As world-travelers ourselves, we're proud many students choose Loop Abroad for their first trip abroad - and sometimes their second and third!
If you've never traveled abroad before, you're probably a little nervous. Don't worry! While part of the fun of travel is encountering unexpected things, we'll do whatever we can to prepare you for your Thailand experience.
In order to travel abroad, you will need a passport. If you are a US citizen, you do not need to get a visa. If you're not a US citizen, you might need to call a Thai embassy in your country to see if you will need to apply for a visa.
Most of our students fly together as a group. Loop Abroad staff will meet you at the airport when you arrive and help you meet your group. For high school groups and some college groups, there will be Loop Abroad staff on the flight. Ask us about the specific program you're interested in and we can let you know how your flight will be arranged.
You will never be alone during your trip. And we will be available before your trip to answer questions about everything from what to pack to what to wear on the flight to how much spending money to bring.
You will find that Thailand is exciting and different, but that it is easier than you might think to adjust. Many people in Chiang Mai speak English, wi-fi is (usually) available to chat with your family and friends at in the morning or evening, and you can get everything from Coca-Cola and Oreos to Pantene and Kleenex at the 7-11 on every corner... along with chili squid snacks and lots of green tea.
Check out the stories below from a couple of our students whose first trip abroad was with Loop Abroad!
"The Loop Abroad Vet Trip of 2013 was my first time on an airplane or out of the country at all! Looking back, I’m so glad my first time was with Loop. With multiple flights and layovers endured while traveling to and from Thailand, I am a traveling pro."
"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."
Looking for the perfect study abroad trip isn’t as easy as shopping on Amazon.
But we still have plenty of reviews for you to read.
We asked our 2015 students to rank their trip 0 to 10, where 0 was “the worst thing I ever did” and 10 was “a perfect trip, the absolute best thing I ever could have imagined” – the average ranking was a 9.5
Check out lots of reviews of our summer programs at Go Overseas, an independent organization that collects student reviews.
We are happy to continue working hard to improve our programs each year based on student suggestions.
Over 125 students shared reviews of their Loop experiences on our Facebook page too!
It’s the best way to find out if a Loop Abroad trip is right for you.
When choosing a study abroad program, there’s a ton of info available. Sometimes the most helpful thing is to talk to someone who’s been there before. A Loop Abroad alumni would be happy to talk to you and answer your questions.
Was it fun? Was it safe? What should I pack?
Read the stories written by Loop alumni below. Keep in mind that itineraries vary by program and develop from year to year. Your experience may not be 100% like the experience of our alumni – every program is unique!
"In order to pay for this adventure, I did a lot of fundraising, which ended up paying for more than half of my trip.... This program is a way to bring students who come from all over and are all different together with the common goal of helping these animals and having an adventure.
"As we left Chiang Mai, I could not help but to be sad to leave behind not only the beautiful city we were able to explore, but also the people and animals we had met along the way."
"I began looking for an abroad pre-vet program that I could participate in that would allow me to have a substantial amount of hands-on time with animals while giving me the opportunity to simultaneously explore a foreign country."
Hello potential Loop Abroad participant! My name is Sarah and I was a volunteer with Loop Abroad in 2015 on the Elephants and Everything Else...
So you desire to see the wonders of Thailand, eh? Well let me tell you, you are taking a step in the right direction. Traveling thousands of miles with Loop Abroad this past summer to discover this magnificent country was hands down one of the best decisions of my life.
Our students are big news when they return home from their trip of a lifetime!
The American Veterinary Medical Association calls Loop Abroad’s College Veterinary Service Program in Thailand ‘A dream come true’… and we couldn’t agree more! The AVMA is the nation’s leading advocate for the veterinary profession, an organization that protects, promotes and advocates for the needs of all veterinarians and those they serve. See their post here.
Ansley Still, Loom alumna, returned to campus to make a strong case against elephant hunting in her piece – “Elephant Hunting Isn’t Conservation” – published in The Current, the Eckerd College newspaper.
Remember when @Daxon AKA Allan Daxon AKA the animal selfie king traveled with us to Thailand on our Thailand 101 program? Check it out on his instagram page.
More stories about our students from print and the web…
“We actually got to watch and assist in the spaying and neutering, which was really cool to be right there and be able to observe and ask questions.”
"If given the opportunity, Isernia said she’d jump on the chance to travel with Loop Abroad again and help even more species."
"Both programs prepared me by teaching me how to work with animals of all kinds and teaching me about veterinary medicine."
“It was definitely a culture shock. The most amazing aspect would have to be caring for the elephant wounds.”
"I immensely enjoyed my time and I feel so fulfilled after learning veterinary skills to help care for the injured rescued animals. This place has given me memories to last a lifetime.”
“Our students are some of the most amazing people I have ever met," Jane Stine, the program’s managing director said.
