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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.

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)

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)