In April, nine students from Complutense University of Madrid, Spain, and 10 from Veterinary Medicine University in Vienna, Austria, paid a visit to the True Blue Campus, gaining valuable veterinary experience as well as new friends from around the world. The International Veterinary Students Association (IVSA) exchange program offers students from overseas an opportunity to experience Grenada’s culture as well as get a taste of life as a veterinary medical student at St. George’s University.
After returning from a visit to Complutense in Madrid last summer, SGU’s IVSA students were happy to play the role of host this spring.
“The international exposure these exchanges afford is something many of us would probably not have gained on our own,” said Jessica Urban, IVSA President at SGU. “In addition to these rich cultural experiences, students get hands-on practice with animals and a view of public health and One Health One Medicine around the world, concepts which are increasingly emphasized.”
At SGU, the students from Spain and Austria took part in several hands-on academic activities, including a fish anesthesia lab, surgery, a course on handling exotic animals, a beekeeping course, and even a trip to the Grand Etang rainforest to search for the endangered Grenadian boa. In addition to academics, there was plenty of time to get to know their student hosts through a variety of non-academic activities, including snorkeling, hiking, and an island tour. They also had the opportunity to take in a Grenada staple – Fish Friday in Gouyave.
“This experience has been highly beneficial,” added Alba Martinez of Spain. “We were very excited to meet our friends again, and to get the opportunity to practice our English. The networking opportunities are really wonderful; we are building global life-long friendships.”
On their trip to Spain in July 2014, SGU-IVSA students enjoyed visiting a pig farm, a farm for bulls raised for bullfighting, a food safety lab and a lab where they learned about equine lameness from an equine surgeon among several exciting veterinary experiences. They returned Austria’s visit in May and enjoyed reuniting with their friends and getting insight into what veterinary medicine is like there.
“Being exposed to different cultures and learning about veterinary medicine in different countries is one of the most important benefits to me,” said Victoria Drauch of Austria. “In the future, we can bring this knowledge to other countries to try to improve the lives of animals wherever we work.”
St. George’s University and IVSA share the mutual goal of exposing students to international opportunities that enrich their education and benefit them in their later careers. One of close to 60 active student groups at SGU, IVSA has organized selectives and exchange trips to Africa, Belize, Nicaragua, and several other countries in the past.