South Africa Study Abroad is a Once-in-a-Lifetime Experience
My name is Kristianna Muller and I am a Veterinary Science major on the Pre-Vet track here at UNL. While most of my undergraduate career has been focused on the companion animal track and studying veterinary science, I have always been very interested in wildlife conservation, especially for exotic animals. Studying abroad has always been a goal of mine, especially in a location like South Africa. Most of the time I’ve been at UNL however, we were in the COVID-19 pandemic and all study abroad opportunities were halted. Thus, when I saw Dr. John Carroll’s advertisement in a Pre-Vet email for a class studying field guiding in South Africa in Fall 2021, I jumped on the opportunity to take the course, despite it being outside of my comfort zone and degree program. Because of that course, I got a head-start on completing my Apprentice Field Guide qualification, and then applied to go on the study abroad program. Thanks to that chance, I have now had the most amazing, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities in South Africa.
This experience showed me how I could potentially combine my desire to be a veterinarian and my passion for wildlife conservation into a future career. I learned so much more about the natural history of southern Africa than I expected to and got exposed to so many new species of mammals, birds, and trees, and gained a new appreciation for all of them. I experienced new cultures, met new people from all over the world, and got to live in true wilderness for a month. My eyes were opened to everything the world has to offer, both nature and culture-wise, and I am simply left with an even bigger travel-bug and desire to see the world. If anyone is questioning whether this experience is worth the time and money, it absolutely is, and I know I would’ve regretted not taking the chance on this course and program.