Amy Stamp is a 20-year-old vet student at Nottingham. A keen writer and musician, she has found outlets for her talents through a blog,'Ill creatures great and small', and a newly established campus orchestra.
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What made you decide to blog?
I have always loved writing, and, right up until going to university, English was my favourite subject. As a child I filled an exercise book with The Adventures of Paddy and Chips' – stories of the exciting things my rabbit and guinea pig got up to while I was at school. Not long after, my mum and I started reading the Herriot books to each other while waiting for my sister at her singing lessons. I decided that if I ever got to be a vet, I would write a book too. The blog is a way of recording my time at vet school.
Is 'Ill creatures great and small' your first blog?
Yes, though I've always written in some form. I have always struggled to keep a diary regularly, so I like recording my life online instead – it motivates me to write knowing that an audience is reading it. Plus my mum especially gets upset if I don't write for a while, so I have her to keep happy too!
What do you blog about?
Whatever comes to mind really. It's normally about the various things I've got up to at vet school, like interesting trips, practicals and EMS placements, but I often write about other things that have happened on campus or at home, like open mic nights, formal dining-ins, Christmas in Hull, busking, etc.
Do you have to think about what you're going to write?
The hardest part is deciding what to write about. Often so much has happened I have a surplus of topics rather than not enough. Once that's decided, it flows easily. I do have to proof read well though; I am a fan of the unnecessarily long sentence.
What made you decide to share your thoughts?
When applying to vet school, I remember it feeling very far away and unreal. Nobody had written a blog about Nottingham, so I wanted to try to accurately represent life at this vet school for people who wanted to know. I try to be as honest as possible with both the positives and the negatives of life in the vet school.
Who reads your blog?
It's a mixture. A lot of my family (even my grandparents are signed up for e-mail notifications) as well as friends, which is nice to see, especially when they are non-vet students or know me from home. I get quite a few comments from vets and vet students elsewhere in the country or the world, and the occasional comment from people I wouldn't expect, like the mums of prospective vet students or former school teachers.
Have you had any surprising reactions?
Well, being asked to do this was pretty surprising. It was also strange in first year being recognised by older years, and this year by some freshers who'd read my blog before arriving. One of the best reactions was being featured in last year's Vet Revue. I've never laughed so much, even if my impersonator didn't quite master my East Yorkshire accent.
What about Facebook and Twitter?
I use both. Facebook is a great way of keeping in touch with everyone, and a convenient way of sharing vet school work in our groups and organising society committees. I love Twitter too though; it means I can follow people and companies I'm interested in on a professional level (I know of someone who got their first job interview through Twitter), but also tweets by people I find amusing.
Tell us about your music
Before coming to Nottingham I was in three orchestras and two choirs, and being on a campus with no ensembles I soon found myself with withdrawal symptoms. By coincidence, there were three other equally enthusiastic musicians in my year, so three months into first year, and between two lectures on anatomy, we planned to set up an orchestra – the Sutton Bonington Symphony Orchestra. A year on we have an orchestra of 56, a jazz band of 22 and a choir of 25, made up of, and performing to, staff, students and the local people. It's the thing I'm most proud of.
How do you find the time for your studies?
I rely quite heavily on understanding things properly during the lectures themselves, as with the orchestra, jazz band and choir rehearsals, music soc, vet soc and entertainments committee responsibilities, plus finding time to write about it all on my blog, my spare time disappears quite rapidly. Nottingham's teaching style is ideal for me, with concepts introduced in lectures, emphasised in group work and put into context in practicals, so by the end of the week most things make sense. I wouldn't want it any other way though – at least I never have to worry about getting bored!
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