Michelle Chen: Following my gut and taking a leap of faith

Moving to Australia to study the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine was a decision Michelle made using her instincts... and turned out to be one of the smartest decisions she's made.

Hello! My name is Michelle, and I'm from Vancouver, Canada. Like many of my peers, I dreamt of becoming a veterinarian ever since I was a little girl (Grade 3, to be exact!). After completing my Bachelor of Science with Honours in Animal Biology in 2015 at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, I was presented with the opportunity to pursue my veterinary degree abroad – and I have not looked back since.

Michelle Chen
Michelle examines a horse.

My choice to come to Australia was not entirely based on logic. I had researched many wonderful countries with universities offering AVMA accredited veterinary courses extensively. However, there was something about the idea of living in Australia that, without fail, made my heart race next to my ear drums.

I had visited Australia once before on a volunteer trip, assisting the rehabilitation of Little Penguins on Phillip Island, and the pure thought of returning to this magical place made my palms sweat. Some may call it impulsive, but I made one of the biggest decisions of my life following the “butterflies” in my stomach, and it is still one of the best decisions I’ve made.

My decision to study at the University of Melbourne was supported by two things: its prestigious international reputation and its unbeatable location.

University of Melbourne was one of the first Australian universities to receive AVMA accreditation, as well as the first Australian university to offer the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM). The university is internationally renowned for the high calibre of its research and its many successful alumni (Peter Singer, as an example).

And to top that off, the Parkville campus is located in the heart of Melbourne, which consistently ranked as the most liveable city in the world by the EIU for seven years! The decision was (and still is) a win-win situation.

Nothing could have prepared me for the experiences I was about to gain through the DVM. I have always been very focused on companion animal medicine, as most of my past experiences came from working as a veterinary assistant at a small animal practice. My narrow perception of the veterinary profession was very quickly widened within the first year of this program. Not only was I learning how to work with different species of animals, I was being introduced to career opportunities that I never considered before – such as disease outbreak investigators, policy setters, and government advisers.

Michelle assists in a clinical examination of a dog

The DVM program is a highly challenging, yet incredibly rewarding journey. For me, being able to apply what I've learnt in lectures and work hands-on with animals are the absolute highlights of this course.

Studying overseas for four years may feel like a massive leap of faith, but I challenge you to follow your butterflies. Moving to Australia and studying at the University of Melbourne was one of the best decisions I’ve made. Not only am I receiving a world-class education, I have made irreplaceable friends and gained countless memories I will cherish for the rest of my life. As my favourite saying goes, “Nothing good comes from your comfort zone.” So what’s stopping you from starting your next big adventure?

Learn more about the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.