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 Loop Abroad experience.
In order to travel abroad, you will need a passport. Information on any required visas or vaccinations will be included in the information you receive upon admission.
Most of our two-week programs offer a group flight from the US (you can find whether a group flight is available, as well as the estimated cost and departure city on each program page) For programs with a group flight, you will all fly together to your program location, where our team will be eagerly waiting at the airport! For programs without a group flight option, we can help you choose an appropriate flight and our team will be at the airport waiting to meet you when you arrive!
You will never be on your own during your program. 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 your program location is exciting and different, but that it is easier than you might think to adjust.
Check out the stories below from a couple of our students whose first trip abroad was with Loop Abroad and find out why Loop has been ranked as one of the best veterinary programs for study 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 are happy to continue working hard to improve our programs each year based on student suggestions.
Over 115 students and parents 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.
Learn more about the amazing participants we’ve had in our programs, and check out stories about our students from print and the web below.
Cameron Nau, 21, a University of Findlay senior, recently spent two weeks in Thailand helping animals as part of the study-abroad organization Loop Abroad.
“I hold my time in Thailand near and dear to my heart," she said. "The people, staff and culture are remarkable. Through my time at Elephant Nature Park and in Chiang Mai vet clinic I have expanded my veterinary knowledge by working and volunteering with many amazing animals and professionals.”
“I waited two years for this trip and it did not disappoint! I learned so much about elephants, small animal medicine, and Thai culture, all while making lifelong friends and unforgettable memories. It was the trip of a lifetime!”
"This opportunity provided me with so much valuable experience, both personally and professionally. I learned a lot about the field of vet medicine, while also helping local dogs and rescued elephants."
"Abel, who will be entering her second year at the Atlantic Veterinary College this year, just returned from Thailand where she and a fellow veterinary student, Annika Landry, spent two weeks working with an international organization that cares for abused dogs and provides sanctuary for rescued elephants.
Abel, whose goal to be a wildlife veterinarian, said it was the experience of a lifetime."
“Study abroad will change your perspective on life,” noted Delaney Adams, a junior digital media design student. “It will open you up to new friendships you’d never expect and cultures you never knew about.
“I have seen how our programs expand the worldview of younger generations and inspire them to care about conserving nature,” Dr. Erica Ward says. “While students volunteer, they support organizations that help animals, whether through spay/neuter campaigns, wildlife rehabilitation and release, or improving welfare for captive wildlife. When students return home, they share what they learned with others.”
Because of the pandemic that rattled all campus activities, most of the study abroad programs were either canceled or were offered as a virtual option. There were two virtual programs we offered that had involvement: Loop Abroad Vets Around the World and the UW-Platteville Exchange at Hochschule Darmstadt.
Doctors Muonaouza Deleza and Love Kaona were the only women who graduated from Malawi’s first class of veterinarians in 2019. One of them had her research funded by Loop Abroad through one of our virtual programs. We are so thankful for our virtual research students for supporting awesome, important, real-world research that they're learning from and participating in!
"This trip was a once in a lifetime experience for me. It has opened many doors for me in furthering my career, from connecting with veterinarians around the world to learning techniques such as blood draws on elephants."
"We served as the vet techs at the clinic and learned all the skills to give pre-medications, monitor the animals through the surgery, administer anesthesia and monitor their recovery. We helped them spay 125 animals in four days.”
“Working hands-on doing marine and coral reef conservation and restoration was by far my favorite part of the trip. Diving into this area of veterinary medicine opened my eyes to a whole new world of opportunity that I cannot wait to explore and it’s all thanks to Loop Abroad.”
“Each of the elephants at Elephant Nature Park had a background behind them— they came from the logging industry, or the tourism [industry] or just abandoned or something. They had stories.”
“We were responsible for so much, like pre-operation drugs and animals that we don’t get to work with here. We got to go behind the scenes at Chiang Mai Night Safari Zoo and work in a real clinic and had to speak to actual customers like we were real vets.”
"The knowledge and experience I gained is something I will carry with me the rest of my life. Words don’t describe how thankful I am to Fercare for everything, especially all they do for the conservation of cheetahs."
"The process of planning this trip was definitely challenging and put me in a position of great responsibility, but being able to share my love for veterinary medicine and provide so many students with this opportunity has been the most rewarding experience of my life."
“Asian elephants are such beautiful animals, but their struggles are not nearly as known as they should be. More awareness is always good. I absolutely fell in love with the elephant sanctuary and Thailand overall. The founder of the park, Lek Chailert, was one of the most inspiring people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.”
"You learn so much about veterinary medicine on this trip and make friends and memories. I highly recommend anyone interested in veterinary medicine or think that they want to go to veterinary school apply for a Loop Abroad program."
"It was a great experience getting to work with AmaZOOnico, a rescue, rehab, and release centre for mammals, reptiles, and birds. It was great getting to learn about wildlife conservation in the Amazon Rainforest."
"Hearing the stories about each elephant was pretty inspiring because (the sanctuary) does so much to rescue these elephants for them to finish out a good life."
"I was able to contribute to Thailand conservation efforts, become SCUBA certified on a Thai island and learn about elephant veterinary care under a veterinarian."
"I work in a clinic at home where I do all the receptionist work, so I hear about the vet side of things but don’t get to work with it a lot myself. So this was an incredible hands-on experience for me."
"Working with elephants was so humbling! We also practiced clinical skills in small animal medicine. This experience was enriching, and it brought to light the struggles of Asian Elephants and other animals overseas."
"Two University of Findlay students recently completed a trip to South Africa for hands-on training with African animals."
