Student view:

Rebecca Kettel: Animal care in Nepal

Sept. 19, 2018

Rebecca Kettel is a junior majoring in veterinary technology in the College of Veterinary Medicine.

My study abroad in Nepal was an amazing experience where I learned what veterinary medicine looked like in another country and what my role would be as a veterinary technician.

For over a year now, I have been exploring if and how I could take my career to another country to use it to help those who are less privileged than I am. I wanted to go on a study abroad to determine if international life might be something for me.

Southeast Asia was the perfect location because the culture is extremely different than in the United States. For example, there are many street animals in Nepal including cows which was at first very surprising to me.

When navigating the hectic, seemingly disorganized every-day traffic on our way to different lecture locations or cultural sights, I might observe one or a group of young male calves sleeping in the middle of the road.

These animals, along with undergoing the struggle to survive on any food they can scavenge, are a reservoir of the many zoonotic diseases that we researched when on the program. Seeing this need motivates me to search for a solution to the problem where the animals can receive better care from the community, thus indirectly improving the health of the community members as well.

It was also an honor to interact with people that I might not otherwise get the chance to know. Along with Nepalese professors from a variety of state and private schools, I interacted with students from my own country and school that I would not otherwise have even met. I enjoyed getting to know different personalities in the small group of 16 students.

Even before the program in our pre-departure meetings, I appreciated how everyone in the group wanted to be there and actively sought to get to know one another. It was a rare and much appreciated change from college classes where the majority of students (which unfortunately can include myself) come to class just because they have to and would like to get out as soon as possible without interacting much with others.

In the end, traveling to another country taught me many things both inside and outside of my chosen profession. However, the most important lesson I learned was that traveling to another country is not as intimidating as I imagined it would be and now, after this experience, I feel capable of planning my own experience sometime in the future either in Nepal again or potentially exploring another country.

I am still not confident that I would like to work internationally long term, but when the time comes to make this decision I can make it from a much more educated standpoint.