I know you are probably thinking, "this is a scam, it is not real, my kid is going to get kidnapped!", because how can something as amazing as Loop Abroad be real? Well, let me tell you, it is. Once in Thailand, it took a lot of pinches of my arm, for me to believe it was all true. I will tell you a little bit of my experience but the truth is that words will never be able to fully describe what I lived there.
First things first, you want to be a veterinarian? Apply. You feel confused about whether you want to be a veterinarian? Apply. This program is fully designed for students that want to develop in the animal field somehow. My only and biggest challenge of this program was finding a way to manage the cost. But, guess what? Loop Abroad not only will help you in anything you need for fundraising but it will also give you financial aid, isn't that cool? Jane Cassie, the amazing and hilarious program director, will help you in anything you need and I mean literally in anything you need. In my case I wanted to advertise Loop Abroad and give people information about what I was going to be doing. Jane sent me a big box full of brochures, pictures, calendars, cards, and all sort of things to help me, and let me add, for free because she is cool like that.
You really just want to hear about what happens once you are in Thailand so let's cut the chase and get to it. The program consists of two weeks of working alongside a vet in the Animal Rescue Kingdom(ARK) and at the Elephant Nature Park (ENP). At ARK you will learn how to do a proper physical examination on a dog, how to identify specific health problems and how to treat them and, hold on this is good, actually do surgery. I don't mean "observe while the vet does surgery", I mean "You will actually grab a scalpel, castrate a dog and stitch up." You will also be doing the same thing with cats which is fabulous because it is, probably, the most easy, fast, fun surgery to do in the animal health world. This, for me, was the best part of the trip. Just getting your hands in everything and actually being able to do hands on work with animals. Trust me when I say that vet school will seem completely unnecessary and overrated after this program because you will come being a vet out of it.
For my group, our first week started in Chiang Mai city working at ARK and the second one at the ENP. This turned out to be very convenient because everything I learned at ARK, I applied at the dog shelter in the ENP. I got to draw more blood, vaccinate and treat serious wounds (I know, and it just keeps getting better, hold on). At the ENP you get to work alongside the vet for large animals, treat wounds, bathe, and prepare meals and medication for all the elephants.
If this is not enough already, you will get to love and play with these big and sweet giants, tube down the river and my favorite part-meet the founder of the ENP, Lek Chailert. This amazing woman will sit and talk to you, answer any question and if you ask, prepare you her special green tea. You must make this a part of your trip, I am not even joking a little bit here.
When in Chiang Mai city you will get to visit different markets every night and shop your heart away with very little money (watch out for Sunday market and those pot stickers, they are truly amazing). This brings me to your next question, “Oh my god, what about the food?” I will “oh my God” tell you that it is amazing. If there is something I miss about Thailand is Thai food. Your weekends are perfectly well planned so you can get a taste of what Chiang Mai has to offer. Feeding baby tigers and cuddling with not so baby ones will melt your heart away and the temple, caves and waterfall will take your breath away.
The staff is truly amazing, from the director to the driver, you will actually get attached to these people. I truly miss Noom and Aum, and coming down for breakfast to chat with Jane. Let’s see, what else… Oh, HA! Security. This will be the least of your worries because like Hannah the vet always said when asked “Will I die?” my answer, like hers, is “you might, but you won’t”. Everything is perfectly organized and arranged so you can have a blast, learn and not worry about anything but how to properly suture a dog.
Loop Abroad is amazing and if I had it my way I would be there this summer again. I encourage you to apply to this program or any other. They are all equally amazing. All you need is a suitcase full of willingness to learn, work, initiative and curiosity. You will not come back the same from this trip. Loop Abroad did not only help me expand my knowledge in veterinary medicine but also in myself. Working at the ARK dog shelter and living at the Elephant Nature Park and helping these amazing, neglected creatures touched a part of my soul that I did not know existed. Through this incredible, hands-on experience I realized that caring, loving and helping animals is what I want to dedicate myself too.If you still have doubts about reading this or any other review, feel free to ask Jane for my e-mail for more specific questions or Facebook so you can see more pictures from my trip.