Megan Swemmer, a Bachelor student in Veterinary Sciences, from University of Pretoria in South Africa, spent 3 months at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, completing her practical training at the University’s Veterinary Hospital. This is what she had to say:

As a student completing a rotation working visit in the UAB Veterinary Clinic, I feel that I was exposed to elements of the each respective department that I have been taught about in class during my theory lectures in South Africa. I was also able to see what will be expected of me as a working veterinarian in these fields once I have graduated. Therefore I believe that my knowledge was exercised and increased during my visits. With regards to my competency, I was not given many opportunities to gain practical experience during my rotations through the hospital. Therefore I ​would conclude that my visit has allowed me to gain knowledge through observation, but minimal improvement in competency.”

Megan adds: In South Africa we are given a general rotation in Small Animal Internal Medicine without a specific focus on one field or discipline, therefore I greatly enjoyed the opportunity in the UAB Veterinary Clinic to focus on each area of small animal medicine individually. For example, in South Africa, we would see an animal for a consultation without classifying the “reason for visit” beforehand, therefore it is possible to not see many case examples of each specialist field throughout your rotation. I believe the main contributor to my learning was the opportunity to spend time with a specialist that focuses specifically on one area of veterinary medicine. This allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of each specialization and see more cases related to each rotation, as well as to learn from veterinarians that are very experienced in their field.

Talking about unexpected moments, Megan said: I was surprised by the level of familiarity between lecturers and students. In South Africa, we have a more formal hierarchy between doctors and students. At UAB I was so surprised to hear the students refer to the doctors and lecturers by their first name and communicate with them as if talking to a friend.”

In summary, “The world is smaller than you think. We, as global citizens, are all connected even though miles and seas may separate us. We all share the same day-to-day challenges and concerns. I would definitely recommend a mobility to everyone. The amount of growth I experience in every aspect of my life was simply unimaginable. Being taken out of your comfort zone and placed in a new university, a new town and anew country is a catalyst to self, academic and social development. My life has been greatly enriched by my mobility and I encourage others to open themselves up to the experience. It was a life-changing opportunity, thank you!

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