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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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Gore, New Zealand - Kim Aeschlimann

Gore, New Zealand - Kim Aeschlimann The fourth and final year of vet school began and I found myself slowly adjusting to the constant yo-yo of two-week rotations and all night emergency shifts. The months of summer came and went and before I knew it August had arrived and my externship was about to begin.  I was to embark on the longest journey of my life-to a land halfway around the world; to one of the most southern (but still populated) latitudes on the planet; to a place with no other description than paradise; to a place called New Zealand.

After flying for over 24-hours at long last I landed in Queenstown at 8:50 am on August 18th, 2012. It was to be a four-week mixed animal externship near the southern most tip of the South Island, which is larger, but significantly less populated than the North Island.  The entire country of New Zealand with its population of 4.4 million could inside of Texas three times. The livestock- mostly sheep, beef and dairy cattle-outnumber the human population 10:1. The Southland and Otago provinces, which provided the setting for my adventure, are largely agricultural with hundreds of small dairies and sheep stations nestled against the pleasant rolling hills.

I stepped out of the aircraft onto the tarmac and took in the crisp, clean air. The Remarkables, with their barely snow-capped peaks, loomed over plush valleys of frolicking spring lambs. Rachel, my host, was there to pick me up and I was whisked away on a circuitous 2-hour drive to the small town of Gore.

KIm with NZ calfIn New Zealand, they speak English but many of the words are different so a language gap still exists from time to time.  Convenience stores are called "dairies". Farms with milking parlors are also called dairies. "Tea" is an informal dinner but can also mean tea the drink.  Rubber boots are known as "gum boots". A speculum for examining a horse's mouth is called a "gag".  A herd of sheep is called a "mob" and of course there is the driving on the left side of the road.

August marked the end of winter and the start of spring in New Zealand, which meant that I had arrived right on the heels of calving season. I spent most of my time at the VetSouth clinic in Gore- a busy small animal practice and large animal ambulatory service- where true to its name, calving season provided calvings a plenty.  New Zealand's dairy industry operates on a seasonal breeding program. Most, if not all, calves are born within one or two months of each other and, therefore, all cows must be bred and come into calf within a very short period of time after calving.

The traditional Southland cow is a sort of Jersey-Fresian mix known as a Kiwi cross. They are fairly small and the average adult is the size of a small Friesian heifer. The Kiwi cross, being lighter on their feet, experience less lameness than a larger framed cow in New Zealand's wet, muddy conditions. Their small size is key as it also prevents them from sinking into the soft pasture whereby destroying it.

NZ ambulatory vehicleIf I wasn't on a calving call, helping with a c-section or down cow, I was running sheep up a race to collect blood for trace elements, vasectomizing rams, running fluids on dehydrated calves, bandaging up wounded horses and vaccinating pigs for Leptospirosis. I even got to spay a cat at one of the VetSouth sister clinics in West Otago.

I didn't get to spend much time working with the small animals, or better known as the smallies, but the short amount of time I did get to spend was informative. While largely a farming community, great value was placed on the working dogs and many orthopedic surgeries were performed on a day-to-day basis. Two breeds of dogs largely populated the "smallie" kennel: Border Collie bred heading dogs and massive Huntaways.

Four weeks flew by quickly and the time arrived to return home.  To all the supporters in my life who encouraged me to dream big and travel abroad whenever possible, I am continually grateful. I would also like to extend a special thanks to the international travel office whose contribution made the trip financially possible. Reflecting on my experience, I will always remember the cordiality and warmth of the technicians, veterinarians, and office staff that made me feel at home so far from home. I will forever treasure the advice and mentorship I received during that time and feel blessed to have found such a rich experience in the most unexpected of places.



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