Making friends in vet school

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CarboKitty

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Some people converse easily with others; I might not be one of them. What do vet students talk about, and how do I make friends with them? At the vet school events I attended, people traded pictures of their pets. Soon, I ran out of compliments ("Nice dog. Yes, another nice dog"). I wanted to ask people about their vet experiences but wasn't sure how to phrase it without sounding pretentious ("I like to dance. Oh you don't? What did YOU do for your VMCAS experience section?").
My undergrad study groups helped me because we solved our problem sets together. I don't think my vet school does problem sets, so how do you pick who goes into a study group? Does one stare at another student during orientation, decide if they are intelligent, and ask if that student wants to study together?
I've been told to attend a football game because my vet school is a "big football school." If anyone can suggest a social activity that is less crowded and makes less noise, I'd be glad to learn about it!

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Small talk is a skill, and you can learn and practice is like any other. Whether you want to - that's a different question. In my experience of starting a new school, including vet school, is that there will soon be lots of shared experiences for you to chat with about to other students. Want to ask about their experience? Start by offering them some information about you, with some self-deprecating - but not belittling - comments: Maybe "I hope my experiences so far are going to help me in vet school but I'm not sure....Do you know what I'm talking about?" or "I feel like I didn't get enough experience in the field before vet school; I bet everyone worries about something, right?"

When it comes to study partners, don't look for intelligence, look for people who study in the same way you study. Study styles are different, and it's pretty useless to study with someone who paces and talks aloud, if you're a person who studies best by rereading notes and using flash cards.
 
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Some people converse easily with others; I might not be one of them. What do vet students talk about, and how do I make friends with them? At the vet school events I attended, people traded pictures of their pets. Soon, I ran out of compliments ("Nice dog. Yes, another nice dog"). I wanted to ask people about their vet experiences but wasn't sure how to phrase it without sounding pretentious ("I like to dance. Oh you don't? What did YOU do for your VMCAS experience section?").
My undergrad study groups helped me because we solved our problem sets together. I don't think my vet school does problem sets, so how do you pick who goes into a study group? Does one stare at another student during orientation, decide if they are intelligent, and ask if that student wants to study together?
I've been told to attend a football game because my vet school is a "big football school." If anyone can suggest a social activity that is less crowded and makes less noise, I'd be glad to learn about it!

Vet students are just people like anyone else. Nobody wants to talk shop all the time (well, some do, but I wouldn't want to be friends with someone who cant conversate about anything outside of their job/school). What did/do you talk about or activities do you do with your friends who aren't vet students? All could easily be applied. I was a tremendous introvert in vet school (and I'm still one today, I have just learned who to be a fake extrovert) and I eventually found my people - just don't overthink it or assume that you only make friends in vet school but talking about/doing vet school things. Hell, make friends outside of vet school as well by getting involved in the community. I had a weekly board game group where I was the only vet student (actually the only person even in school) and it was a great outlet.
 
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JOIN. CLUBS.

I totally agree with what people have said above about not talking shop all the time. That is so true! But clubs are an opportunity to meet people in your class and in the classes above you (I think you’re starting first year?) who share some interests. Regardless, it’s a chance to gather with a smaller group than a whole vet school class of 100+, often over lunch or dinner talks, or activities like spayathons, alpaca shearing, etc. I know I really appreciated getting to know students in other classes, not just my own. The older classes can reassure you better than anyone that you can do this! And also share their hard-earned wisdom from the classes and clinics that they survived and you will, too.
 
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When I started at UMN we had an orientation week that helped us get to know each other as a class as well as the school and policies. Your school might do something similar to help you start to make connections. Our orientation included having some pre-assigned groups that would do team building exercises together repeatedly throughout 1st year. We did icebreakers to get to know each other as people and checked in about studying, classes, etc. We also had a camp with some extra activities- karaoke there is how I met my best friend

You're likely to have extroverted classmates looking for ways to hang out without studying, so groups might form that have similar interests to you. You can also try and make one of these groups yourself if you're comfortable with it :) My class had groups that did swing dance, trivia, and drag brunches together
 
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What worked for me as an awkward being was finding other quirky loners in my class. Us introverted non-mainstreamers got each other.
 
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I think it’s also important to keep in mind that, as much as everyone intrinsically wants to immediately find their ‘people’, it’s not a race. Friendships morph over time and some of my closest friends in vet school I didn’t really start hanging out with until second year and beyond. Maybe you’ll find your best friends day 1, but if not that’s okay. You’ll be with this group for four years and you can get to know people over time once you know personalities and study styles and everything a little better.

Also don’t get discouraged if there seems to be large swaths of the class that is already friends. I went to my instate for vet school and undergrad both so I knew about a third of my class already, and my best friend in undergrad (and life in general lol) was in my class too. I had friends who were OOS and said they felt ‘behind’ at first because a lot of us already knew each other in passing it even closely from undergrad. But there’s usually a large portion of the class who is OOS and unknown to each other so just be friendly and talk to people.
 
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And also, don't feel like you have to make these amazing long-lasting friendships, or feel there is something wrong with you if you don't. I got along perfectly well with everyone in vet school, but I never made any real "best friends" or anything like that. I mean, I'm Facebook friends with a handful of them but I never actually talk to any of them really. I made my closest friends in hobbies and activities completely outside of vet school (mostly via sports)
 
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I'll second that your friendships/hangouts at the beginning are not necessarily the people you will be closest to when you leave.

Some of my closest friends in vet school I didn't really start hanging out with until year 2, one of them even year 3.

It is different for everyone. My best friends in my life are mostly all from vet school, but I also didn't really have any super close friends at the time I started school. I know several classmates who have their close friends from their life before school and haven't really kept in contact with people from school since graduation. Just do whatever works for you, no way is wrong.

In regards on how to talk to people, just finding out about any mutual hobbies/interests. Although at the beginning it felt like everyone just talked about their vet experience/their goals/etc, asking people about their hobbies outside of work and cool things they've done can lead to offshoot conversations that are much more interesting.
 
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