Sonja Greil is a graduate of the Dallas International School class of 2017 and was recently accepted into a prestigious veterinary medicine program in Edinburgh, Scotland. As she prepares for her first semester at university, we sat down with her to learn more about her future plans and past successes as a DIS Tigre.
Let me know more about this program that you got into. What does it entail? Why was it so important for you to get into this program?
The BVM&S (Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery) is a five year veterinary program. It basically entails all aspects you should learn to become a veterinarian meaning lectures like Physiology, Anatomy, Histology, Public Health etc. but also research projects and hands-on experience with animals from the very beginning.
After high school I already knew that I wanted to become a veterinarian. In the U.S., people usually go to college for four years and then have to apply to a vet school to study another four years. So going to the vet school right away seemed much more convenient to me. Also, I am originally from Germany and just moved to the U.S. two and a half years ago. I still considered Europe as my home and it was important for me to return there and be able to practice there in the future. At the same time I didn’t want to limit myself to only be allowed to work in Europe. So in short: Studying veterinary in US meant that I could only work in the U.S. and studying in Germany meant only being able to work in Europe. The R(D)SVS is accredited worldwide which of course opens many doors for me in the future.
What aspect of going to university in Edinburgh excites you the most?
Well of course Edinburgh is a place I have never been to before so it is more or less like being thrown into the cold water. Sometimes, I ask myself the question what if I don’t like it there? This is part of the risk and risks are also exciting.
Then, I am also excited to meet so many new people again from all over the world who have similar interests as I do. I am excited to be able to use my knowledge that I have learned in high school and apply it maybe in the practical field. Veterinary medicine is such a broad field, which unfortunately a lot of people don’t know, so I am excited to find out more about it and myself as well.
What are some of your goals that you would like to accomplish during your time at university?
I would like to find out where my specific interests and talents are, whether it’s the clinical field, research, being part of Public Health organizations or even just what kind of animals I would like to work with. The reason why I went to Scotland is also to get a new cultural experience and eventually figure out where I would like to work or live in the future. I think college or university is all about finding out what you really want for yourself.
How do you feel like Dallas International School prepared you for your college experience?
Like DIS, R(D)SVS is a very international school. During the last two years I have met so many different people with different cultural backgrounds. DIS probably taught me how to be part of a cultural diversity and to also accept and enjoy the challenges that it brings.
Then of course there’s the International Baccalaureate (IB) program. I was able to take two sciences on higher level (Biology and Chemistry) in addition to the two languages (German and English). It is a lot of material to cover and, to be honest, not always easy. But the teachers really helped and pushed me because they knew that I wanted to study veterinary medicine. I think I am well prepared knowledge wise but I also had to develop strategies to understand difficult topics and to manage a lot of work but at the same time enjoy it. The IB is supposed to be an autonomous program so we had to learn to organize and take a lot of responsibility for ourselves. Also, DIS encouraged me to take part in several clubs where again I had to take over responsibility and make decisions. I think those are skills that I will need in college for sure.
What do you miss most about DIS?
Most of all things I miss our small but familiar community. Over the two years I got very close to a lot of people, especially the ones from my grade. It is hard for me to imagine that we are all over the world now and a lot of us are very far from each other. But I am also happy for them getting into great colleges and having the chance to have so many new experiences.
If you could give a piece of advice to the students at DIS, what would it be?
I did not get into the school right away but I was placed on the waiting list. I did not have an offer for a really long time, until recently. In the beginning, I was disappointed and a little bit discouraged since everyone else already knew where to go. Although it sounds cheesy my advice would be to never give up. I had to send a lot of emails, had to make a lot of phone calls, had to work to get good grades and wonder whether it was actually worth doing all this work. In the end, you have nothing to lose, so just try your best!