When asked to write a summary about my trip with Loop Abroad, I was more than happy to express to my appreciation about such a wonderful program. Loop Abroad really provided me with an eye-opening and life-changing experience.
Being my first trip abroad, I was very nervous about the next two weeks I was about to endure. Knowing I was about to trust a group of complete strangers to take me to a rural country for the first time terrified me, especially since I found Loop Abroad on Facebook. However, I really had nothing to worry about and realized that almost immediately. Every single staff member I interacted with gave me immediate assurance that I was safe and in good hands which really calmed my nerves.
You will meet friends! At the airport, on the plane, in the shuttle, everywhere you go you’ll be surrounded by people with at least one common interest! I met so many people the first night that it was extremely difficult to remember names even if they had introduced themselves five minutes before. I was in the group Thailand 101 with 11 other girls and straightaway we all became a weird, dysfunctional family. Spending every waking moment with the same 11 people really brings you together. We had everything from dance parties in our truck to making friendship bracelets on the last night. I still talk to the girls even after the trip ended and consider them some of my closest friends.
One of the aspects that made my trip unique was spending some time in a Thai hospital. Being susceptible to a certain type of skin infection, I broke out into blisters by the end of my first week. We were headed to ENP in the morning and the last thing I wanted was an open wound possibly contaminated. It was very late and being very panicked, I expressed concern to my trip leader, Emily, and Spicy Thai hostel staff, Aum. Without hesitation, Aum took us to the hospital to get the proper antibiotics I needed. I was very intimidated with the thought of going to a Thai hospital, but to my surprise, the hospital was very clean and orderly. The only issue I faced was the English to Thai translation with the nurse, but Aum accompanied me when talking to the doctor, who actually spoke fair English. I got the medication I needed and was out within the hour.
The staff was really a highlight to my trip. Our Thai group leader, Noom, was the best leader we could ever need. Along with answering all our questions, Noom taught us proper etiquette to show respect to the Thai people. When faced with any situation that didn’t go as planned, Noom stayed calm and collected. His weird and quirky humor really brought light to every situation and he is definitely missed. Emily, our American trip leader, was amazing as well. In fact, every staff member was awesome in his/her own way and I sincerely miss them all.
Do know the itinerary online doesn’t lie! We do everything on the list from ziplining to the cooking class. Every activity was a different experience that made the trip worth every penny. The food was delicious, but if you don’t like it, don’t be afraid to say something. No one will get offended- don’t worry! If you don’t like what the group is eating, speak up! The Loop Abroad staff just wants to make sure you eat so you don’t get sick. Also, don’t be embarrassed if you do! Be sure to explain any aches, bothersome symptoms, or concerns to a staff member you feel comfortable with because as the staff has explained, they’ve seen it all!
When asked which week was my favorite week, the week in the city of Chiang Mai, or at the ENP (Elephant Nature Park), I would simply have no answer. Each week was a completely different experience than the next. The week in Chiang Mai was extremely humbling and the week at ENP was simply remarkable. Every day we got to help out around the park with morning and afternoon chores, which included scooping elephant poop to cutting down corn. Also, there is a day at ENP focused on diet study; from 8 A.M. to 4 P.M., I got to follow around an assigned elephant and study their eating habits. This data then is given to the vets, which can help them determine any particular change the elephant exhibits. During your time with the elephants, you really get to learn about their personalities, what they like or don’t like, their behavior patterns, etc. It’s one of those events that you don’t have the words to explain to others because of how incredible it is to experience first-hand.
All in all, my Loop Abroad trip was an experience of a lifetime. I would highly suggest Loop Abroad as a method of traveling. This experience has encouraged me to continue my travels and work with animal conservation in the future. Loop Abroad was a great first-step into experiencing the world, and I hope to travel with Loop Abroad again next year!