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Filter Featured “I always spent time where I could learn foreign languages, too” – Interview with graduate student János Kiss

“I always spent time where I could learn foreign languages, too” – Interview with graduate student János Kiss

Communities can be successful even if their representatives don’t always win. University graduate János Kiss can consider his performance at this year’s Equus Days as a success. Although he didn’t win the Bos Major election, the students of his year group were always the most active participants in each event. He also told us how he had been using every opportunity to improve his language skills while having equine medicine on his mind all the time. As a result, he gained an unforgettable experience as a volunteer for night duty veterinary service.  Here’s an extract from our interview with him.

You were born in Keszthely, but you’ve spent much more of your life in the distant town of Nyíradony. What was the connection between the two places?

– Horses. My father used to breed horses at the western end of Lake Balaton and at the edge of the Nyírség region for quite a long time. Later on the horses were sold one after the other. We don’t have any now, but I’ve always thought I wanted to work with these wonderful animals when I grow up.

When did you sit on a horse first?

– Back when you don’t even have memories. I can prove it with a photo where my sister and I are sitting on a horse. I was four when my father started to teach me horse riding. I even competed in show jumping.

Were you admitted to the university on your first try?

– Yes. I didn’t even consider applying to any other school, even though I went to an English-German special programme in high school, instead of biology and chemistry. Of course, I did take the advanced level exam in these two subjects, too. I thought if I don’t get admitted, I would go to Germany to ride horses and reapply next year.

Are you actively involved in organizing the university’s social life?

– I am a Student Council member, I’m in charge of international relations. I do my best to cooperate with our foreign fellow students and their representatives. I do all kinds of things, I translate and interpret for them if necessary.

How much do they need your help?

– If there’s a bigger event, we certainly need to contact each other. I’ve been promoting close relations with them ever since I started working in the Student Council.  In my experience, they are very happy when it works out and they can feel they belong to the same community, the alma mater, just like us. International students, perhaps partly because of their situation, tend to be more open. Sometimes the necessary activity is missing on our side.

Do you have foreign friends?

– I play in the international volleyball team. Only two of the 24 members are Hungarian. We were resourceful enough to find the opportunity to practice even during the pandemic.

Did you get to study abroad during your five years?

– Last September I spent a month at the clinic of the University of Veterinary  Medicine Vienna. That was my summer practice. I worked in the small animal clinic for three weeks. I was assigned to anaesthesiology, but I was also able to arrange for some time with the horses. There were lots of vets at the clinic. They came from all over the world. I thought German would be the only language spoken there, but I hardly heard any German in fact, because 80% of the vets came from abroad, and some of them didn’t even speak German at all.

You, on the other hand, speak excellent English and German, I’m told by various sources. I’m sure they think so because you actively use your language skills.

– I have the advanced level certificate in English, but I only have the intermediate in German, unfortunately. I’ve been putting off the advanced exam for years, but maybe I can get to it now. It is a fact that I actively look for the opportunity to speak a foreign language. When I became a teaching assistant at the Anatomy department, I made no secret about it that I wanted to improve my German skills. I spent most of the two years in German practical classes, helping the students there. I always spent time where I could learn foreign languages, too. My next goal is to develop my French to a working level.

What was your most memorable experience during your clinical studies?

– I’ve been working as a regular volunteer for duty veterinary service in Üllő for about three months. Thanks to the good relations I developed with the professionals there, I was allowed to do much more things than a student’s tasks: I was trusted to do the daily monitoring of horses and taking their vitals. You have to monitor the patient’s condition and if it changes for the worse, you must alert the vets. This way the horses are constantly monitored. I will always remember my first night on the veterinary emergency room, I can’t even get it out of my head. The colic surgery of a famous Hungarian sport horse and stud began at 1 a.m. I stayed with him at the post-op stall until he got to his feet at 6 in the morning! Last summer a camel mare and her foal with a broken leg were brought in from a circus after midnight. That was an exciting case, too!

Which area of veterinary medicine are you the most interested in at the moment?

– Equine health. More specifically, lameness and the use of imaging diagnostics.

How do you envision your future in the profession?

– I see several options, but none of them without horses. I used to consider working as a house call veterinarian, but now I imagine myself doing my job at a clinic. I’d be happy to work as an associate of the university, too. I think I can get closer to that goal by participating in the one-year rotational internship programme where newly-graduated vets work for a salary in monthly or bimonthly rotations in different units of the clinic, such as internal medicine, surgery and imaging diagnostics. I definitely want to gain practical experience abroad as well.

Your friends tell me you love travelling, too!

– I very much do! I’ve visited my sister and my friends in Italy many times. Interestingly enough, the best part of travelling for me is the journey itself. I love getting from one place to another. Sometimes getting there is better than being at your destination. Perhaps because I love flying. I have two dream destinations: Iceland and South Africa. I was invited to the southern tip of the exotic continent during the International Day.

By a student?

– Yes, a guy I play volleyball with. I asked him if they brought any alcoholic beverage with them. He said they couldn’t unfortunately, because you can’t really bring anything like that by air. He suggested to visit South Africa so they could treat me to some!


Gusztáv Balázs