Hello, my name is Shelby Williams and I’m currently a third year Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) student at the University of Melbourne. I decided to move my life from Seattle, Washington to Australia for my veterinary degree because of my strong interest in wildlife medicine and the fact that the university is AVMA accredited, although this is easier said in hindsight.
At the time of accepting my offer, I had been to other cities in Australia, but never Melbourne. I had to base my decision on what I had read online and what my gut was telling me to do. The offer was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I would have regretted passing up. The next few months were a whirlwind of buying plane tickets, applying for a student visa, figuring out where to live, and so much more.
The stress and planning never seemed to end, and at times I was left questioning my decision, but after my first day in Melbourne I never looked back. It’s a vibrant city with so much to do and I’ve been able to share my experiences with people from all over the globe. It has been an incredible and enriching journey so far to say the least.
With my DVM friends at the Werribee campus
Since moving Down Under, I’ve faced many challenges, but the rewards have made it all worth it. One of the biggest challenges for me is being away from my family for long periods of the year. I’ve already missed many birthdays, holidays and other life events, but all I can say is thank goodness for FaceTime! When I do get to head home, I usually get 4-6 weeks at a time to spend with family so I do get to see them, just not as often as I like, but it is something you learn to adjust to.
Perhaps one of the more rewarding parts about moving to Australia has been the amount of travelling I’ve been able to do. During my pre-clinical years, I tailored my placements towards working with the exotic wildlife that drew me here, all while satisfying my travel bug. So far I’ve been able to travel to Tasmania, Perth, Cairns and even across the ocean to New Zealand.
Hiking the Hooker Valley Track near Mt. Cook in New Zealand
My travels have allowed me to care for Tasmanian devils, wombats, green sea turtles and red stags to name a few. It’s seriously been a dream come true to work with all these different and unique animals in addition to seeing a little bit more of what the world has to offer.
Some of the cute locals I've met while in Australia
With graduation starting to loom in the distance, I can honestly say I still don’t have a clue what field I will go into after I graduate. The DVM program at Melbourne has opened up so many opportunities that I never even expected. I’ve definitely figured out where my passions are and aren’t, but I’m still keeping all the doors open. The DVM program at Melbourne is only the beginning.