Participant Blogs

Veterinary Internship in Nepal


madeline vet nepalWhen booking this trip, I thought, “Two months? That’s nothing!” When I arrived, I thought, “Two months? There’s no way I can last that long!” Now that I’ve reached the end of my two months, there are tears in my eyes at the thought of leaving. I’ve done all the things I worried I couldn’t. I learned how to take the insane public transport system. I can cross the road like a pro. I can safely restrain dogs twice my size. I’m the only one who’s traveled here that I’ve met who hasn’t gotten sick even once. I still suck at arguing prices, but hey, win some, lose some.

There are so many things about this country that I swore I would never get used to that I now barely register. There’s the spicy food that I dreaded but now think I’ll miss. There’s the omnipresent feeling of being stared at that I’ve learned to ignore. There’re the plywood-esque beds that I now find comfy and the constant barking of dogs that now almost lulls me to sleep (Okay that’s not completely true, but I was getting there). There’s the isolating feeling of almost never knowing what anyone around you is saying that has become mostly background noise. The only think I think I would never have gotten used to is seeing cows in the middle of the street. Chickens? Fine. Dogs? Whatever. Goats? Makes sense. Cows? Nope. Always makes me do a double-take.

I am so grateful for the amazing work experiences I have received here. It wasn’t a light-hearted job, I saw some pretty horrific things, but those experiences were always tempered with hope. You can’t see how hard your fellow staff and volunteers work and how happy the rescues are and not feel hopeful for the future of Kathmandu’s stray population. I’m especially grateful for all the help I’ve received in getting my dog home, and I know how easy I’ll rest once he’s safe on American soil.

I thought I’d end my final post with a story about the final trip I took out of Kathmandu. I originally wasn’t going to go to Pokhara, but I really wanted to go with the group of people who were planning on travelling there. So I hopped on a bus. Eight hours later, we were in a city that felt weirdly like suburban Minnesota to me. When we woke up that next morning, I saw the Himalayas for the first time in my nearly eight weeks in Nepal. The feeling that seeing those massive peaks gave me was really unexpected. I actually felt extremely unsettled. There’s something really insidious about them, the way that they’re always there, surrounding you, but you can’t see them. Eeriness or not, they were absolutely spectacular, and I was glad to glimpse them. Later that day we did something I really didn’t expect myself to do: paragliding. It was a cloudy day, and we had to wait at our jumping point for a while for the sky to clear. At one point it began to rain, and we worried that it would be cancelled. Despite being nervous initially, I was really disappointed when we started packing up. Then, out of nowhere, the skies cleared. People started jumping one after another, looking like a very large and colorful flock of birds. When my guide, who referred to me as “Mandala”, told me to start running, we took off. Suddenly the ground beneath my feet fell away, and we were airborne. Despite the height, it was an extremely relaxing experience. And, of course, the view was amazing. We wrapped up the journey at a nice restaurant and disembarked the next morning.

There are so many things I’m looking forward to at home: friends and family, familiar food, actually comfy furniture, and returning to school. But leaving a place you’ve acclimated to is never easy, and I’m already bracing myself for the culture shock upon my return. While I wouldn’t go as far as to say that my time here has completely changed my outlook on life or left me enlightened, I hope to never be as pretentious as that, but I have learned a lot. I’ve learned how lucky I am, what’s most important to me, and that I’m capable of so much more than I would have thought. Nepal is a colorful, diverse country full of resilient and warm people, and I’m so glad I got to experience its beauty and use my gifts to contribute to it. And I am so overwhelmingly thankful for the friends I’ve made here. I’ve always said that, for me, it’s less about what I’m doing and more about who I’m with. I’m so glad to have found so many great people to share my experiences with. I’m hopeful that I’ll only find its people and animals happier and healthier when I return. Until next time, Nepal.

