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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 – An Eye Opening Externship Experience

Written by Alex Hunter “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” – Eleanor Roosevelt Italian music is humming in the background. I am peering through an operating microscope while seated next to an Italian ophthalmologist, both of us donning our blue ensemble of surgical caps, masks, gloves, and gowns. Through the microscope, I watch layers of cornea being excised to repair the corneal sequestrum in the feline patient anesthetized on the surgery table. My hand moves confidently as I reach for instruments on the tray, anticipating which will be needed next for the subsequent step of the procedure. The world became still and the Italian music seemed to fade as I realized, “This is it. I made it. I am living my dream.” Less than a month away from graduating vet school, I was completing an externship with an Italian ophthalmologist. Not unlike... (Read More)

Nicaragua - Jessica Xu

I spent my spring break in Nicaragua with the World Vets International Veterinary Medicine (IVM) program. World Vets is an international organization that provides free veterinary care to communities that lack adequate financial or veterinary resources. The group that I worked with consisted of a lead Canadian field service veterinarian, several Nicaraguan and American veterinarians, veterinary students from both Nicaragua and the several schools in the United States, and Canadian and Nicaraguan veterinary technicians, and pre-veterinary students from several schools in the United States. We split our time between mostly spay/neuter surgeries at the Latin America Veterinary Training Center in Granada, and an outreach day at a local rural village. During our surgery days, we worked on animals from the surrounding communities that had been brought in the day before. The pre-vet students and vet techs took care of the pre-medication, induction, a... (Read More)

New Zealand and Australia - Meagan Wheeless

“Travel is not reward for working. It is education for living.” –The Travel Channel My wanderlust is an intense urge for self-development through experiencing the unknown, confronting unforeseen challenges, forming relationships all over the world, and getting to know unfamiliar cultures and ways of life. Without travel, a part of my soul is missing.  And without travel so many learning opportunities remain uncultivated.  The opportunity to travel AND practice veterinary medicine is a dream come true. When I began thinking about where I wanted to do an externship I considered countries that I would like to potentially move to upon graduation.  I wanted a place that is not unbearably cold; a place where people simply work to live rather than live to work; somewhere that places high value on personal well being, and a place with endless nature to explore and photograph.  At the top of my list were New Zealand and Austral... (Read More)

Brazil - Dillon Johnson

  Fig. 1. Nova Monte Verde is located in the northern region of Mato Grosso state, approximately 600 miles from the capital (Cuiaba – MT). I decided to spend my Christmas break working for an young veterinarian (Dr. Elen Guse) in the northern region of Brazil. Finishing my last final at 5 o’clock on Friday I was on a plane that Sunday headed to Brazil. Three days and 4 cities later I had finally arrived by airplane to Alta Floresta, where I was met in the airport by group of Elen’s friends holding a sign with “Dillon… From Texas”. It was a two hour drive to Nova Monte Verde. The entire ride my eyes were glued to the window. I have never seen land that was so green…with tall plots of jungle scattered throughout lush fields of grass. Nova Monte Verde is located in the northern region of the Mato Grosso state (Fig.1), founded only 25 years ago and commonly referred to as the ‘Gateway to the Amazon’. This region has approximately... (Read More)

Honduras - Christian Veterinary Fellowship Student Organization

Each morning we awoke in the beautiful Agalta Valley in southeast Honduras by the bawling of cows being milked at the Rancho El Paraiso’s milking parlor.  The kitchen staff at the ranch were busy preparing tortillas, beans, eggs, fresh fruit, and amazing Honduran coffee for our breakfast.  After breakfast, our group would head out to another small village to help people care for the needs of their animals by providing preventative care and medical care to their animals.  These animals are a vital part of life in the Agalta Valley in that the animals are the people’s transportation, their bank account, a source of food, and a source of protection. A group of eight veterinary students from the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine’s (CVM) Christian Veterinary Fellowship student organization joined six students from Kansas State CVM’s Christian Veterinary Fellowship student organization, and four veterinarians to volunteer th... (Read More)

