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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.

Study, Travel, Explore, Repeat - Cameron Holmes

As a student in the Texas A&M University Biosciences Study Abroad program, I recently traveled halfway across the world to study biomedicine in Germany. This program, which includes students from the biomedical sciences and bioengineering departments, prepares students to live and work in a global community. One of the main program goals is to help students become Weltbürgers, citizens of the world. “Study abroad is a transformative experience that cannot be simulated,” said Dr. Jeremy S. Wasser, program director. “My students (over 400 now since 2004) have all returned from their time abroad changed in positive and fundamentally important ways. They see themselves, other people, and their chosen careers in a different, more expansive light... exactly the kind of people we need leading us into the new century.” I’m a native-born Texan and have only experienced this culture—marked by friendly people, large trucks, and delicious barbeque. ... (Read More)

Home in a Foreign Land - Ana Segura

Studying abroad is one of the most exciting and life-changing experiences one can have as an undergraduate student. I am an undergraduate attending my final semester abroad in Bonn, Germany, as part of the Texas A&M Germany Biosciences Semester program. Through this incredible program, I’ve met a wonderful host family who has welcomed me and made me feel at home. Programs such as this one enable students to find a home in a foreign land. A student’s housing situation is important because it can greatly influence how one feels about the entire experience. The housing process is quite extensive, says Kristin Vosbeck, coordinator for the biosciences program. “Hilda, our housing coordinator, has a pool of host families to select from,” Vosbeck said, “but she makes sure that both the families and students are suitable matches for one another by providing a questionnaire for both parties.” The selection process seeks not only to fulfill a student... (Read More)

Unconventional thinking in Germany - Amy Westwick

It’s not often that an undergraduate can boast of helping to design a transformative medical device. But I’ve been able to do just that as a student in the Texas A&M Germany Biosciences program (Biosciences)—a multidisciplinary study abroad program that includes students from biomedical science and engineering. Enmodes (short for ENgineering, MOdeling, and DESign) is a German company that designs and engineers innovative medical devices. The company invited biosciences students to participate in designing a prototype connector for Left Ventricular Assist Devices (LVADs). “[LVADS] are a more efficient way of bypassing a disrupted or inefficient valve in the heart,” sophomore biomedical engineering student Garrett Harmon explains. “They connect into the left ventricle directly, pump blood out, and then feed forward into the aorta. They can replace a complete artificial heart surgery, which could be slightly more biocompatible in the long run.... (Read More)

Honduras - Megan Murata

A Perspective from Poverty As the sun rose above the line of houses, the cocks continued to crow and signal the start of another morning. What they did not realize is that morning had already begun several hours prior; a wood stove fire had been started, breakfast had been prepared, laundry had been taken down from drying outside, and the entire family was already at work with daily chores. As I strained my eyes from the light to look outside my window, I gazed at over a hundred houses in this process and took in the sight and smells. I was filled with excitement to remember that I was in Honduras. This is a typical morning for a Honduran family with each member playing an important role in the daily chores. Honduras is second to Haiti as the poorest country in the western hemisphere, with 70% unemployment and most children without an education past 6th grade. Because of this, families rely completely on farming and agriculture to sustai... (Read More)

Honduras - Sarah Llewellyn - CVF Student Group Trip

To start the year of 2015, myself and five other Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine students spent the last week of our winter break serving multiple communities in the Agalta Valley of Honduras.  On January 3rd, the six of us flew from Houston to Tegucigalpa, Honduras, along with two Kansas natives, Dr. Natalee Beck and her son, Jacob, who is a first year at Kansas State College of Veterinary Medicine. After one of the most terrifying but exciting landings of my life, we met up with the rest of our team and started the 7-hour drive to Rancho El Paraiso. The rest of our team was made up of two more veterinarians, Dr. Bonnelyn Thwaits, a Texas A&M and UC Davis College of Veterinary Medicine grad, as well as mother of one of the Texas A&M students, and Dr. Todd Welsh, another Kansas State vet school grad, and finally, Dr. Welsh’s daughter who is a student at the University of Kansas and an undergraduate student from Auburn... (Read More)

India - Dharti Patel

Veterinarians work across borders, as they are obliged to serve and protect all animals as well as promote public health all over the world. As a fourth year veterinary student at Texas A&M University’s College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, I chose a four week externship in Mumbai, India to gain perspective on veterinary medicine, and the role veterinarians play abroad. I had the unique opportunity to extern at Dr. Swali’s Pet Clinic from August 18-September 15, 2014. The Mumbai clinic resembled those commonly found in the US. A designated area was arranged as an exam room with a table, sink, and work area. A corner held multiple items for sale including herbal medications, shampoos, ointments and food from various companies. A separate room housed the x-ray machine, and on occasion served as an additional exam room. Appointments followed a familiar routine: a client would wait with their pet in the lobby, than be bro... (Read More)

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)