International Studies & Programs

Hands-on experience with elephants in Thailand

I went from being unsure of myself when asked to give a vaccine to volunteering to give one two days later.

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Published: Tuesday, 10 Dec 2019 Author: Anne Doemer

My time spent in Chiang Mai on this study abroad was better than I could have ever expected. The first week wasAnne with elephant in Thailand at Elephant Nature Park and the second week was in the city. 

I remember being in complete awe showing up to Elephant Nature Park for the first time and seeing animals everywhere. Elephants, water buffalo, horses, cats, dogs…you name it…it was unbelievable. One of my favorite memories from that week was the day me and my partner got to follow around the elephant Pi Kul and record its diet. Observing how my elephant interacted with other elephants, tourists, and their mahoot was so amazing. 

This whole program gave me a glimpse inside veterinary medicine that has really assured me of the path I’ve chosen to take.  My first poke of a needle into an animal was during the first week when I got to deliver fluids subcutaneously into a cat that was having renal failure. I remember I was so nervous on the inside but I put on a cool composure and did it pretty well! 

I got tons of hands-on experience related to veterinary medicine, especially at the clinic during our second week, including giving vaccinations, restraint techniques, doing physical exams, assisting during surgery, anesthetizing patients, post-operative care, etc. My confidence grew with each task we had to perform. I went from being unsure of myself when asked to give a vaccine to volunteering to give one two days later. I really did begin to see myself continuing to do this as a career. 

Students at dog rescue facility in ThailandOn top of the educational experience, I also learned plenty from a cultural perspective. Thai culture is so loving and happy. Two people that spoke to our group really gave me a different perspective on my life and that was Lek, the founder of ENP, and a monk, Kay Kay. From the beginning, I didn’t have any problems communicating with the Thai people because everyone was so friendly and helpful! I learned a few words in Thai including, “sawadee ka” which means hello, “khob khun ka” which means thank you, “yindee ka” which means you’re welcome, “chai” which means yes, and “mai chai” which means no. I made an effort to use these words in exchange for the English terms because the Thai people have learned our language so it seemed respectful to show that I am also learning theirs. Respect is a major part of Thai culture and it went into so many different things including the way someone sits… you’re not supposed to point the bottoms of your feet towards others. 

Overall, I completely fell in love with Thailand as well as Anne holding Spartan flag by elephant in Thailandveterinary medicine and I can’t wait to come back here in the future!

Name: Anne Doemer
Status: Sophomore
Major: Animal Science
Hometown: Dearborn Heights, Michigan
Program: College Veterinary Service in Chiang Mai, Thailand through Loop Abroad