Nine years ago, my husband and I co-founded Loop Abroad, a study abroad organization focused on veterinary medicine and animal welfare. Our job is to help our students and staff travel the world learning about animal medicine and helping contribute to awesome conservation projects with Asian, African, and Australian animals.

You might say I have the best job in the world! But there are some tricky parts…

More info: loopabroad.com

Sometimes elephants chase you looking for snacks.

At the Elephant Nature Park, elephants know that when they see those big, colorful baskets, food is coming. This lady followed us to get a sneak peek at her basket and try to steal a watermelon snack!

Sometimes the dogs want ANOTHER walk

There are over 500 dogs at Elephant Nature Park, many of whom were rescued from flooding, puppy mills, or the dog meat trade. They are up for adoption globally and in need of a forever home. If you’re looking for a dog, think about one of these wonderful friends!

Sometimes the African Wild Dogs glare menacingly

African Wild Dogs are awesome. The wildlife centre we work with in South Africa cares for some, which means our students and vets get to help with enrichments to keep these guys healthy, happy, and engaged.

Sometimes you’re covered in cow spit

It’s not all exotic animals–there are farm animals that need love and care all over the world! Taking care of cows is hard, messy work, but this lady was rescued from being sold for meat, and now she gets to live out her days wandering the sanctuary grounds. So it’s worth the work!

Sometimes cheetahs laugh at you

Cheetahs are an endangered species and they have very little genetic variation, which means that breeding them is important to keeping the species alive. In addition, educating people who live around cheetahs about their importance and how to safely share a habitat with them can help cheetahs to stay alive. These are just some of the projects we are working on in South Africa!

Sometimes you want to adopt all the dogs

Street dogs in Southeast Asia can have a hard life, and dogs like this one just want a forever friend to love. They are so loyal and sweet, you really do want to take each one home with you! You can adopt dogs from Thailand to almost anywhere in the world.

Sometimes this guy steals your lunch

Some dogs are a little more spoiled than others. This is Goldie, very proud of himself after stealing a sandwich from our hard-working students.

Sometimes you get stranded on a rock

On the island of Koh Tao, or “Turtle Island”, there is a small marine conservation center working hard to regrow coral reefs, research marine life, protect sea turtles, and help keep our oceans amazing. It’s hard work, but nothing a little morning yoga can’t help with.

Sometimes you can’t see very well

All of our marine programs include a SCUBA diving certification, which means we spend a lot of time in the ocean. Some of these fish don’t really believe in personal space!

Sometimes you’re stuck carrying a dog all day

This picture really sums up what it’s like to spend your life caring for animals. This is a dog named Monday, and Monday loves people. We love you too, Monday!

Sometimes it makes you cry

Some of the elephants we help to care for have been through horrific abuse, and you can see it in their ear tears, broken hips, foot wounds, scars, blinded eyes, and standoffish behavior. There is nothing more gratifying than watching an elephant who has been hurt by humans start to heal, regain her trust for the world, and interact with other elephants again.

Sometimes you gotta run to get out of the way

Baby elephants are so playful, you sometimes forget how big they are! It’s like playing with a puppy until you realize the puppy is bigger than a pickup truck. Watch out!

Sometimes the antelope escape

Releasing animals safely into the wild is always an amazing experience.

But there are great things too!

During monsoon season, it rains every day–which the elephants love! But for the workers, it can mean long, hard, wet days. Moments like this remind you that the hard work is worth it.

Like helping to save lots of lives

Helping to provide medical care for dogs and cats is a big part of contributing to the overall health of a community. It’s also a great way for our students to learn veterinary medical skills that they can put to use in their careers every day.

Like this guy!

Honestly, can you say no to that face?

And getting to see this beautiful creatures up-close

There is something that happens to you when you look into the eyes of an elephant that I really can’t explain. Sometimes there are moments when we are so grateful that we get to help them, but it comes with feeling so bad that they’ve gotten to a place where they need human help.

And traveling as a family

Getting to see these elephants make new families and relate to one another is one of the best parts of our job. That, and traveling as a family ourselves!

And helping amazing projects

Imagine how many walks 500+ dogs need! Running a sanctuary with 1,000+ animals is a lot of work, and our students help to make it happen. These doggies sure do appreciate it!

And providing medical care to creatures big…

Everything about elephant medicine is BIG, and treatments can take a long time. But getting to watch an elephant get better is so rewarding, and you can tell they are grateful for the care.

…And small.

Sea turtles are one of the most amazing animals to work with and to see in the wild. We spotted these guys on a snorkeling excursion off of Koh Tao. Helping to rebuild the coral reefs so that animals like this can continue to live here is one of the best projects we work with in the islands.

And making new best friends!

One of the best parts of Loop Abroad is the connections between our students, faculty, staff, volunteer partners, and all the animals we meet along the way. Getting to work with a group of people who have the same passion in life that you do is such a blessing!

You can find out more about applying for Loop Abroad as a student or a veterinarian at www.loopabroad.com. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/loopabroadtravel or on instagram at @loopabroad for fun animal and travel photos every day!