See Madeline's other posts from Nepal HERE


Veterinary Internship in Ecuador


Vet student Kimberly, from Purdue University was based in Quito. She kept a great blog. Here is one posting to get you started. 

kimberly puerto lopezSince the real Galapagos is too expensive, I opted to spend the weekend at what ecuatorianos call the poor man’s Galapagos otherwise known as Isla de la Plata. To get to Isla de la plata you have to take an 8.5 hour overnight bus ride south to the coastal town of Puerto Lopez from which you can take a boat out to the island. Puerto Lopez is a small, poor town that subsists off of fishing. Upon arrival into the town, I was less than impressed. The beach of Puerto Lopez was dirty and definitely not for sunbathers!! I don’t think it helped that it was chilly and overcast on Saturday as well. My friend and I met up with another ELI abroad volunteer stationed in Puerto Lopez and headed to Los Frailes beach about 15 minutes away from Puerto Lopez, in the protected national park Machalilla. This beach was much cleaner and prettier!

Sunday was the day we decided to tour Isla de la Plata, and thank goodness we chose Sunday because it was beautiful and sunny. Not overcast and chilly like the day before!! This is an all day excursion. The boat ride to the island is about 1.5 hours of choppy waves (which are my absolute favorite kind of boat rides!!) and you get to do some whale watching along the way. Puerto Lopez’s claim to fame is whale watching and the tour guides 100% guarantee you’ll get good whale sightings. Once you arrive to island there’s a guided 1.5 hour hike (or the longer 2.5 hour hike if you’re feeling bold and not wearing flip flops like me). We got to see tropical birds like the blue-footed boobie, turtles, Sharks, and the island’s vegetation. It’s the dry season right now so the island somewhat looked like a desert. After the hike was snorkeling! Of the percentage of the time we had to snorkel, I think I spent 30-40% of that time actually snorkeling and the rest just swimming around and enjoying the ocean

We returned to Puerto Lopez around 5:30 and had 2 hours to kill before heading to the bus station. Because I so desperately needed to shower after hiking and swimming in the ocean, I found public showers along the beachfront, which were actually just a series of showers in someone’s house where you pay 75 cents to use it. That was quite an experience…

One of the really cool parts of the coast is that they have what’s called moto-taxis. It’s like a cross between a golf cart and a rickshaw and this is how you get around via taxi. I think this is something we need to adopt in the US because it’s so cool!

So here’s the cost breakdown for this weekend. I feel like this is important to know because no one in Puerto Lopez accepts credit cards. It’s cash only so make sure you bring enough! Places in the big city of Quito barely accept credit cards. This country is basically cash only.

Hostel for one night: $10/person

Isla de la plata tour: $40

Bus ride to and from Puerto Lopez: $28

Taxi from bus station to house and from house to bus station: $10 each way

Food: $3 for breakfast, just snacked at lunch so $2, and dinner around $8-9


See all of Kimberly's blog at:


Construction in Nepal

nepal construction blog

Living in Rural Nepal Part 2: Construction Project

We came to Nepal for a couple of reasons, one of them was to help construct a school in an area that was deeply affected by the devastating earthquake that happened one year ago.

Amazingly, we were fortunate enough to be present in the village and celebrate the completion of one of the school buildings on the exact anniversary.

ELI, partnered with VolNepal, is constructing 3 school buildings to include classrooms, a library and a computer lab with the goal of connecting the children of the Gorsyang village to the rest of the world. Ideally one day the children would have computer pen pals with school children in America, Europe, etc.

When I (Alex) told people that I was going to do construction work, they chuckled and said, “send me a picture of you in a hard hat.” Well as much as I wish I could share a picture of me in a hard hat holding some power tools, the standards in Nepal are just not the same as the construction standards in America… so in the pictures below you will see the locals working in flip flops, no gloves, no hard hats, no safety glasses, just people in our t-shirts and pants.

Lots of Pictures and Text -

By Kevin O'Neill


Where Can I Go?