Our skin has memory. With the sense of touch we become aware of ourselves and the reality that surrounds us. Touching an animal is an experience that our skin will always remember. There is something beautiful and profound in that gesture. There is respect and tenderness, a feeling of peace, of acceptance.
Livia comes from Switzerland and got on a horse for the first time at the age of four. Today she is studying first year of Veterinary Medicine.
We love those photos in which you appear with different animals, capturing some unique moments… Why don’t you tell us more about them?
It is a beautiful blend of so many things… Putting our hands on them is such a privilege, something that the animal grants us. And that is why we should thank them for it, be respectful to them. The most important thing is to be aware of what we are doing: “Am I welcome to your space? Do you agree?“. With the answers to these questions, we can predict the effect our gesture will have in the other. Let’s not be selfish and remember that this other living being also has feelings. They may also feel fear, pain, stress, and we should understand and respect that.
Why did you decide to pursue your studies in another country?
I have never been scared of living abroad. In fact, I am not sure whether I will be returning to Switzerland after my studies or not. I miss my country, of course: My forest, my dog, my horses, my friends, my family… but I think it is just normal. I try to keep in touch with them as much as possible. The most difficult thing for me is not to live with animals, because here I don’t have my dog at home, nor do I go to the stables. I just don`t have time. But these are sacrifices that I have to assume to achieve my dreams.
“Meeting people from so many different places and connecting with them feels somehow magical”
Why did you choose to take your classes in English and not French?
To improve my English. Working with wild animals would be a dream for me, and that’s why it’s important to have a good level of English. And also, I knew that this option would give me the opportunity to meet people from all over the world instead of just French-speaking students.
Did you expect to meet students from so many different countries?
Yes, I expected to find students from around the world. However, I did not expect to meet so many people who spoke French in these classes. But I really like the international environment. I like that international flair, the mixture of cultures and languages. I feel integrated, which means that I already have friends, including a very special friendship. It is a magical thing to meet people from such different places and connect with them so closely in such a short time.
What do you think about our training method and all the practicals?
I am very happy with the classes. I did a year as a veterinarian in Switzerland, but I quit. So far, what I can say is that the theoretical classes are a little less deep, which for me is not so important because we learn many things that are not always necessary. In my opinion it’s good to learn a lot, but in the end you don’ need all that information. What really matters is the hands-on experience, which is fantastic in this University. In Switzerland you only start practicing in the third or fourth year, it’s a good school but the approach is different.
Have you had any previous experience in Veterinary Medicine?
I spent two weeks working with small animals, I did some night shifts in a Vet Clinic in Switzerland and I did three weeks of volunteering in an elephant rescue park in Thailand. Then I also did nine weeks of volunteering in a rhino orphanage in South Africa, eleven weeks in a wildlife sanctuary in South Africa and a week in a marine fauna research in Mozambique. All of my life I have ridden horses, worked in stables and taught lessons to children. I look forward to having more and more experience and being able to help anywhere.
Thank you very much, Livia. We hope that all that practical training will help you become a great veterinarian!