“I’m collecting languages now!”

Recently, we sat down with Danielle, a first year Veterinary Sciences student from England. She’s on the bilingual English-Spanish pathway, and has told us a bit about how she ended up here at CEU UCH.

So, how did you get into studying Veterinary Science?

I’ve always wanted to be a vet. I toyed around with a few other career paths for a while in England, but I just couldn’t get away from the fact that I wanted to work with animals. I did some work experience last year, when I got a job in a vet’s office for 6 months as a nurse’s assistant, and that was the coolest thing I’ve ever done. And I thought, you know what, this is actually what I want to do. It’s just what I kept coming back to.

What other career paths have you experimented with then?

I did an Environmental Science degree in the UK, and then I actually started a PhD in Eco Architecture, but that was way too far away from animals and everything that I like, so I boomeranged it back. I’ve always wanted to live abroad and I got to do some study abroad during my first degree (in Malaysia), and that was really cool, but I’ve always wanted to learn other languages, so I thought this would be the best opportunity in the world to do it. There’s so much support in terms of languages learning anyway, so it just seemed like a no brainer – I thought, “Of course I’m going to do that!”

Before I came out here, I thought, “Oh a year? I’ll be fluent in a year, I’ll be native in two, you know, easy peasy!”, but it’s not that smooth sailing. However it does happen, just through immersion. I’m still an A2 student, but I’m doing the B1 exam soon, and that’s a year before schedule, so I’m quite happy with the progress. It takes the year but it is actually going to get there, so that’s ok.

Danielle outside the Veterinary Hospital at CEU Valencia

It seems like the language was a big draw for you, but you could have picked any language! Why else did you choose Spain?

I like going to places I don’t know much about. My family and I have travelled around quite a lot and we’d kind of adopt countries, so we’ve been to France, and I’ve been to Italy, I’ve been to Germany and I had kind of just missed Spain, so I just thought, well, I don’t know much about Spain so we’ll go and live there. And I’m learning a lot. I’d been to Spain twice when I was really little, then I came here for the Open Day and then I moved here! But it’s just down the road for a European. It’s a really easy transition in many ways, not in every way, but in the getting used to living in Spain side of things, yes.

And why did you choose to study with us?

Because the course is bilingual, 100%. I saw that, and I thought “Sold!”. I actually applied because I didn’t have Chemistry A Level which you need in England. And here you didn’t need a specific subject, as long as you had grades overall that were good enough. It was a bit like a whirlwind, from let’s see if I can do it to two months later when I accepted, and thought, I’m moving to Spain in two months, great! So that was cool, that was really cool and surprising.

You’ve studied before, what is different here to studying in the UK?

There are a lot more practicals here from the get-go which is really, really, really cool, it’s one of my favourite things. We’ve got the hospital onsite which is incredible; the size of this one is really quite something. The clients that we work with is another thing – we work with the BioParc, we work with the aquarium and things like that, so that’s really fantastic and so are the opportunities we get exposed to. It’s a five year course here, and lots of the schools in England have four year courses, but I need that extra year to learn Spanish.

You’ve got your whole academic career ahead of you..! Do you have any aspirations for the next few years?

I want to be fluent, as ever! But actually, this time, because classes will be starting in Spanish in January, it would be good if I am understanding Spanish by then. I’d like to be able to have some more time to enjoy Valencia for what it is, it’s been a very busy year getting used to living in a new city and how everything works. I think being able to speak Spanish more, having a bit more time to use it and develop it, that would be cool, I’d like that.

And have you got an idea of which field you would like to specialise in?

I do. All vets do and apparently no vet sticks with it! I would like to go into Conservation Veterinary or Wildlife Veterinary. Realistically I’ll probably do a mix, but I’m allowed to dream. I’d like to work with rhinos and that sort of thing; that would be wicked.

I’d definitely work abroad, I’m collecting languages now – I’ve got all of South America! Because so many of my friends are bilingual, I’m trying to tick off the continent of Africa as well by learning French from the French/English students! I’m trying to get as many languages as I can while I am here. That’s my goal, to be able to travel. And that’s one of the things that I like about Veterinary, that you can work anywhere. There’s always a need for vets.

How’s life in Valencia treating you?

Well, I live in the city. I’ve always wanted to live in the city, I’m a country girl back home, I live in fields with lakes and stuff like that, so I thought this is the perfect opportunity to live in a city. It’s the third largest city in Spain, it’s actually perfect, it’s like the dream city. The metro is great, you can walk it from one side to the other in half an hour, it’s an hour and a half from Madrid, an hour and a half from Barcelona, there’s an airport, twenty minutes on a metro, you know… it’s just a dream… the living costs are cheap and there’s the beach. I couldn’t have asked for a better city to live in, I love it, it’s great. I don’t live in Moncada, but I really enjoy the commute, I really like that metro ride, it’s very scenic and pretty. I like the separation between school and life, I like to have that. So for me, I’ve lived in villages and I’ve lived on campus, so I don’t need to do that again, I wanted the city experience.

An aerial view of Oxford (Photo by Sidharth Bhatia on Unsplash)

And finally, for those of us who haven’t travelled the UK, could you tell us a bit about it and the city of Oxford, where you are from?

Oxford is very different to Spain. The culture is very different – one thing that I’m still getting used to is siesta o’clock, I still forget that! Oxford is an hour or so away from London, so it’s easily accessible. I think it’s beautiful, absolutely stunning.

England is very historical, it’s got lots of pockets of culture and lots of stories all around the country. London is fantastic, everyone knows London and appreciates London for how cool it is and it really is brilliant, but don’t be afraid to go a little further afield if you’re going to London. Within an hour or two of London you can get to the coast – you know, the British seaside experience is an experience! There’s all sorts, it’s definitely worthwhile popping over the channel if you can.

Thank you so much for chatting with us Danielle. We wish you all the best with the rest of your time here at CEU UCH!

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