Olivia Oginska is about to embark on a round-the-world veterinary adventure, improving her surgical skills and helping animals in need along the way. We’ve been catching up with her to find out more about her inspiration and what she hopes to learn on the WVS Goa ITC course which she is participating in during her trip.
Have you ever watched Eat, Pray, Love? I’m sure that you at least heard about it. It was immensely popular seven years ago. Based on the memoir of Elizabeth Gilbert, this American biographical romantic comedy-drama has motivated a lot of people - especially women - to take a second look on their lives and initiate some valuable changes in their heads, hearts and plans for the future.
It sounds a bit cheesy, I know. A film? Life-changing? Yeah, right…Believe it or not, the truth is that for me, that story about a woman traveling to Italy, Bali and India, searching for a happy, balanced life actually was life-changing. It still is, in a very simple sense. Every time I watch it, it gives me a new dose of motivation - the power to act. To reach for more. To dream bigger.
I can’t lie, I have always been a hopeless dreamer. However, with a decent dose of hard work, stamina, luck and some spare time, certain dreams can actually come true. One of my biggest dreams is currently becoming a reality. A journey around the world. I am extremely lucky and proud to say it out loud - it is happening! As a veterinary surgeon and an ardently ambitious person, I’ve set up a plan, which makes my journey truly sunny, entertaining and challenging, but also highly educational. I will travel between various veterinary clinics around the world, volunteer, help, watch and learn as much as possible. At least, that is my goal.
It’s a crazy plan, really complex and time-consuming. It all started with one idea. My friends (also vets) recently came back from one of the Caribbean islands, where they worked as general practitioners in a small animal clinic. They had an unforgettable time and came back with new experiences, as well as big smiles on their sun-tanned faces.
It was one of the projects organized by the Worldwide Veterinary Service. I’ve heard about it before from few different sources, invariably only good words. I decided to check it myself and I found the course in Goa - surgical training for vet students and vet graduates. That sounded perfect! Surgery is my passion; I’ve just finished a surgical internship in the UK and I am planning to pursue a surgical residency in the next few years, therefore every chance to improve my skills, especially in challenging work conditions, is vastly appreciated. What is more, it gives me an opportunity to experience an exotic, mysterious and completely different culture. I love meeting new people and I have a great faith in good vibes flowing among friendly souls all around the world. Therefore, I can’t wait to meet those living in India, share my passion and give animals there a better quality of life.
The whole idea seems fabulous. However, I am fully aware, that there will be very little glamour in this trip. It won’t be a fairytale - fluffy, sweet and easy. Of course not. Maybe just fluffy. Or rather furry. Even the film mentioned above shows some insights into Goa’s reality. What we can see on the screen - children reaching with their tiny hands for some money, dilapidated houses, overwhelming poverty and half-wild animals wandering on the streets, searching for food remnants in ubiquitous piles of rubbish - these are just small examples of the reality. Scary, but far from repelling. I guess we all need to face situations like that at some point of our lives. It’s precious, face-slapping and makes you truly, sometimes for the first time, appreciate what you have, what you’ve always taken for granted.
India is the land of drastic extremes. I’m hoping to discover many of its hidden secrets and explore the fascinating culture whilst using my skills as a vet. I’m sure that I will meet lovely, devoted people with giant hearts. I also have no doubts that I will practice and improve my surgical skills and learn a lot. What is more, I have a feeling that this experience will change my point of view, widen my horizons, teach me to be more humble and give me such drive and motivation to continue this work and support WVS on the frontline of animal welfare.