Belle B. is 16 years old and attends Salt Lake School for the Performing Arts studying classical music though her passion lies with animals. She is an equestrian that spends 24/7 with her horses training, riding, and competing. Her favorite part of her trip to Thailand was performing surgery and experiencing the culture, sometimes a little too much after eating grubs and crickets.
It had always been my dream to travel abroad, see the world and experience new cultures! When I got the email stating I had been accepted to the 2014 Loop Abroad High School Veterinary Trip I could feel my heart hitting my chest and I could hear every pound. The excitement overtook me but, though it had always been my dream, I was terrified to leave. I soon came to find I had no need to worry, for I was in for the most amazing and life changing experience.
Before I left, my mom was so worried about me going on a trip with strangers, but Loop did everything they could to answer all our questions, track our flights, Skyped with us before hand, set us up with the other kids’ emails to begin talking, and even met me as soon as my flight landed. After talking with the people of Loop all of my fears were gone and I knew I was in very safe hands. Getting to know the students I was traveling with beforehand made me feel so much more comfortable and exited!
I was 16 years old at the time of my trip and my mother and boyfriend dropped me off at the airport. I was feeling excited to leave and didn’t notice my fear until my mom left. The second she left I couldn’t help but cry. Why? I couldn’t tell you at the time but I now understand that leaving the country all on your own can be a very scary thing, so getting a but emotional is completely normal! Once I was on the plane I calmed down a ton, remembering what was in store over the next few weeks.
The flight was long but with a good book, nice people, and common interests the flight flew by (pun intended). It was on the flight from Hong Kong to Chiang Mai that I got my first taste of a new culture. I was so used to crackers and English, but I was soon eating an unidentifiable fruit and listening to a safety video I could not understand. It wasn’t nerve-racking or scary — it was exciting and interesting!
When I arrived in Chiang Mai I was so excited! There was a new smell, new feeling, and people on opposite sides of the road, new climate (just ask my hair), and all new people! We were picked up in a vehicle called a Tuk-Tuk, which is a covered motorcycle in the front but a bench seat in the back. On our drive around my eyes couldn’t stop wandering. I was in awe of how green of an environment, how pure the air. Then came the real fun, my first-hand experience.
Throughout my trip I got to delve deep into the culture and experience it first-hand! Walking through the night markets I got to meet so many new people and interact with people who were so similar yet so different from me. On our trip to the school it was amazing to see how kids of different countries learn, we helped them with their English while learning some simple Thai words, they gave us their lunches and showed us the games they play (soccer, arm wrestling, dancing, carving watermelons, and making jewelry). Experiencing this changed my life entirely in seeing how much we take for granted.
My favorite part of my trip was the food! Every night we visited a different type of restaurant, everywhere from markets to buffets, to served dinners. Everything was so organic and fresh! My tongue was not used to some of the foods but there were textures and flavors I had never even imagined eating that were so delicious and others, not too much, such as the crickets.
These are only a few of the amazing things I got to experience on my trip! Loop Abroad allowed us to experience everything in a way that we felt as part of the culture, not as a tourist examining everything but instead being a part of it. The program was outstanding in so many ways from answering all my questions before I left to keeping in contact with my parents to showing us so many different parts and angles of the culture to always making us feel safe. If given the chance again, I would accept in a heartbeat. This experience changed my life in so many ways and so I met so many people that I will never forget.