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International Programs Student Trip Reports
In keeping with Texas A&M’s Vision 2020 objective of graduating students with a global perspective based on global experiences, the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences provides a limited number of travel stipends to students to help them gain international work/study experiences. The following travel reports give an overview of what our students learned while living, working, and studying abroad.

Italy - Catherine Lang

This summer, I had the opportunity to take a Food Safety and Public Health workshop at the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Padua. The class was comprised of three students from Texas A&M, Dr. Christine Budke, one student from St. George’s University in Grenada, and eight Italian students. The first week of the course consisted of guest lectures talking about different aspects of food safety and public health in Europe. During the second week of the workshop we toured different facilities where food is processed. This was my second time to attend classes at the University of Padua. My first visit was the Summer of 2012 (the summer before my first year of Veterinary School), where I took Physiology with Dr. Herman and Dr. Hunter. It was great to go back and see some of the students I had met on my previous visit. This time, we had a different group of Italian students take the course with us and it was great to make even m... (Read More)

Haiti - Sarah Burch, Alyzabeth Looney, Sarah Zeisler

During Christmas break three members of the class of 2016 and Dr. Kevin Thomson, a veterinarian from North Texas, set out to the Republic of Haiti.  This trip was organized through Christian Veterinary Missions, who sends veterinarians and veterinary students abroad to treat animals and educate people about animal husbandry in areas that lack veterinarians.  Haiti is a country that has struggled greatly in recent years.  In 2010, Haiti suffered from a massive earthquake, resulting in a death toll exceeding 100,000.  The country is slowly and steadily recovering. Shortly after we arrived in Port au Prince, Haiti, we met up with Dr. Kelly Crowdis, an American veterinarian who has lived in Haiti since 2006.  She was our host, teacher, and guide for the week in the country.  We met hundreds of people and treated over 1200 animals.  Here is just a small sampling of some of those interactions: Our journey to Hait... (Read More)

India - Archana Krishnan

Working as a Global Impact Fellow for Unite for Sight in Chennai, India was an incredibly rewarding experience both academically and culturally. I learned a lot about the field of ophthalmology while experiencing Chennai’s rich culture this past winter break. Pranav Eye Clinic is an organization that partners with Unite for Sight to bring in volunteers from abroad to provide eye care to those living in poverty in Chennai who cannot otherwise afford it. I was enrolled this internship for three weeks, from December 14, 2013 to January 4, 2014, during which time I acquired the basic skills required to do an eye exam including checking vision, screening for cataracts and performing refraction for both near and farsighted patients. Along with eye camps, I was also able to observe nearly fifty cataract surgeries that were sponsored using the trip fees that I provided to the organization. While I was volunteering, my days began early in the morning at... (Read More)

France - Lyubov Dunina-Barkovskaya

I first went to France a year ago, when my life-long dream of studying abroad came true, and I never thought that lab work on cytoskeletal proteins would end up leading me there for a more in-depth international research experience. Dr. Conover's lab here at A&M, where I have had student worker status ever since my Freshman Year, had a few things in common with Dr. Eyer's research lab in Angers, namely that both specialize in intermediate filament research, so naturally I jumped at the opportunity to discover how the research world works in a such a different, international setting. I first arrived in Angers on July 17th, and immediately received a tour of the lab and began to think about the experiments that I would begin doing the next day. The lab itself is beautiful - not only state of the art everything but also glass lab benches, colorful walls, and astounding views from the many windows rendering the use of lamps in most of the ro... (Read More)

Ecuador - Rachel Curtis

Dr. Mario Grijalva, the inspirational man behind it all. My research focuses on the eco-epidemiology of Chagas disease, caused by a parasite called Trypanosoma cruzi, and transmitted through the feces of insects known as kissing bugs.  I study where kissing bugs occur, how frequently they are carrying the parasite, and which strain-types of the parasite occurs in different locations.  Though Chagas disease is increasingly being studied in the US.  The best training facilities for studying this disease system are found in South America.  I was fortunate enough to find a well-established training program in Ecuador that is run by Dr. Mario Grijalva of Ohio University. Hanging from a tree, another day's work in the name of science! I was even more fortunate to discover that I am in a very supportive graduate program.  With financial assistance from my advisor, Department, the College, and the Self-Direc... (Read More)

