Loop Abroad alum Kayleigh Hudson shares her experience participating in the Thailand College Veterinary Service program.
My dream of becoming a veterinarian began similar to many others, as I was just a little girl who loved animals. This dream grew into a goal as I grew older. In order to reach that goal, I began to work at my local small animal clinic as a veterinary assistant. During this time, I also developed a strong desire to travel and see the world beyond my little town. I would have liked to incorporate this travel into my career goal as a veterinarian, but fearing that a veterinary study abroad was not an option for an undergraduate, I decided to participate in the program to Iceland that my university offered. That experience did nothing to quench my thirst for travel, though. In fact, it did just the opposite. I began to look more fervently for a veterinary study abroad. That is when my pre-veterinary club informed me about Loop Abroad and its program in Thailand working in a clinic and with elephants!
From that moment, I knew that this was the experience that I had been waiting for. In order to make the flight, my friend and I stayed the previous night in New York City. That night, my nerves and excitement grew greatly in preparation. The next morning, my nerves began to settle as I ate breakfast and talked with some of the other girls that were joining the program and I would travel with as we journeyed all the way to Chiang Mai, Thailand. I was completely enamored by the beauty of the country as we landed. The mountains and forests seemed to hold so much adventure within, and I could not wait to experience it for myself.
Once we landed, the adventure began as we were shown the city of Chiang Mai and able to learn more about the people’s rich culture and history. Our tour guide, P Kik, was so kind to us and was able to answer all of our questions. Having the time to tour was incredible, but being able to also engage in the veterinary study abroad aspect during our time in Chiang Mai truly opened my eyes to the wide breadth of pathways that being a veterinarian could take me. Our veterinarian, Dr. Peter, shared with us the different pathways that he took in order to get into veterinary school, and then the incredible contributions that he was able to make in various parts of the world with that title. The knowledge that I learned from Dr. Peter and Dr. Meaw ranged from treating parasites to performing procedures, such as drawing blood and assisting in surgery.
On the next part of our adventure at Elephant Nature Park, I was able to see the same ideas of the clinic at work on the much larger elephants. The elephants were absolutely magnificent and I learned so much by following one around for an entire day and observing how much she ate and how she interacted with the other elephants. I was able to witness the veterinarian and mahouts give an elephant IV fluids through her ear, and was even able to hold the long pole that held the fluid bag up to her height! Finally, I was able to add on a third week to Koh Tao since I was already learning so much through this veterinary study abroad and wanted to add conservation and scuba diving to that list. I will forever be thankful for the experience that Loop Abroad has given me to help on my journey to become a veterinarian.