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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.
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Australia - Laura Norland

LauraWelcome 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 first got into my car to drive.  Being on the wrong side of the car while driving on the wrong side of the road, add in a few round-a-bouts, and you get an entirely new driving experience!

1st week - Camden

My first week of work in Australia, I drove to the University of Sydney large animal hospital in Camden.  Currently, the students in vet school at Sydney Uni start right out of high school and have a five year vet school program, with the last year being all rotations.  That week, I joined the fifth year students on the equine rotation, and learned that the way the clinicians run the hospital and treat their equine patients does not differ much from the states.  I was able to help hold horses for radiographs, MRIs and ultrasound exams, help the students with treatments, and participate in rounds and case presentations.  A couple evenings brought in emergency colic horses, one that I helped reflux several times, and the other I watched go to surgery with a nephrosplenic entrapment.  I was also able to assist on a few farm calls, being allowed to give a couple steroid intramuscular shots to yearlings.  On necropsies, I had the opportunity to practice palpation and joint injections, experiment with abdominal exploration, as well as practice my suturing skills.  There were several more surgeries to observe while I was there too including an enucleation, a cryptorchid surgery, and a nasal sarcoid removal.

Lab2nd week - Sydney

My second full week in Australia, I learned the train system into Central station in Sydney.  I worked at the University of Sydney with the vet that invited me to Australia and helped set up everything, Dr. Gary Muscatello.  I was able to work on some of his research in the microbiology laboratories, mainly with an equine abortion isolate study comparing the bacteria results to a group of abortion isolates from guinea pigs.  I felt comfortable with everything I was asked to do; it felt like I was back in the microbiology laboratory at A&M!  I was streaking blood agar plates, inoculating culture broths, using Bunsen burners, centrifuging and re-suspending pellets of bacteria for PCR templates.  I ran Gram stains on each bacteria isolate, and ran catalase and coagulase slide tests, recording all my findings.  I also helped with Manuka honey suspensions for a research project looking at the antibacterial effects of the honey along with its wound healing attributes.  This project was expanded into a student's greasy heel project in isolating Dermatophilis congolensis, the bacteria that causes rain rot here in the states, and comparing the treatment of the bacteria with Manuka honey to other antibiotics that are currently used.  I even made a McFarland standard and set up Mueller Hinton broths for experiments.

3rd week - Scone

HorseMy last week, I met up with the girl doing the greasy heel project in Newcastle, NSW, and got a quick tour of the beach town before we headed to the horse capital of Australia, Scone.  We toured Scone Equine Hospital, and were able to observe surgery on a hock abscess and cosmetic surgery enlarging the lateral commissures on both eyes of a yearling.  They also had endoscopic exams on two horses, one with chondritis and one that recently had a tie-back surgery.  I was quizzed by one of the surgeons on drugs, anatomy, surgical approaches, facial nerves, and so on…I was surprised at how much I remembered!  Later that day, we visited the Scone Equine Research Center, where I gathered histories on four extra abortion isolates to bring back to Sydney and culture for the abortion project.  We were able to visit two large racing thoroughbred breeding farms near Scone, Coolmore and Arrowfield.  They are both very large and beautiful farms, and we got to see some famous horses in the Australia racing industry as well.  At Arrowfield, we collected about twenty more scabs off the front and hind limbs of some horses for the greasy heel study.  Finally, we got to visit the Arrowfield training center which has different work out tracks, treadmills, and aqua-tred rehabilitation machines.

Last Day

SydneyThe day before I was to fly back to Texas, I went into the city as a tourist, walked through the botanical gardens, and saw the harbor bridge and opera house.  I had the most amazing experience down under, and would recommend it to anyone!  The horse industry is much larger than I originally expected, and I have so many great contacts and friends that are encouraging me to come back.  Someday I will definitely return to Australia; one month is just not long enough!



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