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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.

Brazil - Dillon Johnson

  Fig. 1. Nova Monte Verde is located in the northern region of Mato Grosso state, approximately 600 miles from the capital (Cuiaba – MT). I decided to spend my Christmas break working for an young veterinarian (Dr. Elen Guse) in the northern region of Brazil. Finishing my last final at 5 o’clock on Friday I was on a plane that Sunday headed to Brazil. Three days and 4 cities later I had finally arrived by airplane to Alta Floresta, where I was met in the airport by group of Elen’s friends holding a sign with “Dillon… From Texas”. It was a two hour drive to Nova Monte Verde. The entire ride my eyes were glued to the window. I have never seen land that was so green…with tall plots of jungle scattered throughout lush fields of grass. Nova Monte Verde is located in the northern region of the Mato Grosso state (Fig.1), founded only 25 years ago and commonly referred to as the ‘Gateway to the Amazon’. This region has approximately... (Read More)

Honduras - Christian Veterinary Fellowship Student Organization

Each morning we awoke in the beautiful Agalta Valley in southeast Honduras by the bawling of cows being milked at the Rancho El Paraiso’s milking parlor.  The kitchen staff at the ranch were busy preparing tortillas, beans, eggs, fresh fruit, and amazing Honduran coffee for our breakfast.  After breakfast, our group would head out to another small village to help people care for the needs of their animals by providing preventative care and medical care to their animals.  These animals are a vital part of life in the Agalta Valley in that the animals are the people’s transportation, their bank account, a source of food, and a source of protection. A group of eight veterinary students from the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine’s (CVM) Christian Veterinary Fellowship student organization joined six students from Kansas State CVM’s Christian Veterinary Fellowship student organization, and four veterinarians to volunteer th... (Read More)

Belize - Vanessa Maher

My trip to the Belize Wildlife Referral Clinic was a truly amazing experience. Over the course of two weeks I gained valuable knowledge on how to work with reptiles, birds, and small exotics in third world settings. We had lectures on basic husbandry and handling, as well as, lectures on common diseases these animals face. We got to work with local wildlife projects and practice catching, handling, and medicating the birds and reptiles in their rehab facilities. On our first day in the clinic, a five foot black tailed indigo snake was brought in after being run over by a lawnmower. It sustained a significant laceration to its back that broke a portion of the vertebral column off and completely severed the spinal cord. Amazingly, the snake was still alive. With the guidance of our instructor, Dr. Isabel, we cared for the snake, administering medications, cleaning the wound, and wrapping it with bandages. We took the snake to surgery after ten da... (Read More)

Extern in Denmark - Catherine Lang

Sidse (5th year veterinary student at the University of Copenhagen) and I with a patient recovering from a foreign body surgery. Fourth-year. Clinics. The year we all daydreamed of while zoning out in first-year anatomy lab. The year we finally face live patients, as opposed to cadavers. The year we finally get to apply our book knowledge in a clinical setting. Instead of spending all day in the library pouring over books and powerpoints, we spend all day in the hospital – ordering lab work, running to the pharmacy to pick up medication, and learning how to think like a doctor. I’m tracking small animal because I’m interested in going into a small animal private practice when I graduate. As a result, I’ve spent the majority of my year in the Small Animal Hospital at Texas A&M. Built into the small animal track are four weeks of externship that I can use to learn about how veterinary medicine is practiced outside of the University ... (Read More)

Belize - Sarah McKenny

The Belize Wildlife and Referral Clinic (BWRC) crossed my radar the first year of vet school at an International Veterinary Student Association (IVSA) meeting. An upperclassman was giving a presentation about her experience in Belize externing with Dr. Isabel Paquet-Durand, a German-born and educated veterinarian and the founder of Belize’s only wildlife clinic. This student spoke highly of her time at the BWRC, and after a little online research, I decided to go experience it for myself. Upon arrival in Belize City a few months later, I was driven 3 hours inland toward the western region of Belize known as Cayo, lauded for it Mayan ruins, caving tours, and scenic rivers and waterfalls. Belize is a multiethnic country with locals being comprised of people of Mayan, Mestizo and Afro Caribbean heritage. There’s even a long-standing Mennonite community who could be seen cruising down the roads in their horse-drawn buggies or selling watermelon... (Read More)

Conservet Costa Rica - Amelia Looper

I have spent the last two weeks at the Texas A&M Soltis Center in Costa Rica, immersing myself in all aspects of conservation medicine. I gained many interesting experiences, meet many wonderful people, and learned a few things that may shape my future career. Under the guidance of Dr. Kurt Volle from the Buffalo Zoo, I gained experience handling and examining a diverse array of species I had little to no prior experience with. We worked with almost everything imaginable: cattle, horses, goats, chickens, and dogs on the domestic side, but also wild bats, birds, fish, and frogs. I found working with the bats particularly intimidating and working with the birds particularly exhilarating. Ultimately I was very pleased to have safely handled both diminutive fruit bats in the forest at night (with the help of some sturdy gloves) and several gorgeous hummingbirds weighing in at 3 or 4 grams. In addition to basic handling, with all of the men... (Read More)

A different viewpoint - Yi Gu and Michelle Yeoman

I’m an undergraduate senior in the biomedical sciences program. In the future, I’d like to be a mixed practice veterinarian because I enjoy the variety. However, I’m also interested in wildlife medicine. I plan on taking more courses in both subjects so that I can choose which field to pursue. This semester, I had the good fortune to travel to the beautiful city of Bonn, Germany, as part of the Texas A&M Germany Biosciences Semester Program. I decided to study abroad because I’ve always wanted to travel to Europe, and I thought this was a great opportunity to see more of the world besides America and China. I was born in China and moved to the United States when I was 9 years old. When I first moved here, I didn’t really connect with Western culture. I would often hide in the library or my room. Even now, I still feel a little disconnected from American culture and a little limited in my viewpoint. Because many of my friends back home ar... (Read More)

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)