Loop Abroad alum Amelia Matczak shares her experience of spending a semester abroad in South Africa.
It’s not every day that someone has a chance to study in South Africa, but even more rare is the chance to spend a semester abroad in South Africa while taking courses specifically chosen for students interested in veterinary medicine and conservation work. If this sounds like a dream come true, then Loop’s semester abroad in South Africa is likely the perfect fit for you! The program Loop offers is tailored to students like you who are interested in these exciting fields, and there is no better place for it than the conservation hub of South Africa!
So, aside from getting to study in South Africa, what exactly is so great about Loop’s semester program? The answer: everything. (Just my opinion!) If the chance to get 18 college credits for courses in zoo medicine and wildlife conservation isn’t enough for you, allow me to further convince you! Let’s take a look at the individual classes you’ll take during your semester with Loop and have a chat about why you’ll love each and every one of them!
One of the best parts of traveling abroad is having the chance to immerse yourself in a completely new culture and learn why that culture has developed into what it is today. This course will serve as your introduction to South Africa and its culture, giving you an opportunity to learn some of the country’s recent history, economics, and education system.
Why you’ll love it: History classes by themselves can be fun, but during this course you will also have the chance to travel around to different historical sights, deepening your understanding of South African life and opening your eyes to new ways of seeing the world. This new outlook will allow you to better connect with and understand South African culture, making your study abroad experience more complete as you grow throughout the semester.
During this course, half of your time will be spent at the Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary and the other half will be spent at the Ocean Research Conservation Africa (ORCA). Between the two locations, you will have the opportunity to see what wildlife conservation work is like first-hand. Furthermore, the hands-on experience you gain will deepen your understanding of the time and dedication needed to care for wildlife.
Why you’ll love it: Few pre-veterinary or zoology students can say they have spent time working at accredited wildlife rehabilitation centers, let alone those who work with some of the most threatened species in the world. Getting to work with these organizations also gives you a great opportunity to see where a career path in wildlife conservation can lead you and give you the chance to talk with those currently working in the field.
Zoos play a major role in species conservation and research. This course offers you the opportunity to understand what it takes to maintain animals in captivity as well as the anatomical features and medical requirements for various species being housed.
Why you’ll love it: For many pre-veterinary students, zoo medicine is among one of the most interesting, and most coveted residencies. That being said, to attain a zoo medicine residency after veterinary school, you must have widespread knowledge of the industry. This means that you have to work to accumulate as many zoo hours as possible. Luckily for students on the semester abroad in South Africa, this intensive zoo medicine course can give you a leg up before even beginning veterinary school. Plus, during this course, you’ll have the opportunity to go on safari, which is a dream come true for anyone interested in wildlife and conservation.
Getting to see big cats is one of the major reasons people choose to travel to South Africa. This course takes it one step further by giving you the opportunity to learn why big cats behave the way they do and how their anatomy enables them to remain at the top of the food chain. Students will help ongoing projects at the Kevin Richardson Wildlife Sanctuary via working to install cameras, nesting boxes for birds of prey and maintaining the grounds.
Why you’ll love it: There is nothing more exciting than getting to experience big cats in their natural habitat. Even more thrilling than that is getting to observe big cats in their natural habitat while helping with their conservation. I mean, who wouldn’t want to say that they spent part of their semester abroad working to help save an endangered species?
Research is instrumental in the conservation of threatened species. This course will help you understand how to design appropriate research questions, collect and analyze data and present this information in a scientific manner. You will have the opportunity to put your new learned skills to the test while helping with field research on the black-footed cat.
Why you’ll love it: Seeing as research plays a crucial role in wildlife conservation, anyone interested in the field must have research skills to contribute to ongoing efforts. This course will give you an opportunity to develop this skill set as well as actually participate in conservation research. Moreover, the research hours you gain here will give your CV a boost!
The semester you spend with Loop abroad will be one of the best experiences of your life, and coming from someone who has done it before I am speaking with firsthand experience. If you have any questions about the coursework offered during the semester abroad in South Africa, feel free to check out this page on Loop’s website. Once you’re ready, fill out your application and get prepared for a semester you’ll never forget!
"This was a great learning experience! We were able to spend a lot of time with the vets and they were constantly answering questions and sharing their knowledge. Strongly recommend this trip!"
Andrea G., Thailand College Veterinary Service 2016
Wright State University, Dayton, OH