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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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Germany - Danielle Nissman

Germany - Danielle Nissman

There are things I know of because I read of them, because I was taught about them by parents or in school, or because I otherwise gathered it from my experience in this American culture. There are words that I think I know, but when asked to give the definition and the origin, I falter and say "you know, I'm not exactly sure. Let's look it up".

Wanderlust. Noun- A strong, innate desire to rove or travel about. Origin: 1902. From German, literally "desire for wandering."

I have known this word for years. I googled it once when I heard it in a Flogging Molly song of the same name and again when I read it in a novel. I knew what it meant but I never appreciated its history (or recognized that it is part of the German language tradition of sticking two words together to handcraft your own new word), and certainly never understood it through my own experience. There are many things that I have long understood on a conceptual level, but no matter how well I think I grasp the concept, my understanding cannot match the integrity of the actual experience. Don't get me wrong, I am a huge fan of "book learning" and I definitely don't want to experience everything that I have a conceptual knowledge of… but for those things that I do strive to understand on a deeper level, conceptual knowledge becomes preparedness for an adventure in experiential knowledge. Just as this trip allowed me to realize the true meaning of wanderlust (as we schlepped our belongings from place to place), it allowed me to transition many other perceptions from conceptual to experiential:

I'd studied the rotator cuff, but then I saw an open shoulder surgery in a teaching hospital in Bonn.

I'd heard of cities bombed, but then I stood in front of a church rebuilt from the rubble in Dresden.

I'd seen pathologies described in text books, but then I walked through rows of medical history displayed in jars and cases at Charité and again at the Narrenturm.

Danielle Nissma

I'd read about the treatment of Jews, gypsies, and political enemies of the state by Nazi authority, but I never dreamed I'd stand inside the old headquarters of the Gestapo in Cologne, stand by the trail walked by the Roma and Sinti to the train station, or enter into the cold and barren grounds of the concentration camp Sachsenhausen.

I'd heard of great rivers, but never thought I'd walk along the Elbe, pose for a photo on the Rhine, or take a nighttime adventure to sit and talk beside the Danube with friends.

I'd read my history, and biographies, and memoirs, but then I stood where rubble met Gestapo basements met the Wall and history itself had to stack up like my text books in Berlin.

…and now, there are buildings, museums, hospitals, lots of people in lots of cities, train rides, cultural elements, and historical monuments that still steep me in gratitude because I was able to experience them. I'm so thankful for the students and the leadership that made this trip exactly what it was! Thank you!! The Germany experience challenged me to move out of my comfort zone and see the world a little differently. In many ways, it is still challenging me to make my days count more, to go out of my way to enrich my daily experience and the experience of those around me, to get out of my comfort zone, and to not let myself be under-stimulated and complacent in my routine. It is challenging me to move knowledge from conceptual to experiential.

And of course, there is always the Wanderlust. I wonder where I'll go next.

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