Belize - Vanessa Maher

My trip to the Belize Wildlife Referral Clinic was a truly amazing experience. Over the course of two weeks I gained valuable knowledge on how to work with reptiles, birds, and small exotics in third world settings. We had lectures on basic husbandry and handling, as well as, lectures on common diseases these animals face. We got to work with local wildlife projects and practice catching, handling, and medicating the birds and reptiles in their rehab facilities. On our first day in the clinic, a five foot black tailed indigo snake was brought in after being run over by a lawnmower. It sustained a significant laceration to its back that broke a portion of the vertebral column off and completely severed the spinal cord. Amazingly, the snake was still alive. With the guidance of our instructor, Dr. Isabel, we cared for the snake, administering medications, cleaning the wound, and wrapping it with bandages. We took the snake to surgery after ten da... (Read More)

Extern in Denmark - Catherine Lang

Sidse (5th year veterinary student at the University of Copenhagen) and I with a patient recovering from a foreign body surgery. Fourth-year. Clinics. The year we all daydreamed of while zoning out in first-year anatomy lab. The year we finally face live patients, as opposed to cadavers. The year we finally get to apply our book knowledge in a clinical setting. Instead of spending all day in the library pouring over books and powerpoints, we spend all day in the hospital – ordering lab work, running to the pharmacy to pick up medication, and learning how to think like a doctor. I’m tracking small animal because I’m interested in going into a small animal private practice when I graduate. As a result, I’ve spent the majority of my year in the Small Animal Hospital at Texas A&M. Built into the small animal track are four weeks of externship that I can use to learn about how veterinary medicine is practiced outside of the University ... (Read More)

Belize - Sarah McKenny

The Belize Wildlife and Referral Clinic (BWRC) crossed my radar the first year of vet school at an International Veterinary Student Association (IVSA) meeting. An upperclassman was giving a presentation about her experience in Belize externing with Dr. Isabel Paquet-Durand, a German-born and educated veterinarian and the founder of Belize’s only wildlife clinic. This student spoke highly of her time at the BWRC, and after a little online research, I decided to go experience it for myself. Upon arrival in Belize City a few months later, I was driven 3 hours inland toward the western region of Belize known as Cayo, lauded for it Mayan ruins, caving tours, and scenic rivers and waterfalls. Belize is a multiethnic country with locals being comprised of people of Mayan, Mestizo and Afro Caribbean heritage. There’s even a long-standing Mennonite community who could be seen cruising down the roads in their horse-drawn buggies or selling watermelon... (Read More)

Conservet Costa Rica - Amelia Looper

I have spent the last two weeks at the Texas A&M Soltis Center in Costa Rica, immersing myself in all aspects of conservation medicine. I gained many interesting experiences, meet many wonderful people, and learned a few things that may shape my future career. Under the guidance of Dr. Kurt Volle from the Buffalo Zoo, I gained experience handling and examining a diverse array of species I had little to no prior experience with. We worked with almost everything imaginable: cattle, horses, goats, chickens, and dogs on the domestic side, but also wild bats, birds, fish, and frogs. I found working with the bats particularly intimidating and working with the birds particularly exhilarating. Ultimately I was very pleased to have safely handled both diminutive fruit bats in the forest at night (with the help of some sturdy gloves) and several gorgeous hummingbirds weighing in at 3 or 4 grams. In addition to basic handling, with all of the men... (Read More)

A different viewpoint - Yi Gu and Michelle Yeoman

I’m an undergraduate senior in the biomedical sciences program. In the future, I’d like to be a mixed practice veterinarian because I enjoy the variety. However, I’m also interested in wildlife medicine. I plan on taking more courses in both subjects so that I can choose which field to pursue. This semester, I had the good fortune to travel to the beautiful city of Bonn, Germany, as part of the Texas A&M Germany Biosciences Semester Program. I decided to study abroad because I’ve always wanted to travel to Europe, and I thought this was a great opportunity to see more of the world besides America and China. I was born in China and moved to the United States when I was 9 years old. When I first moved here, I didn’t really connect with Western culture. I would often hide in the library or my room. Even now, I still feel a little disconnected from American culture and a little limited in my viewpoint. Because many of my friends back home ar... (Read More)