Australia - Laura Norland

Welcome to Down Under! The first weekend I was in Australia, I explored the local community of Emu Plains where I lived, and went with some new friends camping in the Blue Mountains.  The scenery in the mountains is breath-taking, and during all my weekends, I went on hikes, saw the famous Three Sisters rock formation, and was initiated into the culture like I had been there my whole life.  Everyone was extremely hospitable and continually offered me typical Aussie cuisine like TimTams, Aussie meat pies, and vegemite (which I actually like!).  The lingo they use for everyday items was something I had to get used to, for example: a horse trailer is a float, an ice chest is an eskie, and a jacket is a jumper.  One of the most exciting things for me that first weekend was seeing wild kangaroos and their native lyre birds that can mimic car alarms, cameras, etc.  They are very unique!  That weekend was also when I fir... (Read More)

Belize - Erin Binagia

I fell in love with the country of Belize after I twice traveled there for a tropical ecology research project during my Bachelors and Masters in Biology. Belize is absolutely beautiful, and with its lush rainforests, gushing waterfalls, and high species diversity, it is rightly nicknamed "Mother Nature's best kept secret."  During my trip, I visited the zoo of only native Belize animals, and I discovered that Belize has just one wildlife veterinarian in the entire country! From that moment, I knew that I wanted to come back to Belize as a vet student intern with that wildlife veterinarian. I thought it would be amazing to work with tapirs, kinkajous, and coatimundis, but never did I believe I was going to experience Belize in a whole new way. Blue-crowned Mot Mot Confiscated White-fronted Parrot As I was traveling from the Belize City airport, the air was so thick with smoke that it was difficult to breathe or even to see the road. ... (Read More)

Europe - Chloe Matelski

Hannover, Germany I wasted no time during my trip. After arriving in Hannover in the early hours of the day and getting about 4 hours of sleep, I started my first day shadowing the laboratory animal veterinarians at Medizinische Hochschule Hannover (MHH). After short introductions, we were on the floor for daily checks and a tour. At MHH, they house many laboratory animal species including: rodents, rabbits, goats, sheep, dogs, cats, and occasionally larger farm animals. I was able to assist in individual exams of sick animals and aide in administering medications. It was interesting to see how similar they operated when compared to other lab animal facilities in the USA. That afternoon I observed (and later performed) sentinel rat necropsies and microbiology testing. The next day we repeated the morning routine, but the afternoon I was able to participate in a course the veterinarians hold for the medical students that are interested in resear... (Read More)

Thailand - Liz Measday

Thailand - Liz Measday A few years ago, I was going through a particularly difficult time in my life. A friend asked me "What is your idea of happiness?" Without batting an eye, or missing a beat, I replied, "Being in Thailand. At Elephant Nature Park, working with abused elephants." It was as simple as that. However, deep down, I knew Elephant Nature Park was a fantastical notion- my ultimate pipe-dream- something cherished but unattainable. I had discovered the sanctuary after it was featured on TV. It captured my attention because it was the first time I learned of the hidden horrors that Asian Elephants endure at the hands of humans in order to make them trainable and profitable. The hidden footage they showed shocked me to my core, but following that, they showed some lucky elephants that made it to the "Elephant Nature Park" sanctuary in Thailand. I was glad and, to be honest, relieved, that a place like Elephant Nature Park existed (or the TV show would have b... (Read More)

Australia - Amy Balzen

Australia - Amy Balzen "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." - Mark Twain I guess you can say I officially caught the "travel bug" back in 2009 when I studied abroad in Italy. I had no idea at the time that most of my education during that summer had more to do with the people I would meet than the courses that I was taking. From that summer on I have been formulating a list in my head of all of the places in the world that I want to see; it's pretty much an endless list! When I realized that the fourth year of vet school gives you the opportunity to spend a few weeks away studying almost anywhere you choose, I leapt at the opportunity to cross a far away destination off of my list. I found out Michelle, a friend and classmate of mine, was looking into studying at the Australi... (Read More)