"I fell in love with the exotic flora and fauna of South Africa when I first went in 2017 following high school graduation. Since then, I’ve gone back two more times, and each year my passion for conservation deepens"
"This program made me a better student and future vet. I became much more well-rounded in animal healthcare, was able to see first-hand what is faced in the real world as a veterinarian. I was able to learn under some spectacular vets, which fueled my love for animals and learning even more."
"Because this specific program was held at a zoo, I was able to encounter even more species than I had been exposed to before. My time spent there gave me such a respect for accredited zoos and animal sanctuaries."
"Elephants are a very dynamic, magnanimous species, a keystone species in that if you preserve them you’re preserving a lot of other lives along with them. They are a very important part of the ecosystem."
"I know for certain that my passion is helping animals and learning as much as I can about them."
"Holmes and her team observed and worked with veterinarians to care for a variety of species — from big cats such as lions and tigers to primates such as lemurs and gibbons."
"This was the opportunity of a lifetime. I gained so much hands-on experience I would not be able to do in the United States and got to work side-by-side with some amazing vets. This experience solidified my desire to become a veterinarian!"
"A group of 32 students from Delaware Valley University traveled to Thailand, where they learned about helping rescued animals as part of their Tropical Shelter Medicine class."
"I had an amazing time working with Australian wildlife and culture. Loop Abroad has done an amazing job putting together these programs, and I will carry this new knowledge with me as I continue to work towards vet school."
"We worked with elephants, and watching them interact was life-changing. I can’t stress that enough. You can see them in the zoo and on TV, but actually witnessing them interact with each other, the way they treated their babies and respected their elders, it was groundbreaking."
“If you are anything like me, you have a wild case of wanderlust and a need for adventure. Though you may feel like there aren’t many options for you other than to settle into a practice in your home town, I’m here to tell you about how great of a need there is for veterinary professionals all over the world.”
"I think the best part of this program was not only learning a lot, but also getting to apply what you learned in real life situations with a variety of animal species."
"It was also an honor to learn about the culture and volunteer for the local communities."
"It was amazing being submerged in the culture and learning all about Thailand."
"Are you curious about veterinary medicine or wildlife conservation? Join Delaware Valley University to hear a guest lecture from Dr. Erica Ward, a veterinarian who has experience caring for elephants in Thailand."
"Being in the dog clinic and doing rounds with the elephant veterinarian really helped me decide what I wanted my future to look like."
"Tell people you went to Thailand and chances are you’re going to get asked if you rode an elephant. Haley Ochocinski has been there twice and the answer is no, she hasn’t, and she’ll be more than happy to tell you why not."
"From handling wombats and pygmy possums to learning how to suture and perform necropsies, this was a once in a lifetime experience and I am so grateful for my time down under."
"I got to do hands-on veterinary medicine — stuff vet students don’t get to do until a year in — on dogs, cats and elephants."
"My passion has always been animals. I had to face many fears to go after my dream of studying Veterinary."
"Caring for the elephants while also respecting their space and previous trauma was a unique experience that I would not have been able to experience anywhere else."
"Getting into vet school is competitive. I needed to get as many different experiences as possible so I could stand out. Veterinarian schools have low acceptance rates."
"Texas A&M University students published a blog regarding their exciting experience abroad in Thailand!"
"I’ve always liked animals, so going there and seeing what other people were doing with different animals just confirmed that’s what I want to do."
"They have a bunch of animals there that they've rescued from bad situations, and they're trying to educate the communities across South Africa about conservation. They try to keep them as wild as possible, they're not trying to make it a tourist attraction. They just need help."
"Brooklyn helped to feed and care for elephants, as well as learn about their diagnoses alongside an elephant vet."
"Our group was given the opportunity to partake in an ecological monitoring program in Koh Tao. Even if we were just certified Open Water Divers, we had the chance to help out Advanced Divers! Not many people are given that chance, and the fact that we could learn, observe and help make a difference really meant a lot to me!"
"Taking part in spay/neuter surgeries and getting to shadow an elephant vet were amazing experiences I wouldn’t be able to have in many other places."
"This was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and it was so fun and educational."
"Being able to help the dogs and elephants face to face, and live among them, made me feel like I was genuinely making the world a better place."
"Not only did I get to explore Thailand, but I learned so much about veterinary medicine."
"Getting to work with elephants is a once in a lifetime experience I will never forget."
"I’m so motivated to share my observations and my experience with others about animal welfare. My trip definitely changed my life."
"Volunteering with elephants, dogs and cats was incredibly rewarding, and I am so grateful to have been part of this program."
Iowa Wesleyan University serves as the School of Record for Loop Abroad, allowing Loop Abroad students to get college credit for their participation in Loop Abroad programs. "Loop Abroad, under the dynamic leadership of Addam and Jane Stine, who built the program in Thailand, also offer opportunities in Australia and South Africa. The program will not only offer Iowa Wesleyan students the unique opportunity to be involved in pre-veterinarian studies as undergraduates, but will give them a unique cross-cultural experience in another world region. As a school of record, Iowa Wesleyan gets to make education possible for students around the United States. We are delighted about this partnership and look forward to seeing the potential continue to flourish.”"
"We got to clean the wounds of elephants that had stepped on landmines."
“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 program allowed me to have the experience of a lifetime and build some lifelong friendships! I never could’ve imagined how amazing this adventure would be. I had such an amazing time gaining experience with elephants and building great memories with amazing people!”
Sarah B., Thailand 101 2016 + Elephant Bonus Week