We’re learning how to use Toonboom in class. I really wanted to animate a fight scene. This short scene was made. :>

Dear first year me,

So you’ve had your first week of vet school. You’re feeling tired, overwhelmed and a bit apprehensive now. Let me lay down some hard truths.

1. Yes you are meant to be here, no they did not make a mistake.

2. People talk shit. Those that are loud and seem well put together are feeling just as scared and unsure as you.

3. I know you’re awkward but make an effort with the people around you. Make friends. Even the social events are a part of being in vet school so get involved.

4. You will not know everything, accept that now.

5. You will not have a holiday where you won’t have assignments, placement etc. to do

6. Have no expectations in terms of grades. You will never be disappointed and you can be pleasantly surprised. 

7. It is better to skip that morning lecture and catch up on sleep than to go to said lecture and sleep through it anyway.

8. Your study notes are going to always be evolving and improving. You will look back on previous years notes and shudder. 

9. There are some big personalities in vet school and you’ll need to fight for your own space. If someone is being a scalpel hog in anatomy push to have a turn at dissection as well.

10. It is perfectly fine to be wrong so long as you are not wrong about the same thing twice. Anyone who thinks otherwise is not worth your time.

11. Don’t be scared about going on some placements alone. You’ll get so much more out of it and make so many new friends.

12. Trust your gut feeling.

13. If you finish a test early, read over it carefully ONCE then leave.

14. Don’t dwell on an exam or test for too long afterwards. Give yourself 15-20 minutes, then move on.

15. Vet school is supposed to be hard. Go easy on yourself. 

16. Don’t lose sight of why you are here and know that it will be worth it in the end.

I’ll keep ya’ll posted

VA xxx


Dean DeBlois, writer and director of How to Train Your Dragon, visited Sheridan today and I was a shaking, crying mess (I hope he didn’t notice! But it was really obvious…). Dragons is my favourite movie of all time and it was the movie that made me want to get into animation, so meeting him was an amazing experience. He signed both art books for me and I gave him a drawing I did over the weekend AND THEN HE ASKED ME TO SIGN IT FOR HIM AND SAID IT WAS INCREDIBLE. 


I was so, so happy today. 

Organization advice, please?

As the low teacher on the totem pole, I travel between classrooms on a cart rather than have my own room. My paperwork system uses hanging-file crates: files for handouts, labeled files for each class period, and a separate crate for graded work. Late work goes into a special pocket in my grade book, by period, so I remember to grade it.

Even with all this, I am still losing work. I’ll have responsible students swear up and down they turned in something I marked “missing.” I have one rough student who picks an argument almost daily about me losing her assignments and “lying” about her not turning them in (I gave her the first couple as goodwill. At 5+ I KNOW it’s by mea culpa anymore). I’ll have half a class’s papers go missing between collecting them and entering them in the grade book days later, at which point I throw up my hands and give them all participation grades for it.

I’m at my wits end, guys. I am not a neat person, but I do know how to stay organized when need be. I’m certain that if I wasn’t moving classrooms things wouldn’t be this bad, but for now I have to deal.

Does anyone have advice on how to keep track of all these papers? Please oh please, I’m close to a meltdown here.

Above: A triptych created by first year Emma Chard.

“I decided to focus my portraits on the darker side of cheerleading after attending some training sessions. I photographed a training session in Gloucester for the UoG Dynamites team, and photographed one of their cheerleaders, Aimee Trewhitt. I wanted to document the injuries and pain they work through, emphasising the danger of the sport that contrasts with the usual cheerful and fun portrayal of cheerleading”. 

Platform 9 3/4

Today, September 1, 2015, is the day that James S. Potter went to Hogwarts. For all of us who did not get our letters because of Voldemort’s damage to the Ministry of Magic he is a symbol that fun and magic can live on at Hogwarts even after such devastation. He is in the Gryffindor dormitory for the first time and is probably dreaming of his parents and the stories that they told him about their adventures they had there. I just hope his school years are happier than his father’s.

Welcome To Night Vale.

This is a combination of all the openings from WTNV’s first year. Enjoy!

“This is a story about you,” said the man on the radio. And you were pleased, because you always wanted to hear about yourself on the radio:

           A friendly desert community where the sun is hot, the moon is beautiful, and mysterious lights pass overhead, while we all pretend to sleep. The desert seems vast, even endless, and yet scientists tell us that somewhere, even now, there is snow. The Arctic is lit by the midnight sun. The sun has grown so very, very old. How long cold, fading death? How long? Today’s air quality is mauve and speckled. The surface of the moon is lit by the face of the Earth. Our little town is lit too, by lights just above that we cannot explain. The sun has risen, You are awake. This symmetry is not without meaning.
          Close your eyes. Let my words wash over you. You are safe now. “You’ll be safe here,” says a whisper behind you. Regret nothing until it is too late. Then regret everything. Hang a map of a place you’ll never go on your living room wall. Draw new streets. Tear off bodies of water. Wait for new crews to arrive.
           It is almost complete. It is almost complete at last. Blinking red light in the night sky. The future is changing, but it’s hard to tell. The future is what you make of it! Just know that your supplies are limited. Your existence in not impossible, but it’s also not very likely.
           Silence is golden. Words are vibrations. Thoughts are magic. Trust everyone. We report only the real, the semi-real, and the verifiably unreal. The policeman in the intersection is not directing traffic. He’s coding an urgent message to all of us. Rabbits are not what they seem to be. Bananas are hardly that slippery. But watch your step anyway.
           The optimist says the glass is half full. The pessimist says the glass is half empty. It is only the truth seeker who wonders, why is the glass there? Why is there water all over the floor? Why is covering every other surface of the house? Who or what is doing this to us? Look to the obelisk. We don’t know where it came from, but it’s attracting a lot of cats. There is a thin semantic line separating weird and beautiful, and that line is covered in jellyfish. Weird at last, weird at last! God almighty, weird at last!

Welcome to Night Vale.

Freshers’ Week Hints

Hello and Welcome to the wonderful world of Higher Education!

Congratulations on making it here! Please don’t be too disappointed that all those “cool” points you carefully gathered and nurtured in school don’t count for anything here. You are entering such an exciting new world, but it can also be pretty terrifying. So here are some pointers from a lecturer at an English university’s Business School. Some things will vary by country and university, but generally these are sound rules I have worked out by studying at three different universities and working at two more. The main things in my opinion are:

1. Get to know your surroundings: There’s a lot more going on there than you think and it might come in useful to know the area and a few locals. Try to not live in a complete bubble, the town likely has more to offer than clubs and bars. You are there for a few years, sooner or later you’ll have to show around visiting friends and family, so go out and find a cute little café, have a nosy around the museum, browse the shops, find a dentist… There is also the opportunity to enhance your CV by volunteering or working. This is an important part of university life.
2. Get to know your university: These things are pretty cool places with lots of smart people. There are services available, tons of interesting clubs, and a host of events ranging from entertaining to mind-blowing. Attend events, broaden your horizons, try something new. If not now, then when are you going to join a Quidditch team, listen to a Nobel laureate, celebrate Chinese New Year… On a more serious note, there is also counseling, financial aid etc. available for free. And skills workshops. At the very least attend one on referencing and one on academic writing. A time management one is usually a good idea too.
3. Read the syllabus: We actually put considerable effort into these buggers. Read them. I’m a pretty laid back person, but I hit the ceiling after the tenth “when is our assignment due?” email. Consult these documents regularly, maybe have them saved on your desktop, and put important dates into your diary, ideally with an alarm to remind you in good time before a deadline. If you have made absolutely sure something is not in the syllabus/ module handbook/ student guide, ask a question in class (best option because you are certainly not the only one wondering), email the lecturer (our job consists of teaching, meetings, and research, chances of catching us on the phone are slim), or make an appointment (unless there are specific drop-in office hours, making an appointment makes things easier, for my part I teach about 250 students per term, the corridor outside my office can look like an airport departures hall).
4. Learn how to reference: In my field & country we use Harvard style. It varies, but usually styles are consistent throughout your course, so learn them early and learn them well. Whichever style it is, get a handbook and study it very early on. And get yourself a referencing software. For example, Endnote Web is free and while it’s not perfect, it saves you lots of time and frantic searching for that one paper you read weeks ago. Attend a referencing workshop at the library or the study skills centre to get you started. Do that now, you are only going to get more busy. It is so unnecessary to drop marks or even fail assignments because of improper referencing.
5. Participate in class as much as possible: University education is only as good as what you put in. Do the reading, participate in activities, be critical, ask questions, or just smile. It makes class more enjoyable, you get more out of it, and it’s also really motivating for us lecturers if we are not teaching an audience of zombies. Oh and by the way, we love positive feedback as much as chocolate. If you like something, feel free to say so, it’s very encouraging and since we all like praise, we are likely to do more of the good thing. At the same time speak up when you don’t see the point of something. With some exceptions (”my football team won the championship yesterday and I threw something together last minute because I was in no shape to do diligent prep”) we have put some thought into that and are happy to explain.

And most importantly:
6. Talk to us:
You are not the only one who struggles. Most students do at some point. Whatever it is you are struggling with, please do not suffer alone. University staff are there to help you, but it’s very difficult to help when we don’t know that there is a problem. As in every profession, there are more and less helpful individuals, but please do find somebody you trust and speak up. We do have strict rules as to what we can and cannot do, but usually we can at least listen and point you in the right direction. This university gig is pretty stressful, don’t make it even worse by suffering alone. Let people who have been at it for a while help you. If there’s nobody else, feel free to shoot me an Ask.

ENJOY your first year at university! It can be overwhelming at times, but it’s also exciting and full of great opportunities. My colleagues and I have been commenting all day on how much we love to see new students milling around and how excited we are for term to start.