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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.

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)

Belize - Erin Binagia

I fell in love with the country of Belize after I twice traveled there for a tropical ecology research project during my Bachelors and Masters in Biology. Belize is absolutely beautiful, and with its lush rainforests, gushing waterfalls, and high species diversity, it is rightly nicknamed "Mother Nature's best kept secret."  During my trip, I visited the zoo of only native Belize animals, and I discovered that Belize has just one wildlife veterinarian in the entire country! From that moment, I knew that I wanted to come back to Belize as a vet student intern with that wildlife veterinarian. I thought it would be amazing to work with tapirs, kinkajous, and coatimundis, but never did I believe I was going to experience Belize in a whole new way. Blue-crowned Mot Mot Confiscated White-fronted Parrot As I was traveling from the Belize City airport, the air was so thick with smoke that it was difficult to breathe or even to see the road. ... (Read More)

Europe - Chloe Matelski

Hannover, Germany I wasted no time during my trip. After arriving in Hannover in the early hours of the day and getting about 4 hours of sleep, I started my first day shadowing the laboratory animal veterinarians at Medizinische Hochschule Hannover (MHH). After short introductions, we were on the floor for daily checks and a tour. At MHH, they house many laboratory animal species including: rodents, rabbits, goats, sheep, dogs, cats, and occasionally larger farm animals. I was able to assist in individual exams of sick animals and aide in administering medications. It was interesting to see how similar they operated when compared to other lab animal facilities in the USA. That afternoon I observed (and later performed) sentinel rat necropsies and microbiology testing. The next day we repeated the morning routine, but the afternoon I was able to participate in a course the veterinarians hold for the medical students that are interested in resear... (Read More)

Thailand - Liz Measday

Thailand - Liz Measday A few years ago, I was going through a particularly difficult time in my life. A friend asked me "What is your idea of happiness?" Without batting an eye, or missing a beat, I replied, "Being in Thailand. At Elephant Nature Park, working with abused elephants." It was as simple as that. However, deep down, I knew Elephant Nature Park was a fantastical notion- my ultimate pipe-dream- something cherished but unattainable. I had discovered the sanctuary after it was featured on TV. It captured my attention because it was the first time I learned of the hidden horrors that Asian Elephants endure at the hands of humans in order to make them trainable and profitable. The hidden footage they showed shocked me to my core, but following that, they showed some lucky elephants that made it to the "Elephant Nature Park" sanctuary in Thailand. I was glad and, to be honest, relieved, that a place like Elephant Nature Park existed (or the TV show would have b... (Read More)

Australia - Amy Balzen

Australia - Amy Balzen "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." - Mark Twain I guess you can say I officially caught the "travel bug" back in 2009 when I studied abroad in Italy. I had no idea at the time that most of my education during that summer had more to do with the people I would meet than the courses that I was taking. From that summer on I have been formulating a list in my head of all of the places in the world that I want to see; it's pretty much an endless list! When I realized that the fourth year of vet school gives you the opportunity to spend a few weeks away studying almost anywhere you choose, I leapt at the opportunity to cross a far away destination off of my list. I found out Michelle, a friend and classmate of mine, was looking into studying at the Australi... (Read More)

Germany - Patricia Warne

Germany - Patricia Warne My time overseas has literally changed my life. My time abroad was spent in Germany, a country that I fell in love, with and hoped to return to following graduation. I spent four weeks in a small animal general practice, and then two weeks in an alternative medicine veterinary practice. In general, the medicine between Germany and the US is very similar. My day at the small animal practice started just before 8am and continued until 8pm on some evenings. They had a walk in clinic that saw 40% dogs, 40% cats, and 20% pocket pets. I learned that it is very normal for small animal clinics to have a significant portion of their patients of the very small and furry pet variety. This is partially due to most of the clients living in apartments as well as German's love for all animals regardless of how small. We saw rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas, mice, and rats on a daily basis. I learned quite a bit about how these animals are treated, such as, i... (Read More)

Queensland, Australia - Michelle Boatwright

Queensland, Australia - Michelle Boatwright If you ever get the chance to study an area of veterinary medicine that we don't have access to at school I highly recommend you jump at the chance. I chose to explore wildlife medicine. I had no idea when I set out to find a 4th year externship that I would end up on the other side of the world in Queensland, Australia. It was 24 hours worth of traveling to get to the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital but it sure was worth it when we landed in beautiful Queensland. The beaches, mountains and rainforest all merge together in one breath-taking view. Located near Australia Zoo at Beerwah in Queensland, Australia, the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital was opened in March 2004 by Steve Irwin (best known as The Crocodile Hunter). Nearly 100 wildlife emergency calls are received daily and up to 30 different species are admitted to the hospital every day. It is the largest wildlife hospital in the world and saw over 6000 cases last year alone. While I was... (Read More)

Guatemala - Clay Whitten and Scott Fleming

Guatemala - Clay Whitten and Scott Fleming Our trip to Guatemala was organized through the Texas Equine Veterinarians Association, the Equine Initiative, and World Horse Welfare.  Scott and I were joined by five veterinarians and one industry representative from across the country to comprise the team of eight that traveled to Guatemala.  We all met at the Dallas/Fort Worth airport on Saturday October 6, 2012 and began our 8 day journey to Antigua, Guatemala and the surrounding rural areas.  Our plane arrived in Guatemala City well after the sun had set for the day.  We loaded our belongings onto the top of a bus and began our trek to Antigua through the mountainous terrain of Guatemala. We began our work in San Andres Itzapa, a hilly town not far from Antigua.  We set up our work site at a local soccer field and began seeing horses for the day.  We only saw fourteen horses for the day with the most prominent problems being chronic saddle sores and poor hoo... (Read More)