‘I refused to give up on my dream of being a vet’

For one Co. Louth woman, giving up on her dream career as a vet was something she simply refused to do. Her tenacity paid off as she is now a postgraduate student at Wroclow’s veterinary school.

Sadhbh Moran from Haggardstown, Dundalk, is one of a growing band of Irish people who are studying abroad. There are approximately 250 medical and veterinary Irish students in Poland, with a further 100 estimated to be studying other disciplines. In Wroclaw, there are about 30 Irish veterinary students, with others in Warsaw.

“I live across the road from a farm and would help out from time to time on it. My mother’s father and mother were both farming families. My grandad’s side owned a butcher shop – Malone’s in Dundalk.

“My grandmother’s side had a farm in Lough Egish in Monaghan. She moved to Dundalk and her family had their home and farm located here too,” said Sadhbh.

CAO points

Having attended an all girls’ school in Dundalk, the 25-year-old had one dream; to be a vet. However, the high CAO points required intense competition and the lack of information about studying abroad at the time left her taking another route.

“I studied biomedical science in Maynooth University and got my BSc honours there. I loved Maynooth,” Sadhbh said.

“After my degree, I worked in a hospital lab. I decided working in a lab wasn’t for me and I refused to give up my dream of becoming a vet, so I searched and searched for a suitable course.”

Although she was accepted to study veterinary medicine by a university in another European country, she didn’t proceed as she was unhappy with the level of communication.

“I really thought my dream of becoming a vet was gone and had started working in PayPal in Dundalk which I loved and which, interestingly, was built on the land my grandmother owned and had as her family home and farm in Dundalk.

“I took this as a sign from the universe telling me not to give up on my dream, so I never stopped researching until I found a veterinary course for me.

“I knew that unfortunately there would be a low possibility of studying in Ireland as there is only one vet college and there were roughly 10 places for postgraduate students and it was looking for students with a master’s degree or higher, which I didn’t have,” said Sadhbh.

An email from the guidance organisation Eunicas put Wroclaw, which was the European capital of culture 2016, on her radar.

“It was about an event where medicine, veterinary and dentistry schools were coming from different countries in Europe to talk about courses available for EU students. The coordinator of Eunicas Guy Flouch directed me towards the Medical Poland admission team and I haven’t looked back since.

“I met Adam and Artur from the team and they told me all about Wroclaw University of Environmental and Life Sciences (WUELS) and the veterinary course. They gave a talk on the course and university here in Wroclaw, and I was so impressed and my questions about studying veterinary as a postgraduate student were finally being answered,” said Sadhbh.

“I began my application through Medical Poland and the team were always very efficient with getting back to any queries and were very good about keeping me updated. I really feel so blessed to be studying here in Wroclaw at last.

“They make everything so easy with regard to application, moving over to Poland, keeping us updated with events and they are an amazing contact to have between us students and the university,” she said.

“Moving to Poland was great. I had travelled to Wroclaw with my mam in June 2018 after being accepted to the course and being advised to visit the college and the city by Adam from Medical Poland. It is such a beautiful city and the veterinary campus is very up-to-date and so impressive.

“We were shown around by one of the professors and I was blown away by the facilities over here, both for students and animals,” said Sadbh, who has written blog posts on medicalpoland.ie and posts photos to the Instagram @medicalpoland.

Of course it is a big adjustment. In general though, Polish people are very friendly and are always willing to help. The professors are a breath of fresh air and their English is really good too so nothing ever gets lost in translation.

“There is of course the small language barrier in some local or very traditional Polish shops where you have to know or learn a little bit of Polish, but it’s not too hard. I’m by no means a language expert and I manage really well. We also have Polish language classes from the second semester so you learn loads,” said Sadhbh.

She lives in dormitories with most of the others in her class.

“All the Irish students live here so we never feel too far from home. The dorms are really convenient and clean and have everything you need.

“They are located about 10 to 15 minutes by tram from the main campus and a five minute walk from the Biskupin campus which is where we have anatomy classes and sports. Class sizes are small, with 24 in my class so we’re like family at this stage.”

Fees

The fees are €8,000/year. Sadhbh said this is offset by the low cost of living. “The rent is much cheaper compared to Ireland and to share a room like I do it’s only €130/549zl a month, with bills included. The euro is worth more over here compared with the zloty.”

In third year, Sadhbh will have work experience in the university clinics which will continue until final year.

“There will be a wide range of experience, for example, both small and large animals; farms; some wildlife; birds and exotic; and experience in an abattoir.

“During the summer from second and third year it’s recommended to do more work experience in your home country, Poland or anywhere you feel like going, once you can speak the language.

After graduation, I hope to return to Ireland to work as there is a demand for vets, especially around Dundalk where it is a need at the moment for large animal and equine vets.

Artur Banaszkiewicz, student adviser, the Medical Poland admission team, said that the university in Wroclaw – which has been selected as the best in Poland by the 2018 Perspektywy ranking – is allocating additional places for Irish applicants in 2019.

In 2015, the university received the European Association of Establishments for Veterinary Education certification for the maximum period possible of 10 years.

In 2018, the university received the highest national grade for academic institutions by Polish higher education authorities, Artur said.

The Medical Poland admission office has organised in-person and Skype interviews for people interested in studying veterinary and medicine through English, today, Saturday, April 6, in Dublin.

More details are on: www.facebook.com/MedicalPoland. The next big open day will take place on August 28. For more information, email: [email protected]