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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.

Ecuador - Meagan Wheeless

I took a trip to the Galapagos to work at a veterinary clinic, Darwin Animal Doctors, established in 2010 on the island of Santa Cruz.  I was hoping to experience another culture, country, and foreign language all while being exposed to endangered species and expanding my veterinary skills.  I accomplished all of these goals and more than I could have ever imagined. When we first arrived to the islands we took a very short boat ride from Baltra Island to Santa Cruz, followed by a 30-minute taxi ride to the clinic.  Immediately we saw sea lions sunbathing on buoys and wild tortoises on the side of the road.  I could tell these islands were going to be a vet student’s paradise.  We arrived on a Saturday and the clinic is closed to clients on the weekends so as soon as we got settled in our rooms upstairs, we walked down to the main strip to find some food and a beach.  There were pelicans, sea lions, and iguanas e... (Read More)

Nicaragua - Vets Without Borders

In the two weeks that we spent in Nicaragua, we not only learned about basic animal care and surgical procedures but also about Central American culture. When we arrived in Leon, Nicaragua and went to our first clinic site we were a bit surprised by the state of the clinic. The site was a makeshift covered barn that was being used as a school after the local school was destroyed by an earthquake. We set up our exam and surgery tables and began taking patients. The veterinarians had briefed us on how to examine patients and prepare them for surgery. We were grouped into partners and together we had to quickly learn how to work efficiently through the chaos to treat the animals. A portion of the animals were brought in for surgery and we had to learn proper procedures for anesthesia and spay and neuter surgeries. Getting hands on experience gave us an idea of what it’s like to be under pressure in a veterinary situation. Being able to witness the d... (Read More)

Italy - Erin Black

During the summer of 2014, three Texas A&M vet students, one faculty member, and one Ross University vet student set out to Italy to attend a Food Safety Workshop with an emphasis from the European Perspective. This workshop was put on by the University of Padova’s Veterinary School to start an initiative for Italian vet students and American vet students to interact and build up relationships while gaining better knowledge on Food Safety.  The workshop consisted of two weeks with the first week being didactic and the second week containing tours of various processing plants. During the first week we attended lectures that were introductory to the European Sanitary and Phytosanitary systems, Bilateral Relations between Europe and United States of America, Animal Welfare and Risk Analysis. All of the seminars were very engaging. My favorite seminars were on Risk Analysis and all of the components such as risk assessment, risk communication... (Read More)

Ireland - Sandra Martin

My internships in Ireland were a great learning experience. I spent three weeks working with Toby Veterinary Clinic, in Cork, Ireland. This is an urban, small animal clinic specializing in laparoscopic procedures. Veterinary medicine in Ireland is quite different from American veterinary medicine. Many of the diseases that are common in Texas are not found in Ireland, due to the lack of appropriate vectors and strict quarantine procedures, such as the one which has successfully prevented rabies from entering the country. Additionally, air conditioning is not common in Ireland and there are very few biting insects, so many Irish people leave their windows and doors open for days or nights, allowing animals to come and go as they please. Since many pets roam, it is common for animals to be hit by cars or have other preventable injuries. Furthermore, many Irish people do not follow vaccination protocols or routine preventative care for their pets. Ho... (Read More)

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)