning out my apartment and pretty soon I will be home again in NY. In the future, when I have the space and the funds, I am really interested in starting my own animal-related business. I’ve had a few ideas in my head for a while now. I can’t say for sure how everything will specifically work out. Until then, I’ll be working at different places and developing my skills as an animal-caretaker. Personally I am not fully motivated to chase after a large paycheck. I want to save the world and live my passion. I want to help the animals!

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Album Reviews: Yellowcard, Bastille, & Empire of the Sun

Some of my favorite artists released more great music this fall. I decided I would write a little personal review about these new albums.

Yellowcard: Yellowcard

5/5 stars

This has to be the saddest album review because this is the last time we will ever be hearing from the alternative rock band, Yellowcard. They released their self-titled album with the announcement that the band will be breaking up as soon as they finish their final tour. Yellowcard released their first album in 2001, followed by Ocean Avenue in 2003 that became their biggest hit. Ocean Avenue was a masterpiece and it was hard for them to follow up after releasing such an epic album. I remember getting that album for Christmas in 4th grade. I would play that CD in my boom-box all the time while hanging out in my bedroom. They released several albums following Ocean Avenue, however none of them could compare. Southern Air from 2012 came pretty close, but still couldn’t measure up completely. However, Yellowcard managed to outdo themselves and end their career on a major high note (no pun intended…)

The new Yellowcard album is absolutely fantastic. I can actually say that this one beats Ocean Avenue. The theme of the album is letting go, which makes sense, considering this is the band’s finale. The lyrics are meaningful and the melodies are powerful. “Rest in Peace” is a wonderful song about finding a way to move on from the past without feeling bitter about it. “Leave a Light On” is a beautiful piano medley. A couple of the tracks have a nice country vibe going on. My only complaint is that this is a shorter album with merely 10 songs. However, sometimes less is more. Each song is strong enough to stand on its own.

Bastille: Wild, Wild World

5/5 stars

I first heard of Bastille in 2014 when I heard “Pompeii” playing on the radio. I was hooked right away. They are an alternative-pop band with thick, british accents. They write deep lyrics that causes you to ponder.

Their new album is even better than their last. “Good Grief,” their lead single, is super catchy. As always, their voices are powerful. The theme of the album is about how crazy and wild the world is, especially when it comes to all the fear that the news and media feeds us. There is also a common theme of being in love and trying to be a good person. The album has a powerful message that we need in this hectic, modern world.

Empire of the Sun: Two Vines

4/5 stars

Empire of the Sun is one of my favorite artists! Their sound is a unique use of electronica that comes off as soothing and dreamy. Their lyrics are creative and imaginative. They make very eccentric music videos. Every song of theirs is always uplifting, even the slower ones. Their music makes you feel good, like you’re walking on a dream (which is the title of my favorite song by them!)

In their new album, Two Vines, Empire of the Sun keeps their signature style. It sounds very similar to their previous albums. I deducted a star only because I was hoping some of their tracks would be a little different. However, it’s still an amazing album. I would have been upset if they flipped their style completely. As usual, the tracks are positive and uplifting without being too cheesy. I’m glad they stuck to their original roots, though I hope that for their next album, they are a bit more experimental.

My new kitten!

Words cannot express how excited I am right now! My boyfriend surprised me with a kitten this weekend. She’s only 3-months old, and she’s tiny! Her name is Venus. She is mainly black/grey tabby coloring, sort of brownish in the light.

She was very scared at first, but warming up so quickly! She goes through cycles of extreme hyperness, followed by extreme lethargy, followed by more extreme hyperness, etc. She loves playing with her little toys – jingle balls, fake mice, and so on. When she’s tired, she loves to cuddle. She really enjoys my bed and slips under the covers for warmth.

I am incredibly ecstatic right now. This is bringing back memories of when I got my first kitten, Buttermilk, for my 9th birthday. Now I remember why the fourth grade was so great for me. Kittens are different from adult cats because they are so fragile and require much more attention. -Much, much, much more attention. I think this is a great time to get a kitten because with my current schedule, I spend a lot of time at home (usually doing homework) so I can be with her often. It’s adorable how needy she is right now. As she grows up and becomes an adult, she will become more independent. I truly hope she can live a long, healthy, and happy life. She could live to see my future children… so crazy!