“It was great because all the people I worked with were very passionate and genuine for their love for elephants, which I could relate to,” she said.
“Traveling to Thailand through Loop Abroad has impacted my life greatly,” Lockhart said. “All of the hands-on experience with dogs and elephants has deepened my love for animals and desire to attend vet school. It is the opportunity of a lifetime, so if you get the chance to go abroad, do it.”
“Loop Abroad allowed me to have hands-on experience in the field of my future career!”
"The people were amazing there. The veterinarians there were so dedicated to letting us have as much hands-on opportunities as possible."
"To be such a small part of their healing process will stay with me forever.”
“We worked with a local village and learned how to plant rice in their field,” Epstein said. “Even though there was a language barrier, we were laughing the whole time and it was amazing.”
“This was the trip of a lifetime! I learned so much and met so many fantastic people & animals.”
“Loop was truly amazing. I never imagined living among elephants and impacting the world by just coming on one trip. I hope to one day return."
"We tossed the ball in there just for the sake of it and she went crazy for it, She ran around kicking it, passing it back and forth between us. She absolutely loved it."
"My time in Thailand was truly a life-changing experience. From bathing in the River at Elephant Nature Park to assisting in four surgeries, I will hold these memories with me for the rest of my life. Thank you, Loop Abroad for providing me with the trip of a lifetime!”
"Spending part of my summer in beautiful Thailand has made my love for veterinary medicine even stronger."
“This experience has also taught me to never stop exploring; you will always learn something new no matter where you go.”
"I never thought I could learn as much as I did during my time in Thailand, and I will definitely be coming back," said Robinson. "It truly was an experience of a lifetime."
"I got to interact with the ambassador cheetah named Nova, a porcupine, an ostrich, a zebra named Pajamas and a few other animals."
“This is a great experience to have, even if you aren’t looking to do something with animals,” Robertshaw said. “I’d recommended it to anybody.”
"On a regular basis, we encountered wild horses, ostriches, a zebra names Pajamas, a mule names Hercules, and of course the many cheetahs on site."
“'Being up close to these animals, whether it was feeding the cheetahs at the wildlife center or watching wild animals on safari, was a life-changing experience."
"Ardemani and her team provided care for the animals at the wildlife centre, including feeding the cheetahs and helping to provide enrichment for them."
“I liked that we could be hands-on in the surgery,” Ms. Estes said. “Everyone had a role to assist.”
“This has easily been one of the most important choices I've made towards becoming a veterinarian. The experiences I've gained, whether it be intubating a dog or learning to restrain baby ostriches or even giving elephant vaccinations, have not only prepared me for vet school but have also taught me valuable lessons that I will use for the rest of my life.”
“The Elephant Nature Park veterinary work was life-changing,” she said in a release from Loop Abroad. “To be such a small part of their healing process will stay with me forever.”
“Gaining hands-on veterinary experience with the elephants was a life-changing learning experience.”
"Some of the older elephants have trouble kneeling down in the river to wash themselves, so we grabbed some buckets and helped them cool off while they were eating a basket of watermelons."
“I went to Thailand to receive education and hands- on experience that I could not have gotten here in the United States because of limitations. The program I was in is called ‘Loop Abroad.’ They have many programs that teach various subjects."
Jennifer Colangelo is a junior at Becker who spent two weeks in Thailand with Loop Abroad. “For a week we worked with dogs and cats, and during the second week we worked at an elephant sanctuary.” Colangelo was with four other Becker students learning clinical skills for their future.
"Cleaning feet and swabbing ears may not be how many college students envision spending their summers. But for Stephanie Rubino, it was a dream come true."
"It might have been while Claire Hilton was applying salve to a wound on the skin of an elephant that the 16-year-old realized she found her life’s calling."
“It’s not necessarily to go and change you by any means but just to learn,” she said. “A lot of people get wrapped up in our world and believe that’s the only world there is, but we are like a pinpoint in a map of the whole world.”
“It’s been my dream forever,” the 16-year-old said. After spending two weeks in Thailand learning hands-on what it’s like to be a veterinarian, Zong said she’s confident that she will want to take care of animals for the rest of her life.
"They say that an elephant never forgets. If that’s the case, there’s a couple elephants in Thailand that will never forget McKenzie Beals."
“You don’t get the opportunity to do hands-on stuff for a long time” in U.S. programs, she said. Waycaster said that was part of the attraction, to “get to do stuff that I wouldn’t be able to do here. Plus you get to work with elephants.”
“I’ve loved elephants since I was a little kid," she said. "It (Loop Abroad page) popped up on my Facebook because one of my friends tagged me in it. It was all oriented around the elephants helping them and helping kids in the local villages. I love that type of stuff, and I love animals."
"Save Elephant Foundation has been working with Loop Abroad for over three years, bringing students interested in animal sciences to observe the elephants at Elephant Nature Park and gain an idea of what it is like to work in the field."
