By Loop Abroad
This year, Antonia Langfeldt, 19, of Clarkston, MI, spent three months in Thailand helping animals and learning hands-on what it’s like to be a veterinarian. Traveling with the Boston-based Loop Abroad, Antonia was part of a small team that learned alongside veterinarians from around the globe while volunteering with elephants, sea turtles, bears, primates, and dogs.
The Veterinary Semester Abroad program brings together undergraduate students from across the US and Canada to move their studies to Thailand for a semester so that they can work in small groups with veterinarians who specialize in different fields. Students are based in Chiang Mai, Thailand but travel through the country to see different shelters and sanctuaries, learn from local vets and scientists, and volunteer with a variety of species in need.
While they learned about veterinary medicine, conservation, and Thailand, Antonia and her team also helped by volunteering their time and skills. From hauling elephant food to monitoring anesthesia in dog surgeries, they helps to support and care for the animals of Thailand while improving their own skills so that they can help more animals in the future.
Some of Antonia’s most interesting projects were volunteering at an elephant sanctuary and learning how elephants receive medical care, working with primates and bears at a sanctuary in the mountains in the North of Thailand, and living on the island of Koh Tao for three weeks studying marine biology and helping to restore coral reefs and protect sea turtles. She also participated in an externship at a small animal hospital and helped care for dogs and cats in need at an animal shelter and clinic outside of Chiang Mai.
Admission to the Veterinary Semester Abroad is competitive and requires a demonstrated interest in animals, a solid academic transcript, an essay, academic references, and completion of college-level biology. Antonia was chosen as one of seven students to participate.
Loop Abroad has programs for students and young adults age 14 to 30, and offers financial aid and fundraising help to make their trips accessible to the greatest number of students. Their pre-veterinary programs in Asia and Africa support ethical animal treatment while helping students learn in an in-depth and hands-on way. Interested participants can inquire or apply at www.LoopAbroad.com.
Of her trip, Antonia says, “It’s cliche?, but this has been a truly life-changing experience. I have learned so much about veterinary medicine ranging from small animal, to exotics like elephants and bears, and living amongst Thai culture for three months has also been extremely eye-opening.”
Antonia is a second year student, studying Zoology at Michigan State University.