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In merely three weeks, I’ll be back home in NY with my family. I’m really looking forward to it. I’m starting to feel pretty homesick. I can’t wait to introduce my new kitten to my family.

There are only four weeks left of this semester. Goodness!!! Last Thursday I had to do a solo presentation for my clinical pathology class about Canine Degenerative Myelopathy, a neurodegenerative spinal cord disease. I feel like I did decent enough, but I’m nervous about my grade. The instructor is such a tough grader. Next week I have to do another solo presentation for my senior seminar class. I feel like the hardest part of my semester is coming to an end. I’m feeling less stressed… although I still feel pretty tense about school because that’s how it always goes until you get your final grade.

Titan

Very sad news. My beloved pet rabbit, Titan, has passed away. He was very young, it was very sudden and unexpected. I am still in disbelief. I have been trying to distract myself this week and focus on the positives but I keep thinking of him and how upset I am. It helps to believe that this is a small part of the bigger picture. But from my perspective, my whole world has turned upside-down.

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I only got to spend a short time with Titan which makes it even harder. There’s tons of great memories to look back on but not nearly enough. I had big plans for my little bun. Once I moved into my first home I was going to setup and outdoor play area. I always wished he could’ve spent more time outdoors, in his natural habitat. I bought him a leash that I only used once.

I know I gave Titan a lot of love and care, but my biggest regret is that I should have gave him even more attention. It’s been a busy couple of years but I should have prioritized him even more. Of course I enjoyed spoiling him and giving him little treats, but I should have done even more. Though, even if I spent every second of his life with him, it still wouldn’t have been enough.

Titan was my first pet rabbit and he showed me how much I love rabbits. I definitely want more rabbits in the future. But no bunny can ever replace Titan.

Towards the end of his life, he was really warming up to people and becoming less skittish. It became much easier to pick him up. He learned how to jump really high this fall. He jumped on and off of my bed and the couch! So adorable!

Titan had a stomach problem that hit him very suddenly. Luckily it didn’t just happen in the blink of an eye. I spent all of Friday giving him love and trying to nurse him back to health. For hours, he sat on my lap as I rubbed his tummy. He looked like he was starting to get better, then suddenly he became weak.

Every terrible experience comes with lessons, so that’s what I’m focusing on. Let this be a lesson that life is fragile. We need to love people and animals while they are still here. Even a tiny health problem is a big warning sign that must be addressed immediately.

I love you Titan, rest in peace.

Back to school

About 2 weeks ago, I started my final semester of college. Del Val has been a crazy adventure. I’m looking forward to graduating. I’ve had enough of tests and presentations. I only have three classes to get through this semester – physiology of reproduction, clinical pathology, and senior seminar. They’re all going to be pretty tough. Reproduction should be interesting and I’m excited to see what this class has to offer. Clinical pathology is going to be difficult because 95% of the students in the class are pre-vet students.

I have learned so much at Del Val… but something especially interesting I learned that most people don’t realize is the reality of being a veterinarian. My professor during freshmen year (who used to be a vet) dissuaded us from planning on becoming a vet. He told us that getting into vet school is nearly impossible. He told us being a vet is a hundred times harder than being a human doctor. And yeah, if you think about it, vets have to learn about all the animals and doctors only have to learn about one. Today in lab, someone mentioned how the vet field has the highest rate of suicides and depression. Yikes!!! I have to applaud my fellow peers who have already sent in their applications for vet school (which cost them thousands of dollars just to apply).

Today in clin path lab, we made blood smears, stained the slides, and looked at them under a microscope. To my surprise I kept up with the pre-vet students (for now…). I have to start appreciating these little opportunities I get as a college student. Even though my major is difficult, I’ve had so many unique experiences in lab that I wouldn’t normally have.

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My very last “first day of school” photo

I stopped working at Paws-itively Healthy for the time being. I “officially” left the day before school started but I ended up working last Saturday morning. Sometimes the job can get really annoying (especially the heat stress) but being around dogs is an absolute joy for me. My favorite thing is watching them play with each other, getting so into the moment that they don’t even realize I’m there. There are definitely specific dogs that would come often for daycare/boarding that I really miss!

I’m really enjoying my apartment! I’ve been here since the beginning of the summer. My roommate Bree is awesome!