Last April, Hannah van Severen texted her mother at 5 a.m. to announce she had found her calling. “I've always loved elephants and always loved traveling so when I saw this ad on Facebook, I knew it was exactly everything I've always wanted to do,” van Severen said.
"Kokomo native Lindsey Fenton put her budding veterinary skills to use this summer helping rescued elephants, dogs and cats in Thailand."
“I think my trip to Thailand has made me realize that what I really want to do with my career is spend time practicing international veterinary medicine. I think it would be an amazing opportunity and I’m excited to someday get to do this as my career."
For one assignment, Lim had to monitor the diet of a 70-year-old elephant named Saza, who Lim said “acted like a cranky old lady."
“When she got thirsty, she would quickly walk across the field to the hose and I had to chase her.”
“I traveled so far to get to Thailand, why not make the most of it and do all that I can while I’m there, because who knows when I’ll be going back?” she says. “It also gave me an opportunity to give more. There’s a lot that needs to be done at the Elephant Nature Park.”
Boneff liked how she was able to work with the elephants one-on-one. Fenton saw this as a rare opportunity to work with elephants and learn a new culture. “I want to experience all that I can, and learn as much as I can to ensure that I am the best me I can possibly be for my future patients.”
“Working with the rescued dogs at ARK and rescued elephants at ENP taught me so much about veterinary medicine and being in Thailand was a great cultural experience.”
"This trip was a wonderful opportunity to experience and learn about another culture as well as learn about local and global issues and their working solution."
"I learned so much about exotic veterinary medicine as well as elephant husbandry," Radley wrote. "From this experience, I gained more confidence in myself since I stepped out of my comfort zone. I also gained friends, veterinary knowledge and appreciation for another culture."
Jordan was part of a small team that volunteered giving care at a dog shelter and then spent a week working directly with rescued elephants at an elephant sanctuary.
“This not only changed my whole thought process of veterinary medicine, it has made me question a lot,” Cortazzo said, “I am not the same person.”
"This summer, nine students from Kansas State University's pre-veterinary club, spent two weeks in Thailand helping animals and learning hands-on what it's like to be a veterinarian."
"The 17-year old took her first trip on an airplane, navigated New York City, traveled to Thailand and spent weeks caring for her favorite animal - the elephant."
"Ayanna said she walked away with a new perspective on life and a desire to educate herself on what else is going on in the world."
“It was definitely an experience of a lifetime,” Marijke said. “The trip has taken my experiences from off the farm and into the greater world.”
“I thought giving back and doing something with what I love would be an amazing experience. I have always wanted to travel, but knew I couldn’t fit in a study abroad during the semester.”
The opportunities that I was exposed to from neutering dogs to trying durian have made my trip so memorable. I don’t know any other place where I would be able to wake up in the morning and eat breakfast while watching elephants pass by the patio."
"After earning her associate degree in May 2015, Kyndale had the opportunity to participate in Loop Abroad, a hands-on summer abroad program in Thailand for students working with animals."
Kissing elephants, hugging tigers, operating on cats and dogs — these are interactions veterinary student Marisa Ciappetta of Upper Burrell could wait years to experience in the United States. But she was able to do all of the above in Thailand over the summer.
"I have never done something so hands on. This really was a once in a lifetime trip," Foster said. "If you have the opportunity, you have to go."
"This entire journey has inspired me to educate people in my community about elephants, a keystone species that is heading to extinction.”
“I’ve always felt connected more to animals than people, and I want to help them,” Ballou, 20, said this week. “Animals are just so forgiving to you. They don’t speak to you, but you have to figure out what is wrong with them, and when you do, they’re so appreciative.”
"Meeting amazing people from all over the world, this trip was absolutely amazing and something I’ll never forget."
According to a release from the high school, "Traveling with the Boston-based Loop Abroad, Katherine was part of a six-person team that volunteered giving care at a dog shelter and then spent a week working directly with rescued elephants."
"The craziest thing about my week was that by the end of it, standing next to the elephants was almost second nature. I highly recommend visiting the Elephant Nature Park if you are ever in Northern Thailand because it is a wonderful moment that will leave you speechless."
After working in Hoi Ya, Weeks lived in the city of Chiang Mai, where he was able to spend time exploring the local culture. “We were able to communicate through body language, something I never had to do,” Weeks said. “But universally, people understand one another.”
Teaching English, building a dam and painting a school were just some of the ways that Madison was able to help the village. In return, she learned to plant rice and had plenty of time to get to know the children of Hoi Ya and share stories with them.
"Today we had the honour of receiving nine students and their four teachers from Loopabroad. These American junior high school students focus on tropical ecology and they were particularly interested in the Orchid Ark."
"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., College Veterinary Service 2016
Wright State University, Dayton, OH