Learning to read the body language of the animals she cares for is just one of the skills Vanessa Cheng has gained since moving to New Zealand to study veterinary science.
“I’ve learned a lot about safe practice, which is about being aware of your surroundings and understanding the body language of the animals you’re working with,” says Vanessa.
“Horses fold their ears back when they’re feeling aggressive or nervous, which is a good indication that they may not like what you’re doing to them. A dog who wags its tail is not always going to be friendly; dogs who are nervous or aggressive wag their tails too.”
Vanessa, an international student from Australia, is now in her fifth and final year at Massey University in Palmerston North.
She says one of the advantages of studying at Massey is that the campus has a large animal teaching unit, an equine hospital and a small animal teaching hospital nearby. Most city campuses wouldn’t have space to have everything so close, especially facilities for large animal work.
I really like studying in New Zealand. We’re very well looked after as vet students, and the vet school is very hands-on.
"We go out to work in vet clinics during our final year of study, and I’ve enjoyed getting that real-life experience."
Vanessa has also appreciated the university’s smaller class sizes, which has enabled her to form close friendships with other vet students in her year.