While most MSU students were on campus last semester attending classes, one student spent her semester in Thailand for a good cause.
Integrative biology and zoology sophomore Antonia Langfeldt spent her fall 2016 semester in Thailand helping animals and learning hands-on what it’s like to be a veterinarian.
Langfeldt traveled with a group of seven other students with the organization Loop Abroad to Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Loop Abroad offers two 14-week trips for fall and spring semesters to Thailand and two shorter four-week programs in the summer to Thailand and South Africa. Managing Director of Loop Abroad Jane Stine said they will likely be adding one more country for next year.
Together the students learned alongside veterinarians from around the world and volunteered with different animals.
“I spent three and a half months all over Thailand working with various veterinarians, both American and Thai,” Langfeldt said. “We did a lot of things that pertain to veterinary medicine, so we worked with elephants, bears, macaque monkeys and we also did some conservation work with sea turtles and bird watching.”
While receiving the hands-on veterinary experience and learning is great and worthwhile for future veterinarians, Stine also said she believes just traveling abroad alone is valuable.
“I think just the chance to go abroad at all and experiencing the culture and have some time to reflect on how you see the world and your own experiences is worth a lot, whether you are in a veterinary career or otherwise,” Stine said.
Langfeldt first heard about Loop Abroad during a presentation with the student organization Pre-Veterinary Medical Association, or PVMA, meeting in 2016 from Erica Ward.
Ward is an alumna from MSU College of Veterinary Medicine, and received her DVM four years ago. After graduation she headed to Chiang Mai, Thailand where she accepted a full-time job as a veterinarian.
Currently Ward is the academic director for Loop Abroad and Langfeldt said she was the main U.S. veterinarian she and her fellow team worked with during the course of the trip.
“I’m very passionate about what I do and I love sharing that with the students and seeing how their passion can grow,” Ward said. “Especially working in Thailand, working in different areas, there’s many things that they’re not exposed to that they commend to and grow passionate from.”
Ward said the hands-on and actual learning experience from doing a Loop Abroad trip is the biggest takeaway.
“Loop Abroad is different than some of the other opportunities for vet students and that it's very much geared toward learning,” Ward said. “We do help animals for sure, but this program is a great opportunity for pre-vet students to participate and it's really focused on giving them the best opportunity.”
Langfeldt said besides her veterinary work, she learned a lot about the culture and it was an enriching experience for her.
“It did help me become a lot more independent because just living in another country for three months that’s halfway across the world, there’s completely different culture,” Langfeldt said. “I did have some culture shock, but it really helped me grow not only in my veterinary experience, but also